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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Trip Around The Porsche Museum (11/3/2014)


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On 11th March, I had a day that I'd dreamed of but never really expected to actually happen. Our University course had arranged a trip to Stuttgart, and because about half of us are automotive designers, that meant we were going to the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums, both of which are highly recommended by the motoring press on a regular basis. We went to the Mercedes one first, but because that was huge and I took about 300 pictures, I'll first share with you the smaller but in some ways equally fascinating Porsche Museum. What this building lacks in quantity compared to Mercedes, it makes up for in quality, from the first electric car to Le Mans winners, Dakar winners, concepts, prototypes and road cars from the first all the way through to the latest machinery from one of the world's most prestigious sports car companies.

Situated opposite an enormous showroom at Porscheplatz 1 in the north of Stuttgart, this place is essentially Disneyland for me. I've been big on Porsches since about the year 2000, when Need For Speed: Porsche 2000 was released on PC and I played it almost constantly for months, maybe even a year or two. It's a great game, and it immerses you in the history of their road cars (and a few racers too). After that I've been hooked and could go full-nerd at any moment if provoked. So you can understand the almost childish joy I had walking past this 964 Carrera and into Porsche's temple to itself. Legendary race winners, cars that never made production, one-offs, race engines, even a Harley-Davidson! It was all there, and their YouTube channel shows that, somewhere nearby in storage, there's a lot more besides. Even in the cafeteria there was a 935/78 "Moby Dick," one of the great monsters of racing history, on the other side of a glass wall, sat under an Indycar prototype that never raced due to a rule-change. Because we visited both museums in the same day, and Mercedes was massive, my cameraphone was already below 50% battery, so I had to be more economical with my photography (the quality of which will vary a bit), but I still managed a lap of the exhibits before it went flat and died. As well as what you can see, there was a brand new Carrera S Cabriolet (991) that we were allowed to sit in. It felt very expensive - partly because it is - and you sit very low down in the car (the electric adjustments weren't working, because they wouldn't dare leave the key in it). There was also a 996 "art car" in dark red with a golden dragon on it, but my photo of that is too shit to share. After depleting my battery and my own energy, I discovered the gift shop, where I bought a toy 911 and a postcard of a Rothmans-liveried 962C Le Mans winner. I also wished I'd brought more Euros......

But anyway, here are almost all the exhibits, in many cases with the description written underneath them, or perhaps just a comment from me. They are roughly in chronological order of when I took the photos. Click to embiggen.

After collecting a collectible ticket for your ticket collection, you must ascend a gleaming white escalator, where you're met with the fruits of the fifties (or thereabouts). Here we have a 356B Carrera, a modified racing version by Abarth (red flashes) and an 804 Formula 1 car. The racers (an Abarth and an F1 car) aren't the sort you'd immediately associate with Porsche...

Oh, and against the back wall were these minty examples of Porsche's first two road cars, the 356 and, of course, the 911. Finished in slate grey with a red interior, you can see why they didn't want to deviate far from the original 911.

Something the more informed Porsche enthusiast might more readily associate with them is the gorgeous shape of the 904 Carrera GTS.

Were it not for the four-cylinder engine, this race-winner could be considered the Cayman's grandfather. Strong genes!
Don't think that the four-pot boxer motor is mild, either. Getting 180 horsepower out of 2.0 litres in 1964 was unheard of, and what's sometimes called "the most complex four-cylinder ever" would, in various forms, see work in 34 road-racers that followed.

"The fibreglass-reinforced plastic bodyshell of the Porsche 908 weighs in at just 130kg"

This 356B 2000GS Carrera GT (recognise that last bit?) hails from 1960 and is one of the last iterations of Porsche's first road car, arriving a decade after the original 356. The 356 is dubbed by some as a "bathtub Porsche" because they see an upturned bath. In a manner of speaking it's the only real link between the Volkswagen Beetle and the 911, originally using VW mechanicals but being modified more and more over time. The 911, on the other hand, was essentially bespoke. Not that Jeremy Clarkson has any idea what he's talking about......
But did you know that Porsche once entered Formula 1? No, I'm not talking about supplying engines to McLaren in the early 1980s, I mean a full factory entry with their own chassis. The 804 was originally a Formula 2 car, but a rule change in F1 allowed F2 cars to enter as well, so they gave it a go. It wasn't a glowing success and after two seasons they pulled out with only one Grand Prix victory (and a non-championship race win) to show for it.

