► A guided tour of the Porsche Museum
► Design chief Michael Mauer is our information
► Be part of Gavin Inexperienced on a Porsche pilgrimage
Our tour information for the Porsche Museum (4.5 stars out of 5 on TripAdvisor, the second highest rated museum in Stuttgart) is Michael Mauer, Porsche’s chief designer. In direction of the top of our tour, Mauer is displaying us the numerous automobiles he was accountable for designing. They embrace the 991 and 992 variations of the 911, the 918 Spyder, the Macan, the Panamera and the newest 718-generation Boxer and Cayman. In reality, each new Porsche since he took over as design boss in 2004, changing Dutchman Hurt Lagaay.
Michael Mauer displaying us across the Porsche Museum is a bit like Salvador Dalí or Andy Warhol giving us a tour of the Tate Fashionable, or Caravaggio displaying us across the Uffizi. A star displaying us his work and people of his friends. Porsche has had solely 4 design administrators in its historical past. The primary was Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, eldest son of firm founder Ferry and credited with the unique 911.
‘Change helps to maintain an organisation younger and recent however, however, there may be the chance you lose the connection from one automobile to the following. I consider if you wish to construct a robust model id, you want continuity. I’m glad that whereas a lot of the automobile trade, like the style trade, has been attempting to make fairly radical styling adjustments fairly shortly, we’ve resisted. Typically it takes extra braveness to not do the whole lot that new know-how makes potential. I’m very glad Porsche didn’t fall into this entice. We now have an anchor on this fast-changing world. I consider there’s no level altering until it’s to make it higher.’
We tour from the very starting of Porsche’s car-building days – the late ’40s – and Mauer dwells on the 356, Porsche’s first automobile. ‘It’s a pure, easy design that took braveness and ability. If a automobile’s surfacing isn’t proper and the stance isn’t proper that’s when designers add one line, then one other and ultimately you don’t even know what the automobile ought to appear like. Many automobiles fall into that entice at the moment. However the 356 was so proper and plenty of of its design components lasted for the following 50 years.’
We transfer onto the 550 Spyder from 1953 (above), the kind of automobile by which James Dean was killed, when he hit Donald Turnupseed’s Ford sedan on Route 466 close to Cholame, California. It’s small, mild (simply 550kg) and mid-engined. Would he prefer to design a brand new, smaller, extra minimalist sports activities automobile – a contemporary 550 Spyder? ‘I’d like to do a pure new sports activities automobile, diminished to the utmost. We’ll see. There may be lots of dialogue. I believe it’s potential, particularly with new supplies.’ He talks about such a automobile probably being ‘mechanical, pure and again to our roots’.
Porsche remains to be a pure sports activities automobile maker at coronary heart, insists Mauer. He makes this level early in our museum tour, maybe to move off the plain query earlier than we get to the Cayennes and Macans. These days, 65 per cent of Porsches constructed are SUVs. The Macan and Cayenne are the 2 finest sellers. ‘There’s nothing improper with a model rising. However you want a transparent design philosophy and, in Porsche’s case, we nonetheless want the “actual” sports activities automobiles which might be the core of the corporate.’ He cites the 911 and its infinite efficiency iterations – ‘no different firm manages its spinoff technique so properly’ – plus the 718 Boxster and Cayman, nice sports activities automobiles all.
We transfer on to the 904 (1964), Porsche’s mid-’60s sports activities racer, and a Mauer favorite. ‘Ferdinand Porsche is most well-known for the primary 911. However this [the 904] was his masterpiece. It additionally subscribes to the Porsche philosophy that to be extra environment friendly, go smaller and lighter.’
However with chunky Cayennes and 1500kg 911s, is that also Porsche’s philosophy? ‘Sure it’s,’ he insists. ‘With the Panamera and Cayenne, we’ve got to supply luxurious and gear that these clients count on, and that provides weight. Light-weight remains to be our focus. Transferring ahead, with battery-electric automobiles, decreasing weight will change into much more essential.’
We come to the primary 911 (1963), which these days appears to be like nearly impossibly small and dainty. ‘A step ahead on the 356 and you may see the connection: the facet window form, upright display screen, easy and taut floor therapy, excessive entrance fenders… a really fashionable automobile however with a transparent connection to the 356 and that is how they began to construct the model id. That was very far-sighted, particularly for a younger firm. They may have tried to do one thing all-new with the 911 however they didn’t make that mistake. They solely acquired it improper as soon as – the 928 .’
