Sunday, October 2, 2016

Automoblog Book Garage: Porsche: The Classic Era

Book Garage

One of the world’s greatest aspirational vehicles is a Porsche. Several of my friends, including Automoblog feature columnist Jonathan Orr, hold their Porsche vehicles in the highest regard. In January, I walked through the Porsche exhibit at the North American International Auto Show.

It was stunning to say the least.

The 911 is what comes to mind for most people when they think of Porsche. So iconic is the car that in 1999, it was nominated as a Car of the Century alongside the Ford Model T.

Porsche’s air-cooled, rear engine sports cars have spent 50 years as the benchmark for performance vehicle production. They conquered race tracks abroad with the likes of Mark Donohue, Vic Elford, and Jacky Ickx. Porsche also conquered numerous bedroom walls, including mine when I was a kid.

I had a poster of a 911.

Classic Journey

Porsche: The Classic Era is a must for any Porsche enthusiast. The book covers the first Gmund coupe, the 356, and the aforementioned 911. Additional rare and archival photos showcase the 356 Carerra, 550 Speedster, 911S, 912, 930 Turbo, and 914/6. Ferdiand Porsche and the inspirations behind his journey into engineering are detailed. Porsche’s role in World War II is covered as well as the brand’s existence today.

This extensive guide through Porsche’s history is unlike any other.


Award-winning author, photographer, and historian Dennis Adler is one of America’s most published automotive figures. He has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and CBS Sunday Morning. Adler has published more than 5,000 articles and photographs during his long career.

Porsche: The Classic Era is available through Amazon and Motorbooks.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan

Porsche: The Classic Era Gallery

Photo: Dennis Adler. Volkswagens cruise through Berlin in 1939. Note that the cars now have fronthinged doors. Ferry incorporated the design in 1937 after returning from his trip to America, where he observed that most U.S. cars were built in this fashion. Photo: Porsche Werkfoto. From drafting board to sheet metal, the evolution of the first Porsche-designed sports car, the Type 64 60K10, took about a year. The result was three examples of the higher-performance Volkswagen platform surrounded by Komenda’s streamliner body. The contours that would become the Porsche 356 can be seen in these 1939 photos. Photo: Porsche Werkfoto. Erwin Komenda’s 1948 design for the 356-2 coupe body relied heavily on his prewar styling of the Type 64 60K10 Berlin-Rome streamliners. The aerodynamic profile of the car has evolved over the past fifty five years into the current Porsche coupe, a still familiar silhouette. Photo: Chuck Stoddard Collection. An early Gmünd coupe photographed in Rome in 1950. Photo: Porsche Werkfoto. It was a long way from the converted sawmill in Gmünd to the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen, but Ferry Porsche (foreground) had been determined to succeed, and by 1960, when this picture was taken, production was racing along. Hardly what one imagines when talking about an “assembly line” nowadays, each car still had that personal, almost hand-built quality about it. Photo: Porsche Werkfoto. American importer Max Hoffman had a hand in the design of the America roadster, which has contours distinctively different from the Gmünd coupe and roadster. The car has a more sweeping rear fender line and cut-down doors suggestive of the Jaguar XK120. Indicative of all early 356 models built before mid- 1952, the America has a two-piece windshield. Photo: Dennis Adler. In April 1954, Porsche introduced the horn grilles positioned inboard of the parking lights, allowing the new Bosch horns to be better heard. The arched hood handle was also adopted in 1954 from the first Speedsters. Pictured is a rare Pre-A Carrera 4-cam coupe. They were produced beginning in July 1955, just prior to the debut of the new 356A Carrera in September. Photo: Dennis Adler. The team of Jack McAfee and Pete Lovely competed with a 550 Spyder at Sebring in 1956. Photo: Porsche Werkfoto. From the beginning Ferry Porsche was skeptical of the Speedster as an entry-level model, saying that “stripping a car only degrades it without achieving the intended result.” Though Hoffman initially proved him wrong, the Speedster was neither a comfortable nor a convenient car, and in August 1958, Porsche discontinued the design and replaced it with a more civilized model first known as the Speedster D. Photo: Dennis Adler. The 356C/1600 SC cabriolet had a fully-lined top and more than ample headroom, but top down was the way to really enjoy the car. Photo: Dennis Adler. The new 2.4-liter, sixcylinder engine increased output for the 911S from 180 horsepower at 6,500 revolutions per minute in 1971 to 190 horsepower. When the 911S first debuted in 1967, output was 160 brake horsepower at 6,600 revolutions per minute; thus by 1972 Porsche had increased displacement from 1,991cubic centimeters (2 liters) to 2,341cubic centimeters (2.4 liters) and added an additional 30 brake horsepower to the 911S. The 1973 model had a compression ratio of 8.5:1 and Bosch mechanical fuel injection. Photo: Dennis Adler.

Last weekend in the Automoblog Book Garage, we featured The Great One.

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