"1962 / 8-cyl Boxer / 1494cc / 185PS / 270km/h"
"In July 1962 Dan Gurney wins the Grand Prix of France, besting Joakim Bonnier in another Porsche. Gurney is also victorious in Stuttgart's Solitude Race. Weighing 461kg, this lightweight, eight-cylinder single-seater with disc brakes and parallellogram suspension is the only Formula One racing car developed and built entirely by Porsche. The 804 influences many racing car developments at Porsche."

It's always interesting to see how tight the cockpits of F1 cars are. No fatties!

From the top of the stairs you can go left or right. The 904 drew me to the left, where about a dozen Le Mans racers met my eyes
After the 904 came the bigger, faster 906. The description reads:
"1966 / 6-cyl Boxer / 1991cc / 210PS / 280km/h"
"The 906 Carrera-6 is the first thoroughbred racing car by Porsche. The successor of the 904 performs well in diverse applications and is particularly successful with its lightweight tubular spaceframe in the two-litre sports car class. In 1966 Willy Mairesse and Herbert Müller celebrate overall victory at the 50th Targa Florio road race. The Carrera 6 sets important trends for many successful Porsche racing cars."

Of course, Porsche has always been into evolution, so the 906 evolved into the 200mph 908. Another description quote:
"1969 / 8-cyl Boxer / 2997cc / 350PS / 320km/h"
"The long-tail version of the Type 908, which was designed for a very low drag coefficient, plays a key role in the most thrilling finale in Le Mans history. Hans Herrman and Gérard Larousse are just 120 metres short of a first Porsche overall victory. Even in the last lap, the lead changes several times between Herrman and the ultimate victor, Jacky Ickx (Ford GT40). Porsche must be content with winning the Manufacturer's World [sports-car] Championship."

What's the collective term for Porsche 917s? A flock? An orgy? A trophy collection? The latter could work, as the 917 in its various iterations would endure a difficult debut in 1969 to go on to be one of the most successful and legendary racing cars of all time, winning the Le Mans 24 hours in 1970 and 1971, appearing in the Steve McQueen movie Le Mans in that iconic Gulf Racing livery and dominating the American 'Can-Am' series to the point that the series was effectively killed off by it. That car, the open-top 917/30 (not in this picture), made somewhere near 1600 horsepower in qualifying trim and could go from 0-60 in 2.3 seconds and on to around 240mph. With rear-wheel-drive. And a manual gearbox. And no roof or significant amount of downforce. I bet that was... exciting!

This version, known as the 917 Langheck (LH) is the car I have on my museum ticket. Sadly the long-tail car with its low-drag body didn't finish the one race it ran in, the 1971 Le Mans 24H, but no matter; a 917K ("Kurtzheck", or short-tail) with a bespoke magnesium chassis won the race instead. I do love the shape of this Martini-liveried LH, though.

Here are two more 917s (plus a few special 911s in the background). The one on the right is a Gulf Racing 1971 917K as you may have seen in the Steve McQueen movie Le Mans, but the one on the left is the one and only 917/20 "Pink Pig." The nickname for this research and development vehicle comes from its, ahem, broad shoulders, and the odd pink colour scheme that had meat cuts painted on it. It crashed out of the 1971 Le Mans 24H, and has subsequently been restored.

1971 was the year that 917s of all kinds were adorned with tail fins, for aerodynamic stability. They also look AWESOME.

Every 917 used a flat-12 engine designed by Porsche's legendary engine designer, Hans Mezger. The German engineer only recently retired, being responsible for the flat-6 engines in the previous-generation 911 GT2 and GT3. He also did the 904, 906 and 908 boxers, but the Le Mans-winning 12-cylinder engine is his crowning achievement. The 1580-horsepower 917/30 Can-Am engine was the ultimate version, displacing 5.4L and sporting twin turbos, but the Le Mans engines were naturally-aspirated and "only" 4.5 or 4.9 litres. These engines made upwards of 580 horsepower and featured exotic materials like titanium, magnesium and advanced alloys.

This up-skirt shot of the Pink Pig shows what are probably fuel tanks, along with part of the tubular spaceframe chassis. Typically made of aluminium, the chassis only weighs 42kg! The front section also acted as oil pipes.

