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Updating The Porsche Bible: The New Edition Of Excellence Was Expected Is Bigger, Better, And More

Karl Ludvigsen is simply in his element when it comes to the history of the Porsche brand. This epic set of tomes is the most complete history of Porsche that has ever been written by anyone, bar none, end of discussion. Since I started here at FlatSixes, I’ve relied on the old 2008 edition of this book to provide historical context and deep dive information. It has been a critical resource and reference material for Porsche fanatics for decades, and has grown larger right along with the company it covers. Porsche has never really stopped doing new and exciting things in the automotive universe, and this massive piece of historical literature chronicles those things in excruciating detail.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Bentley Publishers shipped us this new set of four books to review free of charge. I have done my best to remain impartial in this review of the book. I purchased the old 3-volume set several years ago, and truly loved having it around.)

An entire book of information has been added to the history of Porsche in the last 11 years, and it’s easy to see how. Think back to 2008. Porsche was still making the 997, had just jumped into the direct injection end of the powertrain pool, the Panamera was the new kid on the block, and the Macan was just a twinkle in the company’s eye. Hybrid was still a new thing for Stuttgart, and a full BEV was still, well, 11 years away. How did Porsche get from there to where we are now. We all lived that era, but if you want to know the real details of how it all went down, this is the book for you!

And because I’m sure everyone wants to know, the old three-volume edition weighs 20.3 pounds, while the new four-volume edition is an impressive 25 pounds even! This isn’t the kind of book you’d take to bed for a light nighttime read, or pack in your carry on for some in-flight entertainment. I wish I had a month to take off from writing, wrenching, and driving to consume every word of this story, but alas, I have to consume it piecemeal.

Book 1 – 1948-1971

As you might expect, this is perhaps the most important book of the four. This one lays the foundation for the other three, telling the story of how Porsche began. It’s one we are all reasonably familiar with. Upstart engineering firm works on massive international projects, earns a huge state-run contract to help kick off the Volkswagen project, spins that into a tiny sports car manufacturer that really comes into its own post WWII. There are things in this book that the average Porsche wonk can’t even fathom.

For example, did you know that Porsche helped engineer a rocket-powered land speed record car in 1962 that aimed to hit over 400 miles per hour? The project didn’t pan out, but it’s cool to know.

Have you seen these early 911 design studies? Now you have.

Vintage racing photographs? Lots of those in vibrant color.

And you’ll learn about a lot of Porsche ephemera, like this 910-based street car one-off. I didn’t know this existed, but I’m better off for having learned it.

And the illustrations! My god the illustrations! They’re so good.

Book 2 – 1967-1989

This era was instrumental to Porsche’s legacy, with the 911 coming into its own as an icon of the industry, the advent of Porsche’s advanced transaxle cars, and its dramatic evolution in motorsport. This is the era that wrought the all-conquering 917, which would be enough on its own, but was later followed up with killer 911 racing variants before jumping back into prototypes in the late 1970s.

The chapters on 917 development are incredible to read, and influential to the company’s success. For those reasons, this book might be my favorite of the four.

My favorite stories in Porsche’s motorsport history involve early aerodynamics testing before wind tunnels were economically viable. Just tape some nifty pieces of metal together and send it!

Or develop a new nose for your iconic racer to create more downforce, then test it with little strands of yarn.

The ridiculously high ride height of these early Carrera RSRs has always struck me as odd, but somehow successful. Weird cars, these.

Speaking of weird cars, here’s an early 924 design study that should have been brought to production. This is entirely excellent.

What other book will show you early sketches of Moby Dick’s aerodynamic attitude? None that I know of!

Porsche’s ill-fated aviation program is exciting and interesting. I’d never seen a shot of that wild gear box just behind the prop before. How very German.

