A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)

Visiting different places is always an opportunity to see different cars. This is obvious when going to other countries or even continents, but even a one-hour journey to the nearest bigger city can prove interesting.

Zurich, Urania Observatory

After having lived for twelve years in an Alpine setting, I know that the taste for cars here is rather conservative. You will find the most mainstream brands (which nowadays often are the ‘premium’ ones) and everything that offers cheap four wheel drive. Colour-wise, people will stick to greyscale, blue or red. When I recently had some time for a walk in Zurich, I wondered if I’d find more inspiring cars than I usually encounter on our streets. Continue reading “A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)”

SEAT Again Giorgetto

I’m not sure they heard you the first time… or the second.

Porsche 932 design study by Ital Design. Image: car-revs-daily

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. Continue reading “SEAT Again Giorgetto”

Porsche Theme Redux: Fast and Loose

A V8 powered 911? Did I read that right?

A styling model for the 965/969 at Zuffenhausen. Image: total911

Following the 1984 reveal of the technical wondercar that was the 959, Porsche planned to sprinkle some of that car’s allure onto the ageing 911 line. The 959 was only ever going to be a low-volume homologation special, but this car, dubbed 965 in factory-speak but to be marketed as the 969, was intended to Continue reading “Porsche Theme Redux: Fast and Loose”

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.
Continue reading “Theme of Last Month: Porsche – The Artemisia Flowers At Noon”

Theme: Porsche – Don’t say it: “To loud Irena”.

Porsche is a deeply irritating company for the casual on-looker.

1988 Porsche 944 S2: source

Porsche, eh. All I wanted to do was to present a small treatise on the Porsche 944. You know the score: a bit of technical background, some chronology and then a respectful look at the aesthetic elements. But Porsche don’t let outsiders in so easily. Their clubs must be full of people who crouch ready to pounce on those who can’t Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Don’t say it: “To loud Irena”.”

Theme: Porsche – Cheaper by the Million

Zuffenhausen recently celebrated production of the millionth 911. How the heck did that happen?

Image: autobahnhound

Let’s allow this one sink in for a moment. A million 911s. It’s a staggering achievement for a car that should never have lived as long, much less become the default ‘usable performance car’, given an inherently unbalanced mechanical layout considered retrograde even by mid-Sixties standards. Thought: could it have been a reaction to the original 911’s propensity to Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Cheaper by the Million”

Theme: Porsche – Should We Talk, Should We Pray?

So goes the old saying anyway. In the year 2000 when we were supposed to be floating on hover-drones and wearing alufoil skinsuits, Porsche still had the engine in the back even if air cooling was out.

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And BMW offered the 1950s-inspired Z8 while Aston pursued girth and heft with the Aston Martin Vantage Volante, a V12 topless GT. Where did the future actually go to?

It is hard to be sure of if the three convertibles are comparable even if period reviews seemed to think so.

Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Should We Talk, Should We Pray?”

Theme: Porsche – If Only Tomorrow Could Pass Us By

Not all of the products wearing the Porsche label have received good press. Burns hot, too expensive, can’t breathe. Which Porsche merited these criticisms?

Porsche Design Pipe: source

Well, as a clue, this Porsche is not made in Stuttgart but Holland. Even new it cost in the region of a few hundred euros and it weighed under a 75 grams. The Porsche in question was a pipe, designed by the Porsche Design studio rather than the automotive design studio.

Not unlike Pininifarina and Zagato, Porsche has separate divisions for industrial design and licencing. Rather unusually, I think, for a design consultancy, they tend to stamp all their projects with a distinct look and, indeed, with an actual label saying “Porsche Design”. At Copenhagen Airport one can Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – If Only Tomorrow Could Pass Us By”

Theme: Porsche – And For the Lady, an Umbrella?

Porsche makes a good business out of selling endless variants of the 911. This one seems to have been a bit forgotten. Why?

Forgotten? 2001 Porsche 911 GT2: topcar rating

The 911 GT2 did what buyers expected of Porsche: supply lots of power with a forceful gob of acceleration and a butch price to match. For this version, the 2001 GT2, Porsche’s engineers eschewed all-wheel drive, sending 461 bhp to the rear wheels only. The top speed got close enough to 200 mph too. Was it a bit too much though? Why did … they?

Actually Porsche wanted less weight for this hence the raw result. It was the only weigh to go. Deleting all-wheel drive meant the car weighed a whole Clarkson less than the four-wheel drive variant. However, they didn’t Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – And For the Lady, an Umbrella?”

Theme: Porsche – Turismo Twins

Two of the most distinctive cars of their time; bitter rivals, yet with much in common. Driven to Write counts the ways.

Image: auto-motor-und-sport.de

They couldn’t have looked more different, yet the fates of the Porsche 928 and Jaguar XJ-S were intrinsically bound. One seemed more like a car from the Cinzano era, the other from the future, yet both shared a purpose, appealed to the same customer base and lived out similar career paths – misunderstood and derided by those who didn’t expect their preconceived notions to be so roundly challenged.

