As Porsche’s new 992 generation of 911 roared onto centre stage in Los Angeles I decided to spend some time reflecting on the outgoing 991 and what its legacy is going to be in the future. It’s fair to say the 991 has always divided opinion among enthusiasts – much like the 964 in 1989 for its ABS and power steering, or the 996 in 1998 for its water-cooled engine and new looks. Detractors of the 991 have always pointed to the car’s big proportions and its lean towards more of a grand tourer than outright sports car. Enthusiasts, meanwhile, have hailed it as the generation which gave the 911 a contemporary feel, breathtaking performance and greater all-round capabilities.
While those bigger proportions cannot be argued against, I have to agree with those who say the 991 has been a brilliant chapter for the 911’s legacy. The statistics also somewhat back that up. Of the 1,049,330 911s produced since 1963 to 31 October 2018, a staggering 217,930 have been 991s – very nearly one in four. Away from the success in the sales room, the 991 should be noted for championing the power of analogue. The ingenious subtlety of the 2016 R will be a pillar of 911 history going forward, giving us not only a manual gearbox but likely the best one ever found in a Porsche. That thirst for special analogue cars ricocheted down the model line-up to the Carrera T and GT3 Touring at a time when other manufacturers were shifting towards auto-only transmissions. The scintillating noise of a naturally aspirated 991 GT car at 9,000rpm will live long in the memory, too.
It’s time for a new era of 911, and we’ll welcome the 992 with aplomb in 2019, but I feel it is right to first pay our dues to the 991 generation, which I think history will be very kind to indeed.
“The 991 should be noted for championing the power of analogue”