Ferdinand Porsche once said, "I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself." That ambition would prove to have an indelible mark on the automotive world, both on the street and at the race track.
The company's storied legacy of creating world-class performance machines is now on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in their latest exhibit, "The Porsche Effect." For the next year the museum will serve as home for one of the most comprehensive collections of historic Porsches ever assembled outside of Stuttgart.
Featuring 48 iconic Porsche sports cars that celebrate the brand's design, engineering, and motorsports achievements, along with other significant milestones in the company's history, the exhibit contains five thematically distinct sections that include a wealth of archival footage and artifacts from throughout Porsche's 87-year history.
Timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the 356 roadster, the exhibit is also intended to highlight Porsche's evolution alongside culture at-large, an effect which Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, says continues to this day. "What the Petersen Museum is showcasing here is how Porsche is always changing, yet always maintaining our DNA," Zellmer said at the ribbon cutting of the exhibit. "And for that, we thank you."
Along with the main gallery, the Petersen is also housing a collection of prized historic Porsche models in the museum's "vault" in the building's now legendary basement. We were able to get a chance to poke around both topside and underground, so we wanted to share a few of our favorite examples from the exhibit with you right here.
Based on the 906, the 910 was a prototype race car produced and campaigned by Porsche for the 1966 and 1967 race seasons. Powered by a 210 horsepower two-liter flat-6 engine, this particular example was originally built for the 1967 Targa Florio endurance race and went on to win its class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1969 with then-owner Christian Poirot trading off stints behind the wheel with French racer Pierre Maublanc.
In order to homologate Porsche's 911 GT1 for FIA racing, regulations stipulated that 25 street-legal versions of the race car had to be produced. Rather than deriving a race car from a standard production car Porsche took the opposite approach in this case, essentially taming a purpose-built race car in order to comply with road-going regulations for sale to the public. This resulted in the 1998 911 GT1 Strassenversion you see here. A twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine that produces 544 horsepower and is good for a top speed of 194 mph motivates the carbon fiber-bodied machine.
From the collection of Peter Mullin comes this 1956 356 1600 Speedster. Originally introduced in 1954, the 356 was updated for the 1956 model year with a larger 1600cc engine, wider tires, and suspension modifications for improved handling. Coupled with a four-speed gearbox, the 75-horsepower power plant was enough to get the Speedster up to 110 miles per hour.
This 1970 914-6 GT was one of the first eleven 914s for factory-sanctioned racing. At the 1970 1000km of Nurburgring event, it set the fastest lap in class and finished second in class in the event. The car continued to be campaigned in the early 1970s throughout Europe in ADAC races before being imported into the US from Germany in 1986. After being restored in 2001, the car raced again in 2004 at Daytona during the Rennsport Reunion event.
Available in Touring and Lightweight versions, the Carrera RS was a homologation car that Porsche introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1972. The Lightweight example seen here was one of 200 examples built in total. Stripped of all non-essential amenities in the name of weight savings, the Carrera RS is powered by a 210hp air-cooled 2.7-liter flat-6 engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection.
Produced exclusively for the Japanese market, this is one of the ten 964 Turbo X83 models built in 1994, and one of only four that received factory-installed 964 RS 3.8 spoilers. Powered by a 3.6-liter turbocharged flat-6 that generates 385 horsepower and hand-built in Porsche's Sonderwuch "Special Wishes" department, it is one of the rarest production models in the company's history.
One of only four produced in total, the 968 Turbo RS is the rarest Porsche RS model ever built. This is car no. 1, and it is the only 1992 model, as the rest were produced for the 1993 model year. Considered the ultimate development of the 924/944/968 water-cooled/transaxle Porsche model line, its 3.0-liter four-cylinder motor produces 450 horsepower and routes the grunt to the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox.
After Porsche joined the CART racing series in 1987 they quickly realized they faced some stiff competition, so for the 1988 season the team adopted a March 88c chassis and reworked it to fit their 2.65-liter, 750 horsepower V8 engine. After tapping open-wheel veteran Teo Fabi to handle the driving duties, Porsche fielded Indy cars with their own engines from 1988 through 1990, but without a single podium finish to show for it, they decided to bow out after the 1990 race season. Shown here its original, unrestored condition, the car still bares all of the battle scars it received during its days in wheel-to-wheel competition.