One of the venerable Porsche 911’s defining characteristics is that the engine sits behind the rear axle. But now we’ve gotten word that a mid-engine 911 may be in the works, and make no mistake: This would mark a titanic shift in the history of one of the world’s most iconic sports cars.
Now, motorsport fans will be quick to note that Porsche already makes a mid-engine 911, the RSR race car which debuted at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Of course, that car is for track use only, and the version that our friends at Autocar have said is coming would be a street legal and available to well-heeled enthusiasts everywhere. The source is no less than Porsche Motorsport’s Andreas Preuninger, who told the British publication that a consumer-grade mid-engine 911 is on the table.
While Preuninger didn’t provide any real timetable, it’s safe to say we shouldn’t expect it this year, or even next. Because given how new the mid-engine 911 race car is, we’d think Stuttgart would want to get a season or two of racing under its belt before letting the new architecture trickle down to its street car program. We’re also somewhat curious as to how the legions of Porsche fans would handle this radical revision of the company’s legendary performance machine.
After all, the automotive forums are full of purists who’ve never quite forgiven Porsche for going from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, performance gains be darned. So a shift like this might very well go over like a fork in a microwave.
That said, we think a street-legal, mid-engine version is just a matter of time. Over the 911’s 50-plus years of existence, the company has continually refined it, to the point where it might well have reached the pinnacle for performance the rear-engine platform can support. If we had to guess? We think we’ll see a mid-engine 911 by 2020, if not before then. So it wouldn’t hurt to stay on good terms with your local AutoNation-affiliated Porsche dealer…