Porsche Panamericana is First Produced

The Porsche Panamericana is an automobile produced by Porsche AG. It was designed by Dutchman Harm Lagaay (designer) and Ulrich Bez (technical director) to renew the design of the 911.

Lagaay was known for his work in Porsche’s Weissach R&D center from 1970 to 1977 as a member of the Anatole Lapine design team that designed the 924. He also worked for Ford to develop the design of their models Escort, Sierra, and Scorpio and for BMW Research and Technology developing the BMW Z1 in 1985.

The Porsche Panamericana was intended to be only a concept car, and although Lagaay hoped that his creation would be produced at least in small series in 1992, the growing financial crisis at Porsche put an end to his wishes. However the car had an influence in the development of the 911 Targa and Boxster. The Panamericana was shown at Frankfurt Car Exhibition, after a development period of only six months.
It was built on the basis of the 911 Carrera 4, its bodywork was built with plastic and carbon fiber panels. An outstanding characteristic of the car were its wide wheel covers with the objective to have enough room for various sizes of rims and tires, so if necessary it could be transformed in an off-road car.

The three part Speedline rims were made exclusively for this model. The roof line was homogeneously streamlined and sloped gently towards the rear engine deck. It could be covered with a waterproof fabric with a pink zipper. Various roof configurations were possible and the car was in fact an hybrid of a targa, convertible, coupe and off-roader.

When viewed from the front its style has a resemblance with the 996 and Boxster—as could be expected, since Laagay also has designed the Boxster. In spite of its unstreamlined wheels, its aerodynamic drag coefficient was only 0.30.

When Dr. Ferry Porsche turned 80 years old, he received a 1989 Porsche Panamericana concept car as a gift. Now, receiving a car as a birthday present isn't too farfetched, especially for the owner of a car manufacturing company. Getting one specially built to mark the occasion -- now that's a tad more exciting.

Note that the 1989 Porsche Panamericana concept car was quite distinct from the Porsche Panamera. The latter is a four-door Porsche sedan -- the automaker's first-ever sedan -- that's do for production as a 2010 model.

The 1989 Porsche Panamericana concept car, by contrast, was a striking two-seater concept study, shown to the public for the first time at the 1989 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany. Arriving without prior fanfare, the 1989 Porsche Panamericana concept car stole the show, drawing surprised and admiring sighs from ordinary motorists and industry observers alike.

Neither Ferry -- son of company's founder Ferdinand Porsche -- nor anyone else might have had much of an opportunity to drive this wild, low-cut machine; there were no plans for production. Even so, it demonstrated once again the future-oriented thinking, creativity, and technical competence that had for the previous four decades identified the Porsche organization at Stuttgart.

This was a free-spirited, free-thinking Porsche, bursting loose from the final constraints of traditionalist thought. It was a Porsche to tempt the aficionado -- the driver who's seen them all, driven them all.

Even more than Porsches in general, the Porsche Panamericana concept car combined the best elements of high-tech while spurning faddish gadgetry.

More exciting yet, Porsche advised that the racy concept car just might "indicate the potential of future developments for the 911." Perhaps, Porsche enthusiasts hoped, this prototype wouldn't fade away like so many show cars, after the enthralled early observers had their fill, but could metamorphose into a 911 of the 1990s.

Considering that in some well-to-do neighborhoods of the late 1980s, Porsches had become a little too popular -- indeed, almost common -- a bold two-seater guaranteed to turn the heads of the most jaded onlookers would have been sure to be snapped up in a hurry.

Though the 1989 Porsche Panamericana concept car was innovative, it still adhered to Porsche tradition. Learn more on the next page.