Porsche has changed — but..

..they didn't modernize Komenda's idea – they just forgot what's iconic

Looking back they had held for decades the blueprint for one of the most iconic cars ever in their safe.
But were they able to put it into production?

porsche 911r r

porsche 911r a

porsche 911r w

"Porsche 911 R++"  (redesigned 911 – not by the Weissach team).
Considering the latest real Weissach models it's just as if Weissach is not allowed to stay with the legendary (iconic) tail because that is already the brand of another carmaker: Porsche/Komenda. The Weissach result is (frankly speaking) shapeless and ugly.

porsche 356

Original Komenda design: Porsche 356 C Cabriolet, 1965
Image: www.porscheclassiccentergelderland.nl

I was amazed when I read in this article about the new (2016) Porsche 911 R. Its teaser image was a perfectly designed rendering of what a driver's car should look like. Did Porsche regain its reputation for good body design[6]
I searched for more fotos of the Porsche 911 R, but what I found was a big disappointment. The view angle of the teaser image is deliberately warping. In fact the car's design is a long boat rather, the image completely obscures the real shape. – Is that the look of a driver's car? To me it looks as if it was made for fat gondolieri. I decided to reshape it (as my personal concept car – see the renderings). [1]
I gave the 911 R the shape the car pretends in the teaser image it has.

porsche 356 porsche 911r d porsche 911r c

(Click to enlarge. All large renderings are 1440 x 960px in size.)
Image a for comparison: Porsche 356 (via @formtrends)
Image b : Nothing special here. This is what the 911 today would look like (iconic) if Weissach would use the blueprint they own. – Somehow they manage not to do so.
Image c : Is that a Porsche? (OMG. It's the Weissach 911 R – really a distorted picture of a 911. If not every oil sheikh would own one I would say it's a deviant aberration.)

These are the design issues that have to be tackled:

  1. The philosophy of the 911 to be rear-engined is interpreted in Weissach (mistakenly) as 'engine beyond the rear axle'. To compensate the resulting rear overhang the car front is over-jacked (with no real purpose except oversized air intakes and coolers) - last image above.
  2. In the original 911 design the shoulder line [2] draws a bow with full-length body tension. It was deadly to let the line visually sag vapidly in the door segment.
  3. The inclined silhouette is not only prominent from the side view of the car but also from the top view (Porsche 356). For the rear wheels the track is more narrow. – Nowadays the Porsche management directs its designers to change the style to the opposite. The back view has to look fat and martial. From the side view the lines have to rise toward the back (see the bottom line of the side windows).

Alltogether the points repudiate the foundational principles of Erwin Komenda's 356/ 901 design. (Since 1963 Porsche tries to understate Komenda's role as the origin of its car body design.) [7]

The essentials of the 356/911 body design
(and the deadly sins to get something else but not a Porsche 911. It seems in Weissach they don't know about these essentials.)

1. The basic silhouette of a flat roundet cone
(and to turn it into a box)
essentials a 2. The shoulder line as a bow with full-length body tension
(and to turn it into a slack wave)
essentials b 3. The lines of the car follow an air-flow pattern that clings to the ground
(and to turn the lines into a “dynamic” uplift to the rear end)
essentials c 4. The profile that signifies acceleration is drop-shaped declining to the rear end
(and to turn it into the opposite, a big-ass design)
essentials d

porsche 356

Original Komenda design: Porsche 356 . (Image via Ren Kanzaki on Twitter)

In the end it's about original, sober elegance instead of factitious car body attributes ("beefy rear view" etc.). Even Daimler follows (not just sober) the above (in blue) principles.

The redesign I suggest comes of course not without drawbacks. With a mid-mounted engine there would be no room for back seats anymore. (The 911 R has no back seats anyway.)  I guess my draft would fit technically the 718 Cayman's turbocharged 2.0-liter-flat-four engine. - Avoiding the Cayman's softish look of a woman's handbag, a look of no principles in the body design at all  > shoulder line. (I know the 4.0-liter-six engine of the GT3 sounds better.) [3]  –  But that's not the idea of my draft. Eventually the wider track of the front wheels makes sense when each has its in-wheel electric motor driven by a mid-mounted hydrogen fuel cell. (My renderings still show 'anti-futuristic' wheels of a driver's car.)

