Porsche 356: the outlaw


They call it an outlaw. And that’s why we like it. But it has nothing to do with legality. It has everything to do with orthodoxy.

When the concours-fetishists denigrate cars who don’t take originality to be the quintessence of car culture, what they’re really doing is being wholly unimaginative. For them, as it was is as it should be. The fact that a car rolled out of a factory in a certain form half a century or more ago, means that this must be how a car should stay. Forever, goes the thinking, this product of a hugely complex industrial process must be an end-point in itself.

It’s impossible, it is reckoned, to improve on an original, and to extend that it must be impossible to think about a simulacra being anything but a fake – that a copy could not possibly surpass an original. So when people like Emory began to to create customised Porsche 356s some time in the early 1980s, it got up a few peoples’ noses.

The purity of the 356 form surely couldn’t possibly be improved upon, could it? How wrong could one be? The fact is that the very purity, the lasting lecacy of Porsche’s flowing, unsullied design itself that creates that uniquely perfect context upon which a creative imagination can weave its magic.

Subtle Stancing. Cleaned type and badge-work. Race-style modifications like leather hood straps, emboldened steels or other alloys – only enhance the beauty of Ferdinand Porsche’s clean design. Purity of form allows for and accommodates flourishes of human imagination – and the integrity of the 356’s admittedly brilliant design and engineering can of course be augmented by the inclusion of up-to-date parts and accessories which, funnily enough, flow relatively easily into these almost seventy year old cars.

And, this, after all, is the age of the hybrid. Not only in terms of the proliferation of AFVs, but in terms of the cross-fertilisation of all thngs. In a world where communication is instant, where we can express ourselves to the entire world, sharing aesthetics, values and influences – it is impossible to think that originality will continue to be the sort of value traded by many of us.

So let’s celebrate the Outlaw as the realm of the here and the now. Let’s celebrate the fact that imaginaton and technology CAN actually create something of lasting value. Lets leave the originals to the age in which they were created.