9 June 2018 marks 70 years since the first Porsche was certified for road use - and since then the brand has gone on to build some of the most exquisite road and race cars ever created. Join us on the journey to explore its landmark cars:
Gmund Roadster (1948)
The first sports car to carry the Porsche name was this 585kg (1287lb) mid-engined two-seater roadster, built in a sawmill in Gmund, Austria. Certified for road use on 8 June 1948, it featured a mid-mounted 1131cc VW Beetle engine rated at just 35bhp to give a top speed of a mere 84mph.
Porsche 356 (1949)
The first production car to come from the Porsche stable, the 356 was initially made in Austria and bodied in aluminium, but by 1950 the company had relocated to Stuttgart and the 356 was being produced in steel. These early cars featured a split windscreen and a modified VW Beetle flat-four engine.
Porsche 550 Spyder (1953)
With a power to weight ratio of 200bhp per tonne, the 550 was a seriously fast racer that won the 1956 Targa Florio along with its first race at the Nurburgring in 1953. The car was so low that Hans Hermann drove under a closed level crossing gate on the 1954 Mille Miglia.
Porsche 356 Speedster (1954)
Californian racers were buying 356s, slicing off the roofs and trimming the windscreens to reduce weight and drag in a bid to boost performance. Porsche importer Max Hoffman asked Porsche to build an official car with these features and the 356 Speedster was the result.
Porsche 356 Carrera (1956)
The quad-cam flat-four fitted to the 356 Carrera could rev to 8000rpm, turning it into a fearsome track-ready machine. As well as four overhead camshafts there was a roller-bearing crank, two spark plugs per cylinder and dry-sump lubrication while the doors, boot lid and bonnet were made of aluminium to cut weight.
Porsche 718 RS 60 (1960)
The 550 Spyder morphed into the 718 RS 60, gaining a 1587cc quad-cam 160bhp engine and a larger windscreen in the process. As well as a redesigned nose there was new weather protection and - despite this being a racer - there was also a luggage bay to comply with regulations.
Porsche 901 (1963)
The 901 was famously introduced, only to be hastily renamed when Peugeot complained about the moniker. The first 911s got a 130bhp flat-six and a short wheelbase that produced especially tricky handling, but from 1968 the wheelbase was stretched by 2.2 inches and the engine block was lightened to improve cornering stability.
Porsche 904 GTS (1964)
Porsche gave up on its Formula One aspirations to create this - its contender for the sub-2.0-litre class in sports car racing. The 904 enjoyed success at Le Mans, Sebring and in the Targa Florio, but Porsche never returned to F1.
Porsche 912 (1965)
The six-cylinder 911 was a costly car so to allow more people to get into one Porsche introduced the four-cylinder 912, featuring a 356 powerplant. The ploy worked as well; at one point the 912 outsold the 911 by two to one, but it was still a fast machine.
VW-Porsche 914 (1969)
Although Porsche's racers generally got a mid-mounted engine, its road cars didn't. The 914 put that right with a choice of four- or six-cylinder powerplants that ensured brilliant handling. Shame about the awkward styling though.
Porsche 917 (1969)
The first car in which Porsche claimed an outright win at Le Mans, the 917 also starred in the seminal Steve McQueen film Le Mans. Powered by a flat-12 of 4.5, 4.9 or 5.0 litres, the 917’s engine was effectively a pair of air-cooled flat-sixes stitched together to produce 520bhp, later rising to more than double this in turbocharged form.
Porsche 911 G-Series (1973)
The fitment of impact bumpers in 1973 got 911 fans flustered, but the car was better to drive thanks to chassis revisions and the adoption of a 2.7-litre engine. This was also the generation of 911 that introduced us to the Turbo, early editions of which suffered from horrendous turbo lag, making them hair-raising to drive.
Porsche 924 (1975)
Audi commissioned Porsche to develop a front-engined sports car but then got cold feet, leaving Porsche to go it alone. Its VW LT van-derived front-mounted four-cylinder engine and entry-level status ensured the 924 got a rough ride - and to a point it still does.
