Panamericana: Porsche’s 911 SUV concept

The notion of the concept car really does represent a fascinating yet often downright crazy corner of car culture. Wheeled out for motor shows (if indeed wheels are present), any new styles or technologies are usually expressed through utterly radical designs where manufacturers can gauge public opinion under the premise of it being a one-off.

It’s not uncommon, however, for a popular concept to make production, albeit with often significant changes in order for it to comply with legislation. Porsche has a rich track record in this regard, with recent, notable examples including the 918, Taycan and 986 Boxster.

However, there is another concept, hidden within the vaults of the Porsche Museum, which can lay a claim to being as successful as the aforementioned trio to realise production, for its impact on the company at large is just as profound. Based on a Porsche 911, its aesthetics offered a wild departure from the Neunelfer’s altogether more reserved profile and styling: the Porsche Panamericana drew on past success in competition on rough terrain.

And, though it never made production (nor was it ever intended to do so), elements of its design and engineering would continue to permeate throughout Porsche in the 911 lineup – and beyond – in the years prior to and after the new Millennium.

Unveiled in 1989 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the idea was to design a Carrera Panamericana-compatible vehicle, commissioned 35 years after the famous Mexican race was cancelled for good. With most of this notorious race taking place on rough terrain, the function of this one-of-one vehicle necessitated all-wheel-drive, a technology which Porsche had adopted just one year earlier with its first 911 Carrera 4.

It will therefore come as no surprise that it is the 964 Carrera 4’s all-wheel-drive system installed on the Panamericana, but what many will not know is the 964’s influence on the Panamericana goes further still. The base car itself is a 964 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, powered by the requisite factory M64 flat six engine, producing the usual 250hp, with power fed to all four wheels via a G64 five-speed gearbox.

To read our full, in-depth article on the Porsche Panamericana, as well as our world exclusive reveal of Singer’s All-terrain Competition Study, pick up Total 911’s milestone 200th issue in store today, which is guest edited by Rob Dickinson, founder of Singer Vehicle Design. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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