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Porsche Museum - take a photo tour

Porsche's most spectacular production is a sleek, spacious, ultra-modern and futuristically-styled masterpiece.

In comparison with its four-wheeled namesakes, it shares everything but performance.

The Porsche Museum, sited on a roundabout opposite the factory in outer-Stuttgart's Zuffenhausen estate and adjoining the company's humble 1948 wooden workshop, is a temple for followers of motor sport, admirers of Porsche and lovers of cars.

So vast is the Porsche Museum audience that despite its whopping $200 million cost, it could even contribute to the company's future bottom line.

Klaus Bischoff, one of the museum's curators and a regular visitor to Australia with Porsche museum cars, said the futuristic Italian-designed building housed 80 cars and yet displays would draw from a collection of 403 machines.

He expects 200,000 visitors a year when it opens this week (January 31) to the faithful and the curious with adult entry at $16.

Comparisons will be drawn with Stuttgart's other car museum, the Mercedes-Benz tower. But they are, like each company's philosophy, quite different.

Even Porsche aficionados will be staggered by the contents of the museum.

The curious, with only a remote sense of the company, will be impressed by a collection that includes its founder's late-19th century foray into electric vehicles — pertinent given Porsche's soon-to-be-released petrol-hybrid models — and breadth of race campaigners.

But perhaps more impressive is that the 5600sq.m Porsche Museum replaces a room of 20 cars that, until now, was Porsche's only attempt at showcasing its past.

It indicates the growth of Porsche but more importanty, a new-found opportunity to look back on itself.

Porsche has found time — and since the completing its takeover of Volkswagen, the funds — to reflect.

It admits that the $200 million museum comes at a depressed time in a sales yet it points out that it believes this is a blip and that better times are soon ahead.

Technically the museum started four years ago and construction started a year later. The exhibits are basically on one level though ramps and stairs invite guests to explore.

Pride of place in the 100-year-plus journey is a roughened aluminium bodyshell with Porsche-trademark teardrop lines.

This is the Type 64, built in 1936 by Ferdinand Porsche to house an eight or 12-cylinder engine. It was one of three handmade by German coachbuilder Reutter and despite its appearance, has nothing to do with the creation of the Volkswagen.

Three Type 64s were made but only this one — the third — was used by Ferdinand Porsche for inter-country travel.

After winning the contract to build a people's car the plans for a sports engine were dropped and it was fitted with a 24kW 1.1-litre unit destined for the Volkswagen to become a mobile testbed.

It was destroyed after WWII by the Americans — according to Mr Bischoff — and only recently started on its long journey of restoration.

The Type 64 was the first car to be fitted with the Porsche name yet this didn't happen until after the war.

Ferdinand Porsche trained as an electrical engineer in the late 19th century though expanded into the internal combustion engine and extended into all aspects of automobile engineering.

Though known as the father of the Volkswagen, it was his son Ferry who was the father of the Porsche.

Ferry built the Porsche "Number One" in Austria in 1948 as a car for himself with no intention for mass production.

The mid-engined two-seater roadster, with a Volkswagen engine upped to 30kW from 16kW, became so desirable by car buyers at that time that production became reality.

But for production reasons and a need for extra seating put the engine behind the rear axles — where it remains today on the 911 — and a roof was added.

Only 52 of the 356 models — handmade in aluminium — were built in Austria before the business moved in 1948 to the Zuffenhausen site and started car building in 1950.

Ferry counted the first mid-engined car and the 1947 Cisitalia as the most important of his creations.

The Cisitalia was a design brief given by a rich Italian businessman who wanted a greater Italian presence on the Grand Prix race tracks and the podiums.

In an era of huge, front-engined race cars, the Porsche-designed racer defied the trends. It was relatively tiny and had a supercharged 1.5-litre 12-cylinder engine placed behind the driver.

The nose section was short and the low weight and its balanced distribution of the car made it an instant hit. An optional drivetrain could make it an all-wheel drive.

The Cisitalia made Porsche wealthy enough to make his first car, the 356.

"If the Cisitalia didn't work, there would be no Porsche today," Mr Bischoff said.

Displays run through Porsche's production car and race car history. As a sampler: 1953 America Roadster — Built for the US market and the precursor to the Speedster, this had a 1.5-litre 51kW engine and weighed only 605kg. 1959 Type 754 — The prototype of the 911 was designed by Ferdinand Porsche (grandson) as a four-seater. His father disagreed and it became a 2+2. The first 911 appeared in 1964. 1960 718RS60 Spyder — the 118kW ancestor to the current Boxster that in 1960 won Targa Florio and the 12 Hours of Sebring. 1962 804 — the last pure-bred GP winner from Germany won drive Dan Gurney the GP of France. It had a 1.5-litre 136kW eight-cylinder engine and all-wheel disc brakes. 1964 904 Carrera GTS — First fibreglass Porsche that had a 2-litre 178kW eight-cylinder engine but also ran with four and six-cylinder units depending on the race. Won Targa Florio in 1964. It was designed to close the gap between Porsche's racing and production cars and therefore became the precursor to the 911. 1970 917 Gulf oil racer — Had a 4.9-litre 463kW V12 engine and averaged 249km/h at Spa in 1970. Nicknamed "Taxi" because of the volume of people who drove or were passengered in it. 1973 917/30 — One of the most powerful ever made, this 882kW 5.4-litre flat-12 ran to 385km/h driven by Mark Donohue and was so good the US race officials changed the rules to expel it from competing.

There is also some of the gifts made by Porsche to Ferry and Ferdinand such as a four-door Porsche 928 wagon and a four-seater 911.

Displays include cut-away 911 models, automobilia with a Porsche theme over the decades, the first Porsche diesel — don't get overly excited, it's a tractor — and its 1956 Jagdwagen 4WD military jeep.

In addition, there is a glass-encased workshop where customers and museum cars are restored, and a top-class restaurant.


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