Porsche vs Ferrari
Porsche versus Ferrari. It’s a rivalry that has existed for over 50 years. Italy versus Germany.
The roots of the competition between the two storied brands started on the race track. In the 1960’s Ferrari was already a household name as the maker of some of the greatest racing machines in the world. Famously Enzo Ferrari is quoted as saying they they build road cars to finance their racing efforts. Even today the prancing horse is huge in the racing world, both in GT endurance racing and Formula One.
Porsche on the other hand started with a much simpler machine. Cars like the 356 at first shared many parts with the Volkswagen Type 1 (a.k.a. Bug). Ferdinand Porsche was the designer of the Type 1, so the fact that the car company bearing his last name would share much in common with the VW is not surprising. Porsche has always done more with less and while they have often had less power in their cars, compared to the competition, they have managed to take home many racing wins.
Almost from the very beginning Porsche has been known for their rear-engined cars. While they have also made great mid-engined (in fact the very first Porsche automobile had a mid-engined design) and front-engined machines most people think of a rear-engined car when they think of a Porsche. The reason for this is largely due to the 911.
The 911 was originally called the 901, but a lawsuit forced the change of the number designation. It is the iconic 911 that Porsche is best known for and having been with us for over 50 years it is simply timeless. For a sports car it is quite reliable, offers the practicality of rear seats (with some exceptions) and performance that will get you in the same league as the big boys. All from a flat-six power plant that was air-cooled for years until the late 90’s when it evolved to a water cooler model.
When talking about Porsches the word evolved is used quite often. That is their design philosophy. Put the first 911 next to the newest and you can tell it is the same model car. In general (although with a few exceptions) you can put any Porsche next to another and the basic styling looks the same as past models. They all have the Porsche look.
Ferrari has an entirely different philosophy. Where the German competition tends to enhance and improve existing models, Ferrari offers new models ever handful of years. These are usually powerful, fast and beautifully sculpted cars.
The Italian sports car maker is known for their V12 engines that are powerful enough to rotate the globe, but they have made a number of very good V8s. The prancing horse also has very strong ties to Formula 1. Because of this much of the technology that makes their open wheeled cars fly on the track has made it to their road cars. You can see this in the aerodynamics of the 488 GTB or the hybrid system used in the LaFerrari.
The zenith of Ferrari versus Porsche racing came in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This timeframe produced incredible cars like the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari 512. The two automakers would compete in some of the best endurance races of all time. Steve McQueen’s movie, Le Mans features real racing footage of these great race cars in their prime.
Both marquees have taken their success on the track and put the technology developed for racing in their road cars. The result is some of the best automobiles that money can buy.
The price of entry is a big distinction between the two. Porsche is by far the more attainable brand. The have offerings that range from supercars like the 918 Spyder down to the more affordable mid-engined Porsche Boxster and Cayman. Their cars also tend to be less expensive to maintain, although still not cheap. Because of this many Porsche owners enjoy their cars everyday.
A Ferrari on the other hand has a sense of occasion. Their cars are just made for a weekend drive and while their newer cars are more dependable, they still are expensive to maintain. They are rolling pieces of art that only the very successful can afford. They are a true status symbol that can be matched by few other nameplates.
Is Porsche or Ferrari better? From a strict performance stand point Ferrari has a slight lead overall, but Porsche is not far off and their turbocharged cars (outside of the new turbocharged Carrera and 718 Boxster / Cayman) are often quicker than their Ferrari equivalent. The kicker is that an upper level Porsche model will give you the performance that rivals a Ferrari at a much lower price.
The Ferrari is a status symbol that is more than an automobile. You will get attention just about anywhere you go. You have reached the pinnacle of automotive excellence.
With the Porsche you get incredible performance in a more understated package. It can be enjoyed everyday and can make a commute much more tolerable. The Ferrari may be above the automobile and a rolling piece of art, but the Porsche is simply a car. As a car it offers the best set of precision tools money can buy. It may not be a Rembrandt, but a surgeon doesn’t use a painting when operating, he uses a scalpel. Porsche makes the best scalpel that one can purchase. Their machines are just perfect for carving a twisty back road or taking on the track.
If money was no object and you could buy either, which would you choose? A Porsche or Ferrari, let us know in the comments.
Picture Sources: Spurzem, Brian Snelson