When you reach a certain ‘mature’ age, most people are already happy with a pair of socks, happy that someone still remembers their birthday at all. Others prefer money, that is also possible. But what do you give the patriarch who already has everything? When Ferry Porsche, the son of founder Ferdinand, reached the beautiful age of 80 in 1989, he was given a whole concept car: the Porsche Panamericana.
Ferry had taken over the company after his father’s death in 1951, led it into motorsport and gave it the 911. Dad may have started the business, but it was Ferry who made it a global success. In the 1970s he took a step back, but he remained chairman of the Supervisory Board and still had a lot of influence in the late 1980s. And so this concept car was the perfect birthday present.
Where does that name come from?
The Carrera Panamericana was an epic race across Mexico, introduced in 1950 to celebrate the opening of the country’s 3,540-kilometer Pan-American highway. It was a five-day grueling battle, and wear and tear even by the standards of the time. When the race was held from 1950 to 1954, Porsche won a number of times, and privateer drivers continued to drive 911s when the race was revived in 1988.
The name Panamericana is an obvious nod to the tough event, but did you know that ‘Carrera’ and ‘Panamera’ are also linked to that race? The Porsche engineers managed to assemble this beautiful car in no time; they took the chassis and powertrain of a 964 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet and turned it into a quirky Panamericana in just six months.
Specifications of the Porsche Panamericana
The engine is therefore the 3.6-liter boxer from the donor car, with 250 hp and 312 Nm. This was primarily a practical device, the greasy parts of which were overseen by Porsche engineer Ulrich Bez, who would become boss at Aston Martin years later.
Those cut-away wheel arches were little more than some feverish scratching by the designers. The idea was that you could easily change things on the suspension and mount thicker tires. Handy for a picnic, or whatever it is an 80-year-old does on his day off.
In terms of styling, small details could be found on the 993-generation 911 and the Boxster, but Porsche did not have the money at that time to actually take the Panamericana into production, although there were indeed advanced plans for this.
The Dutch touch to the Panamericana
Two Panamericanas were built – one was wrapped in gift wrap and sent to Ferry Porsche, the other was displayed in Frankfurt and Tokyo, and now stands proudly in the museum.
Read also: Is the Porsche 911 Dakar the true successor to the Panamericana?
Salient: Harm Lagaaij, the Dutch design chief of Porsche who drew the Panamericana, eventually did get an off-roader in the books, although it looked very different. Ferry passed away in 1998, but maybe he would have preferred money after all – the Cayenne has made a lot of it since it went on sale in 2002.
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