The Porsche Effect
by Keith Verlaque
The Porsche Effect at The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles CA – 2018-2019.
Some may have heard about the Porsche Effect, but I doubt everyone interested in Porsches has. So what exactly was it? Well it was a once in a lifetime exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles CA from Feb 2018 to Jan 2019. It was advertised in PANORAMA the PCA National Magazine that all members would have received – which included a detailed video on how the display cars and paraphernalia were unloaded from the museum. For those who are unaware of this event, it was a Petersen Automotive Museum exhibit where Porsche AG brought the largest number of their 600 Porsche factory museum cars ever to leave the museum in Stutgart-Zuffenhausen and put them all on display in California. The exhibit was billed as being “for all of the people who have ever wondered why Porsche got to be such big deal.” It was timed to be on display in 2018 to coincide with the seventieth anniversary of the manufacture of the first ever branded Porsche vehicles. For many of these vehicles, it was the first time that they had been away from the car collection in Germany that is the bank from which the company fills their legendary museum. This was without doubt the largest loan that the factory had ever made to any organization and contained several vehicles which represented significant milestones in the company’s history including several that were 24 Hrs. of Le Mans winners, several prototypes, both street and racing cars, some of which had never been on display before. The exhibit featured 28 vehicles in the main museum, supplemented by a further 20 vehicles in the Petersen vault (which were only available for viewing via a vault tour) additionally on display were too many Porsche artifacts to count.
The 356 Gmund Coupe (1949) flanked by the 930 Turbo (1976)
This article is not intended to catalogue all the vehicles on display, to do so would be a mammoth task and several professional authors have done so in various books and magazines, accompanied by many stunning shots from professional photographers. The intent of this article is to give a glimpse of some of the cars on display accompanied by images captured by an amateur photographer without proper photographic equipment, in fact most of the accompanying images were captured solely with the use of a mobile phone. The reader is requested to make allowances accordingly. Many significant Porsche vehicles that were on display are missing from this piece, but most of those which are included here have the factory text that was on the display placard for each car below their image. Overall, the reader should get a reasonably good idea of what was on display, and that the Petersen museum did put on a remarkable exhibit with help form the Porsche Factory and its world famous museum.
The following is therefore, a collection of snapshots of the cars taken purely as a record of some of the Porsches on display – no excuses are made for the quality of the following images or the order in which they appear.
Porsche Typ 64 60K10 Berlin-Rome race car –
often referred to as the Genesis of the type 356 (1939)
The Porsche Typ 64, also known as the Type 64 and Type 60K10 is considered by many to be the first automobile from what was to become the Porsche company and a true design precursor to the post-war production model. The model number comes from the fact that it was built mainly from design drawings for the Type-64 “record car”. Most mechanical parts came from the VW 38, better known as the Volkswagen Beetle. The chassis was heavily reinforced and the engine also reworked to produce around 40 horsepower. Its flat-four engine gave a top speed of around 99 mph. The body design was made by the Porsche Büro and wind tunnel testing was utilized. Dr. Ingr. Porsche promoted the idea of entering the car in the Berlin-Rome race scheduled for September 1939. The race did not take place but three cars were completed, with aluminium bodies hand shaped by the bodywork company Reutter. One was destroyed early in World War II. The two remaining cars were used by the Porsche family. Eventually they only used one of them and put the other in storage. The last remaining Porsche Typ 64 was owned by Ferry Porsche who had it restored by Battista Farina in 1947. In 1949 it was sold to the Austrian motorcycle racer Otto Mathéand with it he won the Alpine Rally in 1950.
356-2 Gmund Coupe – 1.1 liter made in Austria (1949)
By 1944 Porsche design facilities had moved to Gmund, Austria. There, with a renewed interest in creating a sports car from Volkswagen components, Ferry Porsche, engineer Karl Rabe, and body designer Erwin Komenda conceived the type 356. The prototype 356-1 roadster had styling traits drawn from the pre-war Type 64 racer and many of these were carried into the production 356-2 coupes and cabriolets that followed. This example was the 50th “Gmund” car and possibly the last built in Austria. Three easy items that help recognize the 50 or so Gmund coupes ever made are that 1) the front bumper runs along the bottom skirt of the front valence, 2) they had split front windscreens, and 3) the side windows on the front of the doors were curved along their bottom edge to match the flat door windows coming down to the “A” pillars that support the windshield.
