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The space and time glider

Even the sidetrack can lead to the stars: In 1970, a small team at the Design Centre in Weissach continued to work on a project around the Porsche 917 that had actually been discontinued. And with innovative ideas and courage, they produced something that doesn't seem to be from this world, but above all is one: Typically Porsche and thus ahead of its time.

Text: Marko Knab Photo: Max Leitner / Porsche Klassik 12.08.2019 1 min

The first satellite? Had the Soviet Union. The first manned moon landing? The Americans did it. The first space glider for the road? Built by Porsche in 1970. It is the design draft of a Porsche 917 hatchback in scale 1:4. It was made as an alternative design to the 917/20, the goal was to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both designs failed. After all, the 917/20 became famous as "Rosa Sau". The design study on the other hand lost the internal competition.

But that didn't stop the designers from continuing working on their design. First of all, the exterior, including aerodynamics, was fundamentally revised. The round shape of the predecessor 908/03 served as inspiration. But that wasn't the end of the story. The designers incorporated innovative solutions such as the ergonomic control elements, gave the design a computer - which at the time was nothing more than a dream of the future - and borrowed the NACA air vents from NASA's rockets. These provide ventilation without generating additional air resistance. In other words: Rocket technology for the road and optical avant-garde.

Today, almost 50 years later? The alternative design study not only still impresses with its elegant lines, but its pioneering work also becomes clear: Because the spirit of the space glider lives on. On the one hand in the current 917 design study, on the other hand in the series. A computer in a car? Everyday life today. A design that could still play a leading role in any science fiction film today? Only few achieve that. And this design study sure did.