2023 Porsche 911 Dakar 123 1668631868

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar Was Almost Called ‘Safari’ until It Wasn’t

  • The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar is named after the famous Dakar Rally, but it was originally going to be called the 911 Safari.
  • Indian automaker Tata Motors holds the copyright to the Safari name and has refused to allow Porsche to use it.
  • To use the Dakar name, Porsche needed permission from the organizers of the Dakar Rally and had to pay an undisclosed amount for the rights.

Porsche naming its new off-road oriented 911 after the Dakar Rally makes sense. After all, it is one of the most famous motorsport events. What some people may not know is that the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar was almost called the 911 Safari. That is until it wasn’t.

The Name Game

Since its inception in 1978, the Dakar Rally has earned a reputation for being incredibly demanding on vehicles and their drivers. Take, for example, 60-year-old Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Sr. This year he won a stage, ripped a tire out of his car and ended up breaking his spine in a flip. Yet in 1984, Porsche managed to win the rally outright with a 911—which adds a touch of company history to the name.

Despite all this, Dakar was not Porsche’s first name choice. Instead, the company originally wanted to call it the 911 Safari, according to Edmunds. Unfortunately, the Safari name was not available because it remains locked behind a copyright owned by Indian automaker Tata, which produces an SUV called the Safari.

“We talked to them [Tata],” 911 Dakar program director Thomas Krickelberg told Edmunds. “But they didn’t give us permission for that. That was option A. And then we switched to Dakar.”

A bumpy ride

With the Safari name out of the way, Porsche was left to search for other, equally stirring titles. That’s when Porsche landed on Dakar. However, in another unfortunate twist, that nickname was also taken. So, the German automaker had to jump through a few hoops.

To use the Dakar name, Porsche had to get permission from the organizers of the Dakar Rally (the Amaury Sport Organisation, or ASO), who own the rights to it in an automotive context. Porsche then had to pay the organization an undisclosed amount of money to borrow the name. That’s when the Porsche 911 Dakar was born.

“Then it was smooth sailing,” Krickelberg joked Edmonds.

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