With the new Ferrari 458-baiting Porsche 988 in the works, it might not be entirely coincidental that the firm recently decided to push out one of its most obscure prototypes and release more details outlining its story.
The 965 prototype was a 911 powered by a rear-mounted V8 engine. According to Dieter Landenberger, head of Porsche’s Archive Museum, the 965 was intended to be a kind of flagship for the 911 range, a “cheaper version of the 959” fitted with all-wheel drive.
It’s thought that this disguised mule, which was tested on public roads, was for proving the concept of a rear-mounted V8. Indeed, the engine is an Audi unit, engineered to power Audi’s flagship V8 model. Although Landenberger will only date the 965 to the “second half of the 1980s”, the Audi V8 was only launched in 1988.
In fact, it seems that the eight-cylinder 911 was part of a modernising programme overhaul for Porsche. The major project in the late 1980s was the 989, an executive hatchback otherwise identical in concept to today’s Panamera. Overseen by today’s Aston Martin boss, Ulrich Bez, it would have been powered by a home-grown Porsche V8 and had a sophisticated, wide-track rear suspension system.