- in the six years since the debut of the porsche 918 spyder, we've been waiting for porsche to unveil a successor to that vaunted hypercar.
- we thought we had found a design for a new model that would follow in the footsteps of the carrera gt and 918 spyder in a patent application on the german patent and trademark database.
- turns out the design was for a car we'd already seen: the 917 living legend concept that porsche showed off last year.
at the top of a list of "things that are worth getting excited about" is any hint at the possibility of a potential porsche 918 spyder successor. understandably, we got really excited when we found a design patent from porsche. it depicted a supercar that looked like a road-ready version of the 917 living legend concept that porsche unveiled last year. we reached out to porsche for a comment on the design patents for this supercar and their response was deflating, to say the least. let us explain.
porsche's supercars are few and far between, but well worth the wait; just take a look at what they've blessed the automotive world with since the turn of the century. the porsche carrera gt came out in 2004, a solid 16 years ago. that car's mid-mounted aluminum v-10 displaced a healthy 5.7 liters and produced an even healthier 605 horsepower and 435 lb-ft of torque. the best part was that it came only with a six-speed manual transmission and took carbon fiber and weight-saving technology to fresh heights.
ten years later, porsche dropped a hybrid bomb in the absolutely gorgeous and stupid fast 918 spyder. on the razor’s edge when it came to car technology of the time, the spyder had a gas-electric hybrid powertrain pairing a naturally aspirated 4.6-liter v-8 with two electric motors for a total system output of 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque. it laid down a blistering zero-to-60-mph time of 2.1 seconds, a number that stands as the fastest car and driver has ever tested. in the six years since we tested that car, nothing has gone as fast, and it took four years before the 918's lightning lap record for fastest lap at virginia international raceway (vir) was broken by three cars in 2018. the 918 spyder is a testament to what porsche can do from a technological and design standpoint. since the last 918 rolled off the production line, we’ve been waiting (quite patiently) for another car of that caliber from stuttgart.
looking at these drawings on the german patent and trademark database, it occurred to us that they could be for that eagerly awaited new supercar from porsche. the designs appear to be for a mid-engined long, low, and lean supercar. in fact, it looks almost exactly like the 917 living legend concept that porsche created to celebrate 50 years since the original le mans–winning 917 was introduced. the 917 living legend concept is a modernized take on that famous 917k, painted in the same red-and-white livery as the no. 23 car piloted by hans hermann and richard attwood in 1970. the concept is undeniably attractive: so good-looking that you forget that it doesn’t have headlights.
the designs in the patent are nearly identical, but with actual headlights, plus wheels that aren't from the 918 spyder. most of the design features are very similar, especially the rear fascia and side profiles. c/d contacted porsche for comment, but the automaker's spokesperson said the patent filing was in fact for the 917 living legend concept and clarified, "there is no connection with a potential future sports car."
sure we’re disappointed, but let’s look a little deeper at what porsche has put out there. the 917 living legend concept is a thoroughly modern take on an ultimate classic despite being a simple clay model that was designed in the span of six months in 2013, when the 918 spyder was still in pre-production stages. in the design patents that have been filed, there is exponentially more detail to the car: you can see an interior, a more pronounced rear end, vents, a fan in the engine area, and a suspension system. furthermore, there is not just one design patent, but two. both models have the same basic design, but one is a more track-focused variant, with some pretty serious aerodynamic elements, like what appears to be an adjustable rear spoiler, a roof scoop, wide side skirts, and a pronounced front splitter with end plates.
the existence of two designs could have pointed to a race car that was set to compete in the upcoming hypercar class at le mans; the other, tamer one could be the road car. it would probably be a gasoline-electric hybrid, using technology from the all-electric porsche taycan. as far as price goes, we'd speculate a number in the seven figures, priced in the same range as car including the mercedes-amg one and the mclaren speedtail. but alas, this is just a dream, or so we’ve been led to believe.