Porsche Unseen: Weissach's dream factory
With the Porsche Unseen project, finally public are the many design projects that the Porsche design team under Michael Mauer have worked on over the last few years. This showcases a slew of design studies and prototypes never seen before, all heavily influenced by the brand's unending catalogue of performance greats. We've picked out what we thought were the most intriguing from the very long list, some perfectly plausible and some that take us deep down the 'what-if' wormhole, but all of which we immediately want to see out on the road.
Porsche 911 Vision Safari
The 911 Vision Safari is a driveable prototype from 2012 that draws on the 911's previous exploits as a rally car. The thought of an off-road 911 may seem surprising, but the sports car's unending accomplishments on the track also include laurels at the East African Safari Rally, where in 1978 the works team of Björn Waldegård and Vic Preston Jr. were one of the front runners in the 5,000 km route across the Kenyan wilderness.
This prototype is influenced by the Porsche 911 SC Safari that competed in the event with its raised ride-height, chassis reinforcements and legendary Martini livery. Built in 2012 and based on the contemporary 991 generation of the Porsche 911, the 911 Vision Safari features a raised suspension, reinforced wheel housings, larger bumpers and a pared-back interior with race seats and roll cage. There's even space for a helmet cooler behind the seats. Painted in the period-inspired livery, the 911 Vision Safari has been tested at the gravel track at Weissach, where the Cayenne and Macan usually undergo off-road testing.
Porsche Macan Vision Safari
Again inspired by the 911 Safari and the 959 Paris-Dakar, this 1:1 model depicts the pre-facelift Macan as a full-blown off-roader. Added to this concept's bespoke three-door shape are chunkier off-road tyres bound by rugged bolt-on cladding, higher ground clearance and a roof-rack with integrated flood-lights. This pairs with the Macan's sturdy base of AWD, a dual-clutch gearbox and off-road drive modes.
Porsche Boxster Bergspyder
Unlike the Porsche 910 Bergspyder that won the European Hillclimb Championship in 1967 and 1968, its successor the 909 Bergspyder doesn't have any wins to its name. But weighing just 384 kgs, it remains the lightest race-car from Porsche to this day. The Porsche Boxster Bergspyder is a driveable prototype that channels this car's philosophy into the last-gen Porsche Boxster.
The Boxster Bergspyder has a power-to-weight ratio of 357PS/ton. This thanks to extreme weight-saving measures like its stripped-down driver-only cockpit which replaces the passenger-space for a covered helmet shelf, instruments from the Porsche 918, a short windscreen, the unique roll-cage over the driver, and the aero humps over the mid-section. These enhancements have dropped weight to 1,130 kg and with the 3.8-litre flat-six from Cayman GT4 making 393 PS, Boxster Bergspyder is aimed to be the ultimate corner-carver.
Porsche 904 Living Legend
Porsche's take on Volkswagen's XL1 economy-car project from 2014 was to see if the VW's compact and light carbon-fibre monocoque chassis could be the base for a small, minimalistic sports-car. The result was the Porsche 904 Living Legend. The project eventually morphed into a shape quite reminiscent of the Porsche 904 from the early 1960s.
Featuring the very similar low-cockpit and the heavily flared wheel arches, the concept was mid-engined and ultra-light too which drew even more parallels with the original. Weighing only 900 kgs, Porsche hoped the 904 Living Legend would be powered by a high-revving V2 motorcycle engine.
Porsche 919 Street
The Porsche 919 Hybrid has been one of the most successful racing cars of our era, and in unchecked Evo form one of the quickest. Its three consecutive Le Mans wins and a 5m 19.55s Nurburgring lap time attest to this.
But after Porsche retired its LMP1 program, Michael Mauer's Weissach design team started fettling with the idea of a 919 Hybrid for amateur racing drivers. The idea to create a track-day special for customers was seriously considered, with the same carbon monocoque and 900 PS hybrid racing drivetrain as the racer. The 919 Street would even have the same dimensions and wheelbase as the racer. But the exceptionally complex tech involved meant that a team of mechanics would need 45 minutes just to start the car, with specialized teams needing to be flown to race tracks around the world. This, sadly, killed the project's viability.
Porsche Vision E
With Porsche now firmly focused on Formula E, the idea of an electric racer for privateers wasn't too hard to imagine. The brief with this was to make an electric racing car that would closely resemble a modern Formula E racer in terms of performance and driving dynamics. As such, the Vision E is a comprehensively lightweight single-seater for racing. With one centred seat, an 800-volt architecture and an independently developed drivetrain, the Vision E can eventually inspire a production electric customer racer or even a road car.
Porsche Vision 918 RS
The first of the now-legendary hypercar trio of the early 2010s, the Porsche 918 Spyder was also a clear preview of the electrified Porsches that would follow it. This aside from it being the first road car to lap the Nurburgring in under 7 minutes. The Vision 918 RS shows what an even angrier version of the carbon-bodied 918 Spyper would have been like. It adds an enhanced drivetrain and chassis, along with a more dramatic body optimized further for aero-efficiency to create the ultimate version of the hypercar.
Porsche Vision 920
The Porsche Vision 920 depicts what might have been if Porsche had decided to make an LMP1 car for customer teams or even for the road. Of specific interest to Porsche's designers was to find a theme that would bridge the unique look of LMP1 racers with the brand's current design language. Hence the low-slung bodywork, push-rod suspension, bubble-shaped cockpit and the open bodywork around for better aerodynamics. Were it to be made, the Vision 920 would have been one of the more extreme sports cars from Porsche in recent memory.
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