Porsche 911 Carrera S test drive: one millionth 911 driven

“Porsche hasn’t thrown the kitchen sink at the millionth 911… It’s like they want it to link back to Ferry’s first 911”

Porsche 911 Millionth 10

One million Porsche 911s, eh?
That’s right, and this one is the millionth. Chicken feed if your scale is VW Beetle or Toyota Corolla, but a million top end sports cars? That’s a milestone alright and one worth celebrating by making the millionth car off the Zuffenhausen production line something suitably retro-inspired.

You’re referring to the green paint, obviously.
Well yes, but much more than that, too. The whole car is designed to hark back to Ferry Porsche’s first personal 911. Back on 19 October 1964, chassis number 300.003 was presented to him in Irish Green and featuring pepita-patterned seats.

In addition to that Porsche Exclusive has had a good crack at this particular 911. The instruments have silver surrounds just like the original, the handmade mahogany steering wheel has the original Porsche crest at its centre, there’s gold lettering on the engine cover, silver mirror caps, door handles and engine intake slats, plus aluminium window surrounds.

Porsche 911 Millionth 1

What’s been done to the oily bits?
Nothing. This is a regular 3.0-litre flat six Carrera S with the performance kit power upgrade fitted. That features bigger turbos, which means 444bhp. It’s a manual rather than a PDK and also has PASM and Sport Chrono, dropping the ride height by 10mm, altering the dampers and adding dynamic engine mounts, improved brake cooling and a sports exhaust.

So it drives just like a regular 911?
Absolutely. And whether you subscribe to the move to turbocharging in 911s or not, what you have here is a deeply impressive everyday sports car. Just as it’s always been. Good visibility, four seats inside, superb ergonomics, lovely cabin quality. Some things never change.

And some do. The 911 is a much bigger car now than it was in the Sixties. Still relatively compact by modern standards at 4499mm long and 1808mm wide, but back in 1963 the 901 (as it was first badged at its reveal – more on that later) was 4134mm long and just 1600mm wide. The new one is lower, though: 1296mm plays 1321mm. And also heavier. The old one may have only had 130bhp from its 2.0-litre flat six, but it only weighed 1030kg, this second gen 991 is 1440kg.

Porsche 911 Millionth 6

How much of a gulf is there in speed?
Vast. Back in 1963 Porsche claimed 0-100kph in 8.7secs. A new manual Carrera S – even without the performance kit – will hit 161kph in 8.9secs, having passed 100kph in 4.3secs.

Anyway, the driving?
Oh yes, sorry. What I really like is that Porsche hasn’t thrown the kitchen sink at the millionth 911. No cruise control for instance and no PDK twin clutch gearbox either. It’s like they want it to link back to Ferry’s first 911…

So it’s simple to drive with little interference. The seven-speed gearbox is better than it’s ever been – wrong slotting around fifth, sixth and seventh has been almost entirely eradicated and the shift is light, accurate and easy. It makes you realise that you don’t need a self-shifter even if you do a lot of pootling about town.

Out of town it moves with easy grace and determination. A 911 isn’t a hardcore sports car – that’s the GT3’s job – so you drive it accordingly, pouring it into corners, enjoying the blipped downshifts and then allow the torque to smoothly propel you down out and onwards.

I would like to point out at this stage that the millionth 911 only rolled off the production lines ten days before I drove it. It’s off on a world tour and then heading for pride of place in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. Sending it into the scenery while attempting to judge if the extra weight of the gold badging on the back made it handle more like a trad 911 wouldn’t, I suspect, be well received.

Porsche 911 Millionth 15

Speaking about badges, what’s the story about the origins of the 911’s name?
It was an entirely pragmatic naming policy. Porsche was a tiny marque at the time, and even then, was looking at a possible collaboration with Volkswagen. Back then VW’s spare parts numbering system ran up to 900, but not beyond, so Porsche decided to name it’s new flat six sports car the 901, with a later four cylinder car planned to be called the 902.

And that’s exactly what happened when Porsche pulled the wraps off the car at Frankfurt in September 1963. But a little over a year later, just as Porsche was poised to begin sales, Peugeot came knocking, pointing out that according to French law, and since they’d been using the designation since 1929, they had the rights to three digit numbers with a zero in the middle.

Ferry Porsche considered a couple of options – adding GT was one – but so close to launch and with things such as the brochure, price lists, fonts and physical badges close to being finalised, he came up with the simplest solution possible: just use the ‘1’ twice…

Porsche 911 Millionth 22

And 54 years later it’s still going strong…
It is indeed, an average of 18,518 cars per year, or 50.7 cars per day getting us to this point. Not that that’s particularly indicative of sales rate across the board. The first generation sold 81,000 cars across ten years, the latest has sold almost twice that in little more than half the time. Here’s a table for those who like to geek out at this sort of stuff:

Original 911 (1963-1973): 81,100
G-Series (1973-1988): 198,414 
964 (1988-1993): 74,008
993 (1993-1997): 67,535
996 (1997-2004): 179,163
997 (2004-2011): 215,092
991 (2011- end 2016): 152,659

Porsche 911 Millionth 17

So 967,971 up to the end of last year, and now a million. Could I have one just like this?
You probably could. Irish Green has been on the Porsche Exclusive charts for years, having first been introduced soon after Ferry ordered his original motor. As for all the little details, I expect a call to Porsche Exclusive would reveal all – but whether Porsche would thank you for trying to ape its one-off special edition is another matter. They’d definitely draw the line at an identical plaque.

But then why should number 1,000,000 be any more special than number 1,111,111? Or 1,234,567? Or 1,000,001? Or 1,074,367?

- Ollie Marriage

TopGear
Author: TopGear
TopGear is the world’s best-selling motoring magazine. The Malaysian edition holds similar status, as acknowledged by the industry.

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