Pinky Lai’s masterpiece

In my day job as an inventor/product designer, I see lots of manufactured products. Some of them have great features, some are massively overhyped. There are only a tiny number that I wish I’d designed myself. The 996 variant of the 911 is one of that select few.

Until it appeared on Pinky Lai’s drawing board, Porsches had a brutally functional look. It didn’t matter about those flat-facing headlights because the engineers knew they didn’t make very much difference to the drag coefficient. With the 996, they accepted they had to come up with something that would sell…not just to super-cool racer types but everyone who wanted a performance car they could drive daily…and enjoy looking at as well.

Lai’s design went further than the engineers ever would. Some of the aspects of his approach made manufacture more difficult thanĀ  before. Since the 996, many of these elements (which also work together so well) have been softened or moderated in later variants.

Here are a few of my most favourite 996 design aspects:


What a fantastic shape that rear end is. Personally, I like the narrower Porsche rears, but that’s a matter of taste (eg this just looks odd, to me). This to me looks both powerful and subtle.


That bonnet seam. Wow I like the way it flows and twists down the front of the car. More recently replaced by much less interesting lines, I’m afraid.

doorThere is no real need for the door seam to run rearwards as much as it does, but this really works and plays off against the rear window (which thankfully has stayed much the same through all 911s).

headlampLastly, I love the way the headlamps suddenly dip away from the body…just like the tip of a samurai sword (he said, getting carried away).

What are your favourite bits of your favourite car? Do leave a comment or two below.


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