More backwards glances. This from Zuffenhausen.
Ah the 1980s. If you can remember it without wincing, you probably weren’t there. An era of big hair, big shoulderpads and for those Big-Bang boys and girls, big bonuses – ergo flash motors. Preferably with the emblem of Stuttgart prominantly emblazoned upon its preferably engineless snout. But it’s probably true to say that there are more model lines that made decisive contact with the cutting room floor at Zuffenhausen than those which actually made it into production.
As has been pointed out ad nauseum upon these pages, the fortunes of Dr. -Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG has not been the unbroken run of success its current ubiquity and sector dominance might suggest. These two statements are not mutually exclusive -in fact they are intrinsically aligned, if not conjoined.
Today’s reissue therefore, is something of a case in point. During the latter years of the 1980s, Porsche, under the engineering leadership of a more youthful Dr. Ulrich Bez (post-BMW, but pre-Aston Martin), conceived an ambitious four-door, four seater coupé-saloon, some considerable years in advance of that of their fellow Baden-Wüttemburgers at Sindelfingen, who latterly claimed to have invented the segment.
What remains truly mind-boggling is the sheer fecundity of model programmes that were taking place during this period at Zuffenhausen, especially given the size and vulnerability of Porsche AG as a carmaker. By illustration, another stillborn project was the contemporary 911-based 989 model, a more upmarket, four-wheel drive V8-engined variant based upon the limited-production Group B homologation-special 959. Just how much commonality may have existed between both model programmes is debatable, but there is certainly the outside possibility that there may have been intentions to share powertrains at least.
In the end, the 989 was simply another victim of either timing, or Porsche’s over-ambition, depending on where one’s sympathies lie. But like all lost causes, it fascinates as much today as it did thirty years ago. And as the first generation Porsche sedan marks its first decade in series production, it seems germane to return to a piece from July 2015 where we profile the Panamera that got away.