If you’ve been around car enthusiasts in the last couple years, you’ve probably heard that Porsche has been in the limelight for a while. They may keep releasing twin-turbo track monsters like the GT2RS, but the real attention has been around the aircooled cars. As prices go skyward and more and more people open their eyes to the rich motorsport heritage that the Stuttgart crest is famous for, it seems as if Porsche can do no wrong.
In the interest of full disclosure, we’re firmly in the “Porschephile” camp. A spirited drive in a 1973 2.7 RS from Tomini Classics (which coincidentally was the first story on this blog) really opened my eyes to what people were raving about. Since then, my affinity for the brand has only grown as I’ve educated myself about what Zuffenhausen-based manufacturer stands for.
So, if you don’t like Porsches, now might be a good time to look away. If you do like them however, this is a must-read.
The Petersen Museum is one of the great automotive Wonders of the World. With a rotating collection and numerous events held at their sprawling venue, it is no wonder that people hold it in such high regard, myself included. Additionally, their exhibits reflect the trajectory of current classic car culture. So, when they announced that they were putting in place a Porsche exhibit, people were naturally intrigued.
The Petersen is associated with a certain calibre, especially when it comes to their exhibits. Expectations were high, and after visiting the museum, I can say that they have been met, if not exceeded.
Titled the “Porsche Effect,” a complete section on the ground floor has been dedicated to Stuttgart. Curated to appeal to both walking Porsche encyclopedias and casual enthusiasts, the exhibit has the perfect combination of standard cars and motorsport veterans.
The cars do most of the talking. A 550 Spyder and a 918 Spyder rub shoulders with the Mark Donohue Sunoco 917, a 904 Carrera GTS. The real gems are behind the glass doors, where a 1976 911 Turbo and a Carrera GT feel rather ordinary. Err, what?
Placing those cars firmly in the shadows is a quartet of German motorsport deities, namely the 906, Bruce Canepa’s Gulf-Wyer 917 (Chassis 015), a 962 and a Kremer 935. Providing backup, a Rothmans 911 SC RS rally car with its dirt intact and another 930 stand guard.
Various 356s, a 911 soft-window Targa, assorted memorabilia, posters and examples of the revered flat-4 and legendary turbocharged flat-12 engines filled the rest of the display space.
I would be remiss in leaving out a very special vehicle. With looks that seemed more like a Men in Black UFO prop and less like a road-going vehicle, it left me baffled. Reading and a little research later, I understood that I was looking at an exceedingly rare Type 64, which had essentially laid the groundwork for Porsche as a car manufacturer. Tracing its roots to the prewar period, very few have been built and even fewer exist today.
As I made my way to the exit, I looked back with my hand on the door. To the layman, these were some peculiarly-shaped cars in vivid colors and liveries with the engine in the wrong place. However, the real magic of the Porsche Effect exhibit comes when one puts these machines in context. Imagine watching a 917 flying around Le Mans in the 1970s with little crash protection. It’s enough to make you want to go back in time.
So, the real success of the “Porsche Effect” does not lie with simply showing hardened Porschephiles a bunch of very successful racecars. Instead, it lies with capturing the attention and imagination of those who do not know that much about the brand, inviting them to learn more and finally, understand why these veterans’ DNA can be traced into every car that leaves Zuffenhausen today.
The Porsche Effect runs till February 2019, so set some time aside and make a trip to the Petersen. You won’t be disappointed.