The last three weeks have gone by in something of a blur. The run-in to the Frankfurt motor show inevitably means trips to the Continent for an early view and private briefing on some of the star exhibits. I spent a whole week in Germany, with a flight every day, in order to get up close and personal with the new 911, new Ford Evos concept and the Fisker Surf.
There are some considerable fringe benefits, however, one of which was dinner at the new(ish) Porsche museum in Stuttgart. As impressive as the new 991-series 911 is, it was very hard not be distracted by the exhibits and very frustrating not to have more time to look around.
Ultra-rare Porsche 918 in the Stuttgart museum
I did manage a quick look around and got lucky, finding three of my all-time favourite oddities parked next to each other. As an ex-914 owner (not for very long, admittedly) I was delighted to see the ultra-rare 918. From the outside, it looked like a plain-jane early 914, but under the skin was a water-cooled, 3.0-litre, flat-eight engine.
With 296bhp on tap, and far better handling than a period 911, it’s a great pity that only two were made, though one was given to Ferdinand Porsche as a birthday present. I’m a big supporter of the 914 which, for a long period, was airbrushed out of Porsche history, despite sharing much of its running gear with the 911 and being the fastest-selling Porsche until the 1990s. (Incidentally, anybody know what happened to CTV 81K, my old 914?).
It’s easy to forget just how bad things were for Porsche at the end of the 1980s. In the UK, sales slumped 63 per cent in less than a year. The Boxster concept was a 1993 back-to-basics proposal that marked the beginning of a new era for the maker. Seeing it in the flesh for the first time was a surprise. It is remarkably dainty and, surely, a pointer at the size of the upcoming ‘baby Boxster’.
Boxster concept helped to revitalise Porsche
Easily the highlight of the evening, however, was the made Panamericana concept, rumoured to have been produced for Ferry Porsche’s 80th birthday in 1989. I was a student when it appeared and was blown away by it. Truth is, I’m still in awe of it.
The Panamericana concept from the late 1980s
You might argue that the beach-buggyesque Panamericana was a fine example of the Post Modernism, a movement which had a great love of bright colours (check out the pink zip that held on the Panamericana’s roof), whimsy and a cartoonish take on high-tech.
Note the pink zip on the Panamericana's roof
The combination of this museum and the nearby Staatsgalerie (another prime Post Modern building) make a weekend in Stuttgart a compelling proposition.