This perfect Porsche garage is a jubilant joint birthday party
There’s always a heightened sense of anticipation when an invitation from the Porsche Museum arrives in your inbox. Last year, for example, I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to photograph 11 Porsche 917s in Zuffenhausen to celebrate the legendary prototype’s 50th anniversary.
In 2020, however, things are a little different as the Stuttgart marque has not one but three birthday cakes to prepare. That’s right, the 718 RS 60 Spyder, 993-generation 911 Turbo and 918 Spyder are turning 60, 25 and 10 years old respectively. A suitably grand joint birthday party was planned, and I was the lucky so-and-so invited to capture the occasion. Naturally, I didn’t need asking twice.
Although we were unable to shoot anything but static photography, the presence of these five cars (the 993 was represented by a Turbo, Turbo S and mighty GT racer) alone was strong enough to curb any of my worries on that front. We quickly decided that while full group shots were important, it also made sense to split the cars and capture them in different parts of Stuttgart’s Garage 229, a wonderfully retro former family Opel garage that’s since been converted into an events space.
On first glance, you wouldn’t necessarily put the Porsche RS 60 and 918 Spyders together. And it certainly wasn’t our plan at the beginning of the day. But despite their 50-year difference in age, visually they share some surprising similarities.
Nicknamed the ‘Giant Killer’ for its ability to consistently beat larger and more powerful cars on the racetrack, the dainty 718 RS 60 was a far more sophisticated beast than the RSK it succeeded. Piloted by the likes of Stirling Moss, Graham Hill and Hans Herrmann, the RS 60s took the battle with Ferrari for the 1960 World Sportscar Championship down to the wire, claiming key victories at Sebring and the Targa Florio. After the final race of the season, the two proud constructors were unbelievably tied on points. Alas, Ferrari had snatched more podiums and were thus awarded the trophy.
Sure, the 918 Spyder was never entered in competition, but it remains one of the wildest hypercars ever produced. Revealed in concept form at Geneva a decade ago, the 918’s biggest talking point was its hybrid powertrain, combining a 608HP naturally aspirated V8 with two electric motors that produced 143HP apiece. Before this, no one had tied electricity to emotive driving and I don’t think it’s an understatement to say this car paved the way for the rise of hybrid power in motorsport, which is now commonplace from Formula 1 to sports-car racing and even rallying.
The RS 60 might have been dwarfed by the 918, but it is a very impressive beast, nonetheless, especially considering its age. Preceded by its rarity (just 16 were built), the Spyder manages to look both featherlight and incredibly powerful – in its presence, you can’t help but daydream about Moss precisely threading the silver bullet around the Sicilian mountains, the Fuhrmann four barking in his wake. The Fuhrmann engine wasn’t the newest engine on the block, but it was an amazing piece of engineering that was reserved for Zuffenhausen’s finest racers, of which the Spyder is certainly one.
Launched at Geneva in 1995, the 993-gen Porsche 911 Turbo is a glorious first and last: the first 911 Turbo fitted with two turbochargers and the last 911 Turbo equipped with an air-cooled engine. The latter point gives the car an elevated spot in Porsche’s illustrious history book. Following the universally loved 964, the 993 has always been a bit of a marmite car. But I think it’s still such a modern design, which has aged very well. It’s a matter of taste whether you prefer the ‘standard’ Turbo or the rarer Turbo S (6,001 cars play 336), but both have real sex appeal.
I’ve always loved the Carrera 2S, but there’s definitely a certain je ne sais quoi to the four-wheel-drive Turbo that elevates it above the rest of the range. Maybe it’s the rear wing? The 1990s was a decade of soft styling and the spoilers and wings on display here are so curvaceous and sexy.
With an increased output of 430HP powering the rear wheels only, the GT is an entirely different kettle of fish. If the road-going Turbos are discreet, then the GT is brazen. Everything from the hilariously wide riveted bolt-on arches to the ironing board-like rear wing is extreme, designed with one thing in mind: speed. In 2016, an über-rare and incredibly original road-going 993 GT2 finished in Riviera Blue – that I actually had the pleasure of photographing – sold at auction for 2.2m euros, telling of just how sought-after these special Porsches are.
I for one am glad that Porsche has decided to recognise these milestone anniversaries collectively, despite the stark differences between the subjects themselves. And of course, I’m very grateful to the guys at the Porsche Museum for granting me the chance to capture it for you all. If I had to choose one of the bunch? It’s a toss-up between the RS 60 and the 993 GT. Both reside in the lofty heights of my heart, though that dinner table spoiler on the latter might just edge it over the imaginary line. I’m already anticipating what the museum has in store for 2021…
Photos: Rémi Dargegen © 2020