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Here's Why Porsche Doesn't Use Numbers To Name Its Four Door Models

There's more than one reason why Porsche's sports cars are the only ones to feature numbers in their names

by Dimitar Angelov on July 8, 2024, 20:50

Porsche is a sports car manufacturer first and foremost, but times have changed, and in order to stay in business, many high-end car companies need to adapt. Like other carmakers, Porsche eventually branched out into other segments, including four-door sedans. In fact, the automaker’s has been toying with the idea of a four-door model since the 1950s, but so far, Porsche has only two sedan models on offer, with a possible, third one on the way.

One thing that stands out in Porsche is how it names its models. There is an obvious distinction between the German marque’s sports cars, which are named with numbers, and the rest, which feature more distinctive names. Have you ever wondered why that is? We are discussing the reasons below.

Porsche’s history with numbers and what they mean

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Porsche’s history of naming its sports cars with numbers dates back to 1939, with the Type 64 – Ferry Porsche’s dream sports car. However, the first official Porsche model was the 356, which came out in 1948. Over the next few years, models like the 1953 Porsche 550 Spyder and its successor, the original Porsche 718 from 1957, would join the ranks.

In September 1964, the iconic Porsche 911 was born. It was originally named the 901, but French automaker, Peugeot had claimed all numbers with "0” in the middle. Since "901” badges were already fitted to the car’s rear and glovebox, the Germans did the most practical thing – they replaced the "0” with another "1”, and the rest is history. As for the meaning behind Porsche’s numbers, they were internal designations. Apparently, Ferdinand Porsche jumped from 718 to 900 numbers in order to avoid confusion. Sorry Porschephiles, there is no romantic meaning behind it.

Why did Porsche switch to distinctive model names for its four-door models?

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Strangely enough, the main reason is simplicity. By giving four-door models distinctive names, Porsche avoids the hassle of dealing with intricate designations, describing engine size and other features. It’s why all Porsche models have additional designations like Carrera, S, 4S, GTS, Turbo, etc., after their names. Try to imagine how the badging would look if Porsche had to spell “911 3.0t Carrera 4 GTS” on the back.

Porsche’s naming strategy is marketing done right

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Porsche is drawing a line between its iconic sports cars and its more mainstream models. While the "cold and calculative” numbers naming is exclusive to Porsche sports car models, the brand doesn’t fail to allude to its rich heritage with some of the other names. The Porsche Panamera is a great example as its model name is a nod to the Carrera Panamericana – a border-to-border race for stock, sedan, touring, and sports cars, in Mexico. This also explains the use of “Carrera” in the 911 lineup.

Other names given to four-door Porsche cars are also captivating in their own way. "Taycan” is actually made of two Turkish words and it means “the soul of a young horse”, which fits the first performance Porsche EV perfectly. "Macan” means tiger in Malaysian, but can also be interpreted as the Serbo-Croatian word for Tomcat. Given Porsche Macan is one of the most athletic SUVs on sale, the name fits the bill. Macan was originally meant to be "Cajun” (Cayenne Junior), but that name was quickly dismissed. Cayenne is a type of powder made of very hot red peppers. Why Porsche would name its flagship SUV after a super-spicy ingredient, is honestly beyond me.

Porsche’s division in naming its models is a boss move in more than one way

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Despite Porsche being a part of VAG, the marque has done a great job at preserving its identity as an iconic sports car builder. Much of that comes from separating the "true” Porsche cars from the "half-breeds", featuring tech from the Volkswagen-Audi parts bin. We know that Porsche’s sports cars like the 911 and 718, will never share engines or drivetrain components with the more mainstream models that depend on parts from the mother company’s offers, and through its joint venture with Rimac-Bugatti, Porsche has even more opportunities to go wild with its future models.

Dimitar Angelov

Dimitar Angelov

Dim has been an automotive journalist since 2014. Although he is interested in all things automotive, his main interests revolve around, Asian, classic, and sports cars. He is particularly fond of Porsche sports cars as well as JDM classics from Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and others. Dim operates mainly from Bulgaria, but can, occasionally, be seen attending Europe's most reputable Auto shows, and events. Read full bio