Hooniverse Asks – What's a "True" Porsche?

For some aficionados of the brand, Porsche stopped building real cars when the last 356 rolled off the assembly line. Others discount anything with a radiator. What do you think, do Porsches have to emulate the layout of the pre-war People’s Car in order to be accepted as righteous?
To some, the 911 isn’t all the different from its precursor 356, but mention that to an owner of the earlier, four-cylinder car and you may get a stony-faced end to the conversation. Those owners don’t even want to acknowledge the intended-for-Audi 924, and bringing up the heavy, V8-engined 928 might get you a punch in the throat.
Others view the air-cooled 911s as sufficiently Porsche-esque, but discount the water-cooled cars, as well as anything that requires you to sit behind the engine. The Cayenne generally sets everybody off, and the new Panamera isn’t going to be calming them down anytime soon.
So where do you sit on “Porsche-ness”? Do you draw the line at engines with fins and fans, or are you willing to welcome ethylene glycol-carrying cars into the fold? Does it only need to carry the Stuttgart shield for your stamp of approval, or do the number of doors and engine placement enter into the equation?
Most of us may not currently be able to afford them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be elitist snobs and judge them, so, with that in mind, what do you consider a “true” Porsche?
Image sources: [cartype.com, Philseed.com]

68 Comments

    1. Until I read this article, it never struck me that the Boxster and Cayman generally escape the un-Porsche stigma. Then again, both are highly acclaimed, and often the car to beat, much like the 911 variants. Scorn only enters in when someone claims a base Boxster is 'better' than a GT3, simply by being mid-engined.

    1. This is the kind of well reasoned, level headed commentary that has no business being on the internet. If you can't begin incorporating class or culture war, tired stereotypes or some kind of meme, we'll be forced to ban you.

      1. I must disagree. Her comment, "To me it's just another brand, not a religion." was obviously a deliberate, sarcastic dig at Porsche enthusiasts, posted in hopes of starting a flame war. Juliet C. is such a troll.
        Welcome, Ma'am.

      1. The Cayenne's a Touareg GTI, the Touareg's the one I actually want (thank you Ferdinand Piech, and your epic, epic ego bolstering projects).

  1. Defining a true Porsche is mainly a matter of understanding the Porsche design philosophy. Form over function, every line not necessarily terribly attractive but undeniably "right", no more complicated than necessary but exactly as complicated as necessary. RWD is a given. Plenty of torque and grip. A manual transmission with a proper clutch that you have to work yourself. Passenger space is not a priority, nor is comfort, but an open top is a nice bonus. Also it helps to be red.
    Something like this is about perfect:
    <img src="http://classics.com/images06/tch06-12s.jpg"&gt;

  2. A Porsche is a car that actively seeks to kill the driver.
    A Cayenne with 17 airbags, crushzones, back-up cameras and all-wheel drive is not a 'true" Porsche.

    1. Does it have to be rear-engined to do that? Is trailing-throttle oversteer and massive turbo lag a must? Otherwise, I think my 924S, with crappy brakes, non-functional wipers, and only 1 working brake light qualifies.

  3. If a model was created to exploit a particular niche market, and not to be the pinnacle of engineering and performance for their own sake, then no, I'd say it's not a "true" Porsche. By my definition, the Cayenne doesn't qualify. The jury's still out on the Panamera.

    1. Well, the number of people that can afford the righteous Porsche 911 GT2, GT3, GT3 RS, Carrera GT, or (dare I say it) offered-to-the-public version of the 959 defines the word "niche market".

