Off radar

The Fallen Stars
Porsche Panamericana

Extravaganza at the Porsche Museum

Photo credit: Porsche, Wheelsage

In 1989, Ferry Porsche, the son of Ferdinand and the originator of the manufacturing adventure of the Stuttgart company, received this one-off car that even today, anyone would love to receive as a gift for his or her 80th birthday. Named “Panamericana” in celebration of the success of the Porsche 550 Spyder in the sports-car class of the 1954 Carrera, the car features several stylistic touches that evoked difficult terrain without losing its sporty character. 

Specific interventions on the base 911 car make the shape of the Porsche Panamericana decidedly muscular

The open fendered body panels housed large 17-inch wheels which, just to underline the refinement at play here, were fitted with one-of-a-kind special tyres with the Porsche logo stamped in the tread pattern, and the fact that they were largely uncovered gave the car its unique character, while the roof featured the “double bubble” treatment made famous over the years by Zagato. The curious thing is that the car, which looks like a coupe, is actually a hybrid, and users could transform it into a coupe, a convertible, or a Targa giving great lightness to the whole. The dual separate rear grille is a magnificent detail, as is the reduced front section that makes it more streamlined. 

1989. A serious Porsche Ferry, even if he was happy in his heart, receives his 80th birthday present

However, it remained a unique example, inspiring later models such as the Targa version of the 993, with a similar roof opening and the 911 R (991), which featured the double bubble roofline. The mechanics were derived from the all-wheel drive Porsche 964 Carrera 4, as was the powertrain, a 250hp flat-6. Today it is proudly on display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

Hans Herrmann competing at the 1954 Carrera Panamericana with the Porsche 550 Spyder
A triumphant parade after the arrival: the small 1500cc won the Sports Car class and was ranked third overall
The complete opening of the roof makes the Panamericana a fascinating roadster
The pronounced cut if the nose, combined with a set-up that was also suitable for off-road use strongly characterizes the Panamericana. Note the shape of the famous Porsche shield carved into the tyres
The engine is the classic rear-mounted flat-6, capable of 250hp just like the one that powered the 964 Carrera 4
This side view highlights just how much the soul of the 911 was maintained despite the courageous interpretation of this fascinating one-off