Porsche 928 (1977)
With 911 sales declining Porsche decided to create a successor with a front-mounted water-cooled all-alloy V8. Launched in 1977 the 928 was crowned European Car of the Year for 1978 (the only sports car so far to have won this award) thanks to its excellent build quality, performance and usability - if you take its thirst out of the equation.
Porsche management changed in 1981, and new company CEO Peter Schutz decided that the 911 series would in fact continue on, which it does to this day.
Porsche 924 Turbo (1979)
Created to fill the gap between the 924 and 911, this is when the 924 got serious. With a KKK K26 turbocharger bolted to the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine there was now 170bhp on tap, 140mph was in reach yet only the alloys, discreet rear spoiler and extra vents in the nose gave the game away.
Porsche 928S (1980)
It didn't take long for Porsche to raise the bar with its V8-powered grand tourer. While the earlier car has a 240bhp 5.4-litre V8 there was now a 300bhp 4.7-litre unit fitted. Happier to rev, there was also a new manual gearbox; most earlier cars got a three-speed auto bought in from Mercedes.
Porsche 924 Carrera GT (1980)
First seen as a styling exercise at the 1979 Frankfurt motor show, the 924 Carrera GT was homologated for motorsport the next year. Much of the bodywork was now plastic to cut weight to just 940kg (2068lb) while a bigger turbo and intercooler boosted power to 320bhp. Created as a racer, 406 road-going cars were made.
Porsche 944 (1982)
Much more than just a pumped-up 924, the 944 got an all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine which was effectively half of a 928's V8. Later cars got a 3.0-litre engine that offered bags of torque in a package that was utterly usable and beautifully balanced. Sadly the 924's interior was carried over though.
Porsche 959 (1985)
Easily the most technically advanced production car ever made when it was introduced, the 959 featured a twin-turbo flat-six, four-wheel drive, adjustable suspension and Kevlar panels. Homologated for Group B rallying, the 959 packed a 450bhp punch and was mesmerisingly fast with a top speed of 197mph; just 337 were made along with another eight in the early 1990s, as continuation models.
Porsche 944 Turbo (1985)
When Porsche strapped a KKK K26 turbocharger to the 944's 2.5-litre four-cylinder it created one of the greatest GTs of the time - and one that's now a classic bargain. Power went up to 220bhp (later 250bhp) and the top speed rose to 157mph; Porsche also overhauled the standard 944's cabin giving it a much-needed update.
Porsche 924S (1986)
Before the 924 bowed out, Porsche finally fitted the engine that it had always deserved; a proper 2.5-litre Porsche unit, as already seen in the 944. It was detuned to 150bhp but the new powerplant was still a big improvement over what had gone before.
Porsche 944S (1986)
In 1986 the 944 got the S treatment, which entailed the fitment of a 16-valve cylinder head to liberate 190bhp. Two years later the regular 944 received a 2.7-litre engine rated at 165bhp.
Porsche 928 S4 (1987)
A facelift brought softer lines for Porsche's generously proportioned GT, as well as a 320bhp 32-valve V8. Now called the 928 S4 and available only with an automatic transmission, there were also Club Sport (fantastically rare and now hugely sought after) and GT versions (from 1990), both of which came only with a manual gearbox.
Porsche 944 Turbo SE (1988)
The 944 Turbo SE was the fastest four-cylinder production car available when it was introduced, with a 250bhp engine. The extra grunt was courtesy of a remapped ECU and bigger turbo, both of which were soon standardised for the regular 944 Turbo.
Porsche 911 (964) (1989)
The biggest redesign for the 911 in well over a decade, the 964 brought with it the option of four-wheel drive, which worked brilliantly with the rear-engined configuration. Porsche claimed that just 14 per cent of the 964 was carried over from its predecessor.
