A new Porsche 911 Safari has been spotted in development testing at the Nürburgring and among the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. But now there’s a very credible rumor going around that it won’t be named “Safari” after all, and it will instead be named after the legendary Dakar desert rally race.
Most talk of Porsche 911 Safaris today focuses on fabricators, tuners, and personal passion projects that develop various generations of 911s into something that at least looks like it’s more capable off-road. That typically translates to beefier tires and stronger wheels on taller suspension, maybe some weight reduction, and a bunch of cool bolt-ons like cargo racks and brush guards. Perhaps it’ll take some inspiration, too, from the Porsche 911 Vision Safari design study that the company kept under wraps until quite recently (pictured above and below).
Even bigger tuners, like Singer, Ruf, and Gemballa, have been embracing the trend and building Safari-like cars that sell for more money than there are grains of sand in the desert. So it makes sense that Porsche would want to intercept some of that money flowing to the aftermarket with its own in-house 911 Dakar.
Safari vs. Dakar
The Porsche 911 Safari’s name originates in the early 1970s, when the automaker backed near-stock Porsche 911 sports cars participating in off-road rally races like the East African Safari. However, the 911 had been racing off-road in rallies for a decade already by that point. And rally racing left an indelible mark in the company’s history, with the 959 developed for Group B rally paving the way for water-cooling and all-wheel-drive down the road.
In the years since, the major mainstream off-road sporting event in the world is now the Dakar Rally, a rally that the company has been associated with since the days of the 959. Changing the name from Safari on the new model will help keep it relevant even if the Safari trend itself peters out, and also help distance it from all the Safari builds that now exist.
Judging from the images we’ve seen so far of prototypes in testing, the new 911 Dakar is expected to sport increased ride height, fender extensions that potentially cover a widened track, and reworked rear wing and tailpipe treatments, among other cosmetic and functional modifications.
A Lamborghini Safari, Too
It’s also not the only off-roading supercar we can expect from under the VAG corporate umbrella soon. The Lamborghini Sterrato will take a page out of the Safari trend book with a similar suite of all-terrain mods, as it has allegedly been greenlighted in an attempt to beat the 911 Dakar to market.
The Sterrato already exists (in one-off prototype form), we’ve driven it, and yes, it’s amazing. However, the Lamborghini will likely not get quite as much attention as the new 911 if we’re being honest, and it maybe deserves more.
More Special Editions
To some puritans’ annoyance (and to the delight of many actual Porsche buyers), the 911 has become something of a mannequin for seemingly endless special editions over the past couple of decades, and we don’t expect Porsche to quit anytime soon. Along with this 911 Dakar, we reported Porsche is rumored to have at least three other special editions of the 911 on the slate for this year.
We can anticipate a new Sport Classic edition, 911 ST model, and a Porsche 911 RS of some sort to celebrate the original’s 50th anniversary in 2022 alongside the 911 Dakar. The lucky few will get to make the hard decision about what to spend their cash on, while the rest of us just daydream the day away on the configurators.
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