You can reproach my design still worships the ostentation of power and the icon of automotive individual transport[4] – I think it's ok as long as it is an aesthetic exercise for the mind (for the sake of the spirit of sportiness) and cheating is not the base of all. (As it is for the Porsche SE, the majority owner of Volkswagen AG.  > Dieselgate. And as it is for the Audi AG, another part of the Volkswagen Group. [5])

porsche 911r y porsche 911r g

Comparing the following views of the two cars you could think it's about details or about not more than little changes in some measurements. – It is not. The redesigned car has a different philosophy. It's absolutely a different, a real 911.

porsche 911r fporsche 911r e

porsche 911r mporsche 911r n

porsche 911r i porsche 911r k

porsche 911r oporsche 911r p

porsche 911r qporsche 911r r

The huge and ugly air intakes in the front bumper are not Porsche style (but are inevitable for water cooled combustion engines). — Another (aesthetic) reason to appreciate the upcoming fuel cell car. (Sadly it does not help Porsche designers to find back on the right way.)

porsche 911r z

[1]  (This article was updated 2017-08-21)
I got me a 3d model of the Porsche 911 R and tweaked its proportions. For that purpose I reactivated a cgi software on my computer I used ten years ago: MODO. (Modo 401 – even today the workflow and the rendered results of a decade old 3d software version are sheer pleasure.)
I would prefer to have on this web page only views of a design I like. But the best way to judge proportions is to have an object of comparison (the OMG Weissach 911R). — In compensation for depicting its deformedness here something beautiful: Janis and her 356C.

porsche 356 j

Janis Joplin 1968, Porsche 356 C Cabriolet
Image via www.messynessychic.com

[2]  Prof. Lutz Fügener provides a striking analysis (left sketch) of the essential design ideas of the 356/ 911 Porsche. But his thesis these ideas are lasting in contemporary Porsche design  -irregardless of all fad-  is an industry-friendly lie (after all he earns a living from the auto industry).


[3]  In the industry it's all about the technical details:  can the rear air entrance be placed like this in conjunction with a mid-engine? Where is the upper brake lamp? etc. – OK, all that is not my problem.

[4]  The management of the German auto industry ignores as always the signs of the times and deceives itself (and us).
Battery-powered cars are not the solution. It is not the point whether there is a loss factor of 1.4 (battery) or 2.8 (fuel cell). Hundreds of millions of battery-powered cars are a catastrophe for mankind. It is nonsense to accelerate and decelerate a 300 kg battery in each car (not to mention how dirty the extraction of lithium, cobalt etc. for millions of E-car batteries is).
Power from the electricity grid is today just as dirty as combustion engines are. But in 20 years there will be enough wind parks (not only offshore but stand-alone on the high seas) that can store energy universally usable, that produce hydrogen to superabound.
The truth is, not the end of the combustion engine is the problem, but the days of individual transport are over. The days of car production for individual buyers are over. The billionaires will still drive million-dollar cars, but nearly all other people will own no car at all. They will share their rides in 8 seat vehicles route-managed by AI. There will be no cars parking in the streets anymore. All the parking lots in front of apartment blocks will be empty and a car that's not on the move will be suspect or like a waste.

[5]  Audi sets an example how much the E-car hype is about deceiving people. Audi will equip e-cars with solar cells to improve the cruising radius. – Of course the surface of a car body collects just enough solar energy to use a power window once per hour (for sure not enough to drive the air conditioner in the sun). But that doesn't matter for the industry. They don't want solutions, they want to sell their cars further on. In PR and relation to public health the auto industry is worse than the tobacco industry.

[6]  If not in designing street-legal cars anymore in engine design, in motorsports and racing Porsche's merits stay all the time absolutely amazing and incredible.

[7]  There is no commemorative culture in Germany but at least designaustria commemorated the 50th anniversary of Erwin Komenda's death in a tweet. (The image shows Komenda in 1940.)

designaustria @designaustria  •  22. Aug 2016
Erwin Komenda #PorscheDesigner Zum 50. Todestag. Skizzen, Hintergründe etc.: http://bit.ly/2bvZpQg