Here's the fibreglass cooling fan sitting atop that mighty boxer engine. Think of two 911 engines put end-to-end and then modified into one glorious whole... although that's probably selling it short.

"Here at Porsche Exclusive, we can colour-match your seats to the exterior stripe..."

Jo Siffert and Derek Bell had to do 12 hours each (though not all at once) sat in this tiny cockpit. Fun Fact: the gear knob is made of balsa wood to save weight.

The short tail of the 917K was devised when one engineer noticed dead gnats all over an original 1969 car - none of which still exist - which essentially showed the air flow over the car. No gnats were spattered onto the back of the car because the air wasn't hitting it, so using sheets of aluminium, they devised a higher, shorter tail for 1970 that added some much-needed rear downforce. Vertical stabilisers then appeared a year later.

In the background of the above picture is this, a Porsche 914/8. The 914 was a collaboration with VW to make a low-budget Porsche, and so it was saddled with a four-cylinder engine (914/4). Later on they put a six-cylinder unit in to make the 914/6... so can you guess what kind of engine this has sitting behind the cockpit? The flat-8 engine came courtesy of the 908 racing car, and sits in a surplus prototype chassis with a few differences to the production car, like quad headlamps with wider pop-up housings. The first of only two ever built, this orange car was built by order of Ferdinand Piëch, who nowadays runs VW Group. A second car (in silver) was made for Ferry Porsche, who sadly didn't like it. His one was closer to the production 914 and was detuned from the orange car's 310HP down to 260HP. Imagine putting a 918 Spyder's V8 into a Boxster S...

This is a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7. If you say that name to a 911 die-hard, they'll go all wobbly. Spiritual ancestor to the GT3 RS, this was a road car adorned with paraphernalia from racing 911s (RS means Rennsport, which is German for Motorsport). There were two flavours available, an RS Touring which had more luxuries in it, and an RS Lightweight which didn't. This is considered the holy grail of 911s, the purest of the breed. Also, it has a "Ducktail" spoiler, which looks really cool.

But back to racing cars now, and this is the 936 that won the 1977 Le Mans 24 Hours. It used a modified version of the 930 Turbo's engine and raced to "Group 6" regulations. Due to these regulations, the engine was shrunk from 3.0 litres to 2.14 litres, as the presence of a turbocharger meant it needed to be handicapped. Still, it managed 540 horsepower from that diminutive displacement, and of course being a Le Mans winner that heavily-modified little engine ran reliably for 24 straight hours of abuse. What F1 engine can say that?

Looking down on what gives them their heritage is the current range of Porsche road cars. At the moment (from left) it's a Panamera GTS, Cayenne Turbo, Boxster S, Cayman S and 911 Turbo... S. Sadly, there was no 918 Spyder in the building, not even the 2011 concept car. I was a little disappointed at that...

You think you're looking at a Porsche 959, don't you? Well, unless you're looking at the desert racer behind it, you're not looking at a 959. For this, you see, is a 961. Actually it's the 961. The FIA's Group B regulations weren't just for rally cars, but track racers as well, so Porsche put the 2.9 twin-turbo flat-6 to work in a tarmac-only modified version of the 959 supercar. I first saw this car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed nearly three years ago, thinking it would be the only time I'd ever see it. The fact that there's only one may reveal that this wasn't a glowing success. It was miles faster than the other Group B sports cars to the point where it was classed as a Group C car by regulators when it raced at Daytona, but this misfit was no match for the purpose-built Group C cars...
It only entered three races. The first was the 1986 LM24, in which it effortlessly won its class (B). The second was at Daytona, where it suffered a high-speed puncture, and the third was the 1987 LM24, where Kees Nierop - who'd already trashed his 962C in practice - accidentally shifted from 5th to 2nd gear while braking at the end of the Mulsanne Straight, locking the rear wheels and throwing the car off the circuit. Heavily damaged, it then caught fire before it could return to the pits. Years later, Porsche restored it to how it was at the beginning of that weekend in 1987.