  4. I've learned that debates about Porsche are as contentious…or moreso…than debates about politics, religion, and Fox News.
    To me, a Porsche is a Porsche if it has the Porsche badge on it. Ferry Porsche designed the 356 because there were no other cars out there that he liked. Therefore, Porsche from its inception has been a segment buster. While I think the Panamera is fairly ugly, it is a natural progression of that original philosophy and not as big of an aberation as previously thought.
    This is a fairly new line of thinking for me. I used to be a "purist" and thought only the performance cars in the line of the 356, 911, etc. were "true" Porsche's and everything else was brand whoring. However, after reading some on the history of Porsche and why the 356 came about and what it was, I don't think the "purist" line of thinking is in keeping with all of Porsche's thinking.
    The real question for me is whether or not Porsche is still true to its racing roots.

    1. To me, a Porsche is a Porsche if it has the Porsche badge on it.
      I was thinking the same thing. Except for one thing – the 914 had no Porsche badge on it. Now some would agree with that sentiment, but the fact is that it was designed and built by Porsche. Even the Type 4 engine it came with was reengineered to include hotter cams than the Volkswagen version, and the car had four wheel discs.
      Look, I don't care for the Cayenne or the Panamera, but I see their existence as vital. Brand diversity tends to isolate you from the whims of the marketplace. If it lets them crank out sports cars in a down economy, then bully for them.
      As for racing roots, that depends. They generally don't campaign factory cars anymore, but the privateers that do race them get substantial support from the factory – Grand Am and ALMS races have Porsche Motorsport reps and ample spares on hand.

      1. OK, I took your message as a fun personal challenge. I assume you were trying to say that the Porsche 914 car only said "PORSCHE" on the rear decklid, and didn't have the Stuttgart crest-like shield thing– so it wasn't a Porsche.
        So, I had to check.. Yes, The Porsche 914 (U.S. version) was definitely badged "porsche" on the rear decklid..

        ” target=”_blank”>http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/shopcart/9144…
        And.. dustin_driver posted a shot below of a 914 with the Porsche crest on the hood.. if that's "factory", I think the case is closed.. the 914's a Porsche.

      2. OK, I took your message as a fun personal challenge. I assume you were trying to say that the Porsche 914 car only said "PORSCHE" on the rear decklid, and didn't have the Stuttgart crest-like shield thing– so it wasn't a Porsche.
        So, I had to check.. Yes, The Porsche 914 (U.S. version) was definitely badged "porsche" on the rear decklid..

        ” target=”_blank”>http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/shopcart/9144…
        And.. dustin_driver posted a shot below of a 914 with the Porsche crest on the hood.. if that's "factory", I think the case is closed.. the 914's a Porsche.

        1. Quite the contrary – I do believe it's a Porsche (I restored one with help from the factory manuals). That said, the 914 never came with the badge on the bonnet from the factory — they were added after the fact, either by dealers or (usually) by owners.

  5. For me, Porsche = horrendous, sweat-inducing, end-swapping oversteer. AWD is just fine, but I don't think it fits a true Porsche. I am aware that some of the most acclaimed Porsches of all time would be eliminated from my list of "real" Porsche greatness, but there are plenty to take their places. Basically, if you're not fighting the shit out of it to keep the rear end behind you, it's not really what a proper Porsche should be. A true Porsche should take skill to drive hard.

    1. I found a Matchbox 914 recently, needless to say I bought the hell out of it (along with a Vista Cruiser, almost as if I was trying to find the two most opposite vehicles from 1972).

  6. I'm glad a Porsche 944 is frowned upon to the purists because you can get a decent 944 dirt cheap nowadays and its a darn fine sports car. Im planning to buy a "budjet" sports car and for money, you can't beat a 944!

        1. You can have the best of both worlds with the 924S. All the maintenance costs of the 944 engine, and all the bare-bones interior of the 924. It is lighter, faster, and cheaper than a 944, though.

  7. A true Porsche is one that will make the owner want to look down their nose at all other cars as inferior. It will also handle and perform about the same as other high end sports cars, but cost at least 25% more to purchase and 100% more to maintain. Also, it might try to kill you if you don't have the proper skills to drive it. Additionally, if it is rear engined, there must be at least two parts that interchange with a VW KDF. The last one is just my own personal theory.

