Picking up from where I last left off is a stunning 935 with a livery I’m sure many of you grew up with, even if you weren’t a fan of racing!
Yes, ladies and gents, the iconic Martini stripes. Whilst this beautiful livery was applied way back in 1977, (even before I was born), the first time I encountered this car was in a cartoon when it/he was a “very cool, very stylish, very competent” member, first lieutenant and head of special operations of the Autobots, Jazz.
Whilst Jazz’s automobile form used an earlier evolution of the 935, the 935/76. This particular 935 is the 935/77 and equipped with a 1.4-litre engine to compete in a lower class of racing, was also affectionately known as, “Baby”.
What “Baby” lacked in size (and weight), she more than made up for it with a mighty 350 turbocharged horses and a silhouette forever seared into the minds and imaginations of young people around the world.
Speaking of iconic silhouettes (and liveries), no your eyes are not playing tricks on you, that 956 in the background is hanging upside down.
As a showcase of aerodynamics, this 956 is mounted in such a manner to highlight its ability to generate enough downforce to drive upside down (if race conditions allow for it) when it hits 321.4km/h. While many manufacturers talk about their cars being able to achieve such feats, it’s pretty crazy to actually see an actual “example”.
Another beautiful 911 RSR, in 3.0 form. One of the most successful racing cars in Group 4 and the internets. Don’t you wish you had one of these to blast down your local street?
Perfectly pure and purposeful stance.
Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, and showcasing just how versatile the 911 platform can be, is this 911 SC Safari. Equipped with 28 centimetres of ground clearance, an underbody guard, a reinforced body and a special suspension with very long wheel travel, this particular SC Safari was fielded in the 1978 East African Safari Rally.
After a gruelling 5,000 kilometres of sweltering heat and torrential rain, only 13 cars out of 72 finished the race. Martini Racing Porsche System Engineering’s #05, driven by Sweden’s Björn Waldegård led the race for a brief period before encountering mechanical trouble, relegating him down to finishing a still very commendable 4th place.
911s weren’t the only machines from Zuffenhausen hitting the rally stages as this 924 Carrera GTS Rallye shows. Helmed by legendary driver Walter Röhrl, this very 924 rolled off the starting ramp at the International ADAC Metz Rally in 1981 and finished 2nd overall in the German Rally Championship.
This particular car was also restored in secret as a surprise for the two-time World Rally Champion on his 74th birthday. No doubt a challenging task with Mr Röhrl’s numerous contacts in the auto industry. Porsche even made a fantastic video documenting the process.
Right behind the off-road meisters were their on-road counterparts.
The first-ever 911 to don the Carrera suffix, the very rare and very yellow 911 Carrera RS 2.7 was the fastest production car of its time. It is also, very valuable.
Not quite a popular opinion but I reckon clean a 924 like this is rather attractive.
This particular unit has only had 1 owner and was driven only 70,000 kilometres since 1976. What a gem.
Something that up until recently was somewhat attainable, a Carrera 3.0 Targa.
Love its interior. And no, your eyes are not fooling you once again, that is an F1 car.
Whilst not entirely a Porsche F1 car, this Mclaren did run with a Porsche developed 1.5-litre engine. Powered into 25 Grand Prix wins and 3 World Championships by Alain Prost and Niki Lauda. Could this display be a hint of Porsche’s involvement with the sport once again?
In my humble opinion, one of the coolest pairs of race cars ever made were these 959s. Initially meant for Group B racing but with development taking longer than expected, initial prototypes (essentially modified 911 Carrera models with an all-wheel-drive system) were then entered into the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally, finishing 1st, 6th and 25th. 2 years later in the same race, further developed cars finished 1st, 2nd and 6th.
That same year, the racing variant of the 959, the Porsche 961, also made its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Finishing 1st in its class and 7th overall.
Unfortunately by the time the Porsche 959 was ready for production and homologation in 1987, the Group B programme was cancelled and the 959 never got to compete in the very series it was intended for.
The famous 959 development mule with scribblings from engineers intact.
I have absolutely no idea what they mean but it does provide a very cool look at what went on during the development process.
