Unseen Porsche images reveal the cars that could have been

Porsche lays bare its creative process in a new book, Porsche Unseen, that features unreleased car designs

Porsche Vision Renndienst (2018) alongside an original VW Transporter from Porsche’s collection
Porsche Vision Renndienst (2018) alongside an original VW Transporter from Porsche’s collection
(Image credit: Porsche)

The dirty secret of most car design studios is that 90 per cent of what is created is rarely shown to the public. The well-established route of using concept cars to showcase ideas and new directions that eventual surface in production models conceals the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. From sketch models to rough clays, to design competitions, variations, study models, and any number of iterations in between, a typical studio is working flat out to explore every twist, turn and angle in their aesthetic arsenal.

Although digital modelling cuts down on the inevitable design dead ends, there are still many ideas that make it to a final 1:1 model (albeit usually constructed of modelling clay and foil, rather than a complete, working machine). And there they linger, their fate denied by a dip in the market, a change of management or a competitor’s stumble, or even the simple lack of resources required to turn this dream into reality. Nothing is wasted, however, for every design study has some kind of impact, perhaps many years down the line.

Porsche has laid bare its creative process in a new book, Porsche Unseen. Featuring cars created between 2005 and 2019, it covers a fertile period of Porsche design after Michael Mauer joined as head designer in 2004. Mauer arrived when the company’s fortunes were being revived by the Cayenne and new ventures into hypercars – such as the 2013 Porsche 918 Spyder – and electrification were raising its technological profile. There are plenty of what-ifs within its pages – we’ve picked seven of our favourites.

1. Porsche 917 Living Legend (2013)

Porsche 917 Living Legend 2013

(Image credit: Porsche)

This clay model, rendered in 70s-era racing colours is a direct homage to the company’s first Le Mans winner, the Porsche 917 KH in 1970.

2. Porsche 906 Living Legend (2015)

Porsche 906 Living Legend 2015

(Image credit: Porsche)

Another homage in 1:1 model form, the 906 Living Legend dipped into the company’s illustrious past, this time the 1966 Porsche 906, a road-legal racing car with a futuristic streamlined body. The 2015 concept mimics the original’s high wheelarches and low central cabin.

3. Porsche 919 Street (2017)

Porsche 919 Street 2017

(Image credit: Porsche)

The hybrid Porsche 919 was hugely successful endurance racing car that competed from 2014 to 2017. The company toyed with creating a street legal version, and this 1:1 clay model showed how the racer could transformed into a contemporary hypercar.

4. Porsche Vision Renndienst (2018)

Porsche Vision Renndienst 2018

(Image credit: Porsche)

This dramatic MPV concept is perhaps the most unexpected offering, also pictured top alongside an original VW Transporter from Porsche’s collection. An electric six-seater, it was suggested as a trend-bucking alternative to the dominance of SUVs, but was presumably considered a step too far for the brand.

5. Porsche Vision Spyder (2019)

Porsche Vision Spyder 2019

(Image credit: Porsche)

A stripped back driver’s car, the Spyder is an obvious nod to the earliest racing Porsches of the 50s. The ‘Little Rebel’ number plate is an unsubtle callback to James Dean’s fatal attraction to his 550 Spyder, a car he called the ‘Little Bastard’. The concept is spartan and simple.

6. Porsche Vision 918 RS (2019)

Porsche Vision 918 RS 2019

(Image credit: Porsche)

An even more hardcore version of the 918 Spyder production car, the Vision 918 RS was developed to explore the language of future Porsche hypercars.

7. Porsche Vision 920 (2019)

Porsche Vision 920 2019

(Image credit: Porsche)

Designed for extreme performance, the Vision 920 synthesized the language of road cars and track machines, a vision of a hypercar for an era than may never arrive. 

INFORMATION

Porsche Unseen, Jan Karl Baedeker, photographs by Stefan Bogner, published by Delius Klasing Verlag, €68.

delius-klasing.de (opens in new tab)

porsche.com (opens in new tab)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.