Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Next Design

The Iconic Lines And Details That Define The Porsche 911

Are you entering the Next Design Challenge? Here’s something to get your creative juices flowing: A look at great Porsche 911's of the past and present.

  • <p>The 993 Cabriolet, from 1994.</p>
  • <p>The precursor to the 911, the 356.</p>
  • <p>The shift lever in the new 911 is placed far higher than you’d find in a family car--part of the many subtle cues that reference race cars.</p>
  • <p>The 911's latest incarnation has a slightly longer wheelbase and a wider front-track, for better cornering. But it’s also more svelte: The overhang in the front and rear is less, making the car seem more compact.</p>
  • <p>The Porsche 911 is engineered to be as lightweight as possible, both for better performance and lower fuel consumption.</p>
  • <p>This generation is the first 911 Carrera with dynamic engine mounts  which intelligently shift the engine’s position to adjust the car’s ride characteristics, based on how its being driven.</p>
  • <p>The first Porsche 911 Targa, with its removable glass top, was invented in 1966, to comply with a potential ban in the U.S. on soft-top convertibles. But since then, that design detail has been carried forward in several generations of 911.</p>
  • 01 /11
  • 02 /11

    The 993 Cabriolet, from 1994.

  • 03 /11

    The precursor to the 911, the 356.

  • 04 /11
  • 05 /11

    The shift lever in the new 911 is placed far higher than you’d find in a family car--part of the many subtle cues that reference race cars.

  • 06 /11
    | The New 911

    The 911's latest incarnation has a slightly longer wheelbase and a wider front-track, for better cornering. But it’s also more svelte: The overhang in the front and rear is less, making the car seem more compact.

  • 07 /11

    The Porsche 911 is engineered to be as lightweight as possible, both for better performance and lower fuel consumption.

  • 08 /11

    This generation is the first 911 Carrera with dynamic engine mounts which intelligently shift the engine’s position to adjust the car’s ride characteristics, based on how its being driven.

  • 09 /11
  • 10 /11
  • 11 /11

    The first Porsche 911 Targa, with its removable glass top, was invented in 1966, to comply with a potential ban in the U.S. on soft-top convertibles. But since then, that design detail has been carried forward in several generations of 911.

You’d be hard pressed to find any design which has hewed close to its original form without ceding its status as lust object over the decades. Designs fade in and out of popularity; what once looked new ends up looking old; and most get refreshed and modernized time and again, until finally losing their original magic. One exception is Porsche, whose 911 remains so close to its very first iteration in 1963.

The 911 had longevity built into its genes from the start. Its design began in 1956, led by Ferry Porsche, the son of the firm’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche. Ferry was hoping to create a long-lived replacement for the 356 (pictured above), and the only stead-fast requirement was that it retain the 356's rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. What was eventually produced ended up being the 901, rolled out in 1963. By 1965, that name changed to "911," and the car sported a then-futuristic transmission with five forward gears and a state-of-the-art suspension. Its design looked both friendly and fast, and was a study in simple elegance, defined by chrome accents and those iconic oval headlamps.

Since then, the car has distinguished itself as a race car, and its design has grown most aggressive—but not too much. Beyond its unique, teardrop profile, the Porsche hasn’t bent to design trends or become a over-muscled parody. That mix of the classic and contemporary made it a perfect subject for our Next Design Challenge, in which we’re asking you to design something that isn’t car, but is inspired by design details taken from the 911. Find out more here.

loading