Meanwhile, the 959 desert rally car you see here enjoyed a much more glorious, if still quite short, racing career. Homologated by the super high-tech 959 supercar - the Veyron of its time - this particular example won the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally, a gruelling and infamous long-distance race across the Sahara Desert. Built to Group B rally specifications, Porsche never entered a WRC event with it, because it was really a technology research car, and the cost of running a rally season would've outweighed anything they got out of doing it. Said technology included sequential twin-turbos, active all-wheel-drive (like a Nissan GT-R has) and electrically adjustable suspension. Like Le Mans, the Paris-Dakar provided the ultimate no-excuses test bed for new technology - if it can withstand that kind of abuse, it can withstand anything. 

There are a lot of differences between these two cars, even though they're both essentially overhauled 911s. The tarmac-only 961 has much wider flares to hide the much wider track and wheels/tyres. One thing of note is that while this car isn't a rally car, it does still have active all-wheel-drive, giving it a major advantage out of corners or in slippery conditions. That said, it had a more rear-biased set up.

Compared to the 961, and indeed most 911s, the Dakar car looks like it's on stilts!

While the rally supercar is one of the coolest things here (or anywhere), I really like the way the 961 sits.

Its 911 roots are betrayed by that familiar roofline...

...but the advanced aerodynamics made it onto the 959 road car wholesale.

Even when you're winning, you don't really need to see out the back of a Dakar racer. All you'd see is sand clouds...

Typically spartan interior. Modern racing cars aren't much tidier than this 959.

Meanwhile, the 961 appears to have leather covers over the NACA ducts that help cool the engine. Why?

The cool thing about 911-based racing cars being rear-engined is that you can see its guts through the tail. Like the 911 Turbo S (991) that subtly photobombs this picture, this car is sporting twin turbochargers...

...which you can see one of here! Naughty.

If ever you want to see how much wider a car is than stock, look at the tail lights and see how much further out the bodywork goes. About an inch, I'd guess, even though it's tapering in.
Oh, and KKK is a brand of turbocharger. Porsche aren't making any controversial statements here...

This, however, is more than an inch wider around the front wheels. As the 944 GT in front shows, Porsche are no strangers to bodywork flares!

Mmm, gotta love those natural-looking flares. Also, there's a 962 Group C car stuck to the ceiling over there.

The reason there's a 962C stuck to the ceiling is because this, one of the first successful Ground Effect cars in sportscar racing and yet another Le Mans 24H winner, generates so much downforce at high speed that it could - you guessed it - drive upside-down. Stopping might be an issue, though...

Form follows function, even for the paintjob.

Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx won Le Mans in 1986 and '87 in one of these. The 962 replaced the 956, with a longer wheelbase and improved safety features. Sadly, Stefan Bellof (holder of the Nordschleife lap record at 6:11 in a 956) was killed when his 956 collided with a 962 into Eau Rouge corner at Spa-Francorchamps.

Hey, speaking of Porsche racecars that killed people, here's a 550 Spyder!
Also another 904 Carrera GTS, a 911 RSR of some kind, a 959 S (more power, less weight, more WOAHH), and two more "supersportwagens"...

...one of which is an extremely rare road-legal version of the 911 GT1 (996) Le Mans racer from the late 1990s (the GT1 won Le Mans in 1998 and is the most recent Porsche to do so... for now)...

...and the other of which is the glorious V10-powered Carrera GT supercar.

As a nod to the legendary 917, the Carrera GT's gear knob is made of balsa wood to save weight. Saving more weight is a chassis that's entirely made of carbon fibre, including the subframes either end of the tub, something that not even Koenigsegg and Pagani do, let alone anyone else. And this was 10 years ago!

These are two of the ultimate Porsche road cars, born - albeit in different ways - from Le Mans. While the 911 GT1 "Strassenversion" is essentially the full-fat LMP with number plates, the Carrera GT's engine was originally made in the 1990s for the Footwork formula 1 team, but in the end it was shelved. In the late 1990s, they enlarged it to 5.7L and tested it in a prototype Le Mans, er, Prototype, but decided against spending the money on it because they wanted to build the Cayenne SUV. Ironically, the vast profits from the Cayenne then funded the Carrera GT road car, after a surprising amount of interest in the concept car in 2000 prompted them to put what was only meant as an attention-grabber into production.

