A newly released book is taking a prominent position on my Porsche Book Shelf. I have plenty of coffee table books that are good for lots of pretty pictures, but this one is between them and my hard core references such as Karl Ludvigsen’s. There are two areas where it excels, the use of quotes from Porsche people at and below the department heads, and the other is why each generation of the 911 was changed, especially the 991 generation.
The author, Randy Leffingwell, has written dozens of books on transportation, including photographic duties. Porsche 911: 50 Years is 256 pages with 300 photos, including many photos and drawings from Porsche’s archives. It is well worth it.
It starts with the 356 era, and Erwin Komenda’s shop’s design for variations and replacements. Randy had access to interviews, new and old, with the less familiar names such as Eugen Kolb, Gerhard Schröder, and Heinrich Klie. You get a much better feeling of how executives such as Ferry and Komenda got along. You also discovered how these lesser known names should be credited with some well-known designs or ideas.
This kind of depth continues through each generation of the 911. You get a better understanding of how Porsche kept getting smarter with their designs. From a 901 design with no thoughts of a convertible, and very little thought of racing it, to designing the 991 for 22 models and racing versions before it hit the auto shows. I was surprised to learn they wanted to water cool the 993, but there was too much to do in little time.
The 911 street generations are followed by a racing chapter. It starts with the 911 hill-climbers, and proceeds through 935s, 959s, and GT series.
The book ends with a statement from Peter Schutz. We praise him for entering Helmuth Bott’s office and using an indelible marker, started from the 911’s expiration date to extend the line around the room to the opposite wall. Schutz said in a 2004 interview “Porsche is in the business of selling memberships in a dream.” Porschephiles should read this one.