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Spied: Lego Porsche 911 Prototype Kit Debuts at German Toy Fair

Lego Technic Porsche 911

This must be the first time we’ve ever covered spy photos from of a camouflaged prototype Porsche 911 made of . . . Legos. First uncovered by Lego site Brothers-Brick.com, which appears to have sourced photos from Eurobrick.com forums, the upcoming Porsche 911 Technic kit debuted at the Spielwarenmesse toy show in Nuremberg, Germany. Incredibly, Lego appears to have kept Porsche’s swirly camouflage design—which it slathers over future products it wants to keep under visual wraps—which looks awesome.

So far, the Porsche 911 kit appears to have a part number and packaging, indicating it’s ready to go on sale, should Lego decide to sell it. Unlike recent Lego car models such as the VW camper, Mini Cooper, and Ferrari F40, the Porsche is a Technic kit, a slightly different style that uses special pieces. Other recent automotive-themed Technic models include a Mercedes-Benz Unimog and a Mercedes-Benz Arocs heavy-duty truck. We’ll need to wait for the Porsche’s full debut—and appearance in Lego’s catalog—for pricing and availability, but don’t expect to pay anything less than $100 for one.

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Porsche Committed to Manual Transmissions “For As Long As Possible”

2012-Porsche-911-Carrera-shifter-626x626

Manual gearboxes no longer make much rational sense for sports car makers. Dual-clutch automatic transmissions, or even well-sorted conventional automatics, can shift gears quicker and return better fuel economy. And as driver-assistance systems get closer to full autonomy, cars so equipped will increasingly need to also exercise control over ratio selection. Hence the depressing trend of the declining number of stick-equipped sports cars.

That’s not going to be the case at Porsche, however, with the company acknowledging that manual gearboxes still have an emotional appeal that far outweighs their technical limitations. Erhard Mössle, Porsche’s engineering boss for the 911 Turbo, Carrera 4, and Targa, was happy to reassure us that we’ll be seeing manual-equipped 911s for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a unique selling proposition for Porsche to have a manual in the 911 range, and I think we will fight for that as long as possible,” he told us. “Even if it’s only 10 percent of the market, it’s important for some customers and for some markets, especially the U.S., to have that kind of gearbox.”

At the moment 85 percent of Porsche’s global 911 production comes equipped with the PDK automatic, although that figure is trending downward of late. But Mössle insists that, for as long as any sizable number of 911 customers want to buy a stick-equipped 911, the company will continue to offer one, a commitment that seemingly extends to Porsche’s other sports car offerings.

“What we learned from the last two years with the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder is that it’s not only a discussion of lap times, but also of emotion, of being fun to drive,” Mössle said. “Even if the car is not the fastest, it is fun to drive with a manual. Of course the PDK is faster, but a lot of customers want to change gear by themselves. Therefore I think we should keep it, for the next generation also.”

With the next-gen 911 not coming due until 2020 that means, by our math, we should have a manual version available until at least 2028 or thereabouts.

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That 7:18 ’Ring Time For the New Porsche 911 Turbo S Is Real—Sort Of

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo

When Porsche announced at the Detroit auto show that the new 911 Turbo S is capable of lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 18 seconds, we were genuinely surprised. Not because of the time itself, which is well within the frame of reference for Porsche’s megafast machinery, and which means that the four-wheel-drive Turbo S is quicker around the ’Ring than the GT3 RS. But because we thought there was supposed to be a moratorium on manufacturers announcing times from the 12.9-mile circuit, which currently has two speed-restricted sections, imposed after a fatal crash in a race last year.

As to the first charge, the 911 Turbo’s engineering boss, Erhard Mössle, only smiled when we talked to him about it on Porsche’s stand at NAIAS, but he also admitted that there’s some digital simulation in that number.

“Some parts are driven and compared to the previous 911 Turbo,” he explained, “and the [speed-] limited sections where you’re not allowed to do top speed are calculated. We will then go and check it later this year in spring when the speed limits are removed. But the 7:18 we are sure to meet; we are normally very conservative with times and that time was set on the standard tires, not sports tires.”

We’ll leave you to decide on the morality of this one, but it looks as though even the imposition of speed limits can’t spare us the claim and counter-claim of Nürburgring lap times.

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Master of His Domain: $10 Million Worth of Jerry Seinfeld Porsches Headed to Auction

Seinfeld_Collection_3Grp_BH

As a lifelong Porsche-phile, Jerry Seinfeld has spent decades assembling one of the most revered and comprehensive collections of Porsche automobiles in existence. Now, the comedian and host of the Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee web series is letting a few of those prized vehicles trickle back into circulation, starting with a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, a 1958 Porsche 356A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster, and a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR.

Scheduled to cross the block at Gooding and Company’s Amelia Island Auction on March 11, the trio boasts pre-auction estimates that reflect the recent surge in values of vintage Porsches. The 1955 550 Spyder, which, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, is an unrestored vehicle with an original chassis, body, and engine, and only 10,300 miles on the odometer—not to mention the morbid fascination it elicits given its similarities to the car James Dean drove and died in—is expected to bring $5 to $6 million. The 1958 356 Carrera Speedster, reportedly one of only 151 models built, should net between $2 and $2.5 million. The 1974 911 Carrera IROC RSR—which is, again according to the LA Times, one of 15 imported by Roger Penske for the International Race of Champions series and was driven by Peter Revson, George Follmer, and Gordon Johncock—is estimated to sell for $1.2 to 1.5 million. Despite Seinfeld’s claim that he has “never bought a car as an investment,” the pre-auction estimates suggest that these three cars probably will turn out to be very good investments indeed.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR

Exciting as it is to see Mr. Seinfeld cut loose three well-pedigreed examples, a representative at Gooding and Company has informed us that this is just the tip of the iceberg; a list of numerous additional auction-bound Porsches from the Seinfeld collection will be released in the first week of February. Those interested in getting up close and personal with the cars but who just can’t work the Amelia Island event into their schedule are advised to attend Gooding’s annual Scottsdale, Arizona, auction on January 27, where the three Porsches seen here will be on display.

Seinfeld-Porsche-REEL

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Porsche Working on 911 Plug-in Hybrid, Not a Full EV

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera

Porsche is working on a plug-in-hybrid version of the next-generation 911, but we’re told that a pure EV hasn’t moved beyond the planning stage. Instead, the only EV in Porsche’s near future is the production version of the Mission E concept the company has already announced it is building.

Porsche Mission E concept

The company’s commitment to keeping six-cylinder engines at the heart of the 911 has led to the development of a part-electric powertrain capable of meeting increasingly tough fuel-economy and emissions standards around the world.

“We are working on different solutions,” Erhard Mössle, engineering boss for the 911 Turbo, Carrera 4, and Targa, told us at the Detroit auto show. “We are developing a pure-electric car like the Mission E, and of course we are discussing plug-in solutions as well for the 911.”

Indeed, doing more than just discussing, with Mössle confirming that we will almost certainly see a 911 with a plug, but not until the next-generation model arrives around 2020.

“I think that takes some time to bring to market, with the packaging problems of the car,” he said. “There are a lot of problems to solve before [then].”

Mössle also admitted that the need to accommodate both the size and the mass of a battery pack is one of the main drivers in the engineering of the next 911. “We are fighting hard,” he said, “especially as we are discussing plug-in hybrids, then there’s the battery weight.”

However, despite reports elsewhere, Mössle downplayed the notion of a pure-electric 911: “When you saw the Mission E concept, delete two doors and you can imagine how such a car could look. But if that happens it’s very far in the future.”

Which is auto-industry executive-speak for “probably never.”

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