356 Sauter Roadster (1951)
Always seeking that racing edge, Heinrich Sauter and Hans Klenk collaborated with Porsche to design this one-off 356 with a unique body and suicide doors to gain an advantage in races that required a Le Mans-style start with the drivers outside the cars. This early car can be identified by a front bumper that once again ran along the bottom of the front bodywork and the rear hinged “suicide doors”.
550 – 1500 RS Spyder (1953)
The Mid-engine 550 Spyder was the first production Porsche specially developed for racing. The Aluminum body and tube-frame chassis reduced weigh while the 110-horsepower four cam flat four engine gave race winning performance. Porsche also utilized wind tunnel testing to perfect the shape of the Spyder and improve airflow. The 550 was an overall success on the track including this example which finished second in points in its SCCA class for the 1956 season. The company’s first major triumph with the 550 Spyder was in 1954 in the notorious Carrera Panamericana road race finishing both 3rd and 5th, thanks to continuous improvement the 550 Spyder remained Porsches most successful racing model until the 1960s.
356A 1600 super Speedster – 1.6 Liter the classic up-turned “bathtub” body style made the 356 speedster easily recognizable. (1954)
Celebrity ownership of a car often elevates the esteem in which that cars brand is held, a cultural effect enjoyed by Porsche when “the King of Cool” – actor Steve McQueen – acquired this Speedster. Mcqueen bought the car with income derived from acting and used it to pursue his passion for racing. His competition successes in the Speedster at Santa Barbara, Del Mar, Willow Springs and Laguna Seca served to magnify perceptions of Porsche’s automobiles as both desirable and capable. The bumpers were restyled to fit above the hem of the front bodywork and provided a greater degree of protection from a low speed impact.
356 Continental (1955)
The Continental was derived from the 356 by New York Importer Max Hoffman who believed the American market would be more likely to embrace a vehicle with an evocative name, rather than a number designation. Porsche was forced to re-badge the Continental when Ford informed them that they had already trademarked the name. As a result, very few Continentals were built, and the name was briefly changed to European and then finally back to 356.
904 Carrera GTS Coupe (1964)
Argued by many to be the most beautiful car Porsche ever made, the 904 Carrera GTS marked two firsts for Porsche for a street car: 1) the use of a ladder frame and a fiberglass body construction; and 2) the mid-engine. The car was available with four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines. The key to this cars performance was its extreme light weight. While many manufacturers were adding more horsepower, bigger brakes and bigger wheels and tires, Porsche realized that lower weight meant not only better acceleration, but better braking and agility – giving the car significantly better all round handling. Back in the early sixties these cars were highly respected and considered extremely fast and hard to catch. Porsche captured its fifth victory in the classic Targa Florio race with the 904.
901 – Porsche was made to rename the 901 as the 911, because Peugeot had trademarked all model names that were tree digits with a zero in the middle, so Porsches “901” became the 911 which we now know and love. (1964)
First shown at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show, the 901 was designed to replace the 356 in Porsche’s lineup. A naming dispute with Peugeot necessitated a new moniker — 911. It remains the most recognizable and iconic Porsche model after more than 50 years.
The 906 – Carrera 6 was a lightweight powerful racing car that was frequently used on the street (1966)
The 906 (also known as the Carrera 6) was one in a series of lightweight race cars developed under Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson, Ferdinand Piech. Drag-reducing features included a generously rounded windscreen, cut off “Karmen” tail and covered headlights. Its tubular space frame, which replaced the steel chassis of the 904, supported a lightweight fiberglass body. One of the original Ben Pon Racing Team Holland cars, #134 was raced by Gijs van Lennep, later a Porsche factory driver and Le Mans winner. For the first time Porsche used gull wing doors for access to the two seater plastic body.
910 – the eight cylinder race car was winner of many races (1968)
Originally built as a factory racer for the 1967 Targa Florio, the Porsche 910 won its class and finished ninth overall a the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans while co-driven by then owner Christian Poirot. At the 1967 Nurburgring 1000 Kms race, Porsche 910s famously finished 1-2-3-4, giving Porshce its third outright win at a major World Sportscar Championship event. Although derived from the dual purpose 906, the 910 was a true prototype racer and the first of many to be built by Porsche.
917K short tail coupe 5.0 liter flat-12 the first ever outright Le Mans winner for Porsche (1969)
Taking advantage of an FIA rule change allowing larger engines, Porsche developed a completely new race car, the legendary 917. Constructed of advanced lightweight materials and powered by an air cooled flat-twelve that generated nearly 600 horsepower, the 917 initially had handling problems due to aerodynamic lift. Changes to the tail designs improved stability and in 1970 a 917K delivered Porsche its first of 19 outright wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even decades later, independent experts rate this Porsche as one of the most impressive sports cars of the century.
