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Porsche. Are their designers plain lazy or are they doing things correctly?

By Rigval on 09 Feb 2010

Attached Image
Porsche. This company is somehow criticized on the design of their cars of late. The reason for this is that their cars look almost the same. You can clearly see the DNA of the 911 in the Cayenne, Boxster, Cayman and the Panamera. Like the 911 gave birth to all of them from its tailpipes. Or like most critics state, lazy designers using the same template for all Porsches until they all look the same. They have the same rounded rear and nearly the same silhouette from the side. Of course you can tell that the Cayenne is an SUV or that the Panamera is a 4 door sedan, but they basically have the same shape. But is it really true that Porsche have lazy designers? Now, after some thought over a cup of home brewed Darjeeling tea I have come up with an answer.

You see, Porsche in the 1970s did rock the 911 establishment by coming up with supposed replacement models for the lower end and upper end of the markets. Cars like the 924, 944, 968 and the 928 were brought out from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s with some success but none could ever usurp the sales of the 911. No matter how good journalists at that point of time said of the 968 or the 928 would change the minds of Porsche 911 loving people who continued buying 911s regardless of the fact that its rear engined design meant that it was tail happy and loved putting itself through hedges and ditches backwards due to its inherent design characteristics (or flaws). This same people actually liked the shape of the 911 as they would have also tried the 928 in the showrooms at that point of time but still bought the flawed car. Somehow, people liked the slightly bulbous shape of the 911 and the sound of the water-cooled flat 6 engine so much so that they refused to change their minds and purchase what even Porsche thought was the better car at the time. Of course, this meant that the 928 and the 968 (which was the final version of the 924/944 series) had to be discontinued.

Porsche then launched the Boxster, which was mid engined but looked so much like its big brother and was a sales success. It wasn't as though Porsche didn't try the 'budget Porsche' way as they had done so with the 924 in the 1970s but Porsche fans took to it like a duck to water and it became Porsche's success story. Porsche's car lineup then included the extremely successful Cayenne SUV, which is actually weird looking in some angles but somehow managed to capture the hearts and souls of people who were never even fans of the 911 in the first place. This success story has since continued till today with the Panamera. Some critics say this cars look ugly, or lazily designed but you will notice that the Porsche 911 design is timeless and a design classic. Its design clues are so recognizable that even a person who does not like cars will recognise a Porsche when they see one.

Attached Image: 399px_Rolex_Submariner.jpg

You see, Porsche has basically done a Rolex Sports watch. Take for example the Rolex Submariner (photo above). It has remained basically the same since the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, through Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Dalton as James Bond's watch choice and it still is a highly respected diver's watch with the trademark Oyster case to this day. Every few years Rolex will spruce it up a little by rounding off an edge or two or make it slightly chunkier but it still looks the same and is still easily recognizable. Porsche too had decided to evolve slowly and not change anything drastically but just rearrange the design of the car a little year after year. The engine is still in the wrong place after all of these years but the suspension has been improved until the 911 can bend the laws of physics and corner like its on rails, or if it does break away the tail is more progressive and won't kill its owner. It is the same with the Cayenne and Boxster. Both of which are already in its 2nd generation form, and both looks like nothing had actually changed. Rolex, whether or not watch savants loathe the brand is one of the biggest brand names in the world and this fact cannot be denied. So Porsche is the sports car version of Rolex. In not so many words of course.

Attached Image - Sea Dweller DeepSea - Basically a Submariner on steroids and with the new super Oyster case. But at a glance it is still recognizable as a derivative of the Rolex Submariner.

The Porsche silhouette is already considered a classic automotive design and it is the same with the Rolex Submariner. Most of humanity (or if you don't agree, both Porsche and Rolex owners/buyers only) have decided that both designs have reached a pinnacle that cannot be altered but merely refined bit by bit in accordance with the taste of the period. And it is this fact I hereby state that while a Porsche will always look good or will never look good, or that it has lazy designers, depending on your point of view; it will keep on selling Porsches looking like what they do as people love them in that shape and they may never buy a Porsche if it looked like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. Remember, Porsche tried, and failed. So if it ain't broke, why fix or change it?

Now Let me give you another example. The BMW Mini. You cannot really tell the difference between the 1st generation and the 2nd generation when it comes to its looks. You can't really change the look of a Mini as that is what customers look for. 80% Cabin , 20% engine, large wrapround glass area and a roof that looks separated from the body. That's a Mini and that's how a 2 door, Traveller/Clubman and how the future 4 door versions will look. Its the same design on different models. And BMW Mini designers are also lazy I presume?

Attached Image - An ancient Porsche 911

Attached Image - A Boxster 1st Generation

Attached Image - A 2nd Generation Boxster. You'd have to really know your Porsches if you can tell this one from the 1st Gen version if you only took a glance at it.

Attached Image - Mini Clubman, it still looks like a Mini even though its longer

Porsche, 911, 928, 968, 944 and 3 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

  • 1
bellboy Feb 09 2010 03:08 PM
Rigval, I agree with you!

Porsche designs are timeless and evergreen.
GTR Feb 10 2010 09:59 AM
A good and smart way to use Porsche design with Rolex as comparision.

Both Porsche and Rolex have prove that you do not need alot of new input once the base design is solid.
Joseph22 Feb 10 2010 11:13 AM
Yes agree with your blog. Very much why Mini is call Mini and Beetle is called Beetle.
Viceroymenthol Feb 10 2010 05:56 PM
so is merc an IWC and BMW a panerai? hahahaha

porsche should be an AP royal oak, in terms of design permanence, different variants and snob appeal. IMO.

then lexus would be a TAG heuer!
  • 1
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