I’m not sure they heard you the first time… or the second.
So what have we here? Well it appears to be Ital Design’s 1991 proposal for Porsche’s abortive 989 four-door saloon project. As detailed previously on these pages, Porsche had been investigating a four-seater saloon ever since the 928’s inception, the 989 concept being the culmination of Zuffenhausen thinking at the time. But while the in-house proposal reflected Porsche’s enthusiasm for traditional silhouettes, there was clearly some hand-wringing as to whether this was the best way forward.
Porsche’s Ulrich Bez commissioned a number of alternative studies on the brief – (said to have been four in total), one of which was this from the studios of Ital Design. Clearly a derivative of themes explored to better effect in the carrozzeria’s 1990 Proto T concept for Seat, one gets a strong sense that Giorgetto’s heart wasn’t really in it. Ladling on the coincidence here is the fact that Seat had previously engaged Weissach’s engineers as consultants for the ‘System Porsche’ engine family that powered their mid-80’s car range, so there is a neat circular arc to this story. Well, sort of.
As we know, the recycling of conceptual themes was quite regular behaviour for the Italian carrozzerie. In a similar manner to that of the fashion couturiers, a theme is developed and variations of it are offered to whoever expresses an interest. In a manner of speaking, they were saying; ‘here’s this season’s little black number, which we will modify to your specifications’. However, the 932 as seen here simply looks lazy – even if it (by coincidence or otherwise) appears to have foreseen the frontal styling of the 1992 968 model.
Perhaps il maestro knew he hadn’t a hope of getting the commission and simply went through the motions – a position one could understand given that Porsche weren’t in the habit of over-riding their in-house design team. Another way of looking at it is through the adage that suggests that the quality of the creative is only as good as the brief that initiated it. A further nail in it’s coffin would undoubtedly have been Giugiaro’s 1990 Jaguar-themed Kensington concept – (a subject I will return to), which plainly drew heavily from the same Proto T well.
The 932 prototype has been retained by Porsche, residing amidst their vast collection of waifs, strays and rejects. One can’t imagine too many tears were shed over its dismissal, least of all by the great man himself. After all, even the best of us have off-days, even if most of us don’t always get reminded of it so vividly.