Whether you’re a hard-core enthusiast or have even just seen a car, chances are you can recognize a Porsche 911. That’s partly because it kept the same body style for more than 2 decades after its introduction, but also because each successive generation has maintained a strong link to that original design.

And while every 911 comes with a piece of that heritage, Porsche is always happy to offer more. The 2023 911 Sport Classic is the latest offering in the Porsche Heritage Design program, in which they’re celebrating every era of their history with a special edition model.

This Sport Classic isn’t the first Heritage Design model, nor is it the first Sport Classic. It follows in the footsteps of the 997.2 Sport Classic, which took its inspiration from the 1972 911 Carrera RS 2.7. And to celebrate the original high performance 911’s 50th anniversary, Porsche dusted off a few RS models they had lying around and invited us to Stuttgart, Germany to drive them.

The 1972 Carrera RS 2.7 was intended to be a homologation special for Porsche to meet Group 4 racing specifications and capped 500 examples. They sold all of them in under two months…so they decided to keep going, eventually building a total of 1,580.

The 2.7-liter flat six-engine produced 210-horsepower and made the Carrera the first production car in Germany to break the 6-second mark in the 0-100 km/h test. Which is why the car is often referred to simply as the 2.7.

This example is one of just 200 lightweight “Sport” models ever built. So no pressure when Porsche handed over the keys and told me to keep up with a new Macan Turbo.

"And let’s get into it. Up to third. That was a really smooth shift. 50 years later this thing still shifts like a dream.

Here a nice sweeping right hander. Going up a hill. Can give it a little bit of juice here. Still in third gear, completely floored. There we go!

There were a lot of firsts with the Carrera RS for Porsche. It was the first 911 with over 200 horsepower from the 2.7-liter flat 6 engine. It was the first Porsche with a spoiler on the front and back. That back one is the duck tail spoiler, which not only added downforce, which they found that the original 911’s shape added lift. But, the combination of the front and rear spoiler actually added top speed, which isn’t usually the case when you add downforce.

And this is based off the original 911 so I can’t say I fit all that well in here. I’m actually having trouble shifting because my leg, close to my knee and thigh area is right up against that shifter but we can make it work going up into third right there. Speaking of those shifts this thing is insanely smooth. This is a museum car, a Porsche museum car, which for some reason Porsche just lets people like me drive. I’m happy for that. But everything is in tip top shape working order and it just sounds and operates beautifully."

As magnificent as it is to drive a 2.7, especially one so beautifully sorted, sports car capabilities have grown quite a bit in 50 years. Enter the 2023 Sport Classic.

"And as you notice this special edition 911 uses a 7-speed manual transmission. Manual transmission only. This is actually based off the 911 Turbo. Uses the same engine. The same body style with some differences.

So while the engine’s the same it’s actually de-tuned. 543-horsepower and 442-pound-feet of torque, which is more than enough.  It’s pretty torque-y down below but even now up at around 4,500 and approaching five to six, it livens up. It really sounds good out back.

I mean this is sort of low hanging fruit but one of the main differences obviously between this and the original RS is just the effortless power here. In the RS, while it was over 200 horsepower and for the time that was a pretty big deal, you had to work for it. You had to really get it up in the tach. Here, I mean I’m just over 3,000 RPM and it’s more than I need in this situation. Of course, if you work it harder you’ll get even more power, but it’s just always on tap and that’s just something that comes with 50 years of technology development.

This car, while plenty capable isn’t a GT car. Isn’t a GT RS. It’s not meant for all-day track work. Sure, it can hold its own on the race track. It’s more for driving like this around at a casual pace. A little spirited if you want to downshift a little bit. And that’s what this car is for."

Despite Porsche conceding that the Sport Classic isn’t intended to be a track car, they made sure to point out that it is the most powerful 911 with a manual transmission currently available.

And the manual shift lever isn’t the only thing I fell in love with inside the Sport Classic.

"One thing I am particularly in love with with this car is the interior. As you can see this cognac leather with these super nice checker pattern inlays are just speaking to me I mean it is a gorgeous looking interior. Not only does it look great, it feels great because the leather actually isn’t quite as treated as traditional leather in a vehicle. And as long as you keep up with it and clean it after a while, it’s going to get a nice, worn-in look and feel to it. So down the road it’s going to get even better.

Like the 911 Turbo S this uses the widebody treatment but it does not have the side air intakes that the 911 Turbo S does. So instead it’s one smooth, curving piece around the rear wheels. 

The duck tail spoiler out back looks fantastic from the outside. Although driving inside here looking through the rearview, I don’t really see it. It’s not in the way. As much as I like looking at it, it’s nice not to have it right in my rearview."

If the ducktail and some of the more subtle details aren’t enough to identify a Sport Classic in the wild, just check the badging. This Porsche Heritage badge on the intake grille is a throwback to the one given to a 356 in the 1950’s when it passed the 100-thousand kilometer mark.

Of course all this heritage comes at a price. Limited to 1,250 examples, the 2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic stickers just under $274,000 thousand with U.S. sales starting later this year.

Until then, we’ll keep driving new stuff and telling you all about it right here on MotorWeek.