These jet-nozzle exhaust pipes emit one of the most glorious, spine-tingling sounds mankind has ever created in any aspect of anything. The V10's heavenly scream is the byproduct of it generating 612PS as well as 435lb/ft of torque. In something weighing 1380kg with a manual gearbox, it proved to be plenty of thrust, especially as the chassis is razor-sharp. It's not a car to be messed with, this, although evo recently discovered that modern performance tyres make it much easier to enjoy the nigh-on perfect balance without pasting your guts all over the internet.

The engine that the 911 GT1 did get in the end was, in traditional Porsche racing fashion, a heavily modified version of the 911 Turbo's flat-6 engine. Displacing 3.2 litres, the twin-turbocharged unit was developing nearly the same power as the C-GT's V10, at 600PS. However, if you think the all-carbon Carrera is light, the GT1 Strassenversion is almost a quarter or a tonne lighter still, at 1150kg. The full-on racer is 100kg lighter again. That's quite a recipe for success......

As well as road cars, racing cars and the odd concept, there are equally-rare one-offs and design studies such as this 928 shooting brake with suicide doors. So nearly an '80s Panamera with its front-mounted V8 and four seats, it's the sort of thing you're rarely allowed to see. A car that nearly went into production.

"1987 / 8-cyl Vee / 4957cc / 320PS / 270km/h"
"In 1987, the study H50 was an unusual variant of the Porsche 928. With its long wheelbase, the study not only offered four full-size seats, but four doors also allowed easy entry and exit. A special feature of the vehicle are the rear doors which are hinged in opposition to the direction of travel, replacing the conventional B-pillar. However, this 928 S4-long version did not reach series production."

This, on the other hand, was never meant for mass production. Instead, it was aimed at the armed forces. It's called the "Type 597 Jagdwagen," and unfortunately for Porsche the interested parties went for the DKW Munga because it was cheaper to produce and Auto Union/DKW could make more of them quicker. Porsche ended up building a few anyway, with 49 civilian cars and 22 others produced between 1955 and '58. This is a 1956 model.

"1956 / 4-cyl Boxer / 1582cc / 50PS / 100km/h"
"An amphibious vehicle: in response to an invitation for bids by the Bundeswehr (German armed forces), Porsche begins to explore new terrain in 1953 with its "Jagdwagen" - or "chase car." The Type-597 can move on land and in water, and the driver-actuated all-wheel-drive works equally well on pavement and off-road. At the Bundeswehr presentation, it is even used to help free competing bidders that become stuck in the mud."

A tenner to anyone who recognises this signature. I though I'd remember at the time...

Looking even less like a Porsche than the Jagdwagen (which is at least rear-engined) is this mid-'90s design study. Called "Studie C88," it was conceived by Porsche as a car for the Chinese market - which is why it looks a bit crap - having been invited to alongside several other manufacturers by the Chinese government. In the end nobody's design proposals were chosen, but museum director Dieter Landenberger has been quoted as saying: "The Chinese government said thank you very much and took the ideas for free, and if you look at Chinese cars now, you can see many details of our C88 in them." Ouch...

"1994 / 4-cyl Boxer / 1100cc / 48-68PS / 140-165km/h"
"In China, 88 is considered a lucky number - and so Porsche decides to name the car it presents at an automobile show in Beijing the "C88." Developed by Weissach engineers in just four months especially for the Chinese market, the model can be manufactured with simple production methods, while at the same time providing excellent quality and driving safety. In the end, however, the Chinese authorities do not grant Porsche or any other foreign manufacturer permission to produce in China."

Porsche 924 Carrera GTS
"1981 / 4-cyl series turbo / 1984cc / 245PS / 250km/h"
"The first model 924 built in Zuffenhausen is a purely competitive vehicle from a small development series. Walter Röhrl is particularly fond of driving this sports car, and is especially successful in rallies. Once an individual inspection test is passed, the 924 Carrera GTS can also be approved for road use - but don't expect any comfort features. The racing seats come from the 935, and the wheels and brakes from the 911 Turbo."

Porsche's side projects deviate even further from the norm. Did you know that Harley-Davidsons are powered by Porsche?
"Harley-Davidson Revolution Engine"
"2002 / 2-cylinder V 60° / 1131cc / 117PS"
"A highlight of the cooperation with Harley-Davidson underway since 1997 is the Revolution engine type that Porsche develops to production readiness and that is used in the V-Rod since 2002. The market introduction of this engine represents a synthesis of aesthetic design and modern high-performance engine construction that accords with the latest legal regulations."

