Automotive

Porsche pulls three wild, unreleased concepts out of the bag

Porsche pulls three wild, unre...
The Porsche 919 Street, a vision of a road-going Le Mans car
The Porsche 919 Street, a vision of a road-going Le Mans car
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Vision Renndienst's smooth backside
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Vision Renndienst's smooth backside
An almost featureless front is punctuated with slashed headlights and some soft angles
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An almost featureless front is punctuated with slashed headlights and some soft angles
Check out those side windows!
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Check out those side windows!
The old Kombi race service vans inspired this electric urban concept
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The old Kombi race service vans inspired this electric urban concept
The Porsche 919 Street, a vision of a road-going Le Mans car
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The Porsche 919 Street, a vision of a road-going Le Mans car
The wild aero fins look amazing on a streetcar concept
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The wild aero fins look amazing on a streetcar concept
Those sidelines are pure hypercar craziness, and they look amazing
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Those sidelines are pure hypercar craziness, and they look amazing
A sunk-down bubble cabin with stretched-out wheel arches
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A sunk-down bubble cabin with stretched-out wheel arches
The 919 Street's outrageous rear end
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The 919 Street's outrageous rear end
Vision Spyder: a tribute to James Dean and his 550 Spyder
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Vision Spyder: a tribute to James Dean and his 550 Spyder
A modern take on a classic silhouette
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A modern take on a classic silhouette
Top down on Vision Spyder
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Top down on Vision Spyder
The shoulder line is flat, yet somehow suggestive of the 550's curves
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The shoulder line is flat, yet somehow suggestive of the 550's curves
The #131, "Little Rebel" and red striping are all nods to James Dean
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The #131, "Little Rebel" and red striping are all nods to James Dean
Vision Spyder looking fast standing still
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Vision Spyder looking fast standing still
View gallery - 15 images

In a glimpse of futures that could've been, Porsche Design Studio has unveiled three street car concepts that have never before been shown to the public: one Le Mans racer-based hypercar, one open-top sportscar, and one electric riff on the Kombi van.

The process of automotive development is torturously long; by the time a production car is being introduced to the public, chances are the company behind it is already well into the development of its successor. There are many steps in the process, from sketching and clay modeling through engineering, concepts through to production shapes, and while companies frequently show off futuristic concept cars to test the waters of public opinion, it seems there are many that never see the light of day.

Here are three such oddities, released today by Porsche as part of a push for a book, Porsche Unseen, which focuses in on the design side of the business.

The Porsche 919 Street

Those sidelines are pure hypercar craziness, and they look amazing
Those sidelines are pure hypercar craziness, and they look amazing

Porsche's 919 was a phenomenally successful Le Mans LMP1 endurance racer between 2014 and 2017, coming third in its first manufacturer's championship and then running away with the next three before being discontinued as Porsche went to focus on Formula E instead. Its 2-liter turbo V4 sent a peak of about 500 horses to the rear wheels, and this was augmented with an energy-recovery hybrid electric system driving the front wheels that could boost power over 1000 horses for short bursts.

Its success in the World Endurance Driver's Championship drove Porsche to investigate whether this race-bred monster could be turned into a road-going hypercar. The result: the 919 Street concept.

The look of this thing translates beautifully; its stretched-out wheel arches, bubble cabin, razor-sharp aeros, outrageous vertical fins and slash-cut taillight design would look right at home pulling up out the front of a casino in Monaco. Unfortunately, its race-bred powertrain proved too complex and highly-strung for the quotidian vicissitudes of life on the public roads, so Porsche knocked it on the head and moved on.

The Porsche Vision Spyder

A modern take on a classic silhouette
A modern take on a classic silhouette

The roofless Vision Spyder was an attempt to marry a modern design aesthetic with the spirit of the Porsche 550 of the 1950s – indeed, the very "Little Bastard" that James Dean drove through the Pearly Gates in 1955.

Well kept 550s frequently go deep into seven-figure territory at auctions – the combination of a lightweight chassis, mid-mounted engine and those famous curves with implied fins at the back, unencumbered by a bulky roof, screamed "wild and free" and made it an instant classic.