Book 3 – 1982-2008

Book three covers Porsche’s massive transition from tiny sports car maker to the monolith of the industry that it is today. The motorsport action continues through the late 1980s, with a handful of toes into the waters of international open wheel racing to little success. There are some really interesting stories there, but the real mega story is the sea change that came with the 986 Boxster and 996 Carrera. Porsche adopted Toyota’s manufacturing systems, implemented massive cost controls, and reduced the per-unit cost to produce some of the world’s best sports cars.

As a long time 944 guy, the GTR has always been a favorite.

Entire books could be written on the 959’s development alone, but in this book it is just a small fraction of the amazing information you can learn.

Look how proud these folks are of the design which was to be the 944 S3 (later 968).

An all wheel drive 911? This was absolutely revolutionary in 1989, but seems commonplace today.

Not everything Porsche has done is good and successful. Just look to the V10 formula one engine for proof of that. Footwork who?

This early pre-Boxster Porsche Junior looks amazing and while it never came about, it helped influence the 986s silhouette.

I have always been fascinated with the Porsche Transport System roof rack for the 986 Boxster. Absolutely radical.

Jeez, these illustrations!

Book 4 – 2002-2020

Those first three books have gone largely unchanged from the previous volume, though a few chapters have been moved around. The new information is all in this fourth book, which could easily have been its own complete story. Porsche has completely revamped itself since 2002, and the result is the profitable, technologically savvy, and forward-thinking company we know today. This is where that shift occurred. In my lifetime Porsche has come from the verge of bankruptcy to world leading technology monolith.

These gorgeous Cayenne sketches really show off the Porsche lineage, and highlight the importance of the Cayenne in Porsche’s history.

This early Cayman sketch is straight up wild. With influence from the 550A and a huge bulging nose cone it isn’t quite what we saw with the advent of the 987C. I’ve always thought of the Cayman as a gorgeous Porsche, but knowing that we could have seen something retrofuturistic like this makes the one we got a little disappointing.

The chapter on Porsche’s short-lived GT3 R Hybrid is among the most fascinating automotive stories ever told.

And the Hybrid racer’s influence on Porsche’s mega 918 Spyder just makes it so much better.

Remember when Piech was pushing Porsche into a joint project with VW to make a smaller and less expensive roadster? I’m still so bummed that we never got this.

AWW YEAH! 919 Hybrid was the best era.

And what’s the culmination of all this hybrid tech? The new electric direction for Porsche. Learn all about the transition from Mission E to Taycan in this wonderful book.

In closing, this book rules. If you can carry 25 pounds of books and have over a foot of shelf space to house this thing (maybe have the shelf reinforced?) it’s definitely worth buying. You can grab a set for just shy of $450, and knowing that Karl’s entire life has gone into the creation of this book, it’s worth every single shiny Lincoln you’ll spend on it. If you want to know anything and everything about Porsche, it’s in this book.

At least until the 5-volume set comes out in 2051.


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Porsche Celebrates 50 Winning Years Of 917 History With A Special Museum Exhibition

Starting in mid May, and running through September, the Porsche Museum will host an exhibit to honor the 50th anniversary of the 917. The exhibit will be named « Colours of Speed — 50 Years of the 917 ». As part of that exhibit, Porsche will be rolling out a never-before-seen 917 concept study (above) to commemorate the history of the Le Mans champ.

The red and white show car was obviously made as an homage to the Salzberg livery, which won Le Mans overall in 1970. This is specifically a piece of art, and does not have a drivetrain or interior, but it’s quite clearly based on 918 Spyder cues, like the center-lock wheels. It’s a great combination of old and new, and would be absolutely awesome to see in person to go over those smooth lines. With the FIA WEC converting to a « supercar » standard next year, it would be totally cool to see this thing revived as a race car, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

The Porsche museum had some seriously cool 917s on display when we were there in December, but they will have a total of ten models on display for the anniversary exhibit, which is more than I’ve ever seen in one place before. The museum claims that the ten Porsches together combine for nearly 7800 horsepower of output, which is seriously awesome.