Back to normal now, with a 964-generation 911 Turbo S. It's 3.3L turbocharged flat-6 made 381bhp in 1992, and it had fewer luxuries than the standard Turbo for lightness. The 964 generation appeared in 1989 and was the first 911 to have power steering and anti-lock brakes.
This was also a first. The Boxster is an accepted part of the range now, but back in the 1990s a sub-911 mass-production sports car with the engine behind the driver was unheard-of. This is the 1992 concept for the Boxster, whose name is a portmanteau of "Boxer" and "Roadster". Like the Carrera GT, Porsche was prompted to put this in production after the public went mad for it. By 1996 it reached production, sharing a lot of parts with the 996-generation 911 that came along two years later. With water-cooled engines and - gasp! - non-circular headlights, the 996 wasn't the most popular 911, but the Boxster's affordability arguably saved Porsche from being bought out in the 1990s.

Thankfully a few things changed from the concept, which hasn't aged well...

It wasn't just engines and headlights that the Boxster and 996 shared. The production version also shared its bonnet, doors, front wings and interior with its big brother.

There are some who wouldn't readily associate these two words. Such people are wrong.

Here we have, from left, a 993 Turbo, 993 Carrera Cabriolet and 968 Cabriolet. The 993 was the last air-cooled 911, while the 968 was Porsche's last front-engined two-door sports car to date. But how hard would it be to take two doors off a Panamera?

This is a 993-generation GT1, which first appeared in 1996. It raced at Le Mans with the aforementioned 600PS engine, but came second to the WSC-95 that Porsche had built the year before.

I was a little surprised at how fuzzy the livery was.

This is how most of the twenty-five 996 GT1 Strassenversions looked, with a detuned engine to meet EU emissions rules.

More recently, Porsche returned to prototype racing in the LMP2 class with this, the RS Spyder. Racing from 2005-2010, it enjoyed great success and was snapping at the heels of LMP1 cars. Its 3.4L V8 engine was enlarged and reworked into the 4.5L V8 sitting in the new 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar. So it really is a replacement for the Carrera GT!

This is the first 911 GT3 RS, tribute-payer to the 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 I mentioned earlier. While the standard GT3 could be considered the same as an RS Touring, this one is stripped down by around 50kg and given a rollcage and carbon fibre racing rear wing that generates real downforce. So this is like an RS Lightweight. The wing of a 996 GT3 RS like this one is the first piece of carbon fibre I ever touched.

When the Cayenne first appeared, the reception was... mixed. Porsche?! A luxury SUV?! What is a purveyor of lightweight mid- or rear-engined sports cars doing selling one of these?! That was the response of existing Porsche fans, who weren't alone in pointing out that it isn't the prettiest car ever made. On the flip side, people who wanted a luxury SUV with a prestigious badge on it went nuts for it, thus kicking off this whole "Sports/Prestige SUV" thing that has angered and depressed me dozens of times over the last 10 years or so. To try and give it some credibility - beyond tenuous comparisons to the 959 Dakar - Porsche entered a pair of Cayenne S's in the 2007 and 2008 Transsyberia rally, which goes 7000km from Moscow to Inner Mongolia. Here's an excerpt from the description box:
"Inspired by the double victory secured by two private teams in the Transsyberia Rally in 2006, 2007 saw Porsche launch the special Cayenne S Transsyberia 2007 model, limited to 25 units. (...) Three Porsche Cayenne models took to the podium, with a further five models finishing in the top ten. In [2008], Cayennes held the top six places."

In the same way that the now-turbocharged California can afford to be bastardised for being the least Ferrari-ish Ferrari, the Cayenne became Porsche's first diesel model, and also its first hybrid model. The Panamera now has the same powertrains available too.

Now to cleanse your mind with some classic 911s. Feel better now?

At the opposite wall was this display showing the evolution of the 911, with line drawings of each laid over each other and then one generation after another projected on top This is a 993.

If the Cayenne still bothers you, don't worry. This '70s green Cayman S Sport (er, what does the first 'S' mean, then?) is more in keeping with Porsche's history.

