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