The $222,000 Porsche 911 Dakar Signals the Mainstreaming of Overlanding

Photo By: Porsche

I don’t think I’ve agonized over a headline as much as I did the one for this story. That’s because I was not — and still not — sure how to summarize a machine as wild as the Porsche 911 Dakar in a single headline.

Each of the 2,500 examples Porsche will build of the 911 Dakar will cost $222,000 before $1,495 delivery fee and optional extras, including but not limited to two-tone paint and a rooftop tent. In earning its ‘Dakar’ moniker, which is a nod to the all-wheel drive 911 that won the 1984 Paris-Dakar rally, the 2023 911 Dakar’s suspension was raised by 1.9 inches above that of the standard 911 Carrera. With the push of a button, the Dakar can raise itself up an additional 1.1 inches — to a total of 3.1 inches — above the ride height of the Carrera. And it can remain at that elevated height while traveling up to speeds of 105 miles per hour.

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

The Dakar’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder boxer engine produces 473 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque, propelling it from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. And its all-wheel drive system features rear-axle steering and a mode called “Rallye” that allows for up to 20% wheel slippage on loose surfaces. It has a first-ever “Off-Road” mode, too, which automatically engages full “High Level” suspension height.

By all measures, the 911 Dakar is an uproarious machine worthy of our attention. But perhaps now you understand why I struggled with the headline. I mean, how do you summarize it in one line? Moreover, how am I supposed to put it into perspective for us overlanders? I still don’t know.

I mean, I certainly won’t recommend anyone actually overland in a 911 Dakar — even if you can afford to get one. I admit that I regularly advocate for two-wheel drive Porsches as overlanding rigs, like the 924 pictured below. If I am honest, though, overlandy Porsches are fun as a lark, but not as actual overland rigs.

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

1978 Porsche 924 Safari | Photo by collectingcars.com

Even though Porsche had Pirelli develop special 27-inch “All-Terrain Plus” Scorpion tires for the 911 Dakar, an impressive ask unto itself, the car isn’t as important as what it indicates: Overlanding is mainstream.

Vehicle-based overlanding is a century old. You can read more about the history of overlanding here, if you wish. But in those decades, overlanding has mostly remained a hobby of a few well-heeled weirdos — those who had the desire and funds to travel overland.

READ MORE: The Best Vehicles I Saw at SEMA Show 2022

Overlandy or “safari” Porsche builds aren’t new. Those, too, were made by rich kooks — guys and gals who could afford to effectively ruin a Porsche for a laugh. This 911 Dakar is something new, both literally and figuratively.

If Porsche can look at the state of the automotive world and feel that now of all times is the moment at which it should release its first-ever off-road capable 911, that should tell you something. It tells me that overlading is here to stay. 

Yes, Porsche is only making 2,500 examples. It’s not becoming a regular trim of the 911. I admit that by definition locks the 911 Dakar to a moment in time. I doubt very much Porsche drove 300,000 miles, 6,000 of which off road, in development of the 911 Dakar for single run. Porsche’s engineers didn’t create Rallye and Off-Road modes for the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system for one car. No, I suspect we’ll see Dakar models of other, more mainstream Porsches in the years to come — even if they don’t wear the lauded Dakar moniker. 

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

Photo by Porsche

I mean, Porsche is selling rooftop tents in its showrooms now. Certainly, this portends overland-capable Cayennes are coming.

So, yes, I could pretend that the 911 Dakar is finally the factory overlanding sports car that a few of us have been begging for. It’s not. No, these 2,500 Dakars will likely be slapped with 100% markups by the Porsche dealers that are allocated to receive them. From which they’ll be bought by investment bankers and parked deep inside Montana mansions and rarely ever seen.

Forget the 911 Dakar and its special two-tone paint and special Race-Tex upholstery with fancy Shade Green accent stitching. This should mean nothing to you, really. No, instead be excited to know that the thing you and I love so dearly, overlanding, is so influential, so consequential that not even Porsche could ignore it.

When you’re doing something that is cool enough for Porsche to catch FOMO, you know you’re doing something right.

Photo by Brett Willhelm

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