The Porsche 901 that became the iconic 911
The 901 was such a triumph, so unmistakably a Porsche, that it was instantly accepted and even loved; no one pined for its supposedly superior predecessor, the 356. And precisely because of its technical and aesthetic perfection, the genesis of this legend, which has defined the sports-car genre for half a century, has never been called into question. It simply would not have occurred to anyone that the irresistible form and technology might have been the subject of spirited wrangling at Porsche.
Indeed, as early as the mid-1950s, suggestions that the 356 was slowly becoming outdated - as its four-cylinder engine pushed the boundaries of its developmental potential in engine displacement—were already beginning to make the rounds. The time had come to start thinking about a successor. In 1951, the sales department had already called for a four-seater 356 that would off er more interior and luggage space. In response, Ferry Porsche’s right-hand man Erwin Komenda built the type 530, extending the wheelbase from 210 to 240 centimeters.
But the result was unconvincing—both aesthetically and in terms of performance. Only one was ever made.
By the end of 1957, it was finally time to address the subject of the 356’s successor in earnest. A task that - in classic Porsche style - was assigned the designation “Technical Project 7,” or T7 for short. Ferry Porsche once again laid out his vision for the T7, or type 695 as it was also known internally: 356 B + xx centimeters. Nonetheless, discussion continued about whether the four-seater concept was truly out of the running. The new car was to be a typical Porsche with two seats up front and slightly larger rear seats as well as the characteristic Porsche hatchback.
Fortuitously, a handwritten list with proposals for the type 695 has been found in the archive and sheds more light on the process. These pages, which presumably were penned in 1957 or 1958, specify guidelines for the design and technology. The sales department laid out its demands: “No completely new car. Sporty character. Significantly more space for two. Easier to get in.