Car manufacturers never just build a car from scratch without first making 3D renderings, clay models, prototype shells, or even a test-mule. And after all that, not all cars make it into production and many remain just concepts. This goes for mainstream manufacturers but also for smaller brands. Often released with teaser images first and then presented with a big bang at some prestigious car show, we think we’ve seen it all. Porsche proves us all wrong and shared no fewer than 15 concepts from their recent past never seen before outside HQ. Here’s a selection of what “Porsche Unseen” has to reveal!
Scanning through all the stories covering the 15 cars, you quickly realize it’s a real smorgasbord of concepts. The fact most of these have never been released before makes for a very interesting read. And there are some truly awesome things to discover. We’re talking modern-day interpretations of legendary racing icons, a road-going Le Mans prototype, a factory-built Safari 911 and even a van! If I understand correctly, all these cars are 1:1 scale clay or hard models.
While most of these cars have never been released by Porsche, some of the concepts on this list broke cover nonetheless. The 2019 Porsche 981 Bergspyder for instance, which we briefly mentioned in a recent Petrolhead Corner article on the original 909 Bergspyder, or the 2013 Porsche 917 KH Living Legend which was released last year to commemorate the 50th birthday of the legendary Porsche 917.
Porsche decided to publish a book titled “Porsche Unseen” about these 15 cars, just in time for the perfect Christmas gift to a Porsche-nut. There’s also a 45-minute video interview with Michael Mauer, Porsche Head of Design, with some of the cars explained in detail.
It is a complex list of cars and this episode would quickly become quite long if all of them are included. At the end, there’s a link to the full list on one of the sources for this article if you’re keen to find out more.
2017 Porsche 919 Street
This car is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch, and yet one of the most unlikely candidates to be built. It is based on the Le Mans-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer, which took victory at Le Mans in 2015, 2016 and 2017 before Porsche withdrew from the World Endurance Championship. After that, they turned it into the brutally fast Porsche 919 EVO which even broke several F1 lap records. You’d think a road-legal version of such a car is just a bit bonkers, and I would probably agree with you, regardless of how cool the idea sounds. Porsche toyed around with the idea though and even planned to include the 900bhp powertrain from the race car. It would have made for a seriously impressive hypercar, able to keep up (or perhaps outrun) most of the superfast cars we’ve seen in recent years.
As said, Porsche thought about using the same set-up as the Le Mans conquering car, meaning the 919 Street would be fitted with a 2 litre turbocharged V4. Working in unison with the internal combustion engine, which produces 500bhp, is a 400bhp electric powertrain with two energy recovering systems, making for a total of 900bhp. There’s no word on an estimated kerb weight and it will surely be heavier than the 919 Hybrid LMP1 (which weighs only 870kg) due to safety requirements and such, but it’s likely Porsche would push hard to keep it as light as possible. Sadly it never made it past the stage of a full-scale model but it would be a tremendous new flagship car and a brilliant new chapter in the 959, Carrera GT and 918 Hybrid lineage.
More information on Motor1.com.
2012 Porsche 911 Vision Safari
The Porsche 911 is perhaps the most legendary sports car ever made, being perfected over a period of almost 60 years. The current 911 is a far cry from the original one in terms of technology, but the DNA of the car is still there and it remains instantly recognisable as a Porsche and as a 911. It also happens to be the most raced car in history, as you see all sorts of 911’s competing in various categories around the world. Not only a road-going sports car, but also an endurance racer, GT racer and, weirdly enough, a rally car from time to time!
The 911 is a very unique car with a very unique character due to its rear-mounted engine. It provides weight over the rear-axle, greatly benefitting traction. It’s the reason the 911 SC 3.0 competed in the 1978 East Africa Rally. Hell, Porsche even took on the mighty Dakar rally and won, twice! Once with the 911 derived Porsche 953 and once with the 959, both in the iconic Rothmans sponsoring. The 2012 Porsche 911 Vision Safari was Porsche’s idea of a modern-day descendant of all these cars, in fitting Martini colours (minus the Martini branding for obvious reasons). Beefed up suspension, increased ground clearance and a full roll-cage would make for one incredible off-road experience. But, as with all of these concepts, Porsche never followed through and built it.
More information on Road & Track.
2019 Porsche Vision E
Following Porsches electric super-saloon, the Taycan, and their push in Formula E, it would only make sense to at one point in time develop an EV sports- or supercar using the same tech. At least from a marketing standpoint, something Porsche excels in. So though Porsche, which led to the Porsche Vision E.
The Vision E supposedly uses the same drivetrain from the Porsche Taycan and mixes that with bits and pieces (and styling elements) on their 99X Electric running in Formula E. It is a single-seat track-focused car with semi-exposed suspension and wheels much like a BAC Mono only with a closed top. The front of the car includes styling cues from their current line-up but other than that it is quite a unique looking machine, unlike anything else they have produced before.
Pushing electric drive into the future, as it will no doubt an important part of the brand in the coming years, it makes sense Porsche is playing around with the idea of a full-fledged electric supercar. The Taycan uses dual electric motors, making between 560bhp to 750bhp combined depending on the version (Taycan 4S, Taycan Turbo or Taycan Turbo S), and this drivetrain would surely make a lightweight track-car very, very quick if it would use the same drivetrain!
Not much else is known about this car, but it has made it to a 1:1 mock-up as a testbed for the future. Somehow, I expect to see this, or at least shades of this, in electric driven Porsches still to come as it is always looking for new technological advancements in their cars.
Here’s the story on Motor1.com.
2019 Porsche Vision Spyder
Porsche’s history is riddled with iconic cars, some of which with unique nicknames. There’s Moby Dick, the whale-tail bearing Porsche 935 K3, or for instance the Widowmaker, the first Porsche 911 Turbo. Other examples are Porsche 917/20 known as the Pink Pig or the Porsche 917/30 which goes by the name of Turbo Panzer or Can-Am Killer, whichever you prefer more. There’s one car that has a nickname due to its legendary owner and untimely demise following a crash with the said car; the 1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder owned by American actor James Dean. He famously named this car the Little Bastard, and it was cemented in history after fatally crashing it.
Why this little intro? As a nod to that very car, and perhaps in remembrance of James Dean himself, this concept bears a license plate that says “Little Rebel” (Bastard would be hard to market for a car manufacturer I guess). That license plate is no coincidence as this car is styled to resemble the original from the fifties. No word on dimensions or anything but looking at it the DNA of its spiritual ancestor is there.
It looks small and nimble, has a very small windshield, a vented rear engine cover and headlights and front wheel arches in remembrance of the 550 RS. There are two more touches that connect both cars. James Dean was an avid amateur racer, and his Little Bastard once had starting number 130 painted on the front and rear panels of the car. The Porsche Vision Spyder bears number 131 and just in front of the rear wheels, you can spot “551” as another little nod to the 550 RS inspiration.
More information on Motor1.com.
Even though this is not the complete list of the “Porsche Unseen” models and some of these cars will never be made into production, there are some very cool and promising concepts. Besides these four examples, there is more to the Living Legend series, such as cars modelled after the Porsche 904 and 906 race cars. Another fine example is the Porsche Vision 916, a tribute to the Lohner-Porsche prototype built somewhere between 1900 and 1905 and just so happens to be the very first hybrid-powered car ever built.
DriveTribe shares the full list of vehicles with short descriptions for each one, while also covering some of them a bit more in separate articles. Various other sources cover the cars too, such as Motor1.com and Road & Track.
If you are interested in the Porsche Unseen book (328 pages), it should be available from retailers now (ISBN 978-3-667-11980-3).