If you’re a big 917 fan, maybe you should plan a trip to Germany for the exhibit. It runs from From 14 May to 15 September 2019 in Stuttgart. Get there.



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Pictures and Video From Porsche’s Involvement at The Goodwood Festival of Speed

Everything from the very first Porsche—The 356 « No. 1 » Roadster—to the most advanced Porsche race car of all time—The 919 Hybrid Evo—was at Goodwood for the Festival of Speed this year. Porsche, in their 70th year, went all out in their display, bringing dozens of historically significant street and race cars to Lord March’s driveway to play. And play they did.

Significant Porsches from the past were featured in Goodwood’s central sculpture, as they were the featured marque. On each point of the sky-high mounted star you’ll find a 911R, a 918 Spyder, a 919 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype, a very early production 356 coupe, a Gulf-liveried John Wyer 917, and one of the Dakar-entered 959s. It’s a breathtaking piece of the show, and helps to show how monolithic the Porsche brand has become.

As with everything Porsche does, there is a keen eye aimed toward the future, while not forgetting their past. Porsche brought a very serious array of their hybrid and electric vehicle display.

In keeping with that theme, Porsche hauled their recent Nurburgring lap record winner to the hill for a few exhibition runs. Call me a cynic, but Porsche didn’t have the car make an attack at the hill because Volkswagen’s full electric I.D.-R Pikes Peak winner to set the fastest time of the weekend. Perhaps Volkswagen didn’t want to get showed up by their little brother Porsche?

Throwing things back a bit, Porsche brought their Dan Gurney-driven Porsche 804 Grand Prix car. It was a very advanced racing car in its day, and provided Porsche’s only Grand Prix victory. Of course this car is a significant piece of Porsche’s history, and no celebration of the brand’s history would be complete without it.

Speaking of racing, it’s difficult to deny Porsche’s historic Le Mans-winning Pink Pig throwback livery 911 RSR. Le Mans was just a month ago, and it’s still wearing its Le Mans bug splatters. The scars of war.

Here’s to another 70 years of the greatest sports car on the planet.

Special thanks to @southerngermanation and@michelinusa for some of the pics and videos


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Book Review: Hurley – From The Beginning

Hurley - From the Beginning

There is no more appropriate time for our review of Hurley – From the Beginning to publish than the birthday week of the man himself. Hurley, now seventy years old, held a fifty-year racing career, and shows no signs of slowing down, even today. He’s still a super quick driver, he’s involved in motorsport to a level higher than anyone would ever expect of him, and he’s an ambassador for Porsche, the brand he spent most of his racing years driving. He’s lived an incredibly interesting life, though he’s traditionally kept mostly to himself and a lot of people don’t know his life’s story. Writer Sean Cridland met Haywood in 2011, and was instantly inspired to tell the man’s story. After years of working to get the complete tale out of Hurley, the resulting effort is this incredible book, Hurley – From the Beginning.

I met up with Haywood and Cridland during Luft 5, and the duo had planned the Porsche-centric event as a stop on their lengthy book tour. I’d have certainly ordered a copy myself, after leafing through this giant tome and seeing all of the incredible pictures. It’s not inexpensive, with a price tag of $95.59 (get it?), but just that brief glance told me it was worth the price of admission. In a surprise move, the giant-esque Cridland offered me a copy to take home with a wide smile and a shake of the hand. I am not a small man myself, but the author towers over me as though I were a small child. The juxtaposition of the diminutive ex-racer, and the Brobdingnaggian man who committed his life’s story to book is as hilarious as it is heartwarming. At 6’1″, I stand about the middle ground between the two.

With well over 400 pages of incredible anecdotes, this book is packed with things you’d never know about Hurley otherwise. There are over 650 photographs onboard, from all stages of Haywood’s life, as well as written commentary from Patrick Long, Manfred Jantke, Brumos owner Dan Davis, and Kerry Morse. Consider the number of Porsche folks who have been involved throughout Hurley’s incredible and expansive career, and you’ve got a full community effort leading up to the production of this book. It’s a story that deserves to be told, and the way its been done is engaging and easy to read.

