Classic Cars

Stuttgart stunners: The Porsche Effect shows off racing legends

Celebrating 70 years of legendary sports and race cars, the Porsche Effect at the Petersen Automotive Museum lets you get up close to some incredibly machines.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

To some they