Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Porsche 901, 1963

Porsche 901, 1963

Porsche 901 was the name originally intended for the Porsche 911. By the early 1960s, Porsche project design numbers had reached into the 800s. For instance, Porsche's 1962 F1 model was called Porsche 804.

At the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (Frankfurt Motor Show) in Frankfurt in September 1963, Porsche presented its successor to the Porsche 356 as the Porsche 901. It took several more months until the cars was sold to customers. In late 1964, after having sold about 82 cars, the Porsche 901 was presented at the Paris Auto Salon. There, French car maker Peugeot objected to Porsche using any three digit number where the middle number was 0, owning the naming rights and having already sold many models with that scheme.

Porsche simply replaced the middle 0 with a 1, and called the car Porsche 911.

Other Porsche models were affected, which were primarily intended for racing but also sold as road legal cars. Here, Porsche kept the internal part number of 90x, but sold the car with a name, like: Porsche 904 as Carrera GTS, Porsche 906 as Carrera 6.

Porsche enthusiasts continue to refer to these cars by their three digit design numbers.

Later, Porsche introduced pure racing cars which were not sold for road use, so not competing with any road-going Peugeot. These carried the design numbers: Porsche 907, Porsche 908, Porsche 909.

Nearly three decades later, a 905 was entered in the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans, but not by Porsche (which then had won over a dozen times already), but by Peugeot: The Peugeot 905 won twice, in 1992 and in 1993. A Peugeot 908 Diesel was entered in the 2008 event, and won in 2009. Peugeot never used the number 901, though.

The 901 number is used among Porsche enthusiasts as shorthand to identify the aluminum 5-Speed transmission used in early 911s, the part number for these transmissions used an 11 digit code that began with 901 as did many other parts on the early cars. Later 911s from 1969 used a different magnesium case and a part number beginning with 911.


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