Or if you'd rather pay twice as much money than is necessary for your historical reference, how about this 911 (997) Sport Classic? With the 3.8 naturally-aspirated engine bumped up to 408bhp, neo-Fuchs alloy wheels, wide rear wheel arches and a ducktail spoiler, only the grey-on-grey paint is putting me off (and the fact that it was over £120,000 new for a tarted-up Carrera). The mechanical upgrades later appeared on the 997 Carrera GTS at a more reasonable price.

If you pre-ordered a 918 Spyder, you were entitled to this complementary 997 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder. Unique trim, paint and stickers is about all you're getting over a normal Turbo S.

Overlooking their past is the current range of Porsches (or at least one example of each model). When it comes to the Cayenne Turbo and Panamera GTS, I'm more interested in the history they're overlooking...

The current generation of Boxster (981) looks far better than the original. This is partly because, unlike the 986 and 987 Boxsters before it, the 981 is allowed its own doors, rather than borrowing 911 doors. That means it can have its own identity from nose to tail, and Porsche weren't lazy about it this time.

My favourite design detail remains the rear spoiler integrating into the tail lights. It just looks so cool! 

This car can be proud of its heritage.

The original Cayman (987c) was literally a Boxster with a roof. The new one looks to be the same, but in fact the Boxster and Cayman chassis were developed in parallel, meaning that the hard-roofed Cayman's structure is significantly stiffer. That improves agility and sharpness. Porsche were afraid that the Cayman would encroach on the 911, with its better weight balance (mid-engined, not rear-engined), lower overall weight and lower price, so it stifled its potential a little. By 2012, they knew that people who wanted a 911 were damn well buying a 911, so the current car is a bit freer to realise its potential. The Cayman S uses the same engine as the base-model 911 Carrera, but detuned from 350PS to 325PS. The basic 911 remains marginally faster, but honestly, I'd rather have the Cayman S. It's prettier, better value and better balanced, plus it's more practical, albeit for two fewer people.

Here's another angle of the spoiler-tail light integration. There was briefly a 981c Cayman (Sapphire Blue, it was) near my house, and in person it looks gorgeous. It's also won every single magazine and online comparison test it's entered.

Tell me that's not a good looking car. What?! YOU'RE LYING!

The current (991) 911 Turbo S is every bit the German GT-R, featuring all-wheel-drive, all-wheel-steering, active front and rear aerodynamics and a monstrous twin-turbo engine. The flat-six produces 560PS - the same as a Ferrari 458 - as well as 516lb/ft of torque from idle. An overboost button increases torque to 553lb/ft if that's not enough force. SPOILER: It is.

Despite having headline figures like that, the 991 Turbo S isn't the most famous 911 in here......

...And, yes, there is a VW Beetle in the Porsche Museum. I'm sure you've been waiting patiently for it.

Of course, the People's Car was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, so that's fair enough. Ferry Porsche (Ferdinand's son) founded the company by building his first cars on Beetle mechanicals, as did many German car makers after WWII. Speaking of which, Ferdinand was imprisoned for helping Hitler.

One such car that was built over a Beetle is this Type 64, considered by some as the missing link between the Beetle and the 356 road car. With its streamlined body the 50-horsepower modified engine could propel it to over 100mph. This is an unfinished one, essentially just the aluminium bodyshell made by coachbuilders Reutter. The smooth, soft curves would become a feature of almost every Porsche road car that followed, as well as many racing cars. But then, at this point in this post, you knew that already.




It was after this streamlined racer that Ferry Porsche decided to build a proper sports car...

...and here it is, the Type 356 N°1 Roadster.

"1948 / 4-cyl Boxer / 1131cc / 35PS / 135km/h"
"There can be only one Number One: Spring of 1948 marks the construction of the first sports car bearing the name Porsche. In the sporty version of the Volkswagen, Ferry Porsche makes his idea of a sports car come true. The Porsche Type 356 "No.1" is ready to roll on 8th June, and the Carinthian provincial government issues an individual permit for its use in test-drives on public roads. This mid-engine sports car is equipped with a VW engine boosted to 35 horsepower [from 25]. It weighs only 585kg and achieves a top speed of 135 km/h [84mph]. In July 1948, "No.1" proves its fitness as a sports car at the Innsbruck City Race."

It wasn't until 1950 that the 356 became a production car, but it remained so for 12 years, evolving as it went.