Ah, the 928! One of many all-time nice luxurious GTs, the one sports activities automobile to win European Automotive of the 12 months, LJK Setright’s favorite Porsche (in reality, the one Porsche he ever preferred) and Porsche’s first all-new sports activities automobile (even the 356 had Beetle genes). And an enormous advertising mistake. ‘The 928 was supposed to switch the 911 [whose sales dipped in the mid-’70s]. Then some intelligent individual realised that was not the fitting technique.’
However what a automobile! ‘Sure, extremely courageous. Built-in bumpers, that tender nostril, adjustable steering wheel and devices, pop-up headlamps. Who else was doing a automobile like that? No one. That automobile was perhaps too fashionable, perhaps essentially the most fashionable Porsche ever. Porsche thought that was the best way to go, not the 911. I believe we will be very glad that didn’t occur.’
Then, the 917 (1969), a twice Le Mans winner and the automobile that elevated Porsche into the top-tier supercar league. Mauer says he’d like to drive one. I inform him I’ve. He cites the aerodynamic performance, which made the automobile look the best way it does, and its ‘industrial’ design. ‘You’ll be able to see the construction, the best way it’s made. These days we cowl the whole lot. That’s such a disgrace.’
He says these previous Porsches taught him quite a bit. ‘You could push ahead the design language however with out shedding contact together with your historical past. At any time when we design a brand new 911, I say to begin with, everybody has to recognise that it’s a 911 and, second, we have to create a design that lets individuals know it’s a new one. It’s arduous. How far do you go? Do you go too far? It’s our most cautious automobile. It’s our most tough automobile to design and, on the similar time, essentially the most thrilling for a designer. That is our core product. It additionally defines our company design language.’
His single favorite Porsche? ‘The 964 [third-generation 911, of 1988]. I suppose it’s inevitable once you work for Porsche that your favorite Porsche is a 911.’ He says most individuals say the 993  is the most effective 911 however he thinks the entrance conflicts with the centre part, like two automobiles in a single. ‘The 964 has a lot of the unique 911 and the bumpers are extra built-in. It’s the proper connection to historical past however reveals actual modernity.’ He owns three 964s: a coupe, a targa and a cabriolet.
We end our tour with the Le Mans-winning [2014-2017] 919 sports activities racer, an unpleasant bug after the swish birds we see earlier. ‘To design this sort of automobile will not be enjoyable. It’s all to do with aerodynamics and laws. The one factor we may affect was the graphic on the facet. Even the robust four-dots headlight of the first-generation 919 – a Porsche characteristic – was changed after the primary season. The racers mentioned they wanted higher lights so we acquired the identical lights as Audi. It’s so a lot pushed by performance. The previous automobiles have been much less pushed by laws and science.’
The brand new electrical Taycan was conceived utilizing Porsche’s time-honoured philosophy: fashionable however acknowledging the wealthy previous. ‘From a design view, I’m very glad Porsche went into the BEV [battery-electric vehicle] market. It opened a window. It’s way more than an evolution. We needed to visualise a brand new decade and be extra progressive.’
We drive a Taycan Turbo the 30 minutes or so north-west from the historic manufacturing unit and museum in Zuffenhausen, in northern Stuttgart, to the engineering and design headquarters in Weissach, simply outdoors town. Mauer says the best design achievement of the Taycan is its height-to-width proportion, particularly its lowness.
‘It’s the primary electrical car with these dramatic proportions [the Taycan is 1387mm tall, versus 1445mm for Tesla’s Model S]. The issue with having batteries within the flooring [as nearly all electric cars do, to keep the centre of gravity low] is that it makes for a excessive automobile, and that’s not very sporty. The engineers got here up with the concept of cut-outs within the flooring, the place you don’t put batteries, so individuals can sit decrease. Plus, the batteries are very properly packaged. This helps the dealing with and driving as a result of the batteries are as little as potential, and it helped the design.
‘SUVs can accommodate batteries extra simply, as a result of they’re excessive. The protected wager for Porsche’s first BEV would have been an SUV, as a result of the cake is greater. However we needed to show that electrical automobiles will be true sports activities automobiles.’
