Porsche 918 Spyder
The 918 Spyder is the most capable and technologically-impressive road car Porsche has ever put to pavement. The vehicle all but coined the term “hybrid hypercar” when it debuted at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, two years before the McLaren P1 and three years before the indomitable LaFerrari burst on the scene.
In terms of performance, the 918 can do things few vehicles can. Its naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V8 works in concert with two electric motors to produce 887 horsepower and a staggering 944 pound-feet of torque. Flat out, the all-wheel drive hypercar will smash 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, yet it remains controlled enough to lap the Nürburgring in 6:57. To this day, it’s the third-quickest production car to do so. Add in the 918’s amazingly-sculpted body and progressive hybrid tech, and you’re left with an awe-inspiring machine, a vehicular magnum opus that will truly stand the test of time.
The 918 Spyder is a relatively new car, so for our next entry, let’s take it back to the beginning.
Porsche was founded in 1931 but didn’t actually release its first production vehicle until 1948, and that car was the 356. The 356 set the tone for Porsche in more ways than one, as it featured a rear-engine design in a pure, lightweight package. Sound familiar? The two-door established the template for style as well, as the 356’s “bathtub” design themes are still front and center on Porsches being sold today.
Multiple variants of the 356 were produced throughout its seven-year lifespan. The most revered is likely the 356 Speedster of the late 1950s, as its stripped-down format previewed future specialty models like the 911 GT3. The 356 is easily one of the most collectible Porsches ever.
Porsche is one the most prolific race car manufacturers in history, and the 917 is one of the biggest reasons why. A purpose-built endurance machine, the 917 gave Porsche wins at Daytona, Monza, Spa, Brands Hatch, the Austria Ring, and Watkins Glen in 1970, and also scored Porsche its first overall victories at Le Mans in 1970 and 1971. Few racecars have a resume that can compete.
The 917’s potency came from its ultra light spaceframe chassis and incredible flat-12, which was actually the first 12-cylinder engine Porsche built. It initially produced 520 hp, but was later turbocharged and tuned for Can-Am racing to make well over 1,000 hp. That makes it one of the most powerful motor sport athletes of all time.
Just as iconic as its professional career was the car’s appearance in the 1971 film Le Mans, which starred none other than Steve McQueen. Several variants of the 917 enjoyed screen time in the movie, including one of the best-looking racers ever — the blue and orange Gulf-Porsche 917K.
And now for something completely different. Porsche is primarily known for its dominance on tarmac, but the original 959 was made for the road less traveled. Essentially a jacked-up 911 with all-wheel drive, the 959 started off in life as a Group B rally car designed to conquer the Paris-Dakar rally. After a disappointing debut in 1985, Porsche proved it could get dirty by taking first and second place in 1986.
A production variant arrived soon after, and for its time, it was one of the most technologically-advanced cars in the world. Its all-wheel drive system performed incredibly well, in fact every 911 Turbo to come after it would feature four-wheel traction. In addition, the sports car wore magnesium wheels with run-flat tires, and its 450-hp flat-six engine introduced the brand to sequential turbocharging.
The 959 wasn’t just one of the most progressive sports cars of its time, it was also one of the most expensive. Each of the 300 examples sold for an incredible $225,000 — a lot of money in 1986 — but that was less than half what it cost Porsche to make the car. Today, they’ll fetch well over $1 million at auction.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS
One of the most highly-sought 911s ever, the 911 Carrera RS is an icon among icons. Designed built to meet motor sport homologation requirements, the “Rennsport” models were lighter, more powerful, and more focused than other 911s at the time, and the car’s styling reflected its thrill-seeking nature. Generally fitted with a spartan cabin, stiff suspension, and big brake kit, the 1973-1974 Carrera RS was a driver’s car through and through, which is partly why they’re almost impossible to find.
In the last decade, the 911 Carrera RS’ value has increased by an unbelievable 699 percent. According to the Telegraph, the Carrera RS 2.7 represents the best classic car investment over the past 10 years, as variants of the car have fetched nearly $2 million at auction. If there were a Mount Rushmore for classic sports cars, this thing would be on it.