Take a look at this photo: Even the most casual car buff could probably tell that this is a classic Porsche. That long hood, targa top, sloping roofline, engine clearly planted behind the rear axle. It’s a 911, one of the most iconic cars to ever hit the streets, right? If you cared about cars at all, you could see that. Why, there’s no mystery here at all! What kind of clickbaity garbage is this?
Well, you’ve got some attitude, pal. Because this isn’t a 911. It’s a 912.
The 912’s lifespan was brief, just six nonconsecutive years versus the 911’s 52 years-and-counting run. But its place in history is assured; it may be one of the lesser known models in company lore, but it served an incredibly important role for Porsche when the future didn’t seem so certain. It bridged the gap between the present and the future, then returned at a time when the company desperately needed help in the U.S. market. For decades, the 912 was considered a consolation prize — a slow Porsche for people who couldn’t afford a classic 911. But since time has been good to any vintage Porsche, the 912 is finally starting to get the respect it deserves.
In the early 1960s, Porsche had developed a cult following around the world thanks to its nimble, air cooled, rear-engined sports cars. Its 356 model had been in production since 1948, and was the epitome of the “race on Sunday, commute on Monday” ethos. Over 75,000 would be built, and from young drivers getting into racing to chic cosmopolitans, Porsches delivered something that no other car could. Plus, at around $4,200 (roughly $32K today), they seemed attainable. As it creeped into its third decade however, Porsche began work on a 356 replacement. The 911 was an improvement in virtually every way, but there was a problem: It was much more expensive than any 356. The company needed a stopgap, and its answer was the 912.