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Although the lifted-up Safari trend has spread to other cars and marques by now, the OG Porsche 911 version is still going strong. And with high-end shops like Russell Built Fabrications are getting in on the action, it seemed that Porsche itself wasn’t joining in. However, that’s apparently no longer the case. But while the rumored upcoming 911 variant might be ready to off-road, it might want to rally more than go on a safari.

It looks like the factory Safari Porsche 911 really is happening

The white-red-and-blue 2012 Porsche 911 Vision Safari concept
2012 Porsche 911 Vision Safari concept | Porsche

To be fair, Porsche has kicked around the idea of a Safari 911 before. It made a functioning concept, the 911 Vision Safari, back in 2012. But since then, the brand’s only significant off-road-focused addition is the recent Taycan Cross Turismo wagon. So, imagine the shock when a higher-riding-than-stock camouflaged 911 was spotted tearing up the Nürburgring in 2020.

As of this writing, Porsche hasn’t officially commented on that lifted 911. However, that test vehicle was spotted again late in 2021 at the ‘Ring. And shortly thereafter, someone snapped a photo of it in the Saudi Arabian sands, MotorTrend reports. So, it’s clearly testing something.

According to “a very credible rumor,” that ‘something’ is a factory-made Porsche 911 Safari, MT says. Furthermore, noted motoring journalist and YouTuber—and former Safari 911 owner—Matt Farah confirmed it in a recent tweet. Again, Porsche hasn’t released any statements on the matter. But at this point, that might just be a formality.

However, if and when this new 911 model shows up, you might not see a ‘Safari’ sticker on it.

This off-road-focused Porsche 911 won’t be called a ‘Safari,’ though

Two Porsche 911 SC 3.0s at the 1978 East African Safari Rally on a dirt road by a field and mountains
Two Porsche 911 SC 3.0s at the 1978 East African Safari Rally | Porsche

Know that “very credible rumor” that MT heard? It also claims that Porsche won’t call this factory Safari 911 a ‘Safari.’ Instead, it’s going to bear the name ‘Dakar,’ after the rally.

At first glance, this seems like an odd decision, given how the Safari term’s popularity. Toyota recently learned that name-recognition lesson with the GR86. However, chasing trends is a risky venture due to their time-sensitive natures. Plus, Porsche has a historical reason to stamp ‘Dakar’ on its cars.

Firstly, although the ‘Safari 911’ trend references Porsche’s participation in the East African Safari Rally, the 911’s rally history extends beyond it. Secondly, as big as the WRC is, the Dakar Rally is even more popular and recognizable. Although Porsche fans likely recognize the East African Rally’s significance, plenty more non-enthusiasts have heard of the Dakar. Plus, there’s a growing Porsche presence in the race; an all-female team ran the 2022 Dakar Classic in a 1982 911 SC, The Drive reports.

In addition, as noted earlier, multiple high-profile shops and companies have already capitalized on the Safari Porsche 911 trend. But by naming its factory version ‘Dakar,’ Porsche separates itself from the pack, MT muses. Remember how Porsche asked Singer not to put the German brand’s name on its builds? It’s like that, but for marketing rather than legal reasons.

When could the hypothetical 911 Dakar arrive in dealers?

Since Porsche hasn’t publicly acknowledged these Safari/Dakar 911 rumors, it’s difficult to gauge when it could arrive. There are more rumors of other special-edition 911s in the works for 2022, though, so the Dakar could be one of them. If that timeline—and the supply chain—holds steady, we could theoretically see the lifted 911 as a 2023 model.

As for what the 911 Dakar could be, as it’s designed for off-roading, it will likely use 911 Carrera 4 hardware. That means AWD, wider fenders, and based on the prototype spy shots, more body cladding, and bigger wheels and tires. And hopefully, a rally-inspired livery.

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