WHAT’S IN A NAME? How the Porsche Carrera came to be

Just like every person, place and thing, cars must have names in order to be identified. Without this fact … well, chaos would rule. When it comes to automobile names, carmakers ponder long and hard before betting their fortunes on the final decision. Here’s the story of how the Carrera got its name.

 

Carrera

 

This 1964 Porsche 356C Carrera 2 (Lot #178) sold for $189,750 at the 2004 Petersen Museum Auction.

This 1964 Porsche 356C Carrera 2 (Lot #178) sold for $189,750 at the 2004 Petersen Museum Auction.

In the Spanish language, carrera means “race” and also “career.” But mainly it was a word used to identify certain on-road automobile races (as opposed to competitions run on closed racetracks). The most popular – and grueling ‒ of them all was the 2,000-mile Carrera Panamericana, which ran through the mountains, deserts and jungles of Mexico. The first such race, held in 1950, was won by an Oldsmobile 88; the next year a pair of Ferrari 212s place first and second. By 1952, the annual event had captured the attention of some very fast factories – including Porsche. Since its founding in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche, the company had many unsuccessful attempts at building a reliable race car – but because of the the marque’s competitiveness on twisty back roads, the Carrera Panamericana was thought to be the perfect challenge. That proved to be correct, with Porsche entering the endurance race in 1952 through 1954, picking up class wins that solidified its reputation for reliability. A little more than a year after the final race, Porsche announced the 356A – the Carrera. (The famous race also was the inspiration for another Porsche model unveiled in 2009: the Panamera.)

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