Every bit of the talented driver’s career is analyzed from his own perspective. This is Hurley telling his own story, with the added research, photographic evidence, and anecdotals added in to give it all a bit more gravitas. The narrative is quite engaging from beginning to end. Hurley was just a kid from Illinois with a Corvette when he was discovered, mentored, and hired by Brumos Racing. Peter Gregg would test his race cars in local autocrosses, and when Hurley beat his immaculately prepared 911 with that Corvette, he was offered a racing job. When the team showed up to race at Watkins Glen with a twenty-year-old Hurley at the wheel, he didn’t even have so much as a regional racing license. Gregg’s say-so was apparently all he needed to get approval to enter.

I’d never really thought out the fact that Hurley was shipped off to Vietnam shortly after getting his start in racing. It’s an interesting part of the man’s life, and it often goes without so much as a mention. You can read all about that tour where he was stationed just south of Hanoi, and I suggest you do.

Being that I wasn’t born at the time, let alone old enough to watch and understand motorsport, I was completely unaware of Hurley’s major leg injury and the ramifications until I read this book. Following a bad wreck in a 935 at Mosport in the summer of 1983. After a six month hiatus, he returned to motorsport for the start of the 1984 season. Because he was forced to wear a leg cast or brace of some sort while his leg healed, he was not allowed to race anything with a clutch, which included Porsche’s entire lineup at the time. He jumped at the chance to drive Bob Tullius’ Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 which featured a new Hewland clutchless gearbox, because it was the fastest car he could race with his injury.

Further than the major parts of Hurley’s life that you may not have known, Hurley – From the Beginning is also filled with incredible anecdotes from the ancillary bits of his racing career. The story about the 1990 Jacksonville demolition derby is among my favorites. I won’t spoil the whole story for you, but it involves Bob Snodgrass and the masterful theft of a priceless original piece of Frank Stella artwork!

Hurley’s history with Porsche has been discussed for years, but this is the final word on the history of that relationship. If you’ve ever thought of Hurley as an icon of motorsport, this book will only work to exacerbate that feeling. In the process, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the man, and probably more. You can get your copy by visiting HurleyBook.com, or find one of the upcoming locations where Hurley and Sean will be selling/signing books this year. Either way, you’ll definitely want to add this book to your Porsche collection shelves. It’s found a happy home in mine.


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Learn The Entire History Of The Porsche 911 In Just 13 Minutes

Porsche is selling more cars than ever, and enthusiasm for their old cars is more widespread than we ever would have imagined. We love the 911, and we seriously enjoy when < href= »http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/flatsixes/~flatsixes.com/porsche-culture/porsche-car-shows/petersen-museums-porsche-effect-educationa/ »>people who don’t necessarily know the history of the brand learn a bit more. The more you know about Porsche, the harder it is to remain apathetic about the 911. If you’ve always wanted to know the history of the car, here is a rundown, a primer, an introductory course. The 911 is among the greatest and most iconic cars ever produced, and its story deserves to be spread far and wide.

This new video from Donut Media isn’t perfect. They leave out large swathes of Porsche history, they don’t really talk about the many times Porsche tried to kill off the 911. They don’t mention how the 911’s past is interwoven with the history of the world. They don’t really mention how Porsche innovated in response to the larger scope of the changing landscape of motorsport and the competitive sales environment. That being said, this video is a great way to teach your friends (or yourself) about some of it. It isn’t comprehensive, by any means, but it’s entertaining and easy to follow.

If you want a serious take on the history of Porsche, we could definitely recommend a library full of books to do the trick, but if you’re looking for a fun way to spend the next dozen minutes or so, click the play button on this YouTube video. Donut has been putting these « Everything You Need To Know » clip-show style videos for a few months, and this is already our favorite, for obvious reasons. Sit back and have a laugh, as Donut gives you the rundown.


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