Visiting Germany – Part 4: Racing Heritage at the Porsche Museum
If racing liveries, turbo fans, active aero, spartan interiors, insanely wide tires, supersized air-ducts, and extra wide fenders are your kind of thing, you should visit the Porsche Museum. Of course, you won’t get to hear the live sounds of these classic flat 6s and flat 12s or smell the burning fuel, but the cars at the Porsche Museum give out an aura of speed, passion, and raw power.
Porsche is a company founded by Ferdinand Porsche who also designed the original Volkswagen Beetle. The Porsche family is full of ‘Ferdinand Porsche’s and ‘Ferdinand’s. Reading the history of the Porsche family can be very confusing, but the Porsche cars are certainly exciting both to see and drive.
Having visited the Autostadt and Mercedes-Benz museum, I can say the Porsche Museum offers more excitement to those who have a keen interest in motorsports. We’ll get into that very shortly.
With a Mercedes-Benz museum ticket, you could get a 25% discount on the Porsche Museum Ticket. The same applies the other way around. The 25% discount still applies even after you obtain reduced price for being a student or a senior citizen.
The Electric Car was Invented Way Back
Before we entered a world full of racing livery and air slicing machines, we first saw an electric car and a wheel with an electric driven hub. The electric car is an Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton built by Ferdinand Porsche in 1898. Although all electric, the car has 12 gears to select from (6 to go forward, 2 reverse gears, and 4 braking levels). The rear wheels are driven by an electric motor. I think it was 5 years ago when Porsche decided to bring this up when the electric car hype was taking off.
Another electric driven contraption by Ferdinand Porsche is a wheel with an electric hub. Ferdinand Porsche created this at the mere age of 24. The electric hub assisted a gasoline powered vehicle called the Radnabe Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil (basically a hybrid).
The Early Porsches
Ferdinand Porsche basically worked for other companies and designed a lot of things before finally establishing Porsche GmbH at the age of 56. The man began working at an electrical company at 18-years-old. That should probably teach some of us about being patient starting your own venture. Ferdinand Porsche passed away at the age of 76 in in 1951. Ferdinand Porsches work is continued by his son, also named Ferdinand Porsche, better known as “Ferry” Porsche.
The Typ 64 was built on the basis of the Volkswagen in 1939. Built to race (but never did), the Typ 64 features a streamlined aluminium body and under carriage. Looking at this upclose, you can see the roughness of the hand-shaped aluminium. The overall symmetry and the panel gaps are impressive for something so hand-made.
The Typ 64
Past the Typ 64 was the first Porsche, The Porsche 356 “Number 1” Roadster from 1948 (3 years before Ferdinand Porsche’s passing). The “Number 1” is a one-off, since the engine is actually located in-front of the rear axle, making it a mid-engine car. Production 356s were rear-engine cars. The “Number 1” also has an aluminium body.
Porsche 356 "Number 1"
The "Number 1" is mid-engined. Notice the "Hood" between the seats and the trunk.
Porsche’s 356 was produced from 1948 to 1965 with a lot of iterations. You had the hard top, the soft top, and the infamous Speedster. With the Speedster, a lot of weight could be shed from the car. If you wanted to, even the windscreen could be disassembled. The 356 had several versions along the years including the 356A T1, 356A T2, 356B, and 356C. I had the chance of seeing a Porsche 356A T2 up-close some time ago thanks to Mr. Jesse Liew from Detailing Kingdom and Mr. Ong who buys and sells classic cars.
Also on display was an a Porsche 356B 2000 GS Carrera GT 210 (1960). The Carrera versions of the 356s had 2.0L flat-4 engines instead of the 1.6L flat-4 engines in the standard 356.
Entering Race Car Heaven
At the beginning of the race car display of the Porsche Museum, we were greeted by the fibreglass shell of a Porsche 908.
Fibre glass body of Porsche 908
Iconic racing cars based on the Porsche 911 were displayed alongside the famous Porsche 917. The only livery we didn’t see the 917 in was the Gulf Oil blue and orange adored by many. “Moby Dick” or the Porsche 935/78 was massive when seen in real life. The fenders stick out a good 25 cm on each side. If you’ve seen the rear wheels on a standard road-going 911, they are already quite wide (around 12J or 12”). The rear wheels on “Moby Dick” are around 15 inches wide. With a 3.2L turbo-charged flat-6, “Moby Dick” was churning out 845 brake horsepower.
"Moby Dick" 935/78
Another super wide 911 was the 911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1 that Porsche used to compete in Le Mans with. The body parts of the Carrera RSR Turbo are made of plastic to keep the weight down. With only 2.1L of displacement, the turbo flat-6 pushed the 911 up to 300km/h.
911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1
The 911 also went rallying with the 911 SC Safari. Equipped with spotlights, dirt tyres, increased ground clearance, a reinforced body, and a larger fuel tank, the SC Safari competed in the East African Safari rally, placing second and fourth.
While we were there the Gulf 917 was not on Display. It was probably being maintained or stored somewhere else. There are actually various iterations of the 917, mostly powered by a flat-12 engine. There was a 16-cylinder 917 prototype but it never raced.
The “Pink Pig” 917/20 Coupé (1971)
917KH Coupé unveiled at Geneva with different tail (never raced) (1969)
Rothmans Porsche 956/962 stuck to the ceiling
The 959 debuted in 1985 and already had what was basically dynamic All-Wheel-Drive and sequential turbochargers. The 959 was a homologation special. The 959 was competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally and its track-racing counterpart, the 961, competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar (1986)
Porsche 961 (1986); Road-legal Porsche 959 (1987)
Porsche 919 Hybrid (2017)
Close-up of the Tech
Internal combustion engines are complex since there are many mechanical parts that need to work in harmony. The usage of electric cars will help to reduce the number of parts required to make a car. At the Porsche Museum, a cutaway of the Flat-12 is displayed so you can appreciate the amount of engineering that has went into it. The museum also showcases some parts that were developed to improve the handling, fuel delivery, and air induction.
Cutaway of Flat-12
VTG Turbocharger with variable blade geometry (2006)
Bypass valve (1974); K-Jetronik (1997) – the first step to go from mechanical to electronic injection
The Concepts and Lesser Known Ideas
The Porsche Boxster concept (left) and the production version (right):
Porsche Forschungsprojekt Langzeit Auto (FLA); Porsche 924 Baustufe 1 (early version of the 924)
The Workshop Near the Bar
Interesting cars being worked on at the maintenance bay including a road-going 911 GT1 (1998), a 911 993 GT2, and “Sally” from “Cars”.
Modern Day Porsches and The Future
At the underground parking was a Hybrid Panamera being charged, and rows and rows of Porsches (I think they are for the Porsche Driving Experience Program). Being under the Volkswagen Group, Porsche can focus on building premium performance cars for the wealthy.
We entered the showroom across road to see the Taycan and a home charging kit by Porsche. Well, Chris Harris likes the Taycan so it should be something.
The best museum for petrolheads. Even non-petrol heads would enjoy the exhibit since the cars are exciting.
Audio guides are included in the ticket price so that’s great. You even get to keep the lanyard at the end of the tour.
We joined the factory tour which didn’t cover the body shop and the paint shop. I guess Porsche felt showing robots making their cars would make them feel less premium. You can look up the Porsche Assembly Plant on Youtube if you want to know what it’s like.