Raleigh, North Carolina, may not be the first city that comes to your lips when you think of car culture, but it should be. Coming from the Northeast my expectations originally was that, at best, I would find folks who could only turn left since this state is considered home to NASCAR. Was I ever wrong.
There is a very strong road racing culture down here as well as many who appreciate the many forms of automotive excellence, including things that don’t originate on these shores. Once a month there is an informal get-together of car people known as Cars and Coffee that will expand your automotive mind. Starting this past weekend the North Carolina Museum of Art has an exclusive exhibit called: Porsche by Design Seducing Speed.
This is not a traveling exhibit either, if you want to see these cars you will have to come to Raleigh. Thousands of people will be, until the show ends on January 20 of next year.
Enough of endings, the show has just begun and I spent most of the weekend taking advantage of every opportunity to explore and enjoy the cars on display. Some have never been in the United States before.
There are over twenty of some of the most historical Porsche cars here, including ones owned by Ralph Lauren, Steve McQueen, and Janis Joplin.
My first opportunity was a preview day for members of the museum followed that evening with a showing of the movie Bullitt. The fun began when the doors opened in the morning and I glided in and went to the ground floor of the east building.
The crowds were enjoying the displays that echoed the chronology of the brand’s fifty year history.
At the entrance was the 64 car. The Berlin-Rom racer that never raced, but was the first of the line. The original VW (Volkswagen) was produced in 1937 and its designer, Ferdinand Porsche, used that as the basis for a highly aerodynamic race car that was ready in 1939. Unfortunately, Hitler had other ideas and the start of World War II meant that racing was put on hold.
Still, the car was a milestone in design, as you can see from these photographs:
More cars were ahead and on display.
This is a 1949 Type 356 Gmund Coupe. The oldest known example. Number 17 of fifty made. The engine was 1,099 cc and the car weighs 1330 pounds. It has a fully independent suspension and must have been an absolute blast to drive back then. Way beyond any other post-war car.
I’ll just let you folks enjoy the photos…
Notice the wide five-bolt lug pattern on the wheels. This remained the same for VW for decades. This single-seater had disk brakes, but the calipers were placed on the inside of the rotors since the outside of the rotors were bolted to the wheels. Wild.
Imagine seeing this in your mirrors on the race track.
The blue car above was from the first IROC (International Race of Champions) series.
Classic 901. Porsche changed the designation to 911 after Peugeot claimed brand infringement.
Above is the 959. It was what every billionaire lusted after.
The Carrera GT.
This is the 911 GT3 R. A hybrid race car prototype. Once driven by Raleigh’s own Dan Neil – Pulitzer prize-winning writer for the Wall Street Journal.
There is more, but I’ll save that for a later entry. Meanwhile enjoy the exhibit.