It’s easy and perhaps comforting to Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Turismo Twins”

Theme: Porsche – 928 – Less and More

Over the 928’s production life, various attempts were made at producing additional variants. Few were successful and fewer still went beyond the prototype stage. We look a few notable examples.

B+B 928 Targa. Image: wheelsage

When the 928 was being schemed during the early 1970s it appeared as though several US states would outlaw convertibles. This led many European marques to abandon the format entirely, lest they wind up saddled with an expensively developed product they couldn’t sell. This explains the lack of a convertible 928 at launch, if not the fact that Porsche never quite got around to Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – 928 – Less and More”

Theme: Porsche – ‘Flow Motion’ – 1977 Porsche 928

A brave and modernist masterpiece from Porsche – of all people.

Image: Autowp.ru

During the early 1970s, contemporary music’s centre of gravity saw a shift away from the UK and America, Eastwards to Germany, where so-called ‘Kosmiche’ bands like Can, Cluster, Faust, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Neu! forged an alternative soundscape, laying down a sonic basis for the post-punk, new wave and electronic music that followed. Dismissed at the time as ‘Krautrock’, without its influence, music would most likely have evolved in a very different direction.

Porsche’s 928 is one of perhaps six outstanding car designs from the 1970s, a half-dozen vehicles that in their own disparate manner, eloquently Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – ‘Flow Motion’ – 1977 Porsche 928”

Theme : Porsche – Introduction

Driven to Write will this month devote itself to drawing to your collective attention the works of Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG. Where to begin?

A Holy Relic – Porsche Type 64 – Image : autoblog.com

Normally it is appropriate to start with the facts. It is a fact that Driven To Write has not devoted so very much space to the cars of Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG. What we have written has even been about how difficult it can be to write about their output since 1931. It is a fact that Archie Vicar, the renowned motoring correspondent, wrote only one known review which you can read here. It also a fact that, on the face of it, Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG’s reputation is either one that needs no burnishing or one that is decaying as rapidly as it can betray its reputation for treacherously mannered, rear-engined coupés. Continue reading “Theme : Porsche – Introduction”

Brochures Redux – 928 equals more than 911+17

In terms of prose and style, Porsche’s advertising certainly couldn’t keep up with the modernism of the company’s flagship GT. Yet the Swabian virtues persisted. 

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Given the amounts of thought, devotion and creativity that went into the creation of Porsche’s landmark 928 coupé, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the ’78 vintage brochure of the car isn’t terribly advanced in terms of layout or prose.

The overwhelming sense is one of pride and Swabian thoroughness, with just a hint of ’70s glamour and cosmopolitan flair added. Double pages are devoted to the 928’s being awarded ‘Car Of The Year’, obviously, as well as its design and engineering development process.

Continue reading “Brochures Redux – 928 equals more than 911+17”

‘Drive Sporty’ – Porsche’s Panamera Redux

Last week, Porsche revealed their second generation Panamera and as predicted it is a good 33% less lumpen than the last one.

Panamera 2. Image: porsche via jalopnik
Better, but better enough? Panamera V2.0 Image: porsche via jalopnik

All of which is fine and dandy, because I’m not here to throw fruit or other perishables at Michael Mauer or his minions. However I will say that to these eyes at least, my boat remains resolutely aground, becalmed, unfloated. Continue reading “‘Drive Sporty’ – Porsche’s Panamera Redux”

FLAgrant Assumptions

Porsche begets Pacer, begets Porsche. Nice theory, if it held water…

1975 AMC Pacer. Image via oppositelock
1975 AMC Pacer. Image via oppositelock

Before going any further, I have to point out my experience of the American auto industry is scant, apart perhaps from some surface level intelligence any motor enthusiast worth his automotive archive would be privy to. But assumptions can make fools of us all, especially when knowledge is spread thinly. Continue reading “FLAgrant Assumptions”

Panamera Precursor

Earlier in the week, several readers cited the Panamera’s missing link, which prompted a closer look.

1989 Porsche 989. Image via krmgk
1989 Porsche 989. Image: krmgk

Porsche have made several attempts at a four seater over the years, from stretched versions of the eternal 911, to a long-wheelbase 928 created for Ferry Porsche’s 75th birthday, but perhaps the most serious attempt was this. Porsche were no stranger to crisis; for decades prey to the changing needs, Continue reading “Panamera Precursor”

Madness into Method

As Porsche’s 2016 Panamera gets beach body ready, will edition 2.0 secure Michael Mauer’s legacy?

Oink! The 2015 Porsche Panamera. Image via Zombdrive.
Oink! The 2015 Porsche Panamera. Image: Zombdrive.