917-30 Branded “Too fast to Race”. When Porsche introduced this car to Can-Am racing it was
so much faster than any of its competitors that other manufacturers refused to participate. (1973)
SCCA Trans Am guru Mark Donohue piloted this Porsche/Penske Racing collaboration during the 1973 Can-Am season, winning six of eight races (the remaining two races were won by two other 917s). Its turbocharged, 5.4-liter flat-12 engine was capable of 1500 horsepower in qualifying trim. To combat the Porsches superiority and encourage other teams to participate, the regulations were changed excluding the 917 and its 1100 hp. The 917/30 was called “the most powerful race car of all times”. Depending on the boost pressure of its two turbochargers, the 12 cylinder horizontally opposed engine’s power output is somewhere between 1100 and 1400 hp.
The legendary street car of the Seventies – The 930 Turbo Carrera (1976)
Porsche began development of a turbo version of its 911 in 1972 after witnessing the success of turbocharging on its 917 race cars. Production began in 1975 but the model did not reach the US until 1976. The body, while clearly descended form the 901/911, had more muscular contours to accommodate wider tires and a massive rear spoiler to improve roadholding. The cars dramatic design betrayed its exceptional performance and the Turbo Carrera was an immediate sensation.
Among the Porsche Paraphernalia of books, posters and models, was a
6 foot long kiddie car – an electrically propelled replica of the Martini
sponsored 936 Le Mans winner (1976) – just what every small boy needed!
935 Kremer K3 – the 700 horsepower Group 5 Race car (1979)
The 935 was prolific, winning 123 of the 370 races it entered. Those wins included outright success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1979, 1,000 km of Nurburgring and at Sebring. These cars were sold through Porsche to its customer teams and were extremely successful on the race track.
The 956 (1982)
With the introduction of new FIA regulations for the Group C category, Porsche built an all new race car for 1982, the 956. In its debut season the 956 was campaigned by the Rothmans Porsche Factory Werks team and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in addition to the World Endurance and Drivers Championships. Following a successful Year Porsche constructed an additional 17 cars used by privateer teams between 1983 and 1986. The Porsche 956 /962 deserves to be called the most successful competition car, its first victory was at its premier in 1982 and the last was twelve years later. 956 or 962 models won the 24 Hors of Le Mans a total of seven times.
All 959s were 4-wheel drive, but the ‘Paris-Dakar’ Rally-Car was basically an off-road 959 with significantly higher ground clearance (1985)
The 959 achieved success in the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally after an unsuccessful season in 1985. Unlike the World Rally Championship the Dakar didn’t require a minimum number of cars built for homologation. At the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally the 959 finished 1st (René Metge), 2nd (Jacky Ickx) and 6th. By the time the 959 was ready for production and homologation in 1987, the Group B racing program it was originally conceived for had been cancelled altogether thus ending Porsche’s participation in Group B.
RUF CTR “Yellowbird” road tested and branded by Road & Track as
“the fastest production car in the world” (1987)
This RUF CTR chassis number 001 is the first production Yellowbird and was crowned the fastest production car in 1987 after reaching 211 miles per hour during a track test by Road and Track Magazine. Built by RUF Automobile of Germany, Yellowbirds were based on the 911 3,2 liter engine and equipped with a finely tuned twin -turbo engine, upgraded suspension and brakes, lighter body materials, and a custom 5 speed transmission developed by RUF. This was the car that put Alois Ruf and his team of builders on the map.
The Le Mans winning 911 GT1 (1996)
The Porsche GT1 is the first mid engine 911, and the first 911 to feature water-cooled engine. For the 1997 FIA GT Championships, Porsche constructed a small series of three GT1’s based the Werks team cars from the previous season. The first one constructed, GT1-101 competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans, 3 hours of Sebring and the British GT Series, and won the three hours of Zhuhai in China. An unusually successful car, the GT1 ultimately won eight races and achieved 21 podium finishes of the 36 competitions in which it entered.
