The Porsche 911 is one of the world’s most iconic sports cars. It’s had a development history that spans some 45 years, so there’s absolutely no denying that the car has grown consistently more capable as it’s evolved. Still, if you’re a true Porschephile, you’d want to know how various generations of the 911 compare to one another, on a race track, driven sequentially. If you’re willing to travel to Silverstone, in the U.K., Porsche now gives you the chance to drive three versions of the 911 back to back.
You begin the experience in a 1986 911 Type G, with the 3.2 liter flat six, good for 231 horsepower and a zero to sixty time of 6.1 seconds. As the instructor warns (and I’ll second), don’t even think about lifting off the throttle mid-corner, unless you like sudden and potentially violent snap oversteer. This generation of 911 was difficult to drive at the limit, but mastering the car’s handling made you feel like you’d truly accomplished something.
Next up is the 1994 911 Carerra (Type 993) with the 3.6 liter engine, good for 272 horsepower and a zero to sixty time of 5.6 seconds. This version is still tail-happy in the hands of an inexperienced driver, but it’s much easier to drive at the limit than the 911 of just 8 years earlier. The Type 993 is more likely to slap your wrist if you make a mistake, instead of giving you a compound wrist fracture like the earlier cars.
Finally, you lap Silverstone in a 2009 911 Carrera (Type 997, Gen II) with the 3.6 liter engine now making 345 horsepower and yielding a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds. The current version is chock full of technology to save your bacon if you push it too hard; turn off the stability control, on the other hand, and there’s no denying you’re behind the wheel of a 911. If you’ve got the money to spend, the current version is the best 911 yet in terms of performance and handling, and it’s also a more livable daily driver.
Truth be told, I’d take the ’86 911 over any of the rest. The styling is cleaner, and the car is less polished and far less forgiving. I prefer sports cars that make you earn lap times, instead of serving them up on a electronic-gadget-assisted silver platter. I know it’s not as fast as the others, but that’s OK, since I know it would put a bigger smile on my face behind the wheel.