All hardcore motoring journalists have a bucket list of motoring type things they hope to do during their careers – and I am no different.
Being able to go to the world renowned Goodwood Festival of Speed in the United Kingdom was one of those items. The fact that we went across to celebrate 50 years of Porsche 911 made it even better.
Outside of the world’s best racing and road cars, from priceless to the latest the automotive industry has to offer, there was also a whos who in racing drivers from Sir Stirling Moss to Lewis Hamilton milling around the place. This for me was truly an awesome experience.
It was an experience made completely surreal because I actually got to do a run up the 1.87 kilometre Goodwood hill climb road in a 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. I followed in the wheel tracks of many a famous machine and man that day!
Thrills and expensive spills are very much a part of an event like this but in the interest of safety and, of course, preserving the cars for another day posting a quick time was not that important. But the ever popular Sunday Shootout competition was eventually won by festival favourite Justin Law in his Jaguar XJR8/9 in a blistering time of 45.95 seconds.
In second place was the spectacular Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak car driven by Gregory Guilvert in a time of 47.32 seconds. Guilvert just pipped third placed Jonny Cocker in the unconventional yet technically impressive Lola-Drayson that came in a whisker behind at 47.34 seconds.
Fourth placed Alex Buncombe also managed a sub 48 second time. A good run saw him clock 47.79 seconds in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.
But when all is said and done, this experience was about Porsche and the over the last 20 years 911 has played a key role in helping to put the Festival of Speed on the map. This extends to Porsche products appearing in action in road or race form on the hill climb which is quite daunting in places, blasting sideways around the forest rally stage in a cloud of dust and gravel or simply sitting serenely on the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours lawn or Porsche exhibition stand.
The 911 has been at the very heart of the Porsche brand for five decades. Few other sports cars in the world can look back on such a long tradition and continuity as the Porsche 911.
It has been inspiring car enthusiasts the world over since its debut as the model 901 at the IAA International Automotive Show at Frankfurt in September 1963. Today the truly versatile 911 is considered by its many devoted fans to be the quintessential sports car – and the central point of reference for all other Porsche models carry a piece of the 911’s philosophy.
The 911 is much more than just a car. It is a cult icon that sets racing the pulse of automobile enthusiasts, even when it is stationary, throughout world racing.
Almost no other car in the world can look back on such a long tradition and continuityas the Porsche 911. The series has been constantly enhanced since its debut.
The unique character of the model, renamed 911 in 1964, has always been preserved. The result of this 50 year long evolution is a sports car that comes very close to perfection without having lost any of its fascination.
Each of the seven generations has written its own individual success story. More than 820 000 units of the 911 have been produced in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen since 1963.
No other sports car in the world has ever been so well-received by automobile enthusiasts. And no other sports car has ever won so many races and Porsche is taking the iconic sports car into the future with what is known internally as the 991.
A lot has been written and discussed about the secret of the success of the Porsche 911. More than 300 books have been written about it and new volumes are added each year. However, the answer to this question is very simple – the Porsche 911 is unique in the automotive world. Like no other vehicle it combines apparent opposites such as sportiness and everyday usability, tradition and innovation to exclusivity and social acceptability, design and functionality.
Ferry Porsche described the exceptional versatility of his masterpiece to a tee. “The 911 is the only car that you can drive from an African safari to Le Mans, then to the theatre and onto the streets of New York,” he said.
The 911 experience begins as soon as you get into the car. Irrespective of which 911 generation you are in the familiar 911 feeling sets in immediately.
You are greeted by five round instruments which can be seen from the perfect sitting position. The low bonnet is framed by two distinctive wings allowing the apex of every bend to be aimed at perfectly.
The ignition, which starts up the six-cylinder engine at the rear, is on the left of the steering wheel. The reliability of the Porsche flat engine is also legendary in sports car circles, and it plays an important role in the everyday usability and long life of the 911.
It is no coincidence that two thirds of all Porsche cars ever built are still on the road today.
It is the whole 911 package that fascinates. It is a sports car with perfect design along with powerful, efficient and robust engines.
The Porsche 911 concept is totally committed to fast, precise driving with various characteristics directly inherited from motor racing. In essence it is a treat for all the senses.
Owning and driving the car is a very special experience – and this has been the case for 50 years.
To find out more about the full Porsche range go to www.porsche.co.za