Gear: These Are The Porsche Books We're Reading This Fall

These Are The Porsche Books We’re Reading This Fall

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
November 9, 2017
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Regardless of whether it’s been fair to cry bubble on the topic of vintage Porsche pricing in the last decade, it would be a fruitless argument to deny the popularity implied by the values. These things aren’t random; we might have seen a rising tide lifted in part by a few gussied-up rust buckets and shoddy backdates here and there, but on the whole you’re still getting a lot for the money when you find a car worth owning. Compare an air-cooled 911 to other sports cars available in the shared price bracket to see that the value of a Porsche doesn’t come from its 0-60 stat or the G-forces it can hold at speed, but what it feels like to be in the car doing it.

That doesn’t explain it fully though. The driving experience is duly lauded by amateur and professional pilots alike, but so are those delivered by plenty of other cars from other companies. In the case of Porsche, like any brand well revered in its field, a lot of the hoopla comes from the history of the company as well as our ability to experience pieces of it from the comfort of Sport Seats. It’s prominent place in our pop culture is distilled from the engineers and artists who formed the image and impact of the early years, to today’s celebration of that past and its evolution.

I’d guess more than 911 books have been published about that car and its relatives, but this selection is one that offers a refreshing approach to Porsche heritage and culture if you’re tired of the same encyclopedic literature.

Erich Strenger and Porsche: A Graphical Report

Author: Mats Kubiak
Publisher: Delius Klasing
Format: Hardcover, 184 pages
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Besides the cars themselves, the style and outward appearance of Porsche was led in large part by the late Erich Strenger. His is the first name to speak in any discussion on the subject. If you’re familiar with the bold and bright designs of the large format posters the company used to celebrate its consistent victories with the likes of everything from 904s to 917/30s, you know his work already, and in addition to the tremendous amount of posters he would create for Porsche between the early ’50s to the late ’80s, he also penned the original “PORSCHE” typeface, as well as the famous Porsche magazine Christphorus Zeitschrift along with journalist/race car driver Richard von Frankenberg.

He freelanced for Porsche in 1951 and would go on to strike into the company’s DNA a lasting stylistic influence, as well as a broader connection to artwork for the Stuttgart sports and racing car manufacturer. Strenger wrote and illustrated, was a talented photographer, graphic designer, and just an artist of wide scope in general—you could safely call him a modern renaissance man—and in this book Mats Kubiak has chronicled the immense body of work that Strenger produced under the Porsche crest. If you’re interested in the pioneers of graphic design that practiced their craft amongst automobiles, want to know more about a remarkable artist, or are looking to expand your Porsche history repertoire, this covers a lot of ground in it’s beautifully illustrated pages.

Urban Outlaw: Dirt Don’t Slow You Down

Author: Magnus Walker with Martin Roach
Publisher: Transworld Publishers
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
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It’s hard to say whether the heyday of the air-cooled 911 was happening when they were still building them or if we’re currently living in it. With all the different sub-sects that exist in this community often growing larger than the followings behind entire brands, there’s a case to be made that enthusiast support for these cars has never been as deep nor as diverse as it is right now. Perhaps the modern fanbase is just a continuation of the ones prior though, and maybe it’s all more fluid than trying to define certain eras. For instance, it’s not like Magnus Walker was the first dude to build an outlaw Porsche, as from the first model year of the 911 there were people keen on making hot rods.

The most notable thing that Magnus has done isn’t the work on one of the gorgeous builds that make up his enviable collection, or even the collection itself for that matter. It’s the fact that no other person has been able to pass on the enthusiasm like Magnus does. There are other names in the Porschesphere that have been around longer, built more cars, collected many more millions of dollars’ worth of them, and so on, but which of the modern day ambassador and figurehead of the brand is more recognizable than Magnus Walker? Even if you’re a purist who doesn’t prefer his take on classic 911s, he has done more to inspire the current and next generation of air-cooled die-hards than anyone else. He was born into a more low-key life at first though, growing up in Sheffield, England, Magnus was an avid runner and then rocker and then fashion designer and then and then and then. He made his way to America, found Porsche, and inadvertently became one of its contemporary heroes. This is his life story to now, told by Magnus himself. It’s a biography, but there are a series of childhood and other historical photos included if you’re looking for a little illustration to go along.

A Flat 6 Love Affair, Volumes 1 and 2

Author: Bart Kuykens
Publisher: Bart Kuykens
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages each
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View Vol. 2

Bart Kuykens has a knack for photography. His black and white stills give a gorgeous grainy palpability to his subjects, and the results can range from high-contrast high-tension noir-like scenes characterized by hard geometries and harsh light, or they can be soft and intimate, filled with personality and round life. Out of all his work though, we’re suckers for the cars. And Bart’s shot a lot of them, including a massive series that acts as a sort of human-machine anthology of flat-six Porsches. Collected in two volumes, this is the topic of his series A Flat 6 Love Affair. In each book, Bart follows a simple format that makes the volumes consistent summits on our office coffee table stack.

To tell these visual stories, Bart went out and collected an array of Porsche owners deeply involved with their cars, and with just a few basic details—who own’s the car, what the car is, where it is—and a brief single-line backstory or motto of sorts for each, he takes their portraits. It sounds simple, and in a way it is, but these are not the standard magazine angles and studio shots. There is much more depth to be found here, and the use of black and white is both useful for the overall cohesiveness of the collection, it also gives a moody and intriguing view on these cars, piquing your imagination, wordlessly sharing their personal histories with these beloved machines.

Powered by Porsche: The Alternative Race Cars

Author: Roy Smith
Publisher: Veloce Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
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Note: this product ships from Europe, please allow extra time for delivery.

Porsche is well-acquainted with podiums and spraying champagne from before the tradition came to be, and their motorsport exploits are rarely met with anything but championships. Even the most die-hard fans of its rivals must admit the company’s prowess on the track, whether it be paved or otherwise. With a solid foundation of wins accumulated by the dominant 956 and 962, Porsche is the king of Le Mans, and their wild evolutions of the same basic 911 chassis are stamped to racing history in countless forms: 901 to 935.

But besides the winning works teams, the legendary Porsche Systems Engineering appearing on race entry sheets, there were also a ton of cars built and developed from outside the company, but powered by Porsche motors. Support for these teams’ powertrain needs extended Porsche capacity at times, and this brought about a host of replica versions of Porsche race vehicles to be built from yet more 3rd parties. From championship-winning Formula One cars to prototype sports cars and the mighty creations of the Kremer brothers, this book covers the subject exhaustively.

This is the first book to put together such a comprehensive list, and every Porsche-powered racing car that wasn’t built in a backyard (and some that were), are to be found here. It’s a unique perspective on Porsche’s motorsport heritage, and beyond that novelty it’s been exceptionally well put together, with historical data and tons of history on the marques that employed Porsche power all supplemented by the anecdotes from the people who were there to add authenticity and liveliness to the deep referential knowledge thats been compiled.

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