The first car to wear the Porsche badge, the 356/1, was in fact a mid-engine roadster, which — unlike, say, the Model T — is meant for nothing more than tapping into the pure, unfiltered joy of driving. Fahrvergnügen, as they say.
One engine, two seats, four wheels and a beautifully aerodynamic body to tie it all together. Well … that and the peerless technical acumen and maniacal need for speed of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s vision (known as “Ferry” to his friends).
Racing runs in Porsche’s blood. Porsche Sr. was designing race cars long before young Ferry ever learned how to drive (which happened at age 10, mind you). Accordingly, Ferry Porsche grew up wanting to build cars that were — you guessed it — fast.
Over the decades, his dream became company dogma, as Porsche resolutely continues to build race cars for the street to this day (yes, we’re going to pretend that the Cayenne, Panamera and Macan didn’t happen). Below, you’ll find some of the rarest — and purest — examples of Dr. Porsche’s vision, in all their sleek and spoilered beauty.
993 Carrera RS
1995–1996 | Production run: 1,000
Among Porsche enthusiasts, the ‘95-‘98 993 iteration of the 911 has grown to be somewhat of a watershed moment for the famed company. The 993 is an odd fish: modern, yet not, mostly due to its air-cooled flat-six engine (the last of its kind for Porsche). Accordingly, prices for 993s have blown up (sometimes literally) in recent years, particularly for the Turbo. And yet, sitting above the 993 Turbo in rarity is the 993 RS, the Holy Grail of 993s. Lighter and more powerful than the Turbo, the 993 RS was barely street legal to begin with. It was never exported to the States because, well, it was just too damn fast. But here’s the good news: if you’ve got some spare coin, there’s a ’95 993 Carrera RS up for auction this August at Pebble Beach. Bon chance, mon frère.
1986–1988, 1992–1993 | Production runs: 337, 8
The 959 is perhaps the one Porsche that aspiring collectors would actually kill for. She’s a collector’s car. And based on their Group B rally car, Porsche produced a supercar that was decades ahead of its time, achieving 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. The hype around the car was so heavy that the 959 was the prime catalyst behind the passing of the so-called “Show and Display” law, which allowed the import of non-street legal cars into the U.S. Bill Gates, who lobbied for the law, had his 959 impounded for 13 years by the U.S. Customs Service at the Port of San Francisco before he could finally get his hands on the steering wheel.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS
1973–1974 | Production run: 1,580
Though not as rare as some of the other cars on this list (Porsche had to produce a certain amount to meet homologation standards), the 911 Carrera RS is nevertheless supremely sought after by collectors. It’s seen by many as the ultimate “classic” 911 and arguably the first racer made for the streets. The original Carrera RS has become emblematic of ‘70s-era Porsches, and, along with the 911 S/T race car, is the chief aesthetic inspiration behind such noted contemporary restomodders as Singer Vehicle Design and Magnus Walker. According to Jerry Seinfeld — a well-stocked and well-heeled Porsche collector — his ’73 Carrera RS is about the most perfect car out there. We couldn’t agree more.
Porsche 356A Carrera Speedster
1955–1958 | Production run: 110
The 356 is the model that introduced Porsche to the world, and it has remained an enduring fixture and obsession for novice collectors and seasoned restomodders (see: Emory Motorsports) alike. A mashup of the Speedster and Carrera variants, it features a detuned Type 547/1 flat-4 engine taken from the infamous 550 Spyder, making it the first of Porsche’s ultra-exclusive special releases. Case in point: when Seinfeld’s Speedster was put up for auction earlier this year, it sold for $1,540,000.
Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion
Years of production: 1996 | Production run: 25
Straßenversion means “street version.” Street version of what? A full-blown GT1 Le Mans-ready racecar, that’s what. Just looking at this thing is enough to make you skeptical about whether or not it should be driven anywhere but the Nürburgring. Technically it’s a 911, but only in name. Unlike the production 993 on which it is based, the GT1’s turbocharged flat-six sits in front of the rear axle, and is further outfitted with a hardcore racing transmission and carbon-fiber body. Nevertheless, the GT1 had air conditioning and a radio. It’s a street car, after all. As another necessary product of racing homologation requirements, only 25 of these GT1s were built and delivered only to select customers — and indeed, most GT1s probably don’t see much or any road use. Among the rarest 911s (only one was ever imported to the USA), the GT1s are also among the most expensive. And, to make it worse, there’s this rather unreasonable GT1 out there, too.
Porsche 935 Street
1983 | Production run: 1
Like the GT1, this highly unique 911 is a race car for the street. At first glance, it might look like a 930 Flachbau (also known as “flatnose”) … which it would be, were it not for the -5 tacked onto the model number. And just what does this unknown quantum signify? It denotes one of Porsche’s most winningest race cars, of which this present exemplar is the only make to have been rendered suitable for the street. The car, until recently, belonged to French-Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh, CEO of Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) and part owner of McClaren Automotive. He commissioned the then-nascent Porsche Exclusive Department to custom build him a road-ready 935. That they did. Ojjeh’s car is in reality the unholy Frankenstein’s monster of three 911s: the base body of a production 930 with the 3.3l turbocharged flat-six lifted out of the 934 GT1 racecar, and finished off with a drivetrain and suspension straight from the 935. This one is the very definition of rare.