For a car that never entered production, the Porsche 989 has shown surprising endurance. Ferdinand Porsche had first floated the idea of a Porsche touring sedan in the late 1960s, but for some time the closest the company came to producing one was with the Porsche 928, a 2+2 coupe that was built for 15 years. The 989 concept took its first bow in 1988 and was intended to enter production in the early ’90s.
Several factors would conspire against the 989. First among these was the declining sales numbers for the 928, which made the bean counters at Porsche think twice about debuting a similar—but larger and more expensive—car. The second factor was a decline in overall Porsche sales around the time of the 989’s unveiling. Third, and perhaps decisively, engineer Ulrich Bez—who had championed the car and whose design input was instrumental in bringing it to fruition—left the company late in 1991. By the beginning of the following year, Porsche quietly pulled the plug on the project.
However, all was not lost. Elements of the 989 persisted in many of the Porsche cars that followed, from the 993 to the 996 generation of the Porsche 911. However, one car more than any other picks up where the Porsche 989 left off more than 20 years before. When the Porsche Panamera entered production in 2009, it was clear that there was much about it that was directly inspired by the 989. That influence continues to this day in the 2015 Porsche Panamera, which you can find here at Porsche of Nashua. It’s proof that Porsche is willing to work for years—decades, even—tweaking, tuning, and perfecting until the design and the time are right.