The multiverse has gone mainstream. From multiple recent Marvel films playing with inter-dimensional travel to Everything Everywhere All At Once cleaning up at the Academy Awards, the human curiosity of alternate timelines is intense right now. Of course, Porsche couldn’t sit this one out. At Austin’s South by Southwest festival, the marque unveiled an art car that poses a very interesting question: What if the 928 continued to be sold alongside the 996?
First, a bit of background if you’re not hugely familiar with the 928. This big front-engined V8 flagship was originally intended to replace the iconic 911. We all know how that went. Still, it packed star power alongside Tom Cruise in Risky Business, was powered by a water-cooled V8, and sent power to a transaxle mounted between the rear wheels. The 928 also had sun visors for the rear passengers, which was gloriously weird.
Anyway, 928 production ran from 1977 to 1995, which is a long time. Most cars should be long-in-the-tooth after 18 years of production, but the GT car climate of 1995 was unique. The Jaguar XJS was still in production and the Aston Martin DB7 was built on an evolution of the ancient XJS platform. Japanese GTs like the Mark 4 Toyota Supra and Mitsubishi 3000GT weren’t as plush as the European competition, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe was massive, so aside from the BMW 8-Series, there wasn’t much in the way of modern direct competition. However, the times were changing at Porsche, and the 928 was discontinued to make way for the more profitable 986 Boxster and upcoming 996 water-cooled 911.
Still, artists Daniel Arsham (whose crystal-car exhibit our editor David Tracy recently visited) and Khyzyl Saleem wanted to imagine a 928 for Y2K, and Porsche’s exhibition at this year’s South by Southwest event offered a crack at the concept. It’s called the 928 Nebula Car and it pairs turn-of-the-millennium aesthetics with old-school bones. For a start, the earth tones of the 1970s are out in favor of a fantastic metallic mauve. It’s the sort of color that makes you believe that anyone who doesn’t like it has a lump of coal for a heart. Porsche had all sorts of great main-line colors in the 1990s from Riviera Blue to Ocean Jade Metallic, so it’s entirely plausible that this outlandish mauve could be part of a main color palette.
The art car retains the 928’s iconic pop-up headlamps, but the front and rear fascias are all-new and all-curvy. You can see a bit of Luigi Colani in areas like the rear lamps, organic shapes that bubble with the optimistic zeitgeist of the late-’90s. There’s inspiration from technology too – ports in the front fascia are reminiscent of reflex ports you might see on home audio equipment.
Granted, there are a few details that are pure show car outlandishness. The six-spoke wheels calling back to the 1989 Panamericana concept are likely a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, and both the steering wheel and shift knob don’t look particularly ergonomic. Oh, and if you thought the outside of the car was purple, wait until you see the interior. How many Grimaces were killed to upholster that dashboard?
However, this 928 is an art car, so the misshapen gear knob and when-pigs-fly steering wheel can be forgiven. We’re looking at something that’s less a useful object and more of a concept from an alternate universe. What’s more, it draws attention to the 928, a car often thought of as a lesser Porsche. Sure, it isn’t cooled by air, doesn’t carry its engine behind the driver, and is rarely seen equipped with a manual gearbox, but it’s a remarkably advanced classic GT that deserves proper respect.
(Photo credits: Porsche, Khyzyl Saleem)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.
The Future Of Porsche Involves Three Electric SUVs And Even Wilder Specs
Porsche’s New Magnesium Engine Parts For Vintage 911s Are Here To Fix An Old, Troubling Problem
Porsche Netherlands Has Reincarnated The Legendary ‘Renndienst’ Racing Support Vans Of The ’60s Using An ID.Buzz
Our Daydreaming Designer Attempts To Fix The Porsche 914’s Design To Appeal To The Haters
Porsche’s New 357 Concept Is Supposed To Be An Homage To The 356, But It’s Just A Blob
Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.
Is it bad camera angles or bad body work and paint?
The rear bumper cover looks like it doesn’t fit. The door doesn’t seem to match up properly at either end. Even the gas filler lid doesn’t seem to fit properly. It looks like it was built by a high school shop class.
This looks like a SEMA car for an accessory supplier that went out of business when ‘Altezza’ lights went out of style.
I like the new front end…. but…. you’re correct, “it’s a remarkably advanced classic GT that deserves proper respect”. Unfortunately, it didn’t get from the artists. Art Car or not, a simple updating of a great design would have been sufficient.
The new front end is fine, but…. the big glowing “Nebula” out back is garish, giant wings on a street car are always ridiculous, Saab had the same three-spoke wheels and they didn’t look good then, the “misshapen gear knob and when-pigs-fly steering wheel” can NOT be forgiven, nor can the way too gaudy speaker grills or the purple pimp-mobile velour.
GOOD PARSH ALERT
(I can’t wait for comments with images so I can post my Puffalump sitting on this.)
Purple is the best car color. Especially on German cars.
For the obligatory Risky Business reference, you really should have written “…was powered by a water-logged V8…”
Who is the U-Boat commander?
Ya know, they did a great job with the front end and especially the lighting.
And then they just… I… words fail me. That rear end is just… oof.
And then they got to the interior, ran out of money, and consulted the wrong decades. Seriously. All it’s missing is the $99 BestBuy stereo with detachable faceplate and 2500 lumens of blue LEDs, shag carpeting, and Crown Royal logo on the bag over the shifter.
I have to agree with you on this one.
The rear looks like a lazy-effort prop for Back to the Future II. While that biplane wing is somewhat reminiscent of Porsche’s 935 racing wings, it just looks so incongruent with the 928’s shape.
And the interior looks like Xzibit ran out of time pimping a ride and just grabbed 10 bolts of the first purple fabric he saw at a Jo Ann Fabrics and spray glued it over everything that wasn’t carpeted or white. And I don’t want to know kind of sex toy that gear-shift knob is from.
Not only that, but it’s a terrible mishmash of completely incongruous – and much more importantly – completely period incorrect styling.
Like seriously. Go look at literally any early 2000’s concept car. Do you see ridiculous LED lighting on any of them? You do not. You absolutely do not ever. The first car that shot to the top of my ‘2000’s concepts’ list with a rocket? Dodge Copperhead. The mini-Viper. Does it have tail lights that go six miles off the company playbook with a bunch of sparkle LEDs in them? Nope. It has bulbs and ‘smoked’ red plastic. 1999 Dodge Charger R/T concept? Same. Cadillac had some LEDs with the Sixteen, but they were entirely in line with corporate styling.
Somebody please show me a single Porsche grand tourer that has four circular rear lights. Any model, any year. Anybody. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
And forget the shift knob. They couldn’t even be bothered to fit the boot correctly, OR put the interior back together. No, seriously. Look at the center stack. That’s just straight up not correctly assembled! The knobs on the bottom are supposed to protrude significantly. I mean, holy shit, if you’re going to go full send with a mishmash of 1970s shag, 1980s center stack, early 1990s wheel, and 2020s lighting, at least put things back together right!
It’s completely over the top and I dig it.
I always liked the 928. It was family/touring version of the 911. Even with all the failed Top Gear ones, Jeremy Clarkson liked them because it brought back memories of his father.
When I saw this on instagram I assumed it was painted in the somewhat 80’s/90’s period Porsche colour Cassis. Porsche has a modern take on it that colour (I think Matt Farah’s Boxster Spyder is painted in it) but cannot remember the name of it.
Frozen Berry Metallic