As electrical automobiles progress, so Mauer believes he’ll take pleasure in extra design freedom. ‘As parts and batteries get smaller, that may open packaging and design alternatives. It’s a bit like cell phones. To start with they have been like containers. Now the whole lot is smaller and the know-how doesn’t outline the scale.
‘We’re in a transition section for electrical automobiles. We’ll miniaturise components and it will create extra design freedom. However the model remains to be so essential. On Porsches, we’ve got excessive centre consoles and excessive beltlines, to provide a sense of sitting within the automobile, not on the automobile. Now you come to the purpose the place perhaps you don’t want the excessive centre console. However you do it for the model id. Tesla can have clear, open interiors. However we’ve got to be acutely aware that individuals are driving a Porsche.’
He tells me he finds Tesla inside design way more fascinating than its exterior design. ‘However let’s face it, with out Tesla, the normal automotive trade wouldn’t have made such electric-car progress.’
The better uniformity of electrical automobiles, and the transfer in direction of autonomous driving, current challenges. ‘An incredible model comparable to Porsche wants three qualities. Are you able to see the distinction? Can you’re feeling the distinction? Are you able to inform a narrative round it? The latter is why individuals in America, China and Switzerland, who by no means drive quick, desire a automobile with 600 horsepower. There’s a narrative behind it. Transferring ahead, the operate and really feel change into tougher, design turns into extra essential and, in the event you can not drive quick, then the story across the model turns into extra essential, too.’
Mauer is 57 and was introduced up within the Black Forest, not removed from Porsche’s Stuttgart residence. He spends as a lot time as potential outdoor and appears tanned and match, no shock when he tells you he spends most weekends in the course of the winter snowboarding, typically at his personal place in Switzerland. Because of this he doesn’t drive a Taycan as his on a regular basis automobile. ‘The issue is the vary. It’s too far after I go snowboarding and charging there will be tough. Plus, I typically go final minute, so being restricted by the automobile’s state of cost could be a nightmare.’
Moderately, his day-to-day transport is a Panamera. ‘I used to have 911s. However snowboarding and mountain biking are my passions, so I want house for my sports activities gear. I may have had a Cayenne or a Macan however the Panamera is extra sporty. I’m not an SUV man. I like a automobile that’s low and large. The Panamera is a sports activities automobile with house.’
We arrive in Weissach and go to Mauer’s workplace. Mannequin automobiles line certainly one of his partitions, many miniatures of automobiles he has designed. ‘Weissach is absolutely in the course of nowhere and I reside about 40 minutes’ drive from right here, within the countryside. I get my inspiration not from metropolis museums or artwork galleries however from being within the nation, alone, spending a few hours on the mountain or within the forest.’
Mauer has labored for 3 automobile makers, Mercedes-Benz (together with Sensible), Saab (briefly, as design chief, underneath Basic Motors) and now Porsche. ‘After college I didn’t know what to do, though I had goals of turning into a ski teacher. My dad, who was a physician, had a good friend at Mercedes-Benz and requested him whether or not there was a occupation that mixed artwork, at which I used to be good, and a love of automobiles. He mentioned, sure, a automobile designer. I acquired an internship at Mercedes in 1986.’
The good Bruno Sacco, design boss of Mercedes from 1975 to 1999, was his mentor. Sacco’s model prioritised surfacing, proportions and stance. It made Merc design timeless (not true at the moment, and never true of many different automobile makers, both). ‘He taught me the significance of constructing a model by constant design, and of “reductivism” – no decorations, clear surfacing.’
Sacco additionally believed in design continuity, from mannequin to mannequin, and from technology to technology. This has underpinned Porsche design from the very starting. It’s clearly a Mauer long-time signature, too.
‘Every mannequin have to be recognisable as a Porsche however every new mannequin will need to have its personal new components and its personal id.’ Little marvel that Porsche’s design boss – a neighborhood Swabian boy, in any case – feels so snug in calling the Stuttgart sports activities automobile maker residence. ‘Leaving Saab and coming again to Germany, loving sports activities automobiles and dealing for such an iconic model… properly, it was a simple transfer. Thoughts you, I quickly learnt that designing a brand new 911 will not be enterprise as traditional.’