Since its debut in 1963, the Porsche 911 has been at home on race circuits all over the world and earned a reputation as a versatile and dependable winner.
Indeed, a good two thirds of the 30,000 race victories achieved by Porsche to date have been scored by the 911. Furthermore, many of the ideas and innovations that have been pioneered by the Porsche 911 over the past five
decades were conceived on the race track.
In an exciting initiative to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 911, Porsche Cars GB will be racing a classic example of the iconic sports coupe in Historic motor sport this year.
The 1965 ‘short-wheelbase’ 911 will be racing under the ‘Project 50’ team banner in selected ’Masters Series’ events alongside appearances at larger festivals such as the Nürburgring OldTimer and Silverstone Classic. The car will be run out of the UK headquarters in Reading, Berkshire, and maintained by the in-house Porsche Cars GB Motorsport team who also provide the technical support for the Carrera Cup GB Championship and GT3 Cup Challenge GB.
Famous Porsche drivers such as Richard Attwood (1970 Porsche Le Mans Winner) and Barry Horne (inaugural Carrera Cup GB Champion in 2003) will be taking the wheel, along with some other surprise guest drivers.
Built in September 1965, the ‘Project 50’ car is powered by a rear-mounted, 1,991 cc flat-six ‘boxer’ engine developing 130 hp. In the early days of 911 production, right-hand drive was available as a special order factory option and this car features that configuration – despite originally being sold to a customer in Italy. The equivalent price in the UK at this time – including £594 purchase tax – was £3,438.
Having spent some time in America, the ‘Project 50’ car was imported to the UK in the late 1990s, where it was subsequently fully restored and converted into an ‘FIA-Approved’ race car by an established historic Porsche motor sport preparation company.
Ahead of the ‘Project 50’ 911 turning a wheel in anger on a race circuit, the car is destined for a thorough check-over at the Porsche Classic workshops in Freiberg am Neckar, near Stuttgart Porsche Classic maintains a stock of over 35,000 genuine Porsche spares – for cars spanning the 356 to the Type 993 911 – and which are available over the counter from Porsche Centres worldwide.
With a simple silhouette and minimal exterior graphics, the early 911 has a very distinct design purity which is a lasting legacy of the designer, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. This not only established the Stuttgart coupe as a style icon, but also set the template for future generations of the car. These early cars also set the motorsport reputation of the 911, not least with an outstanding debut success in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally with a first in class and fifth place overall result.
As the appeal of the 911 began to spread towards the end of the 1960s, the performance potential of the six cylinder engine also grew. In line with this, the wheelbase increased in length and the wheel-arches became more flared to accommodate larger wheels and tyres.
Just 6,607 examples of the short-wheelbase 911 2.0 coupe were produced between 1964 and 1968. This short production span combined with low volumes, the inherent dynamic attributes of the rear-engine layout, and their eligibility for pre-1966 era Historic motorsport, ensures an early 911 remains as desirable today as when it first appeared in showrooms.
Team ‘Project 50’
The Porsche Cars GB ‘Project 50’ activity underlines the origins of the 911, and particularly its roots in racing. Long-standing Porsche fans and younger enthusiasts will also be intrigued to reflect on how Porsche has developed the unique rear-engined concept of the 911 continually over the past 50 years.
Few cars have enjoyed such a long production run and evolved so purposefully and effectively. The enduring design language that ensures a 911 is never anything other than a 911 to look at guarantees a consistency of style that has never gone out of fashion.
Since it was first launched, the 911 has been regarded as a rewarding car to drive quickly due to its rear-engine. To drive fast, a 1965 911 undoubtedly demands a particular level of commitment behind the wheel; this dynamic flair remains discriminating to this day. Systematic chassis refinements over the years have had the effect of lessening the influence of the legendary rear-biased weight distribution of the 911 yet the unique feel, character and driver involvement is undimmed. And the high dynamic limits of the chassis continue to demand respect.
While the origins of the latest Type 991 version of the 911 remain self-evident in the distinctive silhouette and emotional character, it is clear the 911 has been perfectly engineered over seven generations to remain the benchmark sports car. This process of evolution results in a car that its many fans regard as getting better and better with time.