There are only a select few time tested, descriptive phrases that swirl around the auto industry. None of those are as hard to achieve as “Timeless Design.” A design so elegant and beautiful it stands for all time. But what constitutes a timeless design? Does it merely have to be eye candy, or is it a shape so ahead its time that it continues to assimilate itself into the automotive landscape for the better part of a century?
What are some automobiles you feel have a timeless design?
If I had to pick one it would actually be a group or segment from a single marque that all originated within six years of each other. This, naturally, is the front engine/rear drive line from Porsche that popped up in 1976 and ran until 1995.
The Porsche/VW 914 and the Volkswagen Scirocco
A quick walk down Wikipedia lane will tell you that the development of the 924 started in the early 1970’s as a joint venture, Project 425, between Volkswagen and Porsche to replace the Porsche/VW 914. As with everything in the 1970’s the oil crisis mucked this up and VW eventually backed out in favor of the more modest Scirocco. Porsche, having done some serious leg work on development bought out the VW rights on the project, Porsche-ized a VW van engine and released the car in 1976. The following year the co-in development Porsche 928, a GT car meant to replace the Porsche 911, was released. Essentially a premium update for the 924 sporting better equipment and aesthetics that included a 4.5 liter 237 hp (219 in the US) engine and the most amazing headlights OF ALL TIME.
The 924 and 928 failed to win the draw of “Porsche Purists” and as we know today the 911 continued on. The 944 was released in 1982 to replace the 924 which soldiered on until 1988 due to its lower price appeal. The 968 was the successor to the 944 that launched in 1992. All the while the 911 kept maturing.
You may ask why not the 911 then? Isn’t the 911 the timeless Porsche design? Sure. Essentially the 911 represents what a Porsche is. You say Porsche, everyone thinks 911. But the design, as awesome as it is really is a a mere oddity on the automotive landscape. It isn’t ahead or before it time. It’s not old and it’s not new. It just is.
The 924/928/928/968 represent a dynamic shift in styling for both Porsche and the industry at the time. Design became simpler, cleaner and much less bulky. Launching toward the end of the 1970’s it was a design that defined the 1980’s. Yet as production ended in 1995 the 928 still seemed modern and relevant. It was truly timeless. Maybe 100 years from now people will stay, “Look at that old car” but yesterday, in the parking lot at work, an early 80’s 928 was parked behind me. I saw it, my mind recognized it, but it didn’t stand out as much as a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air would. It still seems appropriate and I
like love that that.
The Bel-Air was a design of its time. These Porsches are designes for all time.