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Porsche is a German manufacturer acclaimed all over the world for its high-performance sports cars and successful racing tradition.

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Ferdinand Porsche and his son founded the company in 1948 with the launch of the 356. While the car made do with a modified VW Beetle engine that produced a mere 40 horsepower, it quickly stood out with remarkable agility, comfort and reliability. A total of 52 handcrafted units came out of the small Austrian shop over a two-year span.

The 550 Spyder made its debut in 1953. Designed both for the road and the track, it became a major rival for Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati and Aston Martin, which all offered bigger, more powerful machines.

Midway through the decade, Porsche started producing its own engines and created livelier versions of the 356 that elevated the model to the ranks of true auto legends. An affordable, stripped-down variant called 911 Speedster also appeared and enjoyed immense popularity. Today, samples from 1954 to 1957 are among the most coveted Porsches on the planet.

Between 1956 and 1962, the automaker reached significant milestones, selling 10,000 copies of the 356 and establishing an independent retail network in Europe. Back then, its sportiest street car was the 100-horsepower Carrera.

Replacing the 356 was the 911, inaugurated in 1963 with a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine producing 130 horsepower. Production started a year later, with pricing set at US$5,500, and customer response was huge. The 356 officially bowed out in 1965 after a successful 17-year run and 77,361 units sold. The 912 appeared at the same time and became Porsche's new entry-level car, sporting a 911 body and 356 engine.

Several versions of the 911 rounded out the decade, including the Targa with removable top, the high-performance S and the affordable T. On the technological front, this period also marked the introduction of larger powerplants, gasoline injection and the Sportomatic semi-automatic transmission. The 912 gave way to the 914.

The 911 Turbo landed on North American shores in 1975. This supercar combined the sportiness of an exotic car with the luxury and comfort of an everyday premium ride. A year later, the 914 was replaced by the Audi-powered 924.

From 1978 to 1986, many new Porsches were launched. The 928 came in 1978 with a 240-horsepower V8 engine, while the 911 received a number of upgrades, particularly a 3.0-litre mill. Let's not forget the 924 Turbo (1981), 911 Convertible (1983) and 944. The latter was the first model sold in the U.S. with airbags as standard features.

In 1987, Porsche released its most powerful, most sophisticated and most exclusive car yet, the 959. It used a twin-turbocharged, six-cylinder engine that distributed 444 horsepower to all four wheels.

At the dawn of the '90s, the company launched 911 Carrera 4 (with all-wheel drive) and 911 Carrera 2 (rear-wheel drive), marking a clear evolution from the old 911. The Boxster appeared in 1997 with a 201-horsepower, 2.5-litre engine. It was revamped in 2000 and boosted to 2.7 litres. The same year, the 250-horsepower Boxster S, a reworked 911 Turbo and the 5-speed Tiptronic gearbox all made their debut.

Porsche continued to expand and diversify its portfolio throughout the decade with such spectacular models as the 911 GT2, 911 GT3/GT3 RS and the almighty Carrera GT, plus the Cayenne SUV, the Cayman hardtop coupe and the Panamera sedan. The twin-clutch PDK transmission and direct injection also joined the lineup.

Right now, Porsche sells the Boxster, Cayman, 911, Panamera and Cayenne.

NEW! Recent Porsche data sheets

Discontinued Porsche models