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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Porsche 718: Rebirth of a Legend

BOLD RIDE

Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.
 
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356, 930, 944, 986, 918, 911—for those of you uninitiated in the ways of Porsche, that may just seem like just a bunch of three digit numbers. And they kind of are. But in a bigger sense, each of those three digit numbers represents something more significant.
 
The first numerically-themed vehicle to ever roll off the Porsche production line (following the Beetle) was the Porsche 64. It was developed in 1939, and was essentially a more powerful, better looking Beetle. But from the 64, a new pattern evolved, one that would cement itself as a staple for the German marque for years to come.

In 1948, the 356 was developed. The word ‘stunning’ wouldn’t describe the beauty of this car entirely. To capitalize on the success of the road car, the 550 was developed specifically for racing use on the back of the 356. And even trying to further prove its racing prowess, Porsche tweaked and fiddled with the 550 to then develop the 718—and that’s where our story leads us.

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The Beginning

It was in 1957 that the Porsche 718 first took to the track. The general look of the 718 was something completely unique to racing at the time. The bubbly, quirky fascia of the 550 was gone, and a sleeker, more streamlined design took center stage.

At its 24 Hours of Le Mans Debut in 1957, the 718 failed to make it to the finish line after an accident. A tough blow for the normally successful racing team. But the 718 wasn’t anywhere near down and out. In 1958, the 718 finished first at Le Mans, second at Targa Florio, and a won the European Hill Climb Championship. It did so again the following year.


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The car and the racing team remained successful for another number of years, and in an attempt to capitalize on that success, a coupe version of the 718 was born. In 1963, that car took home the title at Targa Florio.

At the end of the 1963 season, the 718 had officially run dry. The new 904 had debuted as a larger, more performance-worthy successor. That car would go on to have a relatively successful career. But the 718 was something special—and now, that name will live on for enthusiasts.




The Future

60 years later (model year 2017), and the 718 is getting ready to be back on the streets. Both the Cayman and Boxster will adopt the iconic name, and bear a similar look to the racer. But why does it matter?

Just two years ago, Porsche took a serious step to becoming a race team once again with the 919 hybrid. It finished successfully in both 2014, and especially 2015, when it took home the podium at Le Mans. With the introduction of the 718 into the lineup, Porsche hopes its racing success will follow suit on the road.

The 718 will get a number of racing cues—we’ve heard—and will really play up to the iconic 718 of the 50s and 60s. As far as we know, both will bear a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine (2.0L, 2.5L), and match or even outperform the outgoing 6-cylinder.
Enthusiasts should be excited about this all-new vehicle from Porsche.