How Porsche’s brilliant air-cooled flat-six engine thrived for three decades

Car enthusiasts have dialed 911 more than a million times in the past half century, not for emergency assistance but to own the car that most succinctly defines Porsche’s essence. The 911’s heart and soul is a rear-mounted six with cooling provided by fins and a fan. This engine has its crankshaft in the middle, with three cylinders laid flat on each side. Vastly exceeding what you’d expect from a layout that descended from the VW Beetle, the 911 engine provides sparkling performance and a vivid personality. This magnetic combination has attracted parishioners to the Porsche faith since 1965.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/10/03/porsches-air-cooled-flat-six-engine-thrived

Great article. Thanks for recapping a true automotive legend.

I really enjoyed this article. I have loved air cooled 911’s since the early 80’s and finally purchased one last year. I hadn’t driven one in over 30 years but the moment I slipped behind the wheel I knew I made the right choice. They are not fast by today’s standards but are very engaging and fun to drive.

Great recap. Had several various air cooled 911 over the years. Presently driving a 72 T targa Nothing sounds like an air cooled six cylinder Porsche!
The best is a 914-6 with the engine right behind you…

Basically no mention of chain tensioners, and how their failure kept all of us running Porsche shops in business for literally decades. And don’t forget trash valve guides–I’ve had the sad task of informing more than one sub-10K mile money shifter that we’re also doing all the guides with a superior aftermarket product.

Better late than never. Thank you for the article very informative and from what I know about Porsche boxer engines it seems very accurate. I know the magnesium case engines caused problems and therefore gave them a black eye but they were the lightest cases. I have one that I am rebuilding that’s going in a 914.

I didn’t see any mention of the chain tensioner update for the early models with the addition of the oil pressure line.

Wow, that is a very succinct and thorough run down of the venerable flat-six history - think I’ll copy/paste and put in a folder for future reference. Well done Don Sherman!