The Porsche 911 Obsession Cycle
At the start of a new 911’s life, a look at just how crazy this car can make us.
Porsche announces a new version of the 911
, either just in the form of a new Carrera, or as a base Carrera and either a Carrera 4 or a Carrera S. Even though the high-performance versions of the last-generation models are still available, they suddenly seem antiquated, boring, and common. “The new [insert generation here] is just so sexy,” I’ll say. “It’s so clean and streamlined…and they’ve done such a great job modernizing the styling without losing touch with the past. I think it’s the best-looking 911 ever.”
Shortly thereafter, the next variants arrive—either the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4, or the more powerful Carrera S, whichever version wasn’t revealed at the car’s launch. Now the new variant is all I can think about. “Oh, man, the new Carrera 4/Carrera S is so much more usable/sporty than the regular car,” I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen.
“The all-wheel-drive lets you use it all year long, and it gives it even more grip in the turns,” I’ll say if I’m talking about the C4. If I’m discussing the S, I’ll throw in something like, “The extra power knocks the acceleration times down a few tenths, but it’s not really about the raw numbers; the larger engine gives the car more usable power no matter where you are in the rev range.”
A year or two later, Porsche rolls out the new 911 Turbo, which is right around the time in the cycle people start telling me to switch to decaf. “It’s a MASTERPIECE!” I’ll shout, even in the middle of a funeral. “More power, sure, but even more than that—check out all these new technologies Porsche’s using to extract every ounce of performance potential! It’s a gran turismo
, it’s a supercar, it’s a marvel, it’s a miracle!”
Somewhere around the same time, Porsche takes the wrapping paper off the new 911 GT3, which inspires a similar level of slathering devotion. “It’s lighter and simpler, but more powerful, and it’s got that classic rear-wheel-drive layout, so it’s even more fun to drive when you push it to its limits!” I’ll cry, loudly enough that the entire theatre turns and gives me a bad look—even the actors on stage.
A year or two after that, out comes the 911 GT2, and my therapist starts to regret taking me on as a patient. “It’s the love child of the Turbo and GT3—the Turbo motor and body style, but stripped-down and rear-wheel-drive only! It’s the true heir to the massive snap-oversteering 930 Turbo! All those other 911s are for wimps! This is the one that beats them all back with an iron stick! Haters and fools need not apply!”
Then comes the GT3 RS—the car that sends me into a spiral of raving madness the likes of which are usually reserved for the unlucky characters in an H.P. Lovecraft tale. “IT’S SO STRIPPED DOWN!!!” I’ll scream from behind the locked door of my room, where my family has sealed me in with several volumes of Christophorus
magazine until the hysteria passes. “THEY THREW OUT THE RADIO AND THE AIR CONDITIONER! AND STILL THEY GAVE IT MORE POWER! IT’S A ROAD CAR WITH A ROLL CAGE, FOR GOD’S SAKE! A ROOOOOLL CAAAAAGE!!!”
Then sometimes, just when the obsession doesn’t seem as though it can go any further, Porsche reveals the 911 GT2 RS. It’s only happened once, and at this point in the cycle, my memory goes fuzzy, so I can’t honestly tell you firsthand how I react to Porsche’s most powerful, most race-ready 911. All I can tell you is that when the car reached the U.S., I was found found naked, scratched and coated in mud inside the Porsche dealership at 3 a.m., face pressed against the fender of the GT2 RS in weeping supplication. The police said they’d never seen anyone punch through an inch-thick wall of safety glass before.
And then Porsche begins cranking out an endless series of minor variants, and things start to cool down. With every GTS and Black Edition and Speedster that rolls off the line, I come down a bit from my high. They’re still exciting—after all, they’re Porsche 911s—but they don’t offer enough to really grab my attention the way the old models did. I begin reclaiming my old life. Things start to seem normal again.
And then a new 911 shows up, and the whole cycle starts all over again.
Every seven or eight years, Porsche releases a new 911 upon the world. And every seven or eight years, this simple act restarts a cyclical compulsion nestled somewhere deep within my brain. Perhaps you suffer from something similar; perhaps it affects your friends, your coworkers, your family members, or even those anonymous strangers on the car forums who, oddly enough, you feel closest to because only they can truly understand why dynamic engine mounts are so goddamn amazing.
I call it the Porsche 911 Obsession Cycle.
It starts simply enough: