For many years, Excellence Was Expected, the book on Porsche’s models, motorsport, company history and much more, has been regarded as the final word on the subject. That accolade was well justified because the author, Karl Ludvigsen, has been working in the automotive world all his life, as author and historian, co-author, editor, consultant and as an executive with GM, Fiat and Ford.
During the sixty years that he has worked in these fields, he has written or co-authored some five dozen books, and needless to say, they are all about cars and the motor industry, Karl’s life-long passion. His writing skills have not just been limited to one marque, or one aspect of motoring, they have included model histories, motorsport, driver biographies, the automotive industry, and photography. Some of the marques he has written on include: Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Maserati, Ferrari, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford GT40, Volkswagen, Cunningham, Chaparral and more. Karl Ludvigsen has received many awards for his writing and been recognised by the motor industry for his contribution to research and commentary in Europe and the USA over many decades. In 2002, the Society of Automotive Historians bestowed on him its highest accolade, that of ‘Friend of Automotive History’.
All of this vast automotive experience has placed the author in an ideal position to conduct relevant research, and to build a valuable network of contacts around the world. Such exposure at senior management level and above, has brought the author into contact with a great many key people within the world of Porsche, which has in turn benefitted the reader immeasurably. It is then perhaps not surprising that one the finest books on Porsche, Excellence Was Expected, now in its fourth edition, comes from the pen of this author.
Released in 2019, this new edition builds on the fine reputation of the first edition (a single volume) which was published in 1977, the second edition (three volumes) appeared in 2003, while the third, an enlarged edition (three volumes) was published in 2008. The new edition however, now increased in size to four volumes, took five years to complete, longer than any of his previous editions.
For this fourth edition, Ludvigsen researched Porsche archival material previously unavailable, conducted fresh in-depth interviews, and unearthed many new facts that allowed revised and sometimes surprising interpretations of many aspects of the Porsche company and its cars. This new publication is very far from just adding a few extra chapters to cover the new models produced since the third edition of the book.
Now comprising 2834 pages (1000 additional pages) and almost 3000 photos and illustrations, every page of this all-new publication has been revised and redesigned. It includes hundreds of new colour photos and illustrations, with twelve new chapters covering the 911 (Types 991 and 992), 918 Spyder, 919 Hybrid, and the Taycan. There are ten new chapters with updated coverage of the Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne, Macan, and Panamera, and 32 new ‘Focus’ chapters highlighting fascinating people and rare Porsche cars through the decades. There is also an updated Competition Victories appendix.
Excellence was Expected is both remarkable and renowned for its breadth of coverage and its technical depth, as the book covers every road and racing car from the first Gmünd coupe through the development of the 2020 all-electric Taycan. For instance, thirty chapters are devoted to tracing the evolution of the iconic Porsche 911 from its conception in 1962 to the cutting-edge technology in the current 992-platform. Porsche is undisputedly the world’s largest race car manufacturer, and given the manufacturer’s rich competition history, no less than 44 chapters cover this aspect of the company’s activities. The author takes the reader on a tour of Porsche’s impressive list of motorsport achievements, from the 550 Spyder’s class win in the 1954 Mille Miglia to the 919 Hybrid’s third consecutive overall win at Le Mans in 2017.
In a discussion with the author, he pointed out that by studying the Preface to the new edition, you can find all of the additional material that is included in this latest printing. For instance, VW’s agreement to subsidise Porsche’s early motorsport activities on condition that they retained an air-cooled engine, and other incidents are also seen in a sharper light due to new information that has come to hand. Although Reutter built Porsche’s early 356 bodies, this was not a foregone conclusion as there were other players in the frame for the contract. Fascinating facts about many of Porsche’s engine projects have been uncovered, such as the V8 engine designed for Rolls-Royce in the 1970s, the 5-cylinder Audi engine that nearly powered the 924 and the V10 that could have powered the 928. Details of Porsche’s proposal for a 700-mph turbine-powered vehicle to contest the land speed record is also revealed. There is so much that is either new or newly interpreted in this book, that reading Excellence was Expected will become an education. [full_width]Excellence was Expected is divided into four roughly equal volumes: Book 1: Surpassing Expectations (1948-1971)
Highlights in Book 1: Designs for others; Porsche becomes an automaker; The 356 on the road; Four-cam Porsches; Porsche in Formula I; “Big Porsche” plans abandoned; Birth of the 911; Contesting the big races; Porsche model timeline Book 2: Hitting the Apex (1967-1989)
Highlights in Book 2: The mid-engined 914; 917 and victory at Le Mans; Return of the Carrera; Turbo 911s; The front-engined Porsches; Porsche builds a V-8; Racing in Group C; Porsche model timeline Book 3: Comeback (1982-2008)
Highlights in Book 3: 944 proves a winner; Porsche’s 959 supercar; Formula I engine supplier; Last of the air-cooled 911s (993); Boxster success (986); A new 911 (996); Cayenne SUV; Carrera GT; Porsche model timeline Book 4: 21st Century (2002-2020)
Highlights in Book 4: RS Spyders compete in LMP2; Mid-engine Cayman; 997, 991 and 992; GT3 R Hybrid; 4-door Porsche: Panamera; Boxster/Cayman update (981); Cayenne E22; 918 Spyder; Macan market success; Domination by 919 E-Hybrid; Taycan for the future; Porsche model timeline[/full_width]
Having reviewed numerous of Karl Ludvigsen’s books previously, one of the things that has always impressed is how well he is able to describe an aspect of history, or explain the workings of a complex mechanical component. The author’s skill is not just in how easily he does this, but how smoothly the text flows, making it a pleasure for the reader to follow. This new edition of Excellence was Expected, continues in this same quality vein as all previous editions.
In a nutshell, Ludvigsen’s masterful rework of a well-known classic presents the reader with an unrivalled history of the Porsche company, its cars, and its rich motor racing heritage. There is simply no other publication as comprehensive and all-inclusive as Excellence was Expected, I think there will be little argument that this title deserves the accolade of the best in its field.
So, without further ado, you may want to make space on your bookshelf for the 4-volume set of Porsche:Excellence was Expected. The four books together will make a heavy addition to your book shelves, so some reinforcement may be necessary. The financial outlay required is by no means insignificant, but this acquisition would be an investment not an expense, and the 4-volume set could be all you need on the Porsche front for the foreseeable future. It is simply the final word on the all-inclusive subject of Porsche.
Porsche: Excellence was Expected
17 September 2019
2836 pages, four-volume set
2912 photos, diagrams and illustrations
272 x 235 mm (9 in. x 10.5 in.) portrait, hardcover
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