928 Ways to Kill the 911
A world without the Porsche 911 is not a place I like to imagine, but to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, you’ve got no place as a writer if you’re not willing to indulge the occasional dark thought. So here goes: no iconic uber-beetle, that unmistakable silhouette honed by decades of aerodynamic refinement no more than a dream, the gruff, off-beat idle and yowling, warbling top-end scream of that fabulous pancake six merely an echo from an alternate plane of reality, that gently bobbing front end, living, ethereal steering, initial understeer and physics-defying post-apex traction no more corporeal than an emotion. This 911-less world is a cold and colorless place for anyone with petrol in the blood, a nightmare scenario for those of us who love great cars like others love the sun, so we should all be thankful that Porsche never had their way—they never killed the 911.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. The 911 was difficult and expensive to build, its basic architecture already over a decade old by the mid-seventies, when huge advancements in the technology of car building made assembling the old rear-engined beasts less profitable nearly by the day. Conceived during a time when Porsche was still a relatively tiny, boutique maker of highly-specialized machines, the Typ 901 was designed to be built largely by hand, a long, expensive, and laborious process that could only be partially automated. Furthermore it was cramped, quirky, and rapidly losing sales. Enter the 928, of which development began in earnest around this time.
Intended to address all of the aforementioned shortcomings of the 911, the 928 was designed from the offset to be easier to manufacture, maintain, drive, and live with on a day-to-day basis. Much more of a GT than its predecessor, it combined modern levels of luxury, refinement, and technology with performance easily matching, if not surpassing, that of its rear-engined older brother. Released in 1978 to nearly universal acclaim, it was awarded “Car of the Year” by the European press.