The Porsche 911 is one of the best cars of all time. However, some versions are better than others. We examine more than 55 years of Porsche history to separate the good from the bad.
- The Porsche 911 has developed a cult following since its launch in 1964 and has enjoyed great success on the rally and GT circuits.
- The original Porsche 911 went from 0 to 60 in 8.3 seconds before Porsche enlarged the engine several times over a 25-year period.
- The latest generation of the 911 features modern technology, with Porsche eyeing a hybrid version for launch in 2024.
First generation. The 911 was light on power but big on potential as the engine range grew
The 911’s place in Porsche’s lineup was straightforward; It was the largest version of the 356, with two additional seats. The original 911 was not the powerful racing car we know today. In fact, it was powered by a weak 148-horsepower 2.0L H6 engine that produced 140 lb.-ft. of torque
The original 911 (1964-1969) would go from 0 to 60 in 8.3 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the 2021 Honda Civic. However, Porsche has enlarged the engine several times over the 25-year period.
Porsche 930: The original 911 Turbo brings 300 horsepower to the table
It would be a crime to talk about the Porsche 911 without talking about the 930, which is the turbo version and a sacred machine for most car lovers. When launched, it was Germany’s fastest production car. It was an astonishing achievement, especially considering that it had to compete with other major German manufacturers such as BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
The original 911 Turbo came with a 3.0-liter H6 engine that produced 260 horsepower. This engine would increase to a 300-horsepower, 3.3-liter H6 in 1978, thanks to a massive upgrade. Other upgrades included an intercooler, anti-roll bars, and larger brakes.
Porsche 964: The new 911 is the first with AWD and Tiptronic automatic transmission
When the Porsche 964 was launched in 1989, Porsche claimed it was 85% new. The new 911 also comes with important new technologies. It was also the first with a Tiptronic automatic transmission, standard power steering, and ABS.
Additionally, it offered the first AWD 911, branded Carrera 4 (the traditional RWD version of the 964 was called Carrera 2). Porsche again offered a turbo version for the 964. However, they didn’t have enough time to turbocharge the 3.6L H6 engine, so they reused the 3.3L Turbo from the 930. And they further improved the 930’s setup by lowering the turbo lag. It was the last generation to offer the Targa roof until the 991 brought it back in 2012.
Porsche 993: the latest air-cooled 911 gained 15% more power
Perhaps because of its styling, enthusiasts often consider the Porsche 993 (1995–1998) to be the Holy Grail of the 911. Porsche enthusiasts swoon over the stunning appearance of the 993. However, looks are not the only reason. which is why most Porsche enthusiasts consider the 993 to be the best 911.
Performance is what makes the 993 the perfect 10. When Porsche introduced the 993, they made sure to fix any issues with the 964. In addition to increasing power by 15%, they offered a six-speed transmission, larger flow dual exhaust, and brakes for the first time. Porsche didn’t stop there; They also improved the 964’s power steering and AWD systems.
The 993 Turbo took several risks. Instead of simply turbocharging the 3.6-liter engine for the first time, they decided to go a step further and double it. To save weight, they introduced alloy wheels with hollow spokes.
Porsche then decided to upgrade to 11 and launch the Porsche 911 GT2. Although the GT2’s success speaks for itself, Porsche claimed it produced 450 horsepower. The final reason why 911 enthusiasts seem to go completely crazy in the presence of the 993 is that it is the last air-cooled 911.
Porsche 996: 911 gets redesigned tinted headlights and a water-cooled engine
The Porsche 996 (1999–2004) is clearly the odd one out in the 911 family and doesn’t get much love. At the time, Porsche was in dire straits and knew it needed a solution to help resolve its financial crisis. So they decided to completely remake their 911 to increase sales. For the first time since the initial launch of the 911, almost 35 years earlier, the 911 had a new chassis. It was also the first time that a 911 featured a water-cooled engine in addition to a GT3 model.
