The cars we see manufacturers put into production represent only a tiny fraction of the ideas they come up with. Countless vehicles never progress beyond the drawing board, let alone get as far as the prototype stage.
That means a lot of incredible proposals never see the light of day. That’s a pity, but for its part, Porsche is trying to rectify that. Having told the world about the 917 Living Legend and Boxster Bergspyder not so long ago, the company has now release 13 previously unseen cars designed from 2005 - 2019.
Most of the cars you see here ‘hard models’. They’re 1:1 scale, and although they look real on first glance, there’s no substance under the skin. Regardless, both they and the clay models here give a great look at how the cars would have shaped up, had the projects gone further.
While VW made its limited-run XL to achieve amazing fuel economy figures, the Porsche Design Studio was eying up the car’s carbon fibre monocoque for something spicier. What the team came up with had similar proportions to the ultra-lightweight 904, hence the name it eventually adopted.
Had it been put into production, this circa-900kg sports car would have used a high-revving V-twin motorbike engine. Sound familiar? VW eventually put a Ducati engine in the XL Sport concept.
A proposed customer version of the 919 Hybrid, this one was made into a 1:1 clay model, but that’s as far as it went. Despite the name, it wouldn’t have been road-legal - Porsche was instead proposing an enormously expensive and fantastically complicated track toy.
Ultimately, that complexity kyboshed the endeavour. Given that the LMP1 car’s hybrid V4 powerplant takes a bunch of engineers 45 minutes to get going, “it would have been necessary to send a team of ‘flying doctors’ to race tracks all over the world,” Porsche says. “For the time being, the idea of a Le Mans winner for gentleman drivers therefore remains a beautiful dream,” it concludes.
Had Porsche stuck around in the World Endurance Championship, however, the project would have gotten further. To comply with the new Le Mans Hypercar regulations, [Toyota is effectively turning its LMP1 machine into a road car](https://www.carthrottle.com/post/the-toyota-gr-super-sport-hypercar-looks-impossibly-tiny-inside/, so perhaps Porsche could have gone the same way.
The only driveable prototype of the 13, this 991-based concept paid tribute to the 911 Safari rally cars of old with lifted, softened suspension, extended wheel arches and bodywork protection.
Porsche ran the car on the gravel test track at Weissach, where it sounds like chief designer Michael Mauer had a swell time acting as the co-driver. He said: “I have rarely had so much fun before!”
With an unusual lifted 992 spotted at the Nurburgring recently, perhaps Porsche isn’t done with the idea of a modern-day 911 Safari.
This mid-engined creation is inspired by James Dean’s legendary ‘Little Bastard’ Porsche 550 Spyder. Although it was never anything more than a 1:1-scale hard model, the project has a lasting legacy - various elements like the vertically stacked headlights, some of the aero features and the roll bar have been adopted into Porsche’s design language.
And now our list takes an adorable turn, with this breathtakingly cute 1:1 model. It’s a futuristic take on the original Porsche Race Service van, which was based on a VW T2. The all-electric load-lugger was proposed to have space for six, with the driver given a McLaren F1-style central seating position. Now the VW ID3’s ‘MEB’ EV architecture is here, we’re kinda hoping Porsche revisits this idea.
There’s a reason this car looks familiar, and it isn’t because it’s a homage to the similarly named racer of the 1960s. “When we were later developing an identity for our electric models, we took another look at these designs,” Mauer says. The aesthetic link to the Mission E concept and the Taycan production car it spawned are clear as day.
Entertaining though the idea of a new 911 Safari might be, it makes more sense to give something which already has a bit of ground clearance the rally concept treatment. Porsche did that around seven years ago with the Macan, giving it a three-door conversion, even more height, and various “rugged accessories”. Unlike the Vision 911 Safari, though, it was just a model instead of a working prototype.
Taking inspiration from the tin-top version of the 550, the Le Mans Living Legend would - if it was a real car rather than a clay model - have an ‘eight-cylinder’ engine. We’d like to think a flat-eight, of course. Porsche refers to this study as “a predecessor of today’s Porsche 718 Cayman GT4.”
This idea started when Mauer saw a schematic of the 918 Spyder, with a line redrawn in felt-tip making it appear as though the hybrid hypercar had rear doors. He couldn’t unsee that, so decided to pursue the idea of a four-seater “super sports car”.
The trouble is, that doesn’t really work with the 918’s mid-engine layout. A rear-engined car, perhaps the first 911 with rear seats useable for fully-grown humans, could have worked. But in the end, electricity was deemed the answer.
Yep, what you see here is a forerunner to the Taycan. It also features a couple of design touches that have since made their way across the whole range - the rear light bar, and the protruding Porsche lettering just underneath.
Porsche’s LMP1 departure in 2017 didn’t stop its design team dreaming up prototype racing cars. The Vision 920 with its central cockpit and exposed pushrod dampers was intended as “a super sports car for the road or as a possible racing car for customer motorsport based on the LMP1 race cars”. Sounds as though they never really nailed down what it was supposed to be, but who cares - it looks incredible.
This clay model was the work of an intern attempting to make the most minimalist modern Porsche possible. It’s inspired by the 916, a prototype the company trialled in the 1970s. This revival is intended to be powered by four wheel-hub motors.
Looking a little like a Formula E car from the near future, the Vision E is Porsche’s idea of a single-seater electric racer built for customer motorsport. We probably will see something like this one day - it sells hundreds of Boxster and 911 racing cars every year, after all.
These days, supercar and hypercar manufacturers can’t seem to help themselves - no matter how potent their latest product is, there simply has to be a more hardcore version further down the line. That never happened for the 918 Spyder, which is a shame - if it had, something like this ‘918 RS’ would be the result.
A radically different carbon fibre body would have clad “enhanced drive and chassis technology,” providing what Porsche calls “a fascinating new evolutionary stage of the Porsche 918”.
Which of these previously unseen concepts do you wish had progressed further?