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The Porsche 911, one of Hollywood’s enduring status rides, turns 50 this year.
Besides occupying the garages of Industry gear-heads from Jay Leno to Jerry Seinfeld, the 911 has turned up in a host of movies — such as the one glimpsed in Jordan Belfort‘s (Leonardo DiCaprio) garage in The Wolf of Wall Street — sometimes as a featured player with more charisma than the principals.
Gone in 60 Seconds opens with Giovanni Ribisi stealing a silver 911 straight off the showroom floor in, yes, less than 60 seconds, and then smoking a modded Honda in a street race.
In Annie Hall, Christopher Walken, playing Diane Keaton‘s brother, Duane, drives Woody Allen and Keaton to the airport in a 911. “Sometimes on the road at night,” he confesses to Allen, “I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on, into the oncoming car.” (Allen’s response: “I have to go now, Duane, because I’m due back on the planet Earth.”)
Tim Robbins, playing the rising minor league pitcher Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, drives a 911 in Bull Durham. After enduring one too many insults from his catcher-mentor, played by Kevin Costner (“From what I hear, you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a f—king boat,”), Robbins mutters, “I’m the one driving a Porsche.”
The co-star of Cars, Sally Carerra (voiced by Bonnie Hunt) is a baby blue 911 with a “tramp stamp” beneath her rear spoiler that impresses Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) — “Hey, is that a pinstripe tattoo?” he asks the suddenly bashful Sally. Pixar’s animators conducted extensive studies of actual 911s to satisfy director John Lasseter‘s edict that the cars in Cars behaved a closely as possible to the real machines.
And in the ’60s, the 911 was also the default trophy car for L.A. rock stars cashing their first big royalty checks. For example, Janis Joplin‘s lament that “all my friends drive Porsches” in her 1971 song “Mercedes-Benz” wasn’t hyperbole — the 911 was the ride for Mama Cass Elliot (who had an aftermarket sunroof installed in hers), Graham Nash and other Hollywood rock royalty.
As it happens, Joplin herself drove not a Benz, but a Porsche 356 convertible with a custom psychedelic paint job.
Never missing a chance to celebrate its most celebrated car, Porsche is selling a special limited-edition 50th anniversary 911 with boosted horsepower and retro touches like a green-lettered tach and speedometer and the original rakish 911 logo slapped on the rear. Only 1,963 — an homage to the year the 911 was launched — will be built.
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