It’s September 28 today, and if we ignore the fact that the root word for September is actually a word that means “seven” then we can comfortably accept that September is the ninth month, which means that, numerically, using the American month/day notation, today is 9/28! And 9/28 are the same numbers as 928, which is what Porsche called its first production V8-powered car, the Porsche 928. The 928 is a car that’s full of fascinating and strange details, so to commemorate the day and the car, I dug up 9.28 facts and details and quirks about the car that I feel it’s dreadfully important for you to know. Sound good? Of course it does.
The 928 started out as a car that would have replaced the venerable 911, with a greater emphasis on luxury and comfort than the 911, which was more of a purist driving machine. The 928 was supposed to be a driver’s car that had a special emphasis on the passenger as well. More of a luxury GT car than the 911, a number of the little details that make the 928 special stem from this core mandate.
Okay, let’s get into the good stuff!
1. It Started Out As A Rear-Engined Car
Remember, the 928 was originally going to replace the 911, and Porsche was all about rear engines, especially when it came to the 911. So, it stands to reason that when Porsche was looking into a replacement, it started off with what it knows best: engines shoved way out back.
And, as you can see in those blueprints above, that meant that the first version of the 928 (known as “Progr.H” back in 1971) had a big rear-mounted V8, like some kind of sleeker Tatra T87. If they continued down this path, the result wouldn’t really have been the 928 as we know it, which did have a rear-mounted transaxle for a tidy 50-50 weight balance, but I bet it would have been pretty cool, even if it may also have been an oversteering beast.
2. The Design Was Inspired By The Pacer, Sort Of And Maybe
So this is one of my absolute favorite 928 stories, even if I’m no longer entirely convinced it’s true. But it’s sort of true. You may have, like many of us, noticed a strange similarity between the Porsche 928 and, improbably, the AMC Pacer designs, especially at the rear. Well, this doesn’t seem to be a coincidence: Porsche’s chief designer at the time, Tony Lapine, has admitted, on record, that the rear of the Pacer influenced the 928’s rear end design. And you can see it! The shape of the windows, the hatch design, the position and general shape of the taillights, I get it!
The problem is this may not be exactly true. According to Petersen-Museum-employed automotive historian Jonee Eisen, because the 928 and the Pacer were in development simultaneously, it’s unlikely that the final Pacer design influenced the 928. But! There is some truth here, as Lapine was good friends with AMC designer Dick Teague, and both Teague and Lapin were heavily influenced by the same car for their very different car projects: the Corvair Testudo concept designed by Giugiaro:
You can see how the rear end of this car (interestingly, a rear-engined car) had a heavy influence in both 928 and Pacer. So, even if one wasn’t exactly the offspring of the other, they were both drinking from the same cup when it came to their rear-end designs.
3. It’s The Smallest Car To Ever Have A Separate Rear Seat A/C System
I mean, I guess I haven’t done a really, really comprehensive check to confirm this, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. You could get a separate A/C system for just the rear two seats, and considering that’s the sort of thing you usually only find in stretch limos and big church vans, this has to be the smallest internal car volume that merits a separate rear air conditioner.
The reasons for this existing, I think, have less to do with the size of the car and more to do with the sheer volume of glass around the rear passenger area. It’s a real fishbowl/greenhouse back there, and the sun beaming in through all that curved glass definitely has an effect.
In fact, that’s exactly why our next weird 928 fact exists:
4. It’s One Of The Only Cars To Have Rear Seat Sun Visors
While the 928 isn’t the only car to have a bunch of extra sun visors, it’s likely the most famous one. And, what’s even more interesting is that these sun visors weren’t meant to shade your eyes from the sun like pretty much every sun visor is designed to, these were meant to shade the top of your head and the back of your neck from the sun’s punishing UV rays, saving countless bald spots and neck napes from the agony of an intense sunburn.
5. A Brazilian Company Once Made Two Sub-Scale Porsche 928 Knockoff Cars
I’ve said before that what Australia was to mammals, Brazil was to air-cooled Volkswagens. That’s because for much of the 1970s and 1980s, the Brazilian government had severe import restrictions in order to encourage their domestic auto industry. As a result, cars that were built in Brazil with nearly all Brazilian parts, like the Brazilian Volkswagen Fusca (what they called the Beetle) ended up being re-designed and re-purposed to fill every possible automotive niche.
As the name suggests, the 828 was inspired by the Porsche 928, but had some wildly different proportions. The car was based on a standard VW Beetle chassis, only with a shocking 31 inches cut out of the middle, making for a very stumpy package. The usual VW flat-four remained at the rear, and with about 65 hp on tap and less weight than even a normal Beetle, these were kind of quick, in their own way.
They used VW bus taillights rotated sideways in a way that looked a lot like early 928 taillights, and the wheels looked a lot like the Porsche “phone dial” wheels. Nobody would confuse an 828 for a 928, but you’d absolutely know what inspired it. Only 47 were built, which seems like way too few, to me.
Dacon made another 928-inspired car, this one called the PAG Dacon. Unlike the 828, this one had proportions much closer to the actual 928, and was based on the air-cooled VW Gol platform, which mounted a VW flat-four up front. These retained the flipped Bus taillights and fake phone dial wheels, but even fewer of these seem to have been built. Again, not enough.
6. It Had Some Of The Worst, Most Hidden Control Placements Ever
If you buy a used 928 and decide you want the instruments brighter or dimmer, or you want to adjust the intermittent wiper timing interval, I hope you like mysteries and spelunking and confusion! Because that’s what you got! For whatever reason, Porsche designed a lovely, intuitive dash with logical, clearly marked controls except for two, which they decided would be more fun to make almost invisible, black plastic on a sea of more black plastic in an area with bad lighting, and effectively hide them from you, under the dashboard.
I bet there’s people who have owned 928s for years and had no idea those dials were even under there.
7. It Also Had The Best Interior Trunk Release System I’ve Ever Seen
Okay, so, sure, the dash brightness and wiper delay controls are absurd garbage, but you know what the 928 did better than pretty much anyone? The interior trunk release. You know why? Because they had two, one on each side of the car! That’s so flapjacking convenient I could spit. No more having to clumsily stretch across the car or run around the outside – open either door and there it is, right there on the sill! Brilliant! Why didn’t more cars do it this way?
8. The 928 Had What I think Is The Only Adjustable Door Armrest On Any Car
Can you think of another car that has a door armrest that can be slid out or back to reach your elbow better? I can’t. I guess you could also use it as a storage pocket when it’s pulled all the way out, too. This was a wide car, so I can see how having the ability to pull the door armrest closer to you could be good. Man, they really were thinking of the passengers here, weren’t they?
9. You Could Tow A Boat With One
Yes, there was an official part number for a tow hitch, and, incredibly, for a trailer with brakes, you could tow almost 3,500 pounds with one! That’s the same as the base towing rating for a Toyota Tacoma! What a fancy way to tow a boat. It’d be fun to have one to tow a racing pickup truck, just for the nice opposite-world quality of it all.
9.28. Here’s some video of the 1977 Frankfurt International Auto Show, Where the 928 Was Introduced
I think this video counts as 0.28 of an interesting fact, doesn’t it?
[Editor’s Note: I’d just like to add that the 928 is the next “big thing” in the Porsche world, if I had to guess. Have you seen the Nardone restomod?!:
Man I kinda want one. -DT]