Porsche’s legendary 911 is turning 50

Porsche’s legendary 911 is turning 50, but it shows no sign of slowing down, says blogger Martin Love. The Porsche I am driving is the new 911 Carrera 4S. It’s the largest sports car the German masterbuilder has ever created.

I floored the accelerator without warning, and that effortless, visceral, forward rush, underscored by the engine’s distinctive rorty note, is as close to an automotive high as you can get. It’s the reason Porsche drivers often seem to be grinning it’s not just because they know they earn more than you do.

There’s never a day when you wouldn’t want to find yourself driving a car like this, but this week it feels particularly apt as the 911 celebrated its 50th birthday.

To mark the occasion, Porsche has created a commemorative model. Aside from a few extra flounces and period references, it is the same as the one I’m driving here. But it’s worth noting as this is the kind of obsessional attention to detail that Porscheophiles love its multi-spoked wheels are inspired by the original Fuchs rims, the dials have green lettering, as the 1963 car did, and the badge colours are repeated in the headrests’ stitching. Porsche has also only made 1,963 of them. I love that sort of numerical homage.

Porsche does make other models from the “poor man’s” Boxster up to the unlovable Panamera, and it sells more of its hideous Cayenne SUVs than all the others put together but the 911 has always been the beating heart of the brand.

It’s the quintessential sports car and the benchmark against which all others measure themselves. It’s the Steve McQueen; the steak baguette; the You could go on. Porsches do this. They make you feel like you’re in love.

Over the 50 years more than 820,000 911s have been built. Most have made their way into their owner’s lives as surprisingly useful, everyday cars. Everyday? Actually, yes.

There are not many supercars with room for two little elfs in the back and, despite being so low-slung, my elderly neighbour managed to clamber in and out. It’s biddable in town and even surprisingly frugal with the fuel.

But all 911s, given half achance, are flyers with the potential to let rip on the track. And to have such a limitless supply of power, grace and ability on tap is something that always improves your mood.

This all-wheel-drive car is powered by a phenomenal 3.8-litre six-cylinder 400bhp engine which I, of course, spent the week driving responsibly. It’s also fitted with a new seven-speed manual gearbox.

It’s the world’s only seven-speed manual and it’s easy to see why it’s a complete pain. You never seem to know what gear you are in, or should be in. My father’s first car only had three gears and that served him well enough.

I rarely drive on my own. But late last Sunday I headed out to the quiet, dark lanes of Kent for one last go before the car was collected the next morning. I drove 50 miles in 50 minutes Porsche would like that. No music, just the engine’s mesmerising buzz. Fast, slow, straight, cornering and grinning.