Twenty years ago in 1998, the 911 clinched Porsche's 16th win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To celebrate the anniversary, this two-part series will cover 16 stats and facts about this most famous of Porsches.
The 911 was first presented at the 1963 International Motor Show Germany in Frankfurt. It was initally to be christened the 901, but Peugeot was kind enough to point out it held the rights of usage for three-digit model names with a central zero. Three years later, the 911's great adventure at Le Mans began...
First 24 Hours, first victory - The Porsche 911 made its first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Entrusted to French drivers Jean Kerguen and Jacques Dewes (a.k.a. Franc), the only one of its kind at the start went on to win the GT 2-liter class, finishing 14th overall.
The first top 10 - Reached in 1969 by Jean-Pierre Gaban and Yves Deprez (10th place).
The Porsche armada - Seven Porsche 911s made it to the checkered flag at the 1970 edition of the 24 Hours which included the German marque's first overall win thanks to the 917 K driven by Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann. The 911 shared by German driver Erwin Kremer and Luxembourg native Nicolas Koob finished seventh. However, due to extremely challenging weather conditions, the six other 911s failed to rank (insufficient distance).
A future rally giant at Le Mans - For his one participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1971, Swedish driver Björn Waldegaard finished 13th along with Frenchman Bernard Chenevière. Later he would become the first Rally World Champion in 1979, the year the title was created.
A turbocharged icon - Based on the 911, Porsche designed a turbocharged version called the Carrera RSR, recognizable namely by its rear spoiler and oversized tires (17 inches, or more than 40 cm, wide!). At the wheel, Gijs van Lennep and Herbert Müller briefly held the lead at the 1974 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday morning, finishing in second place behind the winning Matra prototype driven by Henri Pescarolo and Gérard Larrousse.
The "first lady" of the 911 - Along with her teammates Yvette Fontaine and Corinne Tarnaud, Le Mans native Anny-Charlotte Verney finished 11th overall in 1975, a result she would match in 1976 and 1982. With a final tally of 10 starts in a row (nine with Porsche) between 1974 and 1983, she still holds the record for most participations by a woman at Le Mans.
From the 911 to the 935 - The 911 served as the basis for the creation of the Porsche 935 (answering to the Group 5 regulations) nicknamed "Silhouette" (as it was based on road cars). The 935 would be seen at Le Mans from 1976 to 1982, with as best result an overall win in 1979 for Klaus Ludwig and brothers Don and Bill Whittington at the wheel of a version called K3 developed by brothers Manfred and Erwin Kremer, specialist preparers for the German manufacturer.
The ultimate 935 - Porsche created a new version of the 935, called the 935/78 and nicknamed "Moby Dick" due to its shape (sloping hood and rear profile) and white livery. Clocking the fastest top speed at the 1978 24 Hours (366 km/h in the Mulsanne Straight), it qualified in third position and finished eighth thanks to German drivers Rolf Stommelen and Manfred Schurti.
PHOTO (Copyright - ACO Archives): In 1969, Belgian drivers Jean-Pierre Gaban and Yves Deprez gave the Porsche 911 its first top 10 finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.