On the topic of development, this 928 sadly isn’t a test mule for a Porsche flux capacitor. It also doesn’t even have anything to do with emissions, rather, this vehicle was built to measure and analyse external noise parameters to meet the increasingly restrictive noise limits. Great Scott!
Notice the Porsche crest tires?
A full-sized cutaway clay model of the 996 Turbo displaying part of its inner workings.
Not all development vehicles look unwieldy of course as the eventual Boxster Concept Studie shows.
First unveiled in 1993 at the Detroit Auto Show, the Concept’s reception was overwhelmingly positive, so much so the top brass at Porsche instructed the Boxster team to stop series design development for the car immediately and were told to “Please build the concept exactly like that”.
Even though the Boxster remained relatively unchanged, they did tweak some areas of the overall design to make it more production-friendly. Like the delicately thin windscreen, placement of the side air-intakes and fuel cap.
These gorgeous wheels also didn’t quite make it to series production.
A little design detail I never noticed even in pictures.
In terms of my favourite road-going 911, I find it hard to top a Rubystone 964 RS. The perfect shape, colour and stance. Just perfect.
Here’s an even rarer 964 though.
A 964 Speedster, 930 built worldwide against the RS’ 2,276 units. My heart still yearns for Rubystone though.
With such a rich racing heritage, it’s at times quite difficult to fathom all the accolades on display.
These GT1 racers do stir up quite the emotion in me as I still consider the late 90s to be one of the best eras of LeMans. This 98 GT1 was the ultimate evolution of Porsche’s GT1 racing effort and despite being slower than their competitors, they finished 1st and 2nd. Giving Porsche their 16th overall win at Le Mans, more than any other manufacturer in history.
That 98 race car also gave birth to one of the wildest street-cars ever to step out of the Porsche factory, the insane GT1-98 Straßenversion.
Because FIA regulations mandated that the homologation car was to be almost exactly the same as the race car, the GT1-98 Straßenversion was essentially a full-blown racing car with slightly more usability. Slightly.
A few more unique 911s including Sally Carrera!
Not all Porsches are adorned with the Stuttgart crest, one of them proudly wears the Mercedes-Benz star. Commissioned by what was then Daimler-Benz AG, the Mercedes-Benz W124 500E (and later E500) is for many enthusiasts, a Porsche in everything but name.
The LeMans winning 919 Hybrid, seen here in its final EVO form as a tribute to Porsche engineering went on a tour around the world with the singular mission of breaking lap records. Something it did remarkably well as it headed towards its ultimate challenge around the Nurburgring.
With a time of 5 minutes, 19.55 seconds, it is the current record holder for the fabled track, smashing Porsche’s own previous record of 6 minutes, 11.13 seconds set in a 956C that had stood since 1983.
Capping off my tour this evening would be this lovely new 935. With a build run of just 77 units, this tribute to the legendary 935 racing cars of the past is a “track-only” special for those lucky 77 (very well-to-do) Porsche fans.
Before I headed back down into the main lobby, I gave the museum one last look wondering when will I ever return. It’s been fun! Now, to hit the gift shop!
Being the smallest automotive museum in the region, it also made sense that they have the smallest gift shop. But with such a rich racing heritage and a laundry list of sports cars one can only dream of, it was probably the most enticing gift shop of the 3 museums I visited and the one where I spent the most money.
In addition to a T-shirt, I also bought a 1:18 Solido model of the RSR to complete my row of 911s at home. Not a great model in terms of detail but considering it was a museum exclusive, I really had to.
Perhaps a little too late for me, but a friend wanted it so I grabbed it on my way out.
With my original plan of visiting Esslingen after the museum thwarted by rain (and me staying too long in the museum), I spent the rest of my Saturday evening taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Stuttgart’s main city centre.
Having spent close to 2 years in semi-isolation, it is an almost indescribable feeling as I stood outside, watching people go about their lives as the cool autumn breeze makes way for the chill of winter, mask in one hand, mulled wine in another. Thank you Stuttgart for the beautiful day and lovely night, I’ll see you again tomorrow.