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Happy 45th Birthday to the Porsche V8

Porsche commemorates nearly five decades of V8s with a visual—and auditory—feast.

Porsche is most commonly associated with the number six in most peoples’ minds—flat-sixes, after all, have propelled the 911 throughout its 58-year reign as a sports-car benchmark. The company has a different number to celebrate, however: it is the 45th anniversary of its first V8, and it has released a sonorous video to celebrate today. No matter what the future holds for the future of Porsche’s drivetrains, it wants to remind everyone that even half a century on from a debut in the 928, it still has plenty of love for the eight-cylinder vees.

The bulbous-yet-charming 928, launched in 1977 at the Geneva Auto Show, marked Porsche’s first attempt to build a V8. It was not an instant success, precisely because it was so different than what Porsche had been building for decades. Porsche purists derided the front-engine layout and water-cooled engine, but over the 928’s 17-year lifetime, it eventually sold over 61,000 units and won a European Car of the Year award. Not bad for the first try.

Porsche once again lacked V8s for seven years after the 928’s disappearance, with the drought finally ending in 2002, as the Cayenne was released with the option of either an air-breathing or a turbocharged V8 powerplant. Once again, Porsche purists were extremely displeased with the newest V8 model, although it had less to do with the heart than with its body—a Porsche SUV 20 years ago was still unthinkable. The Cayenne was the company’s first SUV—actually, its first four-door production model ever—and just like the 928, the Cayenne defied its detractors on its way to a Transsyberia Rally win, a million models sold, a Nürburgring record, and a 20-year ongoing production run. Not bad for a second try, either. 


But the undisputed pinnacle of Porsche’s V8 offerings came in the form of the hybrid 918 Spyder. Like the 928 and the Cayenne before it, the 918 Spyder was a Porsche-first, being the first production car the company had ever built with a hybrid drivetrain. Unlike the other novel Porsche V8s, however, the 918 Spyder shut up naysayers from the get-go, with a sub-seven-minute ‘Ring lap and an astonishing 875 horsepower that left very little room for complaints, valid or otherwise.

Sadly, with production limited to just 918 units, the final Spyder rolled out of the factory in 2015, and no successor—V8 or otherwise—has been announced yet.

Today, the company offers seven V8-powered models in the form of three different Panamera sedans and four different Cayenne offerings. Yet, if you truly miss absurd power and no back seats with your 90-degree Vs, though, Porsche has already committed to the 2023 LMDh series with a prototype racecar that will be powered with a V8-hybrid drivetrain. Until we see the German manufacturer back on the Mulsanne, however, this video will just have to tide us over.

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