Corvette vs. Porsche 911 the 40+ Year Old War!
It’s a battle that has raged on for over 40 years. Corvette… 911… Which is the better of the two? It has been argued and fought out on the streets, the drag strip and the race track for years and for years to still come. Two of the most successful sports car names in the history of automobiles square off right here on RawAutos.
For as long as I can remember there has been a Corvette in the garage or driveway of whatever house we lived in. This is why I am such a huge Corvette enthusiast to this day. I love the car; it represents everything that America has to offer, great affordable performance that exceeds its price. Although, I have since I was little also been a big fan of the Porsche 911. The car that carved up corners with the ultimate precision, the 911 comes from Porsche, who just so happens to be the winningest automotive company in racing history with over 28,000 racing victories.
The Chevrolet Corvette came about when head General Motors designer Harley Earl told them they needed a cheap sports car to sell against the great Jaguar’s, Alfa’s, Healey’s and Porsche’s of the day. GM granted Earl his wish and he then designed the 1953 Corvette. A car that was almost thrown away because of its little Blue Flame 190hp Inline-6 matted to a 2-speed automatic. Zora Arkus-Duntov, who is famously labeled as the “father of the Corvette” because he came along and told GM they needed to add their new “Small-Block” V8 that produced 195hp and carried a 3-speed manual. The Corvette became the first true American sports car and drove the Ford Thunderbird to become a four seated car in 1958.
Porsche had wide success with the Porsche 356 that was developed using spare VW Beetle parts. Porsche was also very successful in racing pre and post 356. In 1964 Porsche decided to replace the aging 356 that had been around since 1948: Enter the 911 Carrera, the car that, much like the Corvette, would become a cult icon and a collector’s car in many eyes. The original 911 Carrera was powered by a 130hp six-cylinder boxer engine (a boxer engine is a type of flat mounted engine). And just like the 356, it was in the back. This was still a shocking thing to almost everyone around the world. How can a rear-engine car handle and operate well? Well to this day it defies the laws of life and continues to be the perfect blend of luxury, exoticness, sport and beauty and pretty much automotive perfection all in one package.
The two cars do not necessarily compete at the same level, but, the general automotive public and enthusiasts always pitted the two against one another since the Corvette was the bargain sports car from America and the 911 was the premium sports car from Germany. The two cars always had different engines, with the Corvette using its American V8 heritage and the 911 using the six-cylinder boxer engine that it’s always had.
Realistically the cars were nothing alike. One was a big American gas guzzler and the other was a German twisty carver. It was like comparing Elvis Presley to a Panzer tank. They had nothing in common, except for one thing, they both loved to move and dance on the race track. Still this is true to this day. The Corvette started out as a quick 40 yard dash runner that turned into a wide receiver able to run routes and pressuring Porsche’s defense.
During the 1970’s America and Europe had changed a lot. More emphasis was being placed on safety and better emissions, and the oil crisis of 1973 didn’t help this either. The Corvette was well on its way to being either shifted into a safer, better on gas sports car, or not being around at all. This carried on until the 1980’s when the Corvette with the new 4th generation or C4 Corvette in 1984 (there was no Corvette in 1983 because there it was expected to be cancelled) which just so happened to win Motor Trends car of the year. The Corvette now was back in its glory. It looked more European, handled better and even had a nicer interior.
Whereas the Porsche 911 was still the same small, expensive sports car that started to go a little down hill. That is until 1974 when Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo or the Porsche 930 911 as it was known here in the states. The Turbo produced an all new 3.0l 260hp six-cylinder engine with wider wheels and extended wheel arches to house them. Probably the most noticeable difference of the 930 was the huge, and when I say huge I mean it, whale tail spoiler. In 1978 the Turbo had evolved into a nicer 3.3l engine making due with just 300hp. Unfortunately the 930 was banned from America starting in 1981 due to emissions regulations and some lawsuits in California for the car contributing to some peoples’ deaths. It was finally reintroduced into the American market in 1986.
In 1989 came an all new 911 with AWD power. Many have speculated that the Corvette may offer AWD, but, Chevrolet has never really talked about it much. They have mentioned it here and there, but, never too seriously.
Both the Corvette and 911 have been involved in some sort of racing, sometimes even racing one another. Corvette has found recent success in the GT1 part of ALMS racing (American Le Mans Series) while Porsche plays in ALMS as well but in LMP2 and GT2 classes away from the Corvette.
Now, the battles on road and track have more so heated up between the two automotive giants. With the 993 series Porsche 911 of the mid 90’s and the current C4 (Corvette, 4th generation) both were seen competing in magazines together and even duking it out on your home television screen in the form of video games, such as Need For Speed for the Sony Playstation.
With the current versions of the Corvette and the 911 they are more comparable then ever. It used to be said that the interior of a Corvette was so cheap even hobo’s wouldn’t be comfortable in them. But now, there is no saying that. With the new C6 Corvette it is not only impressively fast with its 430hp V8 it’s also nimble on its feet. The Corvette since 2001 has offered a performance upgrade in terms of the Z06. The Z06 started out with a 385hp V8 and then Chevy added some grunt to give the beast 405hp. Now the current C6 Z06 has 505hp in the form of a 7.0l V8. The new Z06 is capable of hitting 60 in 3.4s and lapping the German Nürburgring in a blistering 7:42 which is only 2s off the pace of the current 997 911 Turbo which can hit 60 in the same amount of time. The Corvette is currently offered in a coupe, convertible and coupe Z06 form.
While the 911 is offered in 911 Carrera 2 or 4 (2 meaning RWD and 4 meaning AWD) C2S or C4S (S giving the 911 more power and better suspension), Targa, Turbo (Turbo’s since 1995 have been permanently offered in AWD form), GT3 (the racier version of the 911 with a fixed rear wing and RWD only) GT3 RS (even racier and still RWD) and GT2 (the top 911 model producing over 500hp and being RWD only). The regular 911 Carrera comes in coupe or convertible along with the Turbo being offered in coupe or convertible as well.
Chevrolet has now brought out the all new Corvette ZR1 to heat up the fight even more. With its supercharged V8 producing well over 600hp and being made primarily of carbon fiber and having new carbon ceramic disc brakes, it will do battle with the new 911 GT2. The GT2 has already shown to the world that it means racing business by lapping the ‘Ring in 7:31. The ZR1 has not yet posted a track time and has not even posted official power ratings either.
The Corvette and 911 will always be the best fight in the automotive world. The Corvette has never really been able to keep up until the C5 Corvette was released with better suspension and handling, and now with the C6 its hard for the 911 to even keep up at times. Both sell well, both look great, they have aged fantastically and this is all just the middle of their lives. The Corvette is only 55 and the 911 is practically an automotive baby at just 44 years young. I don’t see this fight ending soon. Let the best man win!
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Photos courtesy of: http://www.corvetteblogger.com/index.cfm/2006/12/14/Z06-Corvette-Named-to-Automobile-AllStars-List