Porsche 944 S2 (1989)
When the 944 S2 went on sale in 1989 it featured the world's biggest four-cylinder engine of any production car with its 3.0-litre displacement. As well as revised bodywork there was also a 944 cabriolet available for the first time.
Porsche 928 GTS (1991)
The key with buying a 928 as a classic is to buy the earliest you can find that still works (easier said than done) or the latest - and in particular a GTS. The most collectible 928 variant of all, the GTS was expensive when new: £72,000 in the UK and around US$90,000 in America. The beefed up 5.4-litre V8 now produced 350bhp, capable of taking this luxurious grand tourer all the way to 171mph.
928 production ended in 1995; an estimated 61,056 cars were produced in total.
Porsche 968 (1992)
It was the last roll of the front-engined four-cylinder dice. Directly evolved from the 944, the 968 featured the same 3.0-litre four-cylinder engine that the 944 got, but now with variable valve timing and enough performance to frighten a 911.
Porsche 968 Club Sport (1993)
One of the best-handling cars to come out of Stuttgart, the Club Sport got the same 237bhp as the regular 968, but it lost around 100kg (220lb) thanks to the deletion of the rear seats, some sound deadening and electric windows.
Porsche 911 (993) (1993)
The final air-cooled 911, the 993 has now become fantastically collectible. Only the roof and bonnet were carried over from the 964, while the new all-alloy rear suspension improved the handling no end. The 993 introduced us to the expensive and fast 450bhp 911 GT2, for those who wanted every drive to be a white-knuckle ride.
Porsche 968 Turbo S (1993)
The ultimate 968 was the Turbo RS that Porsche produced for those intent on going racing, but there was also a road-going version available called the 968 Turbo S. Fitted with an eight-valve head, the turbocharged 3.0-litre engine developed 305bhp and 370lb ft of torque - enough to give a 175mph top speed and a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds. Just 16 were made.
Porsche Boxster (986) (1996)
When the Boxster arrived in 1996 there were many who questioned the need to spend any more money on a faster, heavier alternative sports car that was invariably no better to drive. Beautifully balanced, fabulously well built and exquisite to drive, even the entry-level model could crack 150mph, while the range-topping Boxster S was a genuine 165mph slingshot.
It widened the company's potential ownership profile and some say ensured if not its survival then certainly its independence, at least for the time being.
Porsche 996 (1998)
Porsche purists bemoaned the fact that the 911 was no longer air-cooled but the first water-cooled model was a big advance over its predecessor in many ways, even if those fried-egg headlights divided opinion. The interior was all new, the track was wider and the wheelbase was stretched for improved stability and while regular models were brilliant to drive, halo editions such as the GT3 RS were on a whole new level.
Porsche Cayenne (2003)
If ever there was a car that divided opinion this is it, but the Cayenne proved that SUVs can be great to drive, it made Porsche truck loads of money to develop more relevant cars for enthusiasts - and it demonstrated that most SUV buyers have no intention of ever going off road.
Porsche Carrera GT (2004)
Developed from a stillborn Le Mans car project, the Carrera GT was fabulous to drive as long as you weren't stuck in traffic. It sounded incredible too with its 5733cc naturally aspirated mid-mounted V10. Porsche aimed to build 1500 of them but demand dictated that just 1270 were made.
Porsche 911 (997) (2004)
The sixth-generation 911 was one of those cars that could be all things to all people - as long as you didn't need to carry any wardrobes. It was a glorious grand tourer or a fearsome sports car that offered refinement, superb build and reliability. In GT2 form it was also the first 200mph 911, with the Turbo edition not far behind.
Porsche Cayman (2005)
If the Boxster rewrote the rules on premium affordable sports cars, the Cayman moved the goalposts even further. Sublime to drive and practical thanks to its hatchback configuration, the Cayman cost half as much as a 911, which suddenly seemed redundant to many.
Porsche Panamera (2009)
In the late 1980s Porsche developed a four-door 911 called the 989, but it would prove to be a still-born concept. Two decades later however, Porsche introduced its first ever four-door super-saloon with a range crowned by a fabulous twin-turbo 500bhp V8. Later would come V6, diesel and hybrid editions; the latter was Porsche's first petrol/electric production car.
