The 10 Best Old Porsche Cars of All Time

These are the Porsches you should know. Classic 911s, cursed racers, and the very first hybrid ever made—more than 100 years ago.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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Founded in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart, Germany, Porsche has been pushing envelopes and creating incredible machines for decades. From the Beetle-inspired 356 to more 911s than you can shake a stick at, here are just a few of the reasons that Porsches are truly an engineering marvel.
Porsche
is well-known for their sleek on-road presence and luxurious vibes. Let's take a look at some of the most amazing cars ever built by this renowned German automaker.
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What makes an old car great? 

There are cars, and then there are Porsches. As Tom Cruise’s character said in Risky Business: “Porsche. There is no substitute.” But even Porsche purists will tell you that they’re not all created equal, and discussions regarding the best of the best are often as spirited as the iconic sports cars themselves. 
Fun side note: the 1979 Porsche 928 that was driven by Tom Cruise for the movie? Sold at auction in 2021 for just shy of $2 million
The following list is in no particular order and includes some high points, some historical milestones—and at least one selection that might make some Porsche fans blow a gasket. Start your engines, secure your five-point racing harness, and let’s dive in! 

10. Porsche 356 (1948): the first official Porsche 

The two-seater 356 was introduced in 1948, and the automotive world has never been the same. Volkswagen and Porsche have always had a close relationship, and you can see the Beetle's influence in the 356’s sleek, compact frame. The original design had a 1.1 L flat-four engine, with a top speed of 84 miles per hour—so Porsche wasn’t exactly a speed demon in the beginning. 
Nonetheless, it most definitely was the start of something big. Porsche obsessively developed and refined the 356 as the years went by, and in 1951, a 356 SL won the 24 Hours of LeMans—with the original 1.1 L Volkswagen engine. This gave the car an enormous boost to the public and laid the foundations of what would later be Porsche’s dominance in the realm of motorsports.
Fun Fact Fans of gloriously bad 90s TV will recognize the Porsche 356 as the car driven by Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210
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9. Porsche 911 Targa (1967): they heard a rumor…

The late 1960s was a time of growing automotive regulations in the US, and a rumor made its way across the pond that increased safety requirements might soon make convertibles forbidden stateside. This was a concern for Porsche, as convertibles (the 356 among them) were a key part of the American market. Thus was born the t-top version of the
Corvette
in 1968, but it was preceded in 1967 by the 911 Targa.
Porsche’s solution was straight from their motorsports roots: a stainless steel roll bar several inches wide across the rear of the cabin. A folding metal and vinyl panel went in front of the bar, a clear plastic panel behind—and both could be removed so you could feel the wind in your hair. The Targa (it means “plate” in Italian), has gone through several notable iterations and is still in production today. 
The outright banning of convertibles never came to pass, but we have the threat of it to thank for one of Porsche’s most iconic designs

8. Porsche 917 (1969-1971): the LeMans legend

A strong contender for the most important racing car in Porsche’s history, the 917 was built specifically to compete in the 24 Hours of LeMans. And it didn’t just compete—it crushed the competition. Equipped with a 5.0 L, flat 12 cylinder engine, the 917 was an engineering sight to behold. 
With 630 horsepower and a top speed of 246 mph, the 917 earned the name “The CanAm Killer'' for its domination of the cutthroat Canadian-American Challenge Cup races. 

7. Porsche Cayenne (2002): just hear us out, okay?

If you’re a serious Porsche aficionado, you’ve probably already clutched your pearls. A Porsche that’s an SUV—and (the horror)—a dependable family car? It’s a controversial vehicle, for sure. 
But here’s why it’s notable: while known for making some of the most mind-blowingly marvelous cars around, Porsche doesn’t deal in volume sales. While some folks may like it that way, it doesn’t always lead to fiscal solvency. 
The carmaker had been having financial problems for a while when it introduced the
Cayenne
. Though it may be called fat and ugly by some critics, it still drives like a Porsche—especially at the higher trim levels. The Cayenne was not only a forerunner of the SUV crossover deluge of the following years but a commercial hit whose success ensured Porsche’s ability to keep making the pure sports machines purists love. 

6. Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 (1973): best 911 ever?

Let’s move on from the unpleasant Cayenne body-shaming to a more agreeable topic: how great is the Porsche 911 Carrera? Porsche has made a mind-boggling amount of 911s over the years, but the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 is a model that is particularly loved and sought after
Produced in 1973 to be homologated (accepted) into Group 4 racing, and much of the iconic design that makes a 911 a 911 comes from this car.  The bored-out, broad design was practically unbeatable on the race track, and the initial production run of 500 sold out almost immediately
If you want one of these magnificent racing beauties, it’ll cost you. In May of 2022, Sotheby’s auctioned a 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 for €1,287,500. We’ll just look at the pictures, thanks. 
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5. Porsche 550 Spyder (1953-1956): a creepy-cool icon

One of the most sought-after sports cars of its day, the wicked Porsche 550 Spyder was based on the 356, but designed with pure racing in mind. Balance and handling were tremendously improved by the revolutionary mid-engine positioning of the 1.4 L flat-four, and the aluminum frame made it lightweight—and flimsy. 
The 550 Spyder is known in pop culture as being the car that James Dean was driving when he died in a horrific auto accident in 1955. His 550, which he nicknamed “Little Bastard” upon its purchase, is said to be cursed and allegedly continues to bring misfortune to those who are around it. Sir Alec Guinness met Dean right after he had purchased the car, and warned Dean that if he drove that car, he’d be dead in a week—he was right.  
Delicate, fast, and incredibly temperamental, some think the 550 Spyder had no business even being made. Very few of these were produced, and most were used for racing. Only a handful of these volatile creatures are still around today and the ones that do sell for well over $5 million

4. Porsche 935/78 (1978): the white whale

Nicknamed “Moby Dick” for its wide long-tail body, the 935/78 was one of the most powerful racing cars Porsche had made to date. Its turbo flat-six engine blasted out an insane 835 horsepower, and it had a top speed of 227 mph. Truly just a racecar (and there’s nothing wrong with that), Moby Dick was used less than five times before being permanently retired to the Porsche museum.

3. Porsche 901 (1963): Peugeot got mad

Turns out, the classic Porsche 911 was almost the classic Porsche 901. Looking for a successor to the popular 356, Porsche introduced the 901 at the Frankfurt auto show in 1963. With a stronger flat 6 engine, a more compact setup, and a longer wheelbase, the 901 was designed to be the next mainstream success for Porsche. 
Enter Peugeot. The French automaker claimed to have trademarked any three-digit type model designation with a zero in the middle, and the whole country got worked up about it. Porsche quickly halted production and changed the name to 911, and the rest is history. Only 82 Porsche 901s were produced before the name change, and today they’re quite the collector’s items. 

2. Porsche 956 (1982-1985): the ultimate LeMans car

Described by some as “scary and unbeatable”, the 956 dominated the world of motorsports in the early 80s. With a 2.6 L flat-six engine that could produce 620 horsepower and a top speed of 217 mph, the 956 consistently racked up the wins across several racing platforms. 
Its combination of speed and revolutionary aerodynamics makes the 956 a perfect Porsche racer—scary, unbeatable, and beautiful. 

1. Porsche Egger-Lohner (1898): Elon who?

Technically, this vehicle predates the existence of the company, but it was built by Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, so we’re calling it the very first Porsche. What’s notable about the Egger-Lohner is that it was electric. Powered by two electric motors, it had a top speed of about 23 mph and is considered by most auto historians to be the first fully-electric car
Porsche was allegedly motivated to make an electric car due to environmental concerns, which puts him way ahead of his time in that regard.  In addition to his electric car, Porsche also made the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle a few years after the debut of the Egger-Lohner. 
Though he didn’t go on to found his company until 1931, the very first Porsches ever made gave a good preview of the engineering and ingenuity that would become hallmarks of the brand for almost 100 years. 
MORE: Car insurance for used cars

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