The Porsche 911 Dakar: Celebrating the 1984 Rally Victory With a Limited-Edition Model

Since the first Porsche 911 debuted in September 1964, it has become a remarkable icon of automotive design and engineering. The German automaker continued to evolve the 911 lineup over the past 58 years with numerous editions such as the "basic" Carrera coupes, the firebreathing 911 Turbo and Turbo S, or the bonkers GT3 RS.
Porsche 911 Dakar 41 photos
Photo: Porsche
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Maybe not anyone's first thought, but one model that has been undoubtedly missing from Porsche's portfolio is an off-road-oriented 911. Well, that is all sure to change in 2023 with the unveiling of the stunning 911 Dakar at this year's LA Auto Show. Although traditionally, the 911 has always been a cutting-edge on-road performance machine, the Dakar is designed to take on the roughest terrain.

Historically, this is not the first time Porsche fiddled with making a 911 off-road worthy. In 1984, the brand made headlines with its 953 model, also known to the public as the 911 Carrera SC 3.2 4×4 "Paris Dakar." Porsche eagerly wanted to participate in the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally, so they created the 953- a substantially modified version of the 911 model at the time.

The vehicle took great advantage of a developmental, manually controlled four-wheel drive system intended to be used on the 959, which later replaced the 953 after just one year of existence. It also weighed about 2,750 lb (1,247 kg) and featured an extensively modified suspension, being powered by a 6-cylinder engine developing 304 PS (300 hp), resulting in quite impressive numbers for the time.

The three Porsche 953 vehicles that participated at the event proved tremendously successful during the almost 10,000-km (6213-mile) route in the hands of expert pilots Jacky Ickx, Rene Kussmaul, and René Metge. All three of them proudly crossed the finish line of the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally, with the car driven by René Metge and his co-pilot Dominique Lemoyne actually going into the history books by taking the overall first place that year.

In celebration of those past events, Porsche decided to release an exclusive, limited-edition model that evokes the overall victory of Porsche in the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally, which also marked the introduction of all-wheel drive technology in the Porsche 911 range. For this reason, the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar features a Rallye Design Package specially designed to resemble the legendary 1984 winning vehicle.

Porsche 911 Dakar
Photo: Porsche
The first notable feature of the all-new Porsche 911 Dakar is its increased ground clearance, which is 2 inches (50 mm) higher than that of a 911 Carrera with sports suspension. Furthermore, the vehicle can be additionally raised by an extra 1.2 inches (30 mm) using the available lift kit system, thus enabling ground clearance and approach and departure angles that can compete with any traditional SUV on the market. Not least, the "high level" suspension setting not only enables the driver to take advantage of high degrees of maneuverability and capability during adventurous off-road expeditions but is also available for spirited off-road driving as well, at speeds up to 106 mph (170 kph).

The rugged stance of the vehicle is complemented by a set of specially developed Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires, measuring 245/45 ZR 19 at the front and 295/40 ZR 20 at the rear, highlighting a nine-millimeter-deep tread pattern and reinforced sidewalls designed to be highly cut resistant and ensure utmost safety when tackling the unbeaten path. Although this configuration takes the most advantage of the 911 Dakar's capabilities, there are also two other tire options available to customers if they so wish, in the form of Pirelli P Zero summer and winter alternatives.

At the heart of this machine lays a three-liter bi-turbo six-cylinder powerplant, developing 480 PS (473 hp) and 420 lb-ft (570 Nm) of torque. It enables the 911 Dakar to accelerate from a standstill to 62 mph (100 kph) in just 3.4 seconds, achieving a tire-limited top speed of 149 mph (240 kph). As seen in the performance figures, although the car seems miles apart from its 911 Carrera 4 GTS with PDK sibling, there is just a mere 22 lbs (10 kg) weight difference between the two, the 911 Dakar tipping the scales around 3,540 lbs (1,605 kg) due to extensive weight-saving measures deployed by the engineers at Porsche, such as a rear seat delete or lightweight glass, and battery.

Porsche 911 Dakar
Photo: Porsche
The engine comes mated to an eight-speed PDK transmission and Porsche all-wheel drive. The vehicle also features additional standard equipment such as rear-axle steering, engine mounts taken straight from the 911 GT3, and a PDCC anti-roll stabilization system. Porsche proudly conveys that its new 911 Dakar is as dynamic on loose and sand surfaces as on paved roads and race tracks like the famous Nüburgring Nordschleife.

There are two new driving modes available, which can be chosen via the rotary switch on the steering wheel. Rallye mode, which has a rear-focused all-wheel drive algorithm, is excellent for slippery and uneven ground surfaces. Offroad mode automatically activates the high clearance setting which is intended to provide the most traction possible on sand and challenging terrain. Even more, there is a new Rallye Launch Control available, which provides exceptional acceleration on loose surfaced roads allowing for a maximum wheel slippage of about 20%.

The White/Gentian Blue Metallic two-tone paint scheme is the centerpiece of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur's optional Rallye Design Package, marking the first time Porsche uses a bi-color paint job and decorative foiling in a series production vehicle. Moreover, customers can pick a unique racing number of their own between 0 and 999 that would be visible on the side of the car.

The "Roughroads" trademark inscription on the doors, in addition to the rally stripes in red and gold, also nods to the winner of the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally. In contrast to the standard car, the white-painted alloy wheels and the red taillight strip complete the unique rally-inspired look.

Porsche 911 Dakar
Photo: Porsche
Interior features of this package also include seat belts and accents in Sharkblue, extended Race-Tex and leather surrounds, and additional leather trims. Other highlights of the inside living space include standard Race-Tex surfaces with ornamental Shade Green stitching, a color that is also offered as a unique metallic exterior finish specially conceived for the 911 Dakar. The Rallye Sport Package also includes features such as a roll-over bar, six-point seat belts, and even a fire extinguisher for emergencies.

For even more exclusivity, customers of the vehicle can also opt between two exquisite chronograph timepieces to match the car of their dreams in the form of the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 911 Dakar and the Chronograph 1 911 Dakar Rallye Design Edition, featuring housings made of particularly scratch-resistant materials and light titanium carbide.

Porsche recently made live the online configurator in most countries around the world, but buyers should be aware that the 911 Dakar will be a limited-edition run of only 2,500 units. The base pricing officially starts from $222,000 (excluding delivery and handling fees), but the company explicitly stated that dealers will set the final price. Considering that, for example, the Rallye Design Package has a price tag of $28,470, expect deep pockets to park such a masterpiece on your driveway. Although a hefty amount, the bespoke engineering and unique heritage that this example brings along with it, may just be worth it for the lucky and passionate few who will find true driving enjoyment behind the wheel of this unique machine.

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About the author: Dan Marinescu
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Since his early childhood, Dan developed an avid passion for cars and, now he sees himself as a genuine petrolhead. His enthusiasm comes from his father, an automotive engineer. They love to reminisce about the days when his dad showed him the inner workings of an engine and why everything does what it does.
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