The history of the 911 can be traced back to 1956, when Porsche decided to build a four-seater that would be larger then the 356. Porsche then had no intention of replacing the 356 with this car.
During the project however Ferry Porsche changed his mind. Because if the new car would be a four-seater, Porsche would have to compete with large companies like Daimler-Benz, and that would be a tough competition for a small manufacturere like Porsche. To avoid that competion, Porsche decided the car would have to be a two-seater like the 356.
The styling of the 911, or the 901 as it was called then, can be already be recognised in the 1961 proto-type, the 695 (shown below).
The nose of the car is identical to the 911's, but the back didn't have the famous 'slope' of the 911 yet. I am not sure wether this car was ment as a two- or four-seater. The high roof-line makes the back-seat usable for adults, but it must still be very tight.
In the summer of 1964 the 911 went into production (as the A-series). A lot of people argued that this car couldn't be considered a 'real' Porsche, because it was supposed to be too luxurious and too heavy, but most soon grew to accept it and, inevitably, respect it. Press response was enthousiastic. Car and Driver called it '...worth the price of all the old Porsches put together.'
In 1965 production of the 356 was stopped. Porsche therefore decided to fill the gap it left with a cheaper version of the 911, the 912.
It did however have most of the important features of the 911. The aerodynamic and rigid body, the brakes, the well-damped steering and the looks of the 911 were all shared. The 912 was however significantly cheaper then the 911, while offering almost the same thrills. The 912 became a real hit. In 1966 9.000 of 13.000 cars sold were 912's.
Another innovation for 1965 was an open 911: the Targa. The name Targa came from the 'Targa Florio', a road race in Sicily.
Targa however also means 'shield', aiming at the protective rollbar. The panel between this rollbar and the windscreen could lifted off and the rear window could be folded down, creating a open-air 911. The Targa's bodywork was based on the coupé's, because Porsche expected to sell only small numbers of the Targa. Therefore it was needed to design a strong rollbar. Porsche came up with a elegant sollution, making the rollbar a prominent styling feature, instead of trying to hide it. The rollbar was trimmed in stainless steel -chosen, Butzi said, to emphasize its functionality.
The 911 'S'
1966 featured another new 911, the 'S'. This car was more powerful and beter equiped then the 'normal' 911.
Engine modifications resulted in 30 extra bhp. Chassis and brakes were upgraded to handle this extra power. The S also featured Fuchs alloys that cut five pounds from unsprung weight at each hub. These early Fuchs wheels had very little black paint on them, and had the same skinny tires as the normal 911. All of these ingredients make the 911 S a very fast car, but it was difficult to drive at the limit, because it would suddenly spin without any prior warning. At least this made driving the S an exciting experience.
In 1968 US Porsche enthousiast would have to do without the experience of driving a 911 S however. It was no longer exported to the US because of emission standards. A 911 L was available instead, basically an S with a normal tune engine. In 1969 the S was however again available for the US. That year the S got six-inch-wide wheels and had 190 bhp in european spec, or 170, if you ordered the US version. Two other versions of the 911 were also available, the 125 bhp (or 110 for the US) 911 T, basicly a 912 with the six-cylinder engine, and the 911 E, the 'normal' 911. The 911 E had 160 bhp for Europe, and 140 for the US.
In 1969 the B-series offered a better solution to improve the 911's behaviour. The rear wheels were moved 57 mm backwards, changing the fore /aft weight distribution from 41.5 / 58.5 to 43 / 57. This meant the 911 became more stable. The larger wheel base can be recognised by the position of the torsion bar cap. The short wheel base cars have these caps directly next to wheel arch. The LWB models have some room betweem the arch and the cap.
The interior of the 911 was quite spacious, when compared with the 356's. Because the luggage space of the 911 was (and still is) very limited the back seats can be folded down to make room for some more luggage (as in this picture). This feature is still seen on the new 911's.
The 911 was equiped with comfortable Recaro seats, but from 1965 optional sport seat could also be ordered.
A lot of different wheels have been available for the 911. The early 911's were delivered with simple steel wheels. (4.5Jx15)
The first 911's had the Porsche-name writen above the number plate. The 911 designation was placed slightly higher on the right (left image). The B-series (1969>) can be recognised by the wider spaced Porsche name, and the 911 logo placed in the center, beneath the grille.