The Porsche Panamera is the super-luxury four-door performance car in the brand’s line-up. It’s quite the money-maker for the brand, surpassing sales of the 911, although not as strong as the Cayenne did after its introduction. But, as we are about to find out, it isn’t the first four-door coupe-styled car that carried the brand’s badge. There’s an obscure 1968 custom-built four-door 911 intended as a Christmas present you might have never heard of before.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Porsche’s 4-door luxury car, the Panamera. Together with the Cayenne, this is Porsche’s bread and butter, outselling the 911 by quite a margin. But did you know that this isn’t the first four-door Porsche they’ve made, apart from their SUV’s? Porsche’s history has featured a number of four-door concepts based on the 911 and the 928, for instance. But never made it to the road. Apart from one, although not officially built by Porsche, and it is a weirdly obscure one-off.
It was built in 1968 and is known as the Porsche 911 Troutman & Barnes, and it is equal parts weird and wonderful at the same time. It was the idea of William J. Dick Jr, co-owner of a Texas-based Porsche distributor. He asked Porsche repeatedly to build him a four-door 911 but they never did. So, naturally, he decided to have one built by Troutman & Barnes, a custom car shop in Culver City, California and wanted it to be a Christmas present for his wife.
So this one-off 911 is not an official product from Porsche but it was built on an original 911 chassis, using original 911 parts as much as possible and the result is… odd, really. After carefully deciding where to hack it up, 21 extra inches were inserted. Two more doors were installed, the roofline geometry was rearranged, a second row of seats was built by Porsche upon special request, and a walnut wood trim was installed. Oddly enough, the back doors open up backwards in order to keep the original handles without having to alter too much. The total conversion allegedly cost more than a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Sadly though, the car was lost and has never been found to this day.
But the story of four-door Porsches doesn’t end there, as others have emerged prior to the Cayenne and Panamera. In 1989 they built the Porsche 989 concept, which looks nothing more than another stretched 911 with more room in the back. Despite these inconspicuous looks, underneath a big change was planned. The flat-6 of the 911 was ditched in favour of Porsche’s newly developed 4.5 litre V8 to be mounted in the front. Making 350 horsepower, on paper this proved an interesting and very potent concept with a top speed of 173 mph or almost 280 kph. The project was cancelled in 1992 before reaching production, as Porsche ran out of money during the economic downturn.
In 1991, while the 989 was still being developed, legendary automotive design studio ItalDesign tempted Porsche with the 932 Panamera II Study. In essence, this was nothing more than a restyled concept from ItalDesign, which previously was badged as the Seat Proto TL. It was never shown to the public and resides in the archives of Porsche in Stuttgart. Very little images can be found of this four-door design study.
All in all, it would be another two decades before Porsche would build their first four-door production car, the Cayenne, with the Panamera following a few years later. This year, the electric Taycan completed the line-up of Porsches with more than two doors.
More information on the 1967 Porsche 911 Troutman & Barnes can be found on DriveTribe and this original 1968 Road & Track article. The Porsche 989 concept is explained on Porsche-USA.com as part of the Porsche Top Secret segment covering some of their most interesting concept cars. As mentioned, there is very little information available on the Porsche 932 design study but it is mentioned in an article on Road & Track.