Think about a 1.2-liter Ducati L-twin, screaming its desmodromic tune simply inches behind your head—spinning 11,000 rpm, pushing one thing like 200 horsepower, and propelling your stunning little carbon-fiber Porsche, which weighs a hair beneath a ton, by way of house. It’s a minimalist’s fantasy, the notion of a sports activities automotive reliant on an absence of weight reasonably than an abundance of horsepower to attain outstanding efficiency. That’s a big a part of the spirit of Porsche, and it was distilled into the 2013 904 Residing Legend Idea. The automotive was mild, lithe, and placing.
For the primary decade and a half of Porsche’s existence as a sports-car producer, although, the entire firm’s merchandise absolutely embraced this philosophy. We consider Lotus as epitomizing the emphasis on weight discount, however Porsche’s early reliance on small, low-output flat-four engines meant that its competitors success hinged on ever-greater reductions in mass within the early 356 racers and later in vehicles just like the well-known 718 RSK. One other iconic mannequin, the Porsche 904—a really stunning form designed by Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche, the founder’s grandson and father of the 911—impressed the Residing Legend’s design.
It’s among the many Porsche design initiatives that variously have been stored secret and/or offered low-key affect on future merchandise. Porsche’s management has for years given its design group leeway to discover any variety of avenues, even when they could in a roundabout way result in a manufacturing automobile. On this occasion, Porsche was impressed by one in every of Volkswagen’s most fascinating autos of the mid-2010s: the XL Sport.
The XL Sport emerged as a by-product of the high-tech, extremely efficient XL1—a hybrid powered by a two-cylinder diesel engine that returned unbelievable gasoline financial system, provided as much as 30 miles of pure electrical vary, and claimed a ridiculous 0.189 coefficient of drag that made it essentially the most aerodynamic manufacturing automotive in historical past. VW referred to as it a “lighthouse automotive” whose pioneering tech would filter to all manufacturers.
The XL Sport model swapped out the diesel for a Ducati engine, the L-twin from the 1199 Superleggera—on the time, the world’s strongest twin-cylinder engine, good for 197 horsepower and 99 lb-ft of torque. Along with the carbon fiber used within the physique, high-strength metal and magnesium alloy had been utilized the place required for energy and weight discount. Its zero-to-62-mph time was estimated at a modest 5.7 seconds, however the rawness and immediacy of the platform would possible make it extra enjoyable and fascinating than the naked specs would counsel.
That’s the place the 904 Residing Legend Idea picks up the story. Porsche designers, intrigued by what Volkswagen was doing with this light-weight, compact platform, began designing across the XL1/XL Sport’s form and structure. The consequence, it’s claimed, wasn’t initially supposed to resemble the 904—as a substitute, the story goes, the resemblance merely appeared. Consider it as convergent evolution.
The 904 Residing Legend’s class is outstanding, translating classically stunning kinds right into a totally trendy total design with out falling into overly retro tropes. Maybe essentially the most overt throwback to the unique 904 is the rear glass deeply inset into strong buttresses, though within the 904 Residing Legend that is mitigated considerably by the ability bulges and engine cowl/grille. There’s an intense and pleasant taper to the cabin because it flows over and previous the broad rear fenders.
As an alternative of an abrupt Kamm tail, the 904 Residing Legend serves as a preview of how the corporate’s total rear styling would evolve. Evaluate it to the Taycan or the 2020 911 with their razor-thin heckblende rear-end remedies. And the headlight form—if not the inner association of lenses and reflectors—seems to be like a lot of up to date Porsches, together with the Panamera. There’s additionally a powerful total hyperlink with the 918, which was the 904 Residing Legend’s up to date.
The 904 Residing Legend Idea by no means progressed past a 1:1-scale mannequin, which was inbuilt 2013. Like many not too long ago revealed Porsche ideas, it didn’t progress to manufacturing however represents an articulation of many concepts that did, notably stying components and kinds. As compelling an concept because the 904 is, the obstacles to manufacturing can be myriad, amongst them the expense of its unique structure, maybe serviceability/reliability of its uncommon powertrain, the restricted enchantment of a Porsche providing modest efficiency. Its rawness and purity would have made for a uniquely rewarding and fascinating driving expertise, although—a compelling concept we’re glad Porsche explored, even when it got here to naught.
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