Porsche 989 concept car (1991)

© Porsche

After Porsche's peak sales of more than 53.000 cars in 1985/86 (1986 model year) everything looked brilliant, but the sales started to drop sharply, mostly in USA which had earlier contributed to more than half of the sales. Porsche needed new cars. The project of the 984 Junior sports car was dropped and a bit later new hopes were set on the 4-door 989.

The head of the 989 project was Ulrich Bez. He returned to Porsche in the end of 1988 after being the director of BMW Technik and contributing to the BMW Z1. At Porsche, Bez started to lead Porsche's research and development department in Weissach.

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Porsche 989 in CAD
CAD model in the eighties - cool!© Porsche
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1:4 scale model of the Porsche 989 body
1:4 scale model made of rigid foam© James Herne
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Building of a Porsche 989 full size model
One of the mock-ups in the making© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design model
Photo made in 1989 in Weissach. You wonder what is going on with the rear end? It is rather usual that two different front or rear ends were built into one clay model to evaluate which design to choose.© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design model
Another mock-up© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design model
And another one (all are different - check the rear door's rear end or the rear lamp). This version was selected.© Porsche
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Porsche 989 clay model
This is another version not shown above. The rear end extends further back and the rear lamp shape is different. So, we have four or five 989 versions here.© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design model
© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design model
Note the 17" wheels. Sorry for bad photo quality - it was extracted from an old video made around 1990.© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design models
989 mock-ups lined up. The fourth silver car is a design ordered from Italdesign and called Porsche 932.© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size design models
© Porsche
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Porsche 989 full size model in wind tunnel
Wind tunnel testing of a mock-up© Porsche
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Porsche 989 rear spoiler test in wind tunnel
Rear spoiler tested in the wind tunnel© Porsche
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Building of a Porsche 989 full size model
Building of a mock-up that will have an interior© Porsche
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Building of a Porsche 989 full size model
© Porsche
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Painting of a Porsche 989 full size model
Painting the mock-up© Porsche
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Porsche 989 doors open
© Porsche
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Porsche 989 with 17
© Porsche
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Porsche 989 rear seats
© Porsche
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Porsche 989 doors open
© Porsche
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Porsche 989
© Porsche

The 989 with its front-mounted V8, was supposed to be launched in 1995 to replace the 928. A 2-door 989 Cabriolet with 4 full-size seats was also planned.

The development had already cost around 150.000.000 DM and the funds dried up because of Porsche's ever dropping sales that had fallen more than 3 times by 1991 compared to the peak sales in 1986 model year. Porsche didn't have the money to build the 989 in a way such a project needed. The 4-wheel-drive and the rear-axle steering were considered as a must to compete with the competitors, but Porsche's finances didn't allow that. Ferdinand Piëch, the grandchild of F. Porsche and part-owner of the Porsche company, liked the 989, but had his influence in cancelling the project in 1991. In addition to Porsche's financial worries, Piëch was the CEO of Audi, had launched the Audi V8 4-door 4WD performance sedan a few years earlier and was creating the successor, the Audi A8 at the same time. The 989 would compete with the Audi A8.

The expensive rear multi-link suspension, first developed for the 984 and then for the 989, finally went into production with the 993 generation 911, as well as did the headlamp design. The rear end design of the 989 saw its life in the 996 generation 911.

Although the 4-door Porsche project was terminated, for the future use a patent was filed on October 25, 1991. On the patent document is Porsche designer Harm M. Lagaay and the description says "a sports car embodying my novel design". Patent term was 14 years.

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Porsche 989 patent
Patent filed in 1991 and registered in 1993© Porsche

Later, when Ulrich Bez became the CEO of Aston Martin, he oversaw the creation of the 4-door Aston Martin Rapide.


The 989 in Porsche Museum collection

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Porsche 989 front spoiler
© James Herne
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Porsche 989 concept car
Photographed at the Porsche Museum© James Herne
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Porsche 989
© James Herne
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Underneath the Porsche 989 mock-up
This is how the mock-up looks from underneath© James Herne
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Underneath the Porsche 989 mock-up
© James Herne
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Porsche 989 rear end
© James Herne
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Porsche 989 rear view
Note the rear spoiler that would come up at speed© James Herne
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Porsche 989 interior, seat headrests
© James Herne
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Porsche 989
© James Herne
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17
Were these wheels originally designed for the 989 and later used on the 993, or are they fitted here as a later tuning? © James Herne
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Porsche 989
© James Herne
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Porsche 989 headlamp
© James Herne

The mock-up was repainted around 2016 and the PORSCHE-lettering was not fixed on the rear anymore.

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Porsche 989
© Porsche
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Porsche 989 interior
The driver seat must have been lost as only the passenger seat is the right 989 seat © Porsche
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Porsche 989 nose
© Porsche

Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com

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