I have a lot of Porsches in my collection but most are rear-engined 911s and the like. When you think of Porsche you think the engine should be behind the driver. In the seventies Porsche executives and engineers were considering replacing the iconic 911, with a front-engined V8 powered fastback. They were looking to combine the power and handling of a sports car with the refinement, comfort, and equipment of a luxury saloon. They wanted a car to compete with the Mercedes SL, which enjoyed phenomenal sales in the US. Porsche executives believed such a flagship car would have wider appeal than the compact, quirky and sometimes difficult to drive 911. Sales were dependent mainly on the US, so when the US market had a blip, Porsche was worried. New noise and emissions limits had been proposed and the engineers at Porsche were uncertain if it would be possible to adapt the classic flat six engine of the 911 to pass the new regulations.
The Porsche 928 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1977 to critical acclaim but sales were slow as the price was high and the new design alienated Porsche purists. The 928 won the European Car of the Year award, the only sports car ever to have done so. The body, styled by Wolfgang Möbius under guidance of Anatole Lapine, was mainly galvanized steel, but the doors, front fenders, and hood were aluminum in order to make the car more lightweight. The 928 was the first model in the company’s history that Porsche had designed entirely on its own. It was, in point of fact, the first real Porsche sports car. It contained no VW parts, no Audi engine or suspension, no major component invented outside of Zuffenhausen or Weissach.
History shows us that the 928 didn’t replace the 911, which continues to be made to this day. The 928 was eventually discontinued in 1995.
A smaller front-engined Porsche was also designed, the 924, which was introduced in 1977. From the time of the 924’s introduction, there were rumours among Porsche enthusiasts, that like the earlier 914, it was a Volkswagen in Porsche clothing. And it was true, more or less. The 924 had originally been developed for Volkswagen by Porsche AG as a cheaper successor to the 914 in Europe, but when VW decided not to build it, largely because of the global energy crisis Porsche AG took over the project. It was criticised by enthusiasts for its mediocre performance, but was a sales success with just over 150,000 produced during a 1977-1988 production run. I loved the design, as a teenager, this along with the Maserati Bora were my dream cars. There were sadly far fewer diecast versions than for the 911. I was very happy recently to find a Majorette model of the 924.
The 944 was introduced in 1982 on the the 924 platform and later morphed into a 968.
Now Porsche has many front-engined models like the Cayenne, the Macan and the Panamera, not only are they front-engined but they are also have four doors. These are not my idea of what a Porsche should be. I have a Siku model of the Cayenne minus its tyres and a Hot Wheels Panamera but I much prefer the iconic 911.
Though, it might not be one of the more famous cars in Porsche’s rich history, the 928 did bring new customers to the brand. Some say the Porsche 928 is the best Mercedes-Benz built by Porsche.