Mid-engined Porsches? They started off like that

The unveiling of the 918 Spyder concept car brings to mind the old mid- versus mid-engined debate. Some 911 enthusiasts argue that having the engine at the back is the only way a ‘real’ Porsche should be, while 914 and Boxster owners argue the case for the balanced handling of a mid-engined car.

What’s not widely known, though, is that the first ever Porsche  – built in 1948 and now known as ‘Number One’ – was, in fact, mid-engined. This gorgeous-looking creation was hand-made from aluminium and remains a thing of great beauty. Ferdinand Porsche, however, decreded that the engine should be ‘turned round’ for subsequent Porsches, because of the obvious packaging advantages (this is the man who designed the Beetle, remember) – by doing so, he made room for a pair of rear seats.

That rear-engined car went on to become the 356 and the configaration was retained for the 911, and a legend was born.

It’s interesting to think what might have happened if Herr Porsche had opted for handling over practicality and retained the mid-engined layout. Would we today be driving around in mid-engined, two-seater 911s, or would the car not have been such a success and been replaced years ago?

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