Auto Industry Management 101 states all car bosses must speak only in soundbites, remain resolutely on-message and above all, never badmouth the product. Especially product customers can still purchase new at their local dealer. All of which appears to have escaped Porsche MD, Matthias Muller’s notice at last September’s Paris motor show. With Porsche’s hunchbacked Panamera saloon a good 18 months shy of being taken to a quiet piece of woodland and whacked over the head with a shovel, Continue reading “Madness into Method”

Rearview: An early Piëch at an Audi

Ferdi wasn’t always a household name. Here’s where he came in…

Ferdi 006
With reports earlier this week suggesting Ferdinand Piëch has threatened to resign over his failed attempt to oust VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, it’s as good a time as any to look at possibly his earliest appearance in the UK press. Continue reading “Rearview: An early Piëch at an Audi”

Porsche: tuning and badges

Nothing but pure curiosity drove me to this. What sort of engine range does Porsche have? We had an interesting theme on engines some months back. We covered a lot of ground such as the engines of the mainstream makers and a special focus on quints, small V6s, rough American fours and French ones generally. What we didn´t do was look at sports cars like Porsche for whom the engine is essential to their credibility. Sorting this out sorts out their baffling range of cars too.

2015 Porsche Boxster GTS.
2015 Porsche Boxster GTS.

Porsche have seven models now, goodness me. If you ´d have asked I´d have said five and been hard pressed to name all of them.  In the showroom you will find the Boxster, Cayman, 911, 918, Panamera , Macan and Cayenne. The 918 won´t be in the showroom unless it´s used but it´s still listed at the UK website for some reason. Four are obvious sports cars with either two seats or a 2+2 layout; one is a four door saloon and there are two SUVs.

What I found out is that for Porsche every engine variant is deemed worthy of a model designation. This is not quite like, say, Renault where you have a Megane in several engine and trim variants: 1.8 dCi  in Expression Plus trim**. It´s not like BMW where the Continue reading “Porsche: tuning and badges”

Fossil Traces: Porsche Panamericana Concept

Porsche’s win at the 1986 Paris Dakar rally with the 959 must have left some residual sand in their shoes, prompting this piece of conceptual frivolity – the 1989 Panamericana.

tcarsthatnevermadeit-PanAmerica1
Rinspeed couldn’t have made it look any sillier. Panamericana by Porsche – image via carsthatnevermadeit

Part 911, part Baja dune buggy, part Hotwheels toy, Harm Legaay’s Panamericana was Porsche sounding out its fanbase as to the limits of where the 911 concept could be stretched. As we all know now, the answer was not nearly far enough. Continue reading “Fossil Traces: Porsche Panamericana Concept”

1965 Porsche 911: review

Air-cooled Tomfoolery: Archibald Vicar on the new Porsche Nine-Hundred And Eleven

1964 Porsche 911
1964 Porsche 911

From “Advanced Motorism” October, 1964. Photographs by Douglas Land-Windermere, Esq.

The “Volk” who make Porsche sportscars (a firm called Porsche, oddly) invited “Advanced Motorism” to drive their new machine, the Nine-Hundred-and-Eleven. I hadn’t been abroad for a while so I accepted forthwith, chiefly so I could Continue reading “1965 Porsche 911: review”

History, as Written by Both Winners and Losers

Museums of the Alternative Motoring Universes of Both Porsche and Tatra

Porsche Gmund 04

A recent visit to Austria was intended to lead to a return by way of Prague and, en route, a further diversion would be made to the Technical Museum Tatra in Kopřivnice. The Tatra company has a long and fine pedigree, and the streamlined 30s Tatras of Hans Ledwinka and his team, as well as their post-War successors, have long fascinated me and, to someone frustrated by cordons, the museum tantalisingly offers that “some of our exhibits and models are available for you to touch”. In the event, time conspired to make the zig-zag trip north impractical, though I strongly hope that I will have another chance.

Continue reading “History, as Written by Both Winners and Losers”

Cars I Can’t Write About 2: Porsche

Some cars defy one’s capacity to describe or discuss them except in the most general terms. Here’s another, a Porsche of some type.

2014 Porsche collage

There was a 1970s example of one of these things parked on the road today. They are very rare around my district. I chose to look at a Vectra parked one space ahead of it. I’ve always admired the 2002 model’s headlamp design. When I was in Germany at Easter I saw a rare high-spec 2002 saloon in green metallic that made me Continue reading “Cars I Can’t Write About 2: Porsche”

Dial 911 For Cute

There are a great many conflicting facts and inconsistencies surrounding the deity Porsche’s successor to the 356 has turned into over the course of a few decades. 

2012-Porsche-911-Carrera-S-front1

Above all else, there is the incontestable fact that its basic layout, the core of its engineering, is of the idiosyncratic kind. That in itself wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, but such eccentricity – despite oftentimes inviting critical acclaim, at least initially – usually excludes lasting success. That the 911 overcomes the usual reservations towards alien solutions may be due to two facts. Continue reading “Dial 911 For Cute”

Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – Formula Cute

When One was Fun

Porsche 718

The new Formula 1 regulations have thrown up the usual complaints about the inelegance of modern racers. Despite my disinterest in The Circus, I actually find the new batch some of the more interesting looking racers of recent years though, of course, interesting is not beautiful.

Continue reading “Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – Formula Cute”