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Book Reviews: 'Porsche 993: 25 Years' and 'Porsche 356: Made by Reutter'

Friday, December 6, 2019

Article by Benjamin Shahrabani

Title: Porsche 993: 25 Years 1994-2019
Author: Andreas Gabriel, Thomas Nehlert, Manfred Hering
Publisher: Berlin Motor Books
Format: Hardback with slipcover; 360 pages
Where to Buy: Berlin Motor Books
How Much: 93,27 € (~$103)

The “kids" in Stuttgart were not alright in the time period leading up to the Type 993’s introduction. Worldwide sales were down, including the United States where they literally halved, and cash reserves were dwindling from projects that cost great amounts but never crossed the finish line. Moreover, a conservative board of directors were resistant to change Porsche’s flagship 911 too much for fear of alienating model loyalists, and would not permit designers to alter anything above the axle line, meaning the 964 of 1989-94 looked broadly similar to the outgoing G-series.

As luck would have it, a management shakeup in 1988 brought new blood into the company in the form of Ulrich Bez. Bez, a former Porsche R&D engineer who was enticed back to the company from BMW Technik, pressed the board to allow him to redevelop the 964. Along with design chief Harm Lagaaij who Bez brought along with him from BMW, the 911 was pushed further from its roots during a short three-year development process than ever before with the April 1994 introduction of the 993.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the model, Berlin Motor Books has released "Porsche 993: 25 Years 1994-2019," which chronicles the 993 from its development process through end of production. Hewing closely with a similar format and style as the publisher’s previous tomes, this book includes new interviews with key figures in the 993’s development including project manager Bernd Kahnau and designer Tony Hatter. Written simultaneously in English and German, and with cooperation from Porsche, which who opened up its archives to allow previously unseen photographs from the 993’s development, "Porsche: 25 Years" is well-researched and presented with hundreds of photographs, marketing materials, sections on special models, as well as purchasing advice and information.

Likely the most comprehensive work currently extant solely focused on the 993, "Porsche: 25 Years" is printed in a limited edition of just 1,998 copies. 

Title: Porsche 356: Made by Reutter
Author: Frank Jung
Publisher: Delius Klasing
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages
Where to Buy: Delius Klasing
How Much: 39,90 € (~$44)

Founded in 1906, Reutter Karosseriewerke had a long, intimate relationship with Porsche. First contracted to manufacture the bodies for some of Ferdinand Porsche’s earliest designs during the 1930s, Reutter was subsequently engaged to produce bodies for the Volkswagen Beetle, and later for the lightweight and nimble 356, Porsche’s first sports car.

Above, from left: Reutter's factory. Frank Jung, author of the book and Porsche's current head of the company's archive.

Previously available only in the German language and written by Frank Jung — the great-grandson of one of Reutter’s founders as well as the current head of the Porsche Archive — "Porsche 356: Made by Reutter" has now been translated into English. Recounting the early history of the Stuttgart-based coach-building company, Jung’s book spends the bulk of its 336 pages examining Reutter’s rather special partnership with Porsche and the development of the 356’s body with its jet-age silhouette and profusion of rounded, windswept forms. 

With what must have been unprecedented access to both Reutter and Porsche archives, "Porsche 356: Made by Reutter" is exceptionally well-researched and contains a plethora of unpublished documents and photographs that help illustrate the close cooperation between the two companies that lasted all the way until 1963 when the Reutter factory was acquired by Porsche, and what was left of the company was renamed Recaro, which refocused its operations to car seat manufacture. Recommended and should be considered required reading for the Porsche historian or anybody with interest in the 356.

Average: 5 (1 vote)