Everything sounds good. Now, what’s so bad? Porsche didn’t have enough money to completely remake the 911, so they kept the suspension and Targa roof system from the 993.
However, what hurt Porsche fans the most were the fried egg-shaped headlights. It’s ironic because the 996 wasn’t the first car to feature them. In 1997, Porsche used them in its 911 GT1 car, and there wasn’t even a slight grumble about it back then.
Porsche 997: return to the original “round” headlights and improved interior
Proof that Porsche admirers are quick to forgive and forget, they welcomed the 997 (2005–2011) with open arms. It was easy for them to add it to their garage, as it marked a clear departure from the 996 with its return to round headlights. In fact, Porsche focused primarily on interior and exterior styling when designing the 997.
Porsche would redesign the 997 again in 2009 for a mid-cycle refresh. And they haven’t forgotten the cornerstone of the 911 brand: performance. They released over 30 different models, including some of the fastest models the 911 has ever seen. These models included the highly sought-after GT2 RS and the established GT3 RS 4.0.
Porsche 991: a completely new platform and a switch to turbo-only engines
When the 991 (2012–2019) was launched, enthusiasts loved its looks and claimed it was the best-looking 911 in decades. Porsche completely redesigned the 911 for the 991, making it the third all-new platform in 911 history.
Purists were quick to forget the look because they hated the new electric steering, saying it ruined the feel of a 911. They also hung on for the same reason when Porsche decided to make all Carreras turbocharged in 2015.
However, Porsche brought back the original Targa roof that resembles that of the 964. They also offered a new seven-speed transmission for the first time. Whether purists like it or not, it was a successful 911, during its run it sold the millionth Porsche 911.
Porsche 992: The latest models have more technology than ever, with a ‘hybrid’ version to come
The 992 (2019-present) is the latest generation of the 911 and comes with modern technologies. Originally, Porsche only launched four models i.e. Carrera, Carrera 4, Carrera S, and Carrera 4, all with 3.0 L H6 Turbo engine. In 2020, they decided to launch the Targa 4 and Targa 4 and announce the Turbo and Turbo S. The Turbo and Turbo S are equipped with a 3.7L twin-turbo engine.
Finally, in early 2021, Porsche launched the GT3 and GT3 Touring models. The GT3 uses the 4.0L H6 engine found in the 991. It appears that Porsche plans to release even more configurations for the 992 with a hybrid version expected to launch in 2024.
What are the best and worst years of the Porsche 911?
As we said at the beginning, the Porsche 911 is a hugely successful car, and it’s no wonder why. There hasn’t been a bad version for over 50 years. That being said, when purchasing a 911, you should know what to expect from it. If you want the original 911 recipe that purists love, then a 911 (1964-1989), 930 (1975-1989), 964 (1990-1994) or 993 (1995-1998) is for you.
If you want to use the 911 as an investment, the three best options are the 911 (1964-1989), the 930 (1975-1989) and the 993 (1995-1998). Now, if you’re shopping for a 911 on a budget, there’s really only one that comes to mind, the 996 (1999-2004). For those who want a modern Porsche but are okay with spending more for better looks than the 996, check out the 997 (2005-2011) or 991 (2012-2018). Finally, for those who want the latest edition, the 992 (2019-present) shows promise with several different configurations.
Old-school charm and all that aside, we suggest the 2011 Carrera 997, the first of the 991 series. These can be found on the market for a cool $50,000 with standard features and about 46,000 km. That’s almost half of what you’d spend on a 2019 or newer.
To support our thoughts on the 2011 model, there were no complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. (NHTSA) and a reminder. The recall has only affected 584 units so far and is due to a strut pin that can fracture and allow the strut to separate from the vehicle.
What is the worst year for the Porsche 911? We’ll have to agree with enthusiasts, the 996 models (1999-2004) are the worst years of the 911 (yes, the non-circular headlights were the deciding factor for us). In particular, be careful with the 2002 model, which registered 13 complaints, three recalls and one investigation.