The Porsche 911 Dakar was to become the 911 Safari

Porsche’s new 911 Dakar, unveiled last November at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show, was originally going to be called the 911 Safari, according to those responsible for developing the off-road sports car.

In an interview with Edmunds published last week, Thomas Krickelberg, director of the 911 Dakar program, said the car was originally called the 911 Safari in the early days of development, but Porsche had to abandon those plans after being given permission to use it of the name had been denied by Tata Motors. Tata is the rights holder of the Safari name when it comes to automotive applications and uses it for a mid-size SUV sold in India.

According to Krickelberg, Porsche also had to use permission for the Dakar name because its rights to everything automobile-related belong to the Amaury Sport Organization, organizer of the Dakar Rally. A deal could be made this time.

The name Safari comes from the East African Safari rallies that Porsche competed in in the 1970s. The name has been associated with rugged 911s since the 1978 rally where Swedish rally champion Björn Waldegård fielded a 911 SC Group 4 race car, and in recent years some companies building rugged versions of old 911s have referred to the cars as 911 Safaris .

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar

Similarly, the Dakar name is a nod to Porsche’s participation in the Dakar Rally, specifically Porsche’s victory in its first attempt in 1984 with a 953 rally car based on the 911. It was the first time that a 911 was equipped with all-wheel drive.

In his interview with Edmunds, Krickelberg revealed that his team was ready to launch a rugged 911 in 2016, when the previous 991 generation of the 911 was still in production. Porsche started exploring the idea back in 2012 and built a concept based on the 991 generation called the 911 Vision Safari.

According to Krickelberg, the sales team didn’t think the project would pay off. For the current 992 generation of the 911, the sales team was convinced after deciding to cut development costs and boost production from the original 2,000 to 2,500 cars.

Should the program prove popular, there could be more robust 911s, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said in an interview last month.