Theme of Last Month: Porsche – The Artemisia Flowers At Noon

Earlier in this series I wrote about Porsche’s design consultancy’s work on pipes and ladies’ jeans. Here’s the C88. It’s a car.

1994 Porsche C88 concept car: favcars.com

In January 1995 Car magazine described it as a 90’s Beetle for the Chinese: “a simple and utilitarian vehicle that could be partly developed by locals”.

Porsche showed the C88 at the Beijing Family Car Congress, a “light, simple and versatile vehicle” to be built at a low cost and to help motorise a nation of non-motorists. Given the already well-known problems with private transport this was as good an idea as introducing cigarettes to a nation of non-smokers.

1994 Porsche C88 interior: ranwhenparked.com

The C88’s specifications are pretty well-guessed. It has a 1.1 litre engine, mounted crossways (nobody knows which engine they had in mind) and is a shade over four metres long but has room for five. It weighed 980 kg.

1994 Porsche C88 lamps: cartype.com

Wendelin Weidekin learned his presentation speech in Mandarin. Porsche were very keen on impressing the Chinese government who had invited Western firms to propose ideas for a cheap vehicle for local production. The whole concept – a government sponsored development programme – went nowhere though, being cancelled in 1995. Many of the ideas were seen on later cars though, indicating Porsche’s thinking reflected local needs quite accurately.

The exterior and interior design reflects 90s organic themes with what might be details to suit Chinese tastes: the curvy-pointy interior and curvy-pointy front/rear graphics.  The wing pressings are very shallow and it has unpainted bumpers. A casual study of contemporary cars shows the shift to colourless indicator covers – the C88 still has orange ones.

At the back some effort was made to tie the graphics to the panel gaps and weld-lines.

1994 Porsche C88 concept car: ranwhenparked.com

Porsche didn’t intend to make this themselves; rather it would be made by a Chinese firm unlike the joint ventures such as with Daihatsu, Peugeot, Audi et al. that already operated. For that reason the Porsche C88 didn’t wear Porsche badges.

2006 Landwind CV7: familiar?

Mercedes showed the FCC which had an engine and transmission under the car – not unlike the first A-Class – and a very Mercedes dashboard. GM showed a Corsa.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “Theme of Last Month: Porsche – The Artemisia Flowers At Noon”

  1. The interior is rather good.

    As regards the Landwind: We were discussing rear bumper to body shutlines as a sign of quality recently. Is this the exception to the rule or just good?

  2. In order to be polite, i can say it looks much better than the first Porsche Cayenne. I see more an inspiration for the Dacia Logan in it than in the Landwind. Probably a good design – but i don´t like small sedan cars.
    Was not the Chrysler CCV a much more convincing car for the chinese marktet of the late 90ies than this Porsche :

    1. I’d be inclined to agree the CCV is a more obviously designed-to-be-efficient looking car. Quite probably the Chinese weren’t ready for a car that looked functional and preferred something conventional. The CCV is what a designer would offer; the C88 is what market researchers come up with (I am not being perjorative here). Neither is right: the CCV was too PoMo for newly motorised middle-class Chinese. The C88 is too bland inside and out.

  3. Except for the detailed flair, I don’t really see this car as “designed”. It’s remarkably anodyne, like if Porsche did a proof of concept and this is the result before the car was shipped to Giugiaro to be styled for real. The detailing takes focus away from the fact this car is a tabula rasa. It’s designed to let the buyer (of the concept) to fill in the blanks before the car is productionalized.

    1. Ingvar- it is not a possibility I had considered, that this not intended to be seen as a styled object. The paradoxical nature of design is that anything that is not flat panels and boxes is seen as having been given a deliberate form. Maybe Porsche considered this to be a placeholder and misjudged it. Things they could have done were to use monochrome and to avoid anything remotely beyond the engineering minimum: and it might have resembled MB’s proposal (apart from the monochrome).

  4. The dash reminds me of the dear of Picasso, but with a little more elan. The rest looks like the brief was to be deliberately anodyne albeit in a blobby way – overall it reminds me of the characterization in the animated film Wall.e.

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