Stretched Porsche 911 surprises at 2016 Goodwood Revival
On top of the scintillating historic race action, the Goodwood Revival never fails to surprise and entertain off the track too thanks to the raft of expertly curated displays found in the paddock.
For Porsche 911 enthusiasts, one of the most intriguing cars at this year’s Revival meeting was found inside the Earls Court Motor Show recreation, an exhibition of manufacturers’ latest models combined with some rare and retro oddities.
In order to celebrate the launch of the new Panamera, Porsche’s stand delved into the history of Zuffenhausen’s four-seat sports cars, a story that includes this unusual, stretched Porsche 911S prototype.
Even before the Porsche 911 was launched in 1963, Porsche had been looking into the possibility of launching a family-friendly sports car as a successor to the 356 before settling on the 2+2 layout of the Neunelfer that we all know and love.
However, this didn’t stop Ferry (and a number of independent dealers and coachbuilders) developing four-seat prototypes, many of which were based around the classic Porsche 911.
In 1968, Porsche tasked Pininfarina with the task of stretching a Porsche 911S to comfortably accommodate four passengers. The result – codenamed 911/B17 – featured a 2,600mm wheelbase, an ungainly, high roofline and unusually angular rear windows.
The board was not convinced though so Porsche took development in-house, producing the design study displayed at this weekend’s Goodwood Revival. Internally known as the 911/C20 and based around the then-new 2.2-litre 911S, the car would have been known as the ‘915’ should it have made production.
Stretched by a further 15mm over the Pininfarina prototype, 911/C20 featured a more traditional Neunelfer silhouette (at the expense of headroom), increased legroom for back seat passengers and better rear weight distribution (57 per cent of the mass was over the rear wheels, compared to B17’s 61 per cent bias).
After the four-seat Porsche 911 project was shelved later in 1970, C20 – at the mercy of Zuffenhausen’s development engineers – was fitted with an external oil filler flap ahead of the feature’s 1972 launch and a front bumper-mounted oil cooler (a la the 2.7 RS) before going into storage for a number of decades.
With Ernst Fuhrmann taking over the helm at Porsche in 1972, there was no longer any internal desire for a truly four-seat Neunelfer as the R&D budget was turned towards the new 924 GT project.
Taking a look at the 911/C20 prototype in the metal at Goodwood, it was probably just as well. The proportions just don’t look right. However, it’s easy to see where the idea for the new Porsche Panamera – ever more looking like a stretched 911 – came from.
Now restored by Porsche Classic, the elongated Porsche 911S often takes pride of place in the museum at Zuffenhausen, standing testament to an era of unusual developments in the search of the perfect family sports car.