The Vision Spyder goes out of its way to pay its respects, with a similarly low and flat shoulder, the sloping hood, the bifurcated engine vents behind the cabin and a more angular take on the voluptuous fin bulges on the 550. It takes things into the modern age with its highly technical underbody aeros, detailed roll-bar, hood and hip vents and straight, vertical headlights.

And of course there are big nods to the Rebel without a Cause. James Dean's 550 had a big number 130 on the back - Vision Spyder is numbered 131. The show plates read "Little Rebel," and while Dean's car had red racing stripes leading up from the taillights over those rear fins, Vision Spyder puts this concept in negative and takes its red stripes from the hip vents forward. It all works.

Though it was built just as a design study, it's a bit of a stunner.

The Porsche Vision Renndienst

An almost featureless front is punctuated with slashed headlights and some soft angles
An almost featureless front is punctuated with slashed headlights and some soft angles

"Renndienst" is one of those famous German concatenations meaning "race service," or something similar, and this weird, blimpy, tiny electric van is some sort of futuristic, vaguely sporty reference to Porsche's relationship with Volkswagen and its famous Kombi van.

The racy bits can be seen in the slim, bubble-shaped cabin, which looks like it could drop down just about seamlessly into a 919-style hypercar, as well as exaggerated wheel arches and side windows that taper off at outrageous angles to completely obscure the view from the back seats.

Speaking of seats, the cabin layout features a single, central front driver's seat with two passenger seats behind and out to the side, much like the McLaren Speedtail or Gordon Murray T.50 supercars.

This one might be the most practical of the three, but it's also the most ... aesthetically challenging. It's really a chance for the design team to play with a new visual vocabulary for the brand's electric future. Hence the liquid-smooth front, the slashed-in headlights, the largely single-surface body shape. We wouldn't expect to see this kind of thing make it through toward production.

These three cars, as well as twelve others, are detailed in the Porsche Unseen book available from today through Delius Klasing publishing. A selection of these Unseen cars will be presented in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart next year.

Lots more photos in the gallery, enjoy!

Source: Porsche

View gallery - 15 images
7 comments
guzmanchinky
Porsche is such a cool company. Any car enthusiast owes it to themselves to go see the Porsche, Benz and BMW museums and visitor centers in Germany, they are all not that far from one another and you can spend an entire day in each one.
Username
They should release an electric 919
WB
That Renndienst thing is FUGLY! Everytime Porsche deviates from their standard design language... they screw the pooch or their brand!
Lee Raskin
Interesting how Porsche Design decided to use the name "Little Rebel" as code for a new model TYP 551 Spyder-type sports car.
As a James Dean historian and early Porsche 356/550 author...I personally know that Porsche, AG has always frowned on paying tribute to both James Dean and the Porsche 550 Spyder in the same breath....as Dean was killed driving a Spyder, nick-named, "Little Bastard" (just nine days after purchasing it from Johnny von Neumann's Competition Motors in Hollywood) on September 30, 1955.
It took forty years after his death for Porsche, AG to finally use James Dean's name in Porsche print advertising. The first reference came when Porsche introduced the new TYP 986 Boxster late in 1996 for the 1997 production year.
This concept model combines the history of James Dean with his early Cal Club racing in his 356 Speedster along with his intention -- to alsorace the new 550 Spyder...while including a legendary Mobilgas Pegasus decal positioned on the fender, his provisional Cal Club racing number of 131 ( sic 130 ), and the paint livery on the 550 Porsche...metallic silver with the yet, to be painted red/gold leaf tail stripes that originated at Stuttgart.
Glad to see that Porsche Design and AG -- have finally come around to recognize that James Dean and the "Little Bastard" or "Little Rebel" have become synonymous...as being Very COOL for this generation of Porschephiles. James Dean and Porsche...Lives On!
ChairmanLMAO
I love that little red van. Why does it have to be electric? I would commute in that. Doesn't need to be a supercar, because it should be affordable. I don't even care if it's electric, i just want it :)?
János Simon
Cars designed for museums? Does it worth the expenses? The race service is OK, az electric concept.
Bruce H. Anderson
I think the Rendienst with proper headlights could have been like a Kia uber-Soul (which I have enjoyed often as a rental car). I like it.