The ultimate race car for the road? Porsche unveils its secret hypercar

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Words: Matthew Hansen
12 Nov 2020

With the FIA World Endurance Championship’s next-gen ‘Hypercar’ regulations around the corner, we’ve started to see more manufacturers produce incredible Le Mans–style hybrid hypercars for the road. Toyota is in the process of doing it, as is Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin. And, if things had panned out a little differently, Porsche would’ve done it, too.

The storied German firm has revealed a series of concept vehicles formerly under wraps, one of which is the 919 Street. It’s based on the team’s very successful LMP1 919 Hybrid — the car that Kiwis Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber were able to steer to glory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While it was never formally unveiled as a concept (the LMP1 919 having been confined to history by Porsche and Volkswagen Group’s decision to pull out of the WEC), it certainly made it fairly far down the pipe of being a real-world thing. Porsche went to the level of producing a full-scale clay model of the 919 Street, which is what’s depicted in these pictures here.

The Street looks like a 919 racer that’s simply had its dial turned back from 11 to 10. It removes most of the rear wing ensemble, with the car’s lengthways-mounted rear fin only spanning the driver cell. It’s a beautiful looking car; balancing the aggressive stance, fins, and vents of a race car with reserved and tasteful styling cues in a way only Porsche can do.

The later revolves around the way Porsche grafted some of its road-car trinkets to the 919’s exterior. Things like the rear tail light — an LED bar that spans the width of the car and evokes the Panamera, Taycan, and others. The headlights, too, make it clear that the little 919 is from the same family as other Porsches like the Macan and Cayenne.

Porsche had pictured the 919 Street using a version of the 2.0-litre V4 hybrid powertrain from the race car, meaning it would have produced an aggregate power figure of around 750kW. Porsche also says that, should it have made it to the production phase, the 919 Street would have used the same carbon-fibre monocoque architecture as the racer.

The 919 Street isn’t the only concept Porsche to be shown off as part of the firm’s little reveal. It’s also shown off a diminutive convertible called the Vision Spyder. It too was effectively a design study concept left on the cutting room floor.

The Vision Spyder is a homage to the firm’s 550-1500 RS Spider from the 1950s. Like the original, the modern interpretation has small dimensions (we assume, that is. None have been provided), and a few clear touches designed to point to the brand’s motorsport pedigree. These include the splashes of red and the numbers featured in some press images.

There’s also a few references to the late James Dean, who owned a 550 Spyder — a car he’d sadly lose his life in. It had a Mobil ‘pegasus’ logo on its side, which Porsche replicated on this concept. The ‘Little Rebel’ sign on the number plate is also a Dean reference; the Hollywood actor and car enthusiast nicknaming his 550 ‘Little Bastard’.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Vision Spyder, though, is how on first glance it doesn’t necessarily look like a Porsche. This is the nature of ‘design studies’, I suppose — it’s about trying to find future looks, rather than regurgitating what’s already been done. The vertical headlights, for example, aren’t something you’ll find on any other Porsche.

However, if you look at it long enough, you’ll find certain details. The two bold, square vents on the flanks of the front fascia look slightly 911 GT2 RS. There’s also a similar full-width LED tail light, just like the aforementioned 919 Street.

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