It seems the 911's title came down to what was in the parts bin...
The latest addition to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is a beautifully restored 901. In a new video, the company explains why a handful of cars wear this three-digit moniker rather than the far more recognisable 911 model name.
In the early 1960, just like today, French manufacturer Peugeot's vehicles used three-digit model names – for example the 203 and 403 at the time. The format was first used by the firm in 1929 with the 201, and it was swiftly registered as a trademark – three numbers and a zero in the middle.
Porsche managed to build 82 examples of the 901 before Peugeot lawyers 'convinced' the Germans of the need to change the moniker. According to the video, Peugeot sent a 'friendly but distinct letter' telling Porsche to pick different branding for its new sports coupe.
Porsche came to a rather simple solution. It was already producing separate 9, 0, and 1 numerals to affix to the vehicles. Rather than coming up with a completely different name, the company simply replaced the 0 with an extra 1, and the result was the now iconic 911 badge. Eminently sensible.
The newly restored 901 that has gone on display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart was the 57th example to leave the factory. A TV crew discovered the car in an abandoned German barn in 2014 – Porsche then acquired it and began the job of bringing the rare vehicle back to life. It's currently part of the of museum's special exhibition, '911 (901 No. 57) – A Legend Takes Off' through until 8 April 2018.
Among the few 901s, Porsche commissioned Karmann to build a single convertible version as a prototype. RM Sotheby's put this unique car up for auction in Paris in February 2017. It subsequently sold for £576,000, which was significantly under the company's estimate of £750,000 to £900,000.