The Porsche 904 Living Legend — A Lightweighted Minimalist

Porsche Unseen at #SXSW, Part III

For the first time, Porsche is taking part at the SXSW in Austin, Texas, which takes place from March 11th to 20th. The centerpiece of the Porsche premiere is an installation in downtown Austin where Porsche opens the secret sketchpad of its design department and shines a light on the “Porsche Unseen” studies. In part three of our SXSW series, we tell the story behind the Porsche 904 Living Legend.

The saying “less is more” by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is considered to be the mantra of modern architecture. However, it could also be used as the title to describe Porsche’s sporting success story. While other brands strove to outdo each other with an excess of power, the sports and racing cars from Porsche stood out above all through their intelligent lightweight construction, functional purity, engineering innovation and modest dimensions. This combination was almost impossible to beat, above all on tight racetracks and steep hairpin-infested mountain passes. Many icons from the brand’s history today appear remarkably small to us — from the Porsche 356 to the first 911, from the 550 to the 904.

It should therefore not be a surprise that Porsche Chief Designer Michael Mauer and his team dream about a compact, light and efficient sports car for narrow Alpine roads and demanding race circuits. But what could it look like — this purist, sporty Porsche for the 21st century?

Porsche at #SXSW in Austin, Texas

This year, Porsche is taking part in the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas — for the first time ever. The centerpiece of the Porsche premiere is an installation in downtown Austin that provides a glimpse into the design process behind the legendary sports cars. Under the motto “A Creator’s Mind”, Porsche opens the secret sketchpad of its design department and shines a light on the “Porsche Unseen” studies. This curated portfolio includes design sketches and completed studies, and will be presented in a custom-built Porsche space close to the SXSW conference center. There you can see the vision of a purist Porsche for the 21st century, not as a sketch but as a 1:1 hard model. The Porsche 904 Living Legend from 2013.

Porsche 904

A vision that combines a low cockpit with sculpturally flared wheel arches

Sometimes good ideas are not so very far away — maybe even somewhere else in the family Group. Volkswagen had been conducting research into an economical one-litre car since 2002, before launching the concept as the limited-edition Volkswagen XL in 2014. Most of all, this study piqued the interest of the Porsche Design Studio due to its carbon monocoque chassis. This was because the lightweight and compact vehicle architecture offered the opportunity to develop a radically small and minimalist sports car. So, as the design team started to experiment with different body styles, they quickly realised, to their utter astonishment, that the car they’d designed had very similar proportions and dimensions to one of the lightweight racing legends from the factory museum — the Porsche 904.

The result was an incredibly compact and efficient mid-engined sports car. With its low cockpit and sculpturally flared wheel arches, it confidently transported the purist design idea of the legendary Porsche Carrera GTS from 1963 into the present day. A high-revving V2 motorcycle engine would have been a suitable power plant for the Porsche 904 Living Legend, which barely weighed more than 900 kg.

The genre of a purist sports car is very close to the heart of Porsche Chief Designer Michael Mauer

The small, purist and manoeuvrable sports car, which evoke lightweight icons such as the Porsche 904 or 550 Spyder, is an automobile genre very close to the heart of the Porsche Chief Designer and his team. Michael Mauer is convinced that a compact “corner hunter” would still be enthusiastically welcomed by the sporting-minded brand community today.

Visionary cars like the Porsche 904 Living Legend serve as a basis for discussing strategies, visualising abstract ideas and crossing the boundaries of traditions and conventions. It can then very quickly become pretty metaphysical in the internal discussions: What is a Porsche? What is it not? What body forms and space concepts are conceivable? Can there be a Porsche that drives autonomously? And what does sportiness mean? What will come after the car as we know it?

The future orientation of the company is discussed repeatedly on the basis of these questions. The Porsche space at #SXSW this year aims open up these discussions beyond the automotive world.

Porsche’s representation at SXSW

We have summarized all information on Porsche’s program at #SXSW in the Porsche Newsroom. Further information will follow in the Porsche Newsroom.

About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we are developing new digital products and services — always with our customers in focus. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, emerging technologies, and the people that drive our digital journey. If you want to know more, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Next Level German Engineering: Where innovation meets tradition. The Porsche technology hub to create tomorrow.

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