Porsche was a bit sensitive about the controversy generated by the 928’s styling, taking great pains to explain its benefits to customers and dealers alike: “The 928 was designed to have as many Porsche styling points as possible and to be clearly different from other sports cars,” said a 1978 dealer training booklet. “Then there was the safety legislation [to consider]. . . . And, of course, acceptable aerodynamic values had to be reached. . . .
“The 928 styling with a fastback is an intentional continuation of Porsche tradition in that it is aerodynamically superior, because of the comparative short front end and a gently tapered and rounded tail, guaranteeing low air turbulence. As well as improving directional stability, the large-surface tail end also means a large passenger compartment and an outstanding amount of headroom for rear seat passengers in a sports car. We also believe that rounded forms are more interesting than clean-cut lines, which can be absorbed immediately and do not have anything new to offer the observer. The 928 looks different from each angle and remains interesting.”
The Porsche 928's lay-flat/pop-up headlights were a most distinct styling feature.
Porsche suggested that its sales people offer this retort to prospects dubious about the looks: “Naturally, every observer will need a certain amount of time to get accustomed to the unusual styling of the 928; but a car which is technically different from other cars has the right to look different, don’t you agree?” Styling director Lapine later allowed that even Dr. Fuhrmann didn’t like the 928 when he first saw it, though he did later.
As time passed, the 928 no longer seemed so strange. As Lapine intended, time and tastes caught up with it, “worn-bar-of-soap” shape, curvy flanks, body-color bumpers, flared wheel-arches, and all. Even the side-window shapes would be rendered commonplace by imitators like the mid-Eighties Chrysler Laser/Dodge Daytona.
One element was borrowed: exposed headlamps that “stood up” when switched on and “lay down” (in recesses) when switched off, resting just below hood/fender level. At least Porsche borrowed from one of the best, the magnificent mid-engine Lamborghini Miura of the late Sixties. As Porsche explained, the design had advantages, enhancing aerodynamics while ensuring that the headlights were cleaned each time the car was washed. Also, the design was cheaper to build than the hidden lamps of the 924 and later 944. But most of all, it made for an unforgettable face, which may explain why lay-back lights appeared on the 944’s restyled 1992 successor, the 968. Something else not found on most other cars were separate driving and fog lamps, catering to most every nighttime condition.
A rear wing gave sharp definition to the Porsche 928s collection of round forms.
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