The design of the 911 – an icon comes of age

At the age of 55, the design of the 911 is younger than ever. It radiates a timeless appeal that has progressed gracefully over the generations.

The design of the 911 is the guiding principle behind every Porsche. Hardly any other car in the world has such a long tradition and uninterrupted continuity as the 911. It has a unique iconography that has even found its way into the collective memory and consciousness. Very few car models have succeeded in becoming such an automotive icon. People often need a little time to appreciate things, to accept the new and come to desire it. If the product has already become outdated by this point, there is no chance of it becoming an icon. The 911 has succeeded in this over more than five decades of evolution and

has kept pace with the times throughout all seven generations of models, without succumbing to transient trends. Just like a true classic. This is what the designers are trying to achieve in designing all current and future Porsche sports cars. Their work is a quest to distil the very essence of a unique design history. However, with all their respect for the past, the designers must not lose sight of the future. The solutions lie in developing the form in step with the times. This may sound simple at first, but it is a great challenge for a designer. The silhouette of a 911 is quick to sketch out, but the details are extremely challenging. The design is extremely sensitive to even the smallest alteration.

Every time a new 911 is created, the designers start by studying the history of the series’ design in depth and looking for where changes were made. The 911 underwent one of its first major changes in 1993. The 993 generation saw the introduction of an interplay between convex and concave lines. With the move from an air-cooled to a water-cooled engine in the 996 generation, the headlamps and the proportions both changed permanently. The soft lines of the 996 were then tightened for the 997 generation in 2004. This analysis of its predecessors resulted in a longer wheelbase, a wider track and a lower roof line for the 991. The design for the headlamps, tail lamps, front mask and rear window was based on these modified proportions. The interplay of these elements gives the 991 its characteristic visual identity, which is so important for the entire brand identity of Porsche.

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The Porsche Speedster models