- The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar is named after the famed Dakar Rally, but originally it was going to be called the 911 Safari.
- Indian automaker Tata Motors holds the copyrights to the Safari name and refused to let Porsche 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’s one of the most famous motorsport events. What some people might not know, however, 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 garnered a reputation for being incredibly demanding on vehicles and their drivers. Take 60-year-old Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Sr. for instance. This year, he won a stage, had a tire ripped from his car, and eventually went on to fracture his spine in a flip. Still, back in 1984, Porsche managed to win the rally outright with a 911—adding a touch of company history to the name.
Despite all that, Dakar was not Porsche’s first naming choice. Instead, the company originally wanted to call it the 911 Safari, according to Edmunds. Unfortunately, the Safari name wasn’t available, as it remains locked behind a copyright owned by Indian carmaker 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 running, Porsche was left to search for other, equally stirring titles. That’s when Porsche landed on Dakar. However, in another unfortunate turn of events, that moniker was also taken. So, the German automaker had to jump through some hoops.
In order to use the Dakar name, Porsche had to get permission from the organizers of the Dakar Rally (the Amaury Sport Organization or ASO), which owns the rights to it in an automotive context. Porsche then had to pay the organization an undisclosed amount of money so it could borrow the name. That’s when the Porsche 911 Dakar was born.
“Then it was smooth,” Krickelberg joked to Edmunds.