In 1993, Porsche AG hosted “Sternfahrt” as a celebration of 30 years of the 911. The format of the event was much like a PCA multi-regional, but the location was a bit more exotic, and members of the Porsche family (including Butzi Porsche, designer of the 911), Porsche engineers, and even the old racing director, Baron Huschke von Hanstein, were all on hand. A factory-restored 1964 911 was shown on the grounds of the Ludwigsburg castle, as were a variety of other Porsches, including an active-duty police car. Twin 959s, one belonging to Peter and the other to Wolfgang Porsche, were nestled together near the ’64 911.
Later there was a rally, and there were laps of the test track at Weissach, in a sort of follow the leader format, which resulted in one driver producing a full year’s supply of adrenalin when he had to lock up and get sideways to avoid a 959 stopped on the track ahead (and yes, it was one of the Porsche family cars.) There was even a revival of engineer Peter Falk’s remarkable “Weissach Ballet”. Think complex synchronized swimming, only with ten 911’s, half of them red, the others black, on the skid pad at Weissach, weaving in, out, and around at high speed to—of course—the Ravel “Bolero”. Evening saw plentiful food, drink and singing, most enthusiastically by the large Italian contingent.
But all of this 911 euphoria only sets the stage for the image I offer you this time—the exuberantly-painted stretch-911 that was shown on the castle grounds during the “concours” event. We were given to understand that it was a Pininfarina prototype, but didn’t know much more about it until many years later upon finding an entry in the Boschen/Barth book “Porsche Specials”, which explains that it appeared in 1969, having been commissioned by Porsche. Lengthened by 7 ½ inches, it gave more legroom to the rear seat passengers, with more headroom provided by an unhappy alteration of the roofline. The rear seats themselves appeared to be pretty much the minimally padded stock versions.
Not only was it cosmetically challenged, it was quite too heavy at 2500 pounds, now had a turning circle of 38 feet, and a weight distribution of 39/61. Designated “B 17” by Porsche, it was mercifully never put into production, although it was updated 6 years later with a 2.7 Carrera engine and body changes including the front spoiler; the original Boge Hydromat front suspension was replaced with Konis. I don’t know whether Porsche still owns this car; my inquiry to them is as yet unanswered. Have any of you seen it? I don’t think you’d easily forget the experience!
About Leonard Turner and "The Last Turn"
With a background in photography spanning more than 5 decades, Leonard Turner was Porsche Panorama’s chief photographer for some 40 years, shooting several hundred covers for the magazine and countless feature spreads involving racing, new car introductions, portraits, technical illustrations, and a plethora of other topics. In the course of doing this, he has traveled widely over the United States and Europe, visiting the Porsche factories and shooting at many venues, including a portfolio of the world’s greatest race tracks.
Leonard's photographs have been published in many books including Porsche: Portrait of a Legend; Porsche Specials; Porsche, the 4-Cylinder, 4-Cam Sports & Racing Cars; Sebring, the Official History; Carrera RS; and Porsche: Prototype Era 1964 to 1973. His magazine credits, other than Panorama, include Autoweek, Road & Track, Automobile, Christophorus, and Excellence.
It was with this background in mind that we asked Leonard to open up his archives to share with you here on FLATSIXES.com. His personal files, both digital and film, contain tens of thousands of images of Porsches, Porsche people, and events they shaped and which shaped them. Our plan is to share one of Leonard's images with you every other week, and the story behind it, in this newest feature, "The Last Turn" here on FLATSIXES.com.
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