  8. Other obligatory plugs:
    http://ateupwithmotor.com/sports-cars-and-muscle-
    http://ateupwithmotor.com/sports-cars-and-muscle-
    Porsche as a brand has generally left me pretty cold. The 944 came closest to being my sort of car — mainly because it's the kind of size and package I like — but the heart-attack-inducing maintenance and repair costs of all Porsches makes me wary. But I don't feel any particular romance about Porsches qua Porsches.
    I can see the argument about the 924 not being a 'real' Porsche, which has some justice to it, since it was designed to be a VW or Audi, and ended up becoming a Porsche as an afterthought. Even so, it's not a subject that keeps me up nights.

  9. I'm down with everything except the Cayenne, because the unnatural model progression seems like brandwhoring, like if Land Rover built a compact car along the lines of the Jeep Patriot. It's an impressive vehicle, but one that's too porky to really count.

  10. We had a real Porsche when I was a kid. My Mom's third husband had a 912. Nice looking car, but it was in the shop so much that he bought a VW Bug to drive while the Porsche was down. He was too cool to do his own work, even though he was a mechanical engineer and wasn't a dummy by any means. Just looked down on that kind of thing. I distinctly remember riding in that yellow '71 Bug and hearing him disparaging Jaguars, Corvettes, and the like, because he had a Porsche (even though it was in the shop yet again). Even though I was a kid I knew that the VW had the same drivetrain, and was the better car of the two. Was the 912 a true Porsche? Bob thought so, and he was always right.

  11. The 914 is a Porsche with a VW badge. The Cayenne is a VW with a Porsche badge.
    The Panamera is somewhere in between. Honestly, anything with three doors or fewer is okay with me, and I'll accept the Panamera as soon as we get photos of one that spun and ate a tree with its rear end like a 911 tends to do.

  12. You know, a real Porsche is pretty much anything the good people at stuttgart decide to make. Because a true porsche is not this or that model, it´s a philosophy. The philosophy they infuse in anything they get their hands on. Now, most people hate the Cayenne, but can you deny it´s fast, sounds damn good and does EVERYTHING it´s supposed to do?

  13. I would submit a simple test to determine Porschness. Does it have a cup-holder?
    It's not necessarily a deciding factor, but a symptom of a de-fanged Porsche. There was a time when Porsches were built for one purpose and only one purpose: to be driven (well, some still are). Could you pick up a soda from the 7-11? No. Could you sit in commuter traffic without overheating? No. Would a GPS get you quickly to your destination with electro-nannies keeping you safe all the way? Hell No. The drive was all that mattered; not your thirst, nor your job, and definitely not where you were going. Driving took all your concentration and skill, and was its own reward.
    Once Porsche caved in to cup-holders, more creature comforts followed, until the drive wasn't a challenge anymore, it was downright comfortable (the nerve!). Now a Porsche is more likely to be found in an office complex than an S-bend. It just sits there all overweight, a sad husk of a once great pedigree. Luckily, even the most far gone of Porsches can rescued (yes, even a Cayenne). Rip out that cup-holder, kill the A/C, to hell with sound deadening and break that PSM button in the off position. Give yourself an extra 10 (or 50) minutes to get wherever you are going, or maybe just don't get there at all (and take that damn Cayenne to a mud hole. Get 'er sideways, and get 'er done).

  14. As long as it's in the museum in Zuffenhausen, it's a real Porsche. Until then, the jury's out.
    BTW, my memory suggests that the 912 served as the touchstone of douchiness in the 1970s much as the Boxster/Cayenne does now. Somehow 914s evaded this stigma.

  15. As long as it's in the museum in Zuffenhausen, it's a real Porsche. Until then, the jury's out.
    BTW, my memory suggests that the 912 served as the touchstone of douchiness in the 1970s much as the Boxster/Cayenne does now. Somehow 914s evaded this stigma.

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