As you now know, Porsche as an engineering company has done many collaborative projects over the years, but as it turns out, they were doing so before they were even making their own cars. This 1947 single seater was built a year before the 356 N°1, in collaboration with Italian car company Cisitalia... and this is no re-jigged Beetle...

"1947 / 12-cyl Kompressor / 1493cc / 385PS / 300km/h"
"In 1946, Italian entrepreneur and racing enthusiast Piero Dusio engages the services of Porsche Engineering for his new Cisitalia brand. This single-seater not only dazzles with its gleaming light-alloy body, but is technically far ahead of its time in many respects. Power from the 1.5-litre supercharged 12-cylinder engine is transmitted via driver-engaged four-wheel drive. Despite the difficult and often improvised conditions of the post-war era in the small town of Gmünd, deep in the Austrian Alps, the car is completed, but it never makes it beyond the test stage due to financial problems. In addition to the design of the Type 360 racing car, the contract package with Dusio includes a two-seater sports car, a compact tractor, and a water turbine."

Sadly the 1.5L supercharged V12 isn't in the car anymore...

Going further back into Porsche's history, we find this 1930s definitely-not-a-Mercedes-honest luxury roadster, made in Austria. The description reads:
"1932 / 6-cyl inline / 3614cc / 120PS / 140-150km/h"
"The Austro Daimler "Bergmeister" is considered by automotive historians to be one of the pinnacles of Austrian automotive history. Featuring a body from the Armbruster K&K Hofwagenfabrik, the Sport Cabriolet is considered to be one of the most beautiful cars of its era. But technically as well the "Bergmeister," driven by a 120hp six-cylinder engine with an overhead camshaft, is very interesting. Many of its design details can be traced directly back to Ferdinand Porsche, under whose direction Austro Daimler became one of Europe's most technically advanced automotive manufacturers. An Austrian classic car specialist restored the rare vehicle exhibited in the museum, requiring more than 10,000 working hours, with the task being completed in March 2011. The premiere of the perfectly restored Austro Daimler "Bergmeister" took place in August 2011 at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California."

Finally, we end with the very beginning. At the end of the 1800s, Ferdinand Porsche engineered this, the Lohner-Porsche C.2 Phaeton. Only this year has this chassis (sans seating) been discovered, dusted off and put on display here. Would you believe, it's an electric car! Description:
"Egger-Lohner-Elektromobil Modell C.2 Phaeton"
"1898-9 / Oktogon-Elektromotor / 3-5PS / 25km/h / Range: 80km"
"Although at first glance it may resemble an old horse-drawn carriage, this model actually represents the world's very first Porsche construction. In 1898, Ferdinand Porsche implants an electric motor with bevel differential gear designed by himself in teh chassis of k.u.k. Hof-Wagen-Fabrik Lohner & Co., furnished with front-axle steering. The drive unit - called "octagon" motor on account of the eight-sided design of the motor housing - produces 3-5 horsepower. A 550kg battery in the rear of the vehicle supplies the electric power. At a top speed of up to 25km/h, the range with one battery charge is 6 hours driving time. The vehicle is slowed down by a mechanical brake as well as an electric brake. Its speed is regulated by a 12-speed "controller." The car on exhibition very likely was used as a test vehicle, and, being the head of the "Try-out department" of VEAG in Vienna, Ferdinand Porsche takes numerous test drives through Vienna in it. The car is decomissioned in 1902. It has never been restored and is in its original state."


So there you have it! These were the cars on display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart on 11th March 2014. As well as the cars themselves, there was a little look at what goes into a new 911, and a few successful racing engines on display, such as the TAG-Porsche Formula 1 engine that powered McLaren to a world title or two in the early 1980s (800+ horsepower out of 1.5 litres!!). While I considered myself a bit of a Porsche nerd before I went there, it certainly taught me a lot, and getting to see some almost-mythical cars up close in person was just amazing. If you're even slightly interested, you should go.

4 comments:

  1. Great pictures and very good information! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I am in desperate need of booking a trip to the Porsche Museum! Who wouldn't love to drool over those cars with their naked eyes? Aside from the spectacular and breathtaking sight, you'll also learn more about the history of Porsche itself. Glad you've shared lots of photos. I don't think if I can take lots of photos when I'm already stunned at the cars. Hehe! Thank you so much! :)

    Sarah Erwin @ Baldwin Subaru

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