I caught this image in 2007 at Daytona; a hard-fought duel between Jim Torres and Phil Daigrepont was a highlight of the last day of the third Rennsport Reunion. Although we didn’t use the picture in Panorama, I have come back to it many times and marveled over the comparison of two great, but very different Porsche race cars, the 917/30 and the 908/3. Simply put, the 917 seems so massive, the 908 so slight, in a Texas/Rhode Island kind of way, even though the wheelbase of the two cars differs by less than ten percent.
We could talk about image compression related to camera to subject distance, the greater impact of the contrast of the yellow car against the background and that sort of thing, but the 917/30 is still a more massive beast, wider, longer, and heavier. Which brings to mind another question, and suggests a kind of a thought experiment.
What if we staged a similar photograph of an early 911, along with one of about 10 years later, and a third, a car off the showroom floor today? You can imagine that we would again see a very impressive size evolution, this time on the street side of the Porsche family. There are many reasons for girth-gain, regulatory and otherwise, and improvements in performance over time have been impressive and offer a great measure of justification.
Still—wouldn’t you like to have the option of a smaller, lighter, more agile Porsche built with modern techniques and materials? I would.