And it has stayed faithful to the formula. You might scoff at the very notion when you see how large the 911 has become, but relative to the generational growth of family cars like, say, a Volkswagen Golf, it has hardly grown at all. The 911 still has easily the shortest wheelbase of its competitor set, and if you have cause to keep up with a powerful midengined supercar, you’ll appreciate its relative narrowness as much now as you’d ever have done then. Probably more.
Ghosts are gathering. A 1960s short-wheelbase Targa buzzes alongside, followed by the growling prototype G-series ClubSport to cover the 1970s and 1980s. A 964-series Turbo is an interesting choice for this is one of the few genuinely difficult 911s – an urbane sophisticate in a tuxedo with a stiletto blade up his sleeve: the Patrick Bateman of the 911 world. Then there’s a 993, the last of the aircooled cars, complete with Targa top and four-speed Tiptronic gearbox. I always preferred the manual coupés, but the shape is a delight as ever. And one water-cooled car, an original 996 GT3 to serve as the final spectre of 911s from decades gone past.
I try them all before deciding what to do with the millionth car. The original Targa illustrates perfectly an enduring old 911 truth: they look fragile but are preposterously robust and respond beautifully to a firm hand and confident foot. It feels fast, too, faster than a 2.0-litre car half a century old has a right to feel.
Although it is not, the ClubSport feels like the mid-point in 911 evolution, as closely related to the cars of today as the very first. It is a joy to drive. The 964 is hilarious because it’s so quiet and so civilised yet you know it’ll mug you as soon as its back breaks loose. Don’t give it that chance.
An early rear-drive manual 993 coupé with 17in wheels and air conditioning (silver with black leather as you’re asking) would be pretty much the 911 of my dreams. It’s tiny, air-cooled, very quick, beautifully behaved, exquisitely built and completely out of my price range.
And then the old GT3. My, oh, my. Because all these cars are owned by Porsche and maintained by the factory museum, they are in as-new condition. So it not only leaps down the road, but its chassis also feels a lot more together than many modern sports cars. Like all the best 911s, it makes you want to drive it as fast as you sensibly can and then, instead of punishing your foolhardiness, it rains reward down upon your head for taking it at its word.
So now we have context; what we don’t have is time. Somewhat understandably, Porsche wants its car back and I can only ignore the supplications of my telephone for so long. I have a Carrera S long-term test car not dissimilar to this car so I could just turn around and slink slowly back to Edinburgh, write the words and no one would be any the wiser. But this is a landmark car and, save some rather lovely details (wood inside, special needles, houndstooth upholstery, the odd plaque and so on), it’s in deliciously basic spec: manual with iron brakes and very little else. I simply cannot not drive it.