Book reveals magic behind formerly secret Porsche ‘vision projects’

‘Porsche Unseen’ shows 15 vehicles suggested by automaker’s designers

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Porsche Vision Spyder
The Porsche Vision Spyder, a full-scale model, in livery reminiscent of actor/racer James Dean's 550 Spyder | Porsche AG photos

In what appears to be an unprecedented move, Porsche is offering a peek into its styling studio with the publication of Porsche Unseen, a book that shares designs for potential Porsche vehicles that never reached the road.

According to Porsche, the book covers design studies from 2005 to 2019, which “have until now been kept under lock and key.” 

The book includes 15 vehicles, including such groupings as “spin-offs,” “little rebels” (an obvious tribute to James Dean and his “Little Bastard” 550 Spyder), “hyper cars” and “what’s next?”

“In this way, Porsche is offering an exclusive insight into its design process – from the very first drawing to the finished model ready for series production,” according to the book announcement.

“People all over the world love the timeless and innovative design of our sports cars,” the news release quotes Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board at Porsche AG. “Visionary concept studies are the foundation of this success: they provide the pool of ideas for the Porsche design of tomorrow, and combine our strong tradition with trailblazing future technologies.”

Porsche 919 Street in the design studio
Book cover

Porsche intentionally has just a single design studio – located in the direct proximity of (the) development (department),” Michael Mauer, vice president of Style Porsche, is quoted. “Weissach is our epicenter. 

“Instead of opening advanced design studios in the distant metropolises of North America and Asia, our designers come from all over the world to Porsche in Weissach in order to create the latest production sports cars and automotive visions at the heart of the brand. More than 120 designers, experts for interior, exterior, colors and materials, model builders, modelers and study engineers work in the Porsche Design Studio.

“When it comes to the visions we develop, it is not about bringing every car onto the road. Instead, it is more a question of establishing creative space and a relationship with the future.

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“There are two possibilities for continuing to develop as a brand: either you improve your products from the present, that is to say step-by-step. However, it is difficult to be really innovative in this process. Or you give free rein to your creativity. The idea is to let your thoughts jump to the day after tomorrow, and to then move back from there to tomorrow.”

The automaker suggests that its design process “starts with a sketch. This is visualized in the next step as a 3D model. As soon as an idea is to be developed further, small models are produced in a scale of 1:3, then followed by hard models in the scale 1:1. 

“The virtual world is the first step, but you especially have to experience the unusual models in reality in order to understand whether a car has small, large or surprising proportions,” Mauer explains. 

But while production models are produced after a variety of models are developed, “vision projects” focus on a single model, which the company says, “serves as a protagonist for the central idea.”

Production and vision vehicles thus contribute to the design language for future Porsche vehicles. 

“On the one hand, this secures the innovative capability of future Porsche models and, on the other, also provides an evolutionary reference to the rich history of Porsche,” the company explains.

Porsche Unseen, spanning 328 pages, is published by the Delius Klausing publishing house. The book also is available through Amazon’s German website and at the Porsche Museum, where the models of some of the vehicles revealed in the book will be on display in 2021.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting how Porsche Design decided to use the name “Little Rebel” as code possibly for a new model Spyder-type sports car.
    As a James Dean historian and early Porsche 356/550 author…I personally know that Porsche, AG has always frowned on paying tribute to both James Dean and the Porsche 550 Spyder in the same breath….as Dean was killed driving a Spyder, nick-named, “Little Bastard” ( just nine days after purchasing it from Johnny von Neumann’s Competition Motors in Hollywood) on September 30, 1955.
    It took forty years after his death for Porsche, AG to finally use James Dean’s name in Porsche print advertising. The first reference came when Porsche introduced the new TYP 986 Boxster late in 1996 for the 1997 production year.
    This concept Spyder-driven model combines the history of James Dean and early Cal Club racing with his 356 Super Speedster and his intended use racing the 550 Spyder…including a Mobilgas Pegasus decal, provisional Cal Club racing number of 131 ( sic # 130), and the paint scheme that was on the 550 Porsche…metallic silver minus the Stuttgart-painted red tail stripes..
    Glad to see that Porsche Design and AG have finally recognized that James Dean and the “Little Bastard” or “Little Rebel” have become synonymous…as being COOL. James Dean and Porsche…Lives On!

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