Porsche Cayenne Mk2 (2011)
Even when it was launched the original Cayenne had looked gawky; in hindsight the design looks especially ungainly. Not the second take on the formula though; the Mk2 was much sleeker, significantly lighter and as a result it was much better to drive. It also brought with it a hybrid option, although not until 2014.
Porsche 911 (991) (2011)
It’s already seven years since the seventh-generation 911 went on sale and later in 2018 we’ll see its replacement. The 991 was the widest and longest 911 yet, but not the heaviest thanks to its hybrid steel and aluminium construction. The 991 was also the first 911 to use electric power steering and a seven-speed manual gearbox.
2011 also saw a full merger between the Porsche company and Volkswagen AG, its longtime collaborator, and a company with whom it shares strong and complex family ties.
Porsche Boxster Mk3 (2012)
Better looking and even better to drive, the third-generation Boxster was one of the most complete driver's cars ever made. The new car's bodyshell was 40% stiffer than its predecessor's and there was a new 2.7-litre flat-six for entry-level models while the Boxster S carried over its forebear's 3.4-litre unit.
Porsche Cayman (2012)
Mirroring the changes seen in the Boxster Mk3 over its predecessor, the second-generation Cayman used the same six-cylinder engines with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. With a longer wheelbase and wider front track the new Cayman offered better high-speed stability with the same hatchback practicality as before.
Porsche 918 Spyder (2013)
First seen as a concept at the 2010 Geneva motor show, the 918 Spyder was a technological tour de force with its 608bhp 4.6-litre V8 engine allied to a pair of electric motors that could bring another 279bhp to the party. Just 918 were made.
Porsche Macan (2014)
The Cayenne had proved such a massive success for Porsche that it just had to offer a smaller, more affordable SUV that could sell in even bigger numbers. Sure enough the Macan proved another great-driving smash hit. Initially only V6 engines were offered; later would come a 2.0-litre four-cylinder in some markets.
Porsche Cayman GT4 (2015)
Fitted with a detuned version of the 911's 3.8-litre flat-six, the Cayman GT4 could still manage 183mph. Fitted only with a six-speed manual gearbox, the GT4 was lighter than the regular Cayman with a kerb weight of 1340kg (2948lb), while it also sat 30mm closer to the ground for a reduced centre of gravity.
Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman (2016)
Until now all Boxsters and Caymans had featured a flat-six engine, but not any more. Instead there was a turbocharged flat-four fitted and while the noise that resulted wasn't as delicious, the lighter powerplant and ample power meant that even the entry-level model could top 170mph and get to 60mph in less than five seconds.
Porsche Panamera (2017)
The original Panamera always looked like it had a hump back but this was fixed with the all-new model that came in 2017. A far more appealing silhouette was matched with more efficient mechanicals including V6 and V8 engines that took in petrol, diesel or hybrid power.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo (2017)
Perhaps the ultimate fast wagon for those who love driving in a hurry but don't want to have to tone down the practicality too much. Opt for the E-hybrid version and you've got a ludicrous 671bhp at your disposal, putting it on a par with a Ferrari 488, yet you don’t have to leave the labradors behind.
Porsche Cayenne Mk3 (2018)
As the new kid on the block, Porsche has yet to roll out its usual bewildering array of iterations of the Cayenne Mk3. For now there's no hybrid option and Porsche has also given up on diesel in all markets which means buyers have to choose between V6 and V8 conventional units, the latter coming in 550bhp Turbo form.
Porsche 992 (2018)
When the eighth-generation 911 is unveiled later this year it’ll be the perfect celebration of Porsche’s 70 years. It’ll pack the latest driver aids, it’ll be available with hybrid power and as you’d expect there will be plenty of ultra-powerful derivatives offering around 600bhp to provide scintillating performance. PICTURE: Autocar spyshot