When Porsche announced it was developing an off-road 911, we all knew what to expect. The Safari trend had been rampant, inescapable in Porsche enthusiast circles, and it had long since simmered into a thick, consistent aftermarket sauce: Tall ride height, wide fenders, and chunky tires — all of the ingredients Porsche had added to its own offering.
But then, the company announced something different: The 911 Dakar. Another storied off-road name, to be sure, but not the one we’d all come to associate with lifted Porsches that never see dirt. The script adorning the 911’s tail was… wrong. What happened? As it turns out, the name wasn’t chosen for Porsche’s racing heritage. It was just the second-best option — “Safari” was already taken.
In an interview with Edmunds, 911 Dakar project director Thomas Krickelberg explained that the company originally intended to use the Safari name. But the company discovered it would run into an existing trademark — that of Tata Motors’ Safari crossover.
Porsche reached out to Tata, hoping to get permission to share the Safari name, but the latter company wouldn’t budge. But don’t look too harshly on Tata for stealing your favorite car name — companies are forced to strictly enforce trademark protections, or risk losing their trademark entirely.
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The 911 Dakar is still a small-S safari-styled car, but the labyrinthine ins-and-outs of trademark law mean it can never get that capital S it so deserves. But, perhaps that’s a good thing — after all, the safari style should never be limited to just that single platform. By using the Dakar name, maybe Porsche is helping us remember all the other cars that deserve their own safari iteration, and leaving the word firmly in the hands of enthusiasts.