Museums>>a Day At The Porsche Museum Pt1

I would like to personally thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to fill out the 2011 Speedhunters Survey. While we have been operating the site based on instinctual observations for the past few years, having you tell us outright about your automotive lives has been a real eye-opening moment for us.

We’ve known for a long time that many of you have a deep interest in Japanese car culture, but what was more unclear to us was if you appreciate our efforts to showcase automotive content outside of this sphere.

But based on your survey feedback, we now know that the vast majority of you really enjoy the diversity of our automotive stories.

So with this in mind, I’m pretty confident you are going to enjoy this article: a day trip to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

As a lifelong Porsche fan, I was bursting at the seams to do this Speedhunting trip. The sports cars from Stuttgart have always held a special place deep in my soul and I was very much looking forward to photographing the museum.

However, car fandom aside, the museum building imposes itself onto the viewer well before you step inside.

The structure appears to float in the air, seemingly defying the laws of physics. It certainly stopped me in my tracks for a few minutes and made me forget about all the 917s and 911s sitting inside.

Designed by the Viennese firm of Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, the building floats on the site of the Porscheplatz, right in the heart of Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, the spiritual home of Porsche for the past seventy years.

The view inside is no less spectacular. This is design at its most inspirational, with line and form practically pulling you up into the heart of the building.

But before heading upstairs, we had some Speedhunting business on the ground floor. Just look at those designs! If only my apartment looked like this.

After walking through a series of “off limits” corridors, our hosts at the Porsche museum took us into this very special space.

This is the museum workshop; the area used to restore and maintain Porsche’s fleet of race and production cars.

Porsche maintains that all of their rotating display of machines should be runners.

Around 80 cars are shown in the museum at any one moment, with many more on duty at classic car festivals around the world.

So this means that the workshop is a busy place, with a steady stream of iconic machines requiring service and maintenance.

Here’s the workshop’s most recent in-progress restoration project: the short wheelbase 1972 spec 917-10 Can Am racer. I literally had to pinch myself, standing there amid such racing royalty.

I was no less enthused to see the little son of the 917 and the 908: the venerable Porsche 936.

This is chassis number 001, which took overall spoils at Le Mans in 1977.

Look at those names: Jacky Ickx, Hurley Haywood and Jürgen Barth: all icons of endurance racing.

Anyway, let’s move on and look around some more shall we?

Parked up just in front of the 936 was this Penske Racing LMP2 spec RS Spyder, a car which up until recently raced in the American Le Mans Series.

Ahhh how times of changed. Look at this Porsche 917 flat-12 engine.

Check out those plastic fuel lines! I had to marvel on the seeming craziness of using this material to funnel racing fuel.

Anyway let’s not delay any further and take the stairway to heaven.

We ascend up into the museum space.

Arriving…

… with a view of the machine said to be the genesis of the Porsche imprint.

This is a reconstruction of the Type 64 chassis from 1939. You can see the thesis of company founder Dr. Ferry Porsche taking form here, with styling and engineering themes being explored. He would later pick these up again after World War II.

From here it’s possible to track each step of Porsche’s progress to present. A 1950 split window Beetle recalls Dr. Porsche’s work on the original people’s car.

This is followed by a 1947 Porsche 360 Cisitalia grand prix racer -a car I was previously unaware of. Featuring a mid engine, all wheel drive layout, the car was a still born engineering customer project for a wealthy Italian industrialist, Piero Dusio. Although a highly innovative design, the program ran out of money before completion.

Next stop on our tour of Porsche history takes us to their first production car: the 356. First introduced in 1949, the car started life sharing many components with the VW Beetle, but gradually evolved over time. By the time the 356 was discontinued in 1965, all its parts were Porsche made.

This chassis is one of the initial run of 52 cars built in the Austrian town of Gmünd. It’s sleek aerodynamic body and rear mounted engine was combined with excellent build quality and handling; all traits which have come to define the Porsche brand we know and love today.

This is a 1953 356 America Roadster, a limited edition affair built for the American market. Weighing in at a featherweight 605 kgs, this machine was designed specifically for racing and served as the precurser to the 356 Speedster. It’s pure elegance on wheels IMO.

Next up, we have a display of small displacement Porsche race cars. This is a 1966 era 906 and is known as Porsche’s last street legal race car. Imagine that! To its right is the 904, the machine which preceded it.

Next we have one of the next steps in the evolution: a 1969 908/2. This was campaigned by the Porsche factory in the World Championship of Makes in parallel with the bigger, heavier 917s.

Note the license plate. This recalls the 908′s use in the Targa Florio road races, an event it’s become inextricably linked with over time.

The 1970 908/3 was even smaller and was used by the factory teams almost exclusively at the Nurburgring and the Targa Florio rounds of the world championship.

This lightweight chassis was better suited to these twisting courses over the more top speed oriented 917s and helped Porsche dominate the World Championship of Makes through to 1971.

Nearby, this fiberglass reinforced plastic 908 shell hangs from the ceiling. It’s weight? A feathery130kgs.

The backlighting adds a bit of an eerie effect, making the shell appear thinner than paper.

There was outcry amoung the purists when Porsche introduced the Panamera sedan, but interestingly the company has long flirted with the idea of four seaters. This is the T7 prototype from 1959 designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, Dr Ferry’s son.

The prototype never made production as the company decided to stick to sports cars. What’s interesting here though is that you can see the styling cues of the 911 starting to emerge for the first time.

What another 4 seater 911? Yes indeed. This is a 1970 “915″; another aborted attempt to get more people sitting inside Porsches. It achieved the extra leg room by extending the wheelbase of a base 911S model by 350mm .

You can see the theme of this car line up yes? They are all prototypes of different forms. This is the original Boxster show car from 1992.

Although close to 20 years old, it looks surprisingly modern in its execution… aside from those pre-996 headlights, which I’ve never been too hot on!

I’m going to stop here for now, but will be back soon with the next portion of our walk through the Porsche museum.

Back in a bit,

:Rod

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