911 GT1 Strassen or Street version (1997)
Regulations for the GT1 category stipulated that to be eligible to compete at Le Mans as a production car, a total of 25 cars must be built for road use. Porsche developed two fully road-legal versions, dubbed “911 GT1 Straßenversion“, and delivered one in early 1996 to the German government for compliance testing, which it passed. The second vehicle is in the hands of Bahrain-based private car collector. These two cars feature 993 style front headlights. A further 20 units were built in 1997 with 996 style front headlights. A single car was built in 1998 to homologate the all-new racing version under the new FIA regulations. The engine had to be slightly de-tuned to meet European emissions laws, although its 536 hp at 7,200 rpm and 443 lb⋅ft of torque at 4,250 rpm proved to be more than adequate; the car could accelerate to 62 mph from a standstill in 3.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 191 mph.
Prototype Carrera GT – a radical V10 558hp sports car designed for the street (2000)
The Carrera GT resulted from a challenge given to Porsche engineers and designers to create a supercar worthy of a company whose vehicles had, by then, won Le Mans 16 times. The car was to embody the most advanced racing technology available at that time and a body shape that was unquestionably derived from the Porsche vehicle family. the result subtly embodied numerous 911 styling elements in a substantially more aggressive package. Of the two Carrera GT prototypes constructed, this car is the only survivor.
918 RS Spyder (2008)
In 2005 Porsche developed the RS Spyder entirely in-house to meet LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) category rules. As a privateer (non-factory) class. LMP2 was off limits to Porsche directly. A partnership with Penske Motorsport offered a solution, with Porsche maintaining exposure and Porsche making a triumphant return to racing. Over three seasons RS Spyders delivered 24 class wins and 11 overall wins, in addition to winning the manufacturers, drivers and team championships all three years.
919 2.0 liter V-4 + one electric motor Hybrid (2015)
The 919 Hybrid was constructed for use at the legendary Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race in the Prototype 1 Hybrid category. Power comes from a 500-Horsepower four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and a 400+ horsepower electric motor that derives power form a combination of reclaimed braking and exhaust energy. During the 2015 season this 919 Hybrid won the six Hours of Nurburgring, 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas, and 6 Hours of Fuji, and came in second at Le Mans.
918 Spyder 875 combined horsepower from a 4.6 Liter V8 gasoline engine plus two electric motors (2015)
The Porsche 918 Spyder is a limited-production mid-engine plug-in hybrid sports car. The 918 Spyder is powered by a naturally aspirated 4.6 L V8 engine, developing 599 hp at 8,700 rpm, with two electric motors delivering an additional 282 hp for a combined output of 875 hp and 944 lbf⋅ft of torque. Independent tests have yielded 2.5 seconds for 0-62 mph, 7.0 seconds for 0-124 mph, 19.1 seconds for 0-186 mph, a top speed of 218.4 mph. In Motor Trend‘s independent test the Porsche 918 set a production-car track record at Willow Springs Raceway. With a time of 2.4 seconds it was the fastest car to 60 mph that they had ever tested.
The PCA 60th Anniversary street 991 had production run of only 60 cars (2016)
This Limited edition 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Club Coupe finished in paint-to-sample color named Club Blau with 430 Horsepower, retro stylewheels and rear decklid this collaberation between PCNA and the Porsche Club of America was to celebrate PCA’s 60th anniversary. Handcrafted at Porsche Exclusive and based on the 911 Carrera GTS, it was developed with input from members of PCAs Executive Council to include features that can’t be found on any other Porsche model. Only 60 GTS Club Coupes will be made, for PCA members only, ensuring that they stay in the PCA family and remain exotic like the last PCA Club Coupe from 2005. The most visible bespoke feature is the non-metallic color, named Club Blau, exclusive to the GTS Club coupe is a ducktail rear spoiler; with “GTS Club Coupe 60 Years Porsche Club of America” badging above the glove compartment.
Turbocharged 911’s – one for the track – #41 Kremer 935 (1989) and one for the street 930 (1976)
The most frequently asked question I get regarding this article, is “How did I manage to go to a famous museum like the Petersen in LA and take multiple pictures of the cars on display … and NOT get throngs of people in each image?”.
The answer? I could say “patience”, but that would be unfair as purely by good fortune, I was invited to an evening event at the museum to honor Dr. Ferry Porsche for his lifetime achievement, and that evening, the museum was closed to the public. Consequently, while everyone else was being served a first class meal, I snuck down to the almost empty museum, whipped out the cel phone and fired off some snapshots, most of which you see here.
I hope that whether you got to attend the actual exhibition or not, you enjoyed seeing some of the landmark Porsches that were on display, if you did, then it was worth putting this article together.
The author, his “significant other” Martha and Dr. Wolfgang Porsche.