It’s a conversation that’s been had many times in bars and supercar meet-ups for many years. It’s a conversation that’s been had not just about the Porsche 911, of course, but many models of cars. Funnily enough, it’s usually said by someone who doesn’t have a 911 to someone that has, as a way of antagonizing them 🙂 Well, at least that’s what I think. Whether it’s jealousy related or not, some people think more about these things than perhaps they should! The problem is, of course, it’s all subjective and the definition of a ‘Supercar’ varies, depending on who you ask.
So, let’s answer this question, once and for all. As the Supercar Pro, I will consider my verdict final and the matter closed. You, however, may disagree 🙂
Is the Porsche 911 a supercar? Yes, the Porsche 911 is definitely a supercar. Although there are many varieties of the 911 available, they are all consistent in producing performance, build quality and exclusivity that you would expect in an exotic car.
What Makes a Car a Supercar?
Okay, so as I mentioned above, what some people determine to be a Supercar will be different from the opinion of other people. There is more than one component that needs to be fulfilled to guarantee a car has this status. For instance:
- Brand – fundamentally, some manufacturers are associated with supercars more than others. To state the obvious, when we talk about Ferraris, Lamborghinis or even Pagani – we’re immediately thinking of supercars (arguably Pagani develop hypercars not supercars though). However, when we think of Lada, Citroen, Vauxhall (to name but a few) we associate them with your everyday, run of the mill vehicle. Of course, you could have a Lada that’s a supercar but it would take some very clever publicity. Whereas, the assumption is that when a manufacturer like Ferrari makes a new model, it will be a supercar (which it is).
- Performance – supercars are expected to have a very high performance. There was actually more of a gap relating to performance 20 or 30 years ago between your average car and the supercar’s of the period but these days, not so much! There are a fair few hot-hatches available right now with a 0-60 mph time of between 4 and 5 seconds (Tesla’s, Audi RS3 or Golf R come to mind). There is usually still quite a difference in top-end as 200 mph+ is still reserved generally for the supercars but really, who actually gets much beyond 100 mph these days anyway? Still, you can’t have a supercar that doesn’t have good acceleration and top-end.
- Looks – bit of a tricky one this but if you go back to the 80s – as a kid my dream car was the Lamborghini Countach. Why? Well, it wasn’t because of its performance or its heritage! It was because it looked how it looked (and is the reason why it’s still a car I dream of today). A supercar must look the business, right? This is the reason that Tesla’s available today don’t come under the supercar category – they have the performance that would leave my Gallardo looking like it is standing still, but which would you rather look at?
- Build process – Supercars aren’t made on a robotic production line that churns out hundreds of units a day. Typically, the majority of each supercar is still made by hand and this is what your typical supercar buyer expects. They want to know that there are individuals behind the construction, people who have been taught the trade and perhaps their parents worked there also. Not always the case but when owners are paying out $200k+ for their cars they don’t expect that car to be made in a few hours by robots!
- Quantity of cars built – Supercars are not manufactured in high volumes. Typically, you might see a few hundred produced a year and this is important. The more cars there are the less exclusive (see next point) the car is and the higher the depreciation will be.
- Cost / Exclusivity – if a supercar cost $30k would it still be a supercar? Well, it’s not really possible you see. Take a look at the above points and you’ll see why. For a car to have the level of performance required, to be made of high-quality materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum and to be built by hand in small numbers, costs a lot of money. The manufacturer simply couldn’t make money by selling cheap.
What is the Porsche 911?
Now, let’s take a look at the Porsche 911 in a little more detail as there is more than one type of Porsche 911! What we need to do is look at them all and identify whether any of them satisfy the criteria.
Porsche has been building the 911 since 1963 and what rolled off the production line back then would still be recognizable as a 911 now. This is something that many people see as a good thing and others, not so much. However, when we’re talking about heritage then Porsche most certainly has that on their side.
They certainly don’t make life easy for us and it is far from straightforward when trying to generalize about anything related to the Porsche 911. You see, Porsche utilizes different internal codes for their 911 models. So, although you might see (for instance) a Porsche 992 advertised, this is still actually a Porsche 911, just known as the 992 to differentiate it from other versions of the 911.
There is continuity between these models though. Appearance-wise they are all very much recognizable as a Porsche 911. Build quality has always been exceptional when it comes to the 911 and although some of the older models can show signs of rust, these particular cars are getting somewhat old now and need the same TLC that anything from that period would. What is also consistent is the performance…
Buyers expect a certain level of performance from the Porsche 911 and they are never disappointed. Take the latest 991.2 (which as a reminder, is still a 911) – powered by a 3-liter turbocharged V6, it’ll get you to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and will keep going until almost 190 mph. If we look at the 991 (911 GT3) then we see a 0-62 mph time of just 3.5 seconds and a top speed of a rather fruity 196 mph.
So, I think we can agree that at least as far as performance is concerned, the Porsche 911 can definitely tick that box.
It goes without saying that the Porsche 911 isn’t cheap but what are we talking about exactly? Well, the latest 911 GT3 RS will cost you somewhere north of $225,000. But surely the older versions will be more affordable, right? Hmm, well here’s the thing about that. The cost of certain 911’s has been skyrocketing in the last decade or so. If you’d like a 911 Turbo S from the late 1990s then expect to pay around $500k! However, if you want to pick up a bargain, then take a look at high-mileage stock 911s from around the turn of the Century. You can pick yourself up a bit of a steal for less than $20k!
There’s no doubt in my mind that yes, of course, the Porsche 911 can generally be considered as a supercar. The more recent versions without a shadow of a doubt, as their build quality, looks and performance suggest nothing else. If the only examples were those of the stock 911s from the late 90s and early 2000s, then we might be having a slightly different conclusion, but they aren’t and many of those available now for low prices have been involved in accidents and/or have very high mileage (in excess of 100k).