In a glimpse of futures that could’ve been, Porsche Design Studio has unveiled three street car concepts that have never before been shown to the public: one Le Mans racer-based hypercar, one open-top sportscar, and one electric riff on the Kombi van.
The process of automotive development is torturously long; by the time a production car is being introduced to the public, chances are the company behind it is already well into the development of its successor. There are many steps in the process, from sketching and clay modeling through engineering, concepts through to production shapes, and while companies frequently show off futuristic concept cars to test the waters of public opinion, it seems there are many that never see the light of day.
Here are three such oddities, released today by Porsche as part of a push for a book, Porsche Unseen, which focuses in on the design side of the business.
The Porsche 919 Street
Porsche’s 919 was a phenomenally successful Le Mans LMP1 endurance racer between 2014 and 2017, coming third in its first manufacturer’s championship and then running away with the next three before being discontinued as Porsche went to focus on Formula E instead. Its 2-liter turbo V4 sent a peak of about 500 horses to the rear wheels, and this was augmented with an energy-recovery hybrid electric system driving the front wheels that could boost power over 1000 horses for short bursts.
Its success in the World Endurance Driver’s Championship drove Porsche to investigate whether this race-bred monster could be turned into a road-going hypercar. The result: the 919 Street concept.
The look of this thing translates beautifully; its stretched-out wheel arches, bubble cabin, razor-sharp aeros, outrageous vertical fins and slash-cut taillight design would look right at home pulling up out the front of a casino in Monaco. Unfortunately, its race-bred powertrain proved too complex and highly-strung for the quotidian vicissitudes of life on the public roads, so Porsche knocked it on the head and moved on.