Porsche 911: 60 years of Love
Icons are Love we don’t need but desperately want. A feeling I had after 24 hours spent with Porsche in a French privately owned castle.
The idea of “iconic” objects is maybe one of my main themes as a lifestyle writer. At least I have been eager to find out what it represents for almost all the thousands of people I have interviewed in the last 20 years. There have been as expected thousands of perceptions but all of them without exception overlay in certain points. One of them would be the serendipity of being chosen to survive the merciless human spirit always looking for novelty and animated by an unseen energy that supports time in erasing what in the present may seem as irreplaceable. Humans unfortunately get used to everything and forget everything with the speed of “this is the best I have ever seen!”. But then “icons” come to our world and even if it is impossible to define why they bring with them “something” that anchors them to our existence. There are iconic watches, cars, chairs, fabrics, even orange squeezers, all being launched decades or centuries ago and still around us in the “irreplaceable” category.
Now I dare to amaze you with my theory. Icons are in an exorbitant majority of things that we don’t necessarily need but desperately want. Exactly in this way. We need icons for our intellectual and emotional pleasure. And this pleasure resides at the top of human refinement and yes, this would be real luxury. Porsche 911 is not the only automotive way of transportation and for sure the iconic model doesn’t feel alone in the super car segment. But indeed its exact recipe of performance, design, minimalism, emotion, style, lifestyle, status, love is impossible to find anywhere else. If price may be considered an issue then I would happily quote a Porsche ad from the 1970s that described the 911 as the most accessible race car. The reality today finds the Stuttgart love brand and the 911 icon in its best moment ever and it would be because of the recognition it finally receives on a global level. 60 years today, Ferdinand Porsche, the nephew of legendary Professor Porsche – the inventor of VW Beetle – and the son of Ferry Porsche – the founder of Porsche Cars – has brilliantly and magically drawn the most recognizable profile in the whole automotive world. Maybe there are a few more symbols among what we name as cars but 911 is obviously at a higher level. This would be the icons level, meaning those objects you dream of and you are ready to buy even if the price has no rational motivation.
You will always dream and aspire to the best and not to the useful. You don’t need to explain yourself too much why you buy a Porsche as long as you afford the access to its magic universe. I am sure Ferdinand Porsche and his family had no idea when they presented the 911 at the Geneva motor show in 1963 that it would be their ticket to immortality. They were just seriously and passionately trying to come up with a sports car like nothing before, the car they could not find anywhere else so they decided to build it themselves. But they did it. The stroke of a genius, the exact proportion between motorsport experience and versatility, the divine grace made sure no one would ever be able to confound a 911 for something else. History added one generation after another until 2023 when the 8th reiteration is already in its mid-life span. Of course icons have to keep up with their evolving public and for Porsche one clue would be a 911 offer of 26 versions, with different doses of its ingredients up to when recently everyday users can choose an off-road Dakar inspired sports car when the best seller SUVs – Macan or Cayenne – are out of discussion as too ordinary.
Icons are nevertheless obsessively coming back to the same philosophy and values and whichever company managed to control management egos along its evolution succeeded in securing its icons for the next generations. For Porsche, a family business, being conservative is part of its DNA. In the end even the 911 took everything that was already appreciated from 356, the brand’s first model. Sometimes, Porsche may be considered as too conservative but for the icons recipe the idea of choosing to evolve instead of restart paid off. 911 had and has the power to be a story about how you can always make a better car from something that seemed as the best. Always, during the 8 generations, Porsche 911 set new standards in more than acceleration and top speed. Today, for real, we have a 911 that is able to accompany its owners in every job they have, from office to kindergarten and even to shopping if they accept to accommodate some bags behind the front seats. These owners are happy with their car that they actually don’t need but can’t live without. This is the most essential “icon” definition I could find in my stories and interviews.
Rolex has never changed the design essence of its watches. Omega has always respected the recipe of its Moonwatch that landed on the Moon in 1969. Hotels like Principe di Savoia or Plaza Athenee have never radically changed their architecture or furnishings. There are many more accessible alternatives but not inside the iconic rarefied universe. You may find lemon squeezers that can do the job for a few euros but none of them can match the emotion of looking at Philippe Starck’s iconic squeezer designer for Alessi in 1990.
The world of Porsche offers in the end an energy you don’t need to justify to yourself or to anyone. This is what I felt the most when attending the 911 60th anniversary in Loire Valley in France. Porsche rented a privately owned castle and personalized all the rooms and gardens with brand details and outside, in the parking lot. The funny part is that the owner – one of the richest persons in France – has never rented his house before and he doesn’t need the money. But it was the idea of helping Porsche that convinced him and even more he came to see and enjoy the transformation. Outside the centuries old walls, Porsche offered the guests the occasion to drive and love the newest versions of the current 992 generation. All the 26 versions are amazing as every person that affords a 911 has different expectations and needs. But it is a question of knowing more in order to love more when you discover the pleasure of driving a limited edition of 911 created with vintage design elements or driving the most racing injected version yet – the 911 GT3 RS.
One more thing I felt again after an intense two days Porsche induction: this brand is more than a family business. It is a family. Actually almost all icons are to be found in the passionate environment that only families can still nurture. Somehow the corporate way of doing profits tends to forget that sometimes decisions have to be taken with the heart. Why would you choose a car with almost no trunk space that keeps the same design for 60 years? Because you love it!