Last week on Instagram Transformers: Rise of the Beasts director Steven Caple, Jr. — known for Creed II and The Land — posted the above image depicting the newest crop of Autobots. Wouldn’t you know it, the new movie is going to include a totally cool Porsche 964 Turbo. Not only is this one of Porsche’s most iconic vehicles, but it’ll play a hero in the upcoming 2022 blockbuster film. After the run that Michael Bay had running these movies into the ground, it’s nice to see new directors come in and give the series a fresh throwback look. A VW Bus? A Ducati superbike? A 964 Turbo? Yeah, this is going to be a lot of fun to watch.
Apparently the 964’s name in the movie will be Mirage. That name goes all the way back to Transformers issue #1 in the first generation of the comic book. Back then Mirage was a cigarette-sponsored Formula One car, most closely designed after an Equipe Ligier JS11 from 1979 or 1980. That car would have been driven by Patrick Depailler, Jacques Laffite, Jacky Ickx, or Didier Pironi. Changing from an old F1 car to a Porsche is a lateral move, wouldn’t you say?
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that a Porsche has been featured in the Transformers franchise. It’s been a few decades since anything resembling a Porsche was included in the series, but despite Porsche’s best efforts, they’ve been included before. Our favorite German sports car manufacturer might not have been too pleased by its inclusion in a children’s television program designed specifically to sell toys, but the animators did it anyway. Do you remember Jazz, Cliffjumper, and Dead End?
Let’s examine them all.
We’re going to start with the most un-Porsche-like of the Porsches. Cliffjumper. This design was said to have been an unorthodoxly shaped 924 Turbo. I guess I see it in the flares and the greenhouse, but the nose is far too sloping, and the rear spoiler is impossible as it would sit directly on the rear glass. Maybe it’s just a design lost in translation. In any case, Cliffjumper was a short-tempered and irritable member of Optimus Prime’s original crew when they crash-landed on Earth. It was crucial in many battles, but was lost in alternate dimensions and never returned.
Dead End is much more easily identifiable as an early 1980s Porsche 928. The skinny rear quarter window and flip-forward headlamps are the dead giveaways, for sure. It’s not a perfect one-to-one facsimile, but it’s much closer than Cliffjumper. Also found in Generation One of the Transformers, Dead End was a nihilist Decepticon. When combined with his fellow Stunticons — Motormaster, Wildrider, Breakdown, and Drag Strip — they form the Decepticons’ secret weapon Menasor.
Jazz is probably the Porsche Transformer you remember most fondly. I certainly do. He’s also the most convincingly Porsche, as his alternate form is a totally radical Martini-liveried 935 racer. Voiced by smooth-talking Benjamin Sherman “Scatman” Crothers, Jazz is as cool as a cucumber on a March afternoon.
Okay, so we’ve confirmed that Mirage won’t be the first Porsche in the Transformers universe, but it’s the first time there has been a Porsche in the Transformers universe in a very long time. I’m actually kind of stoked to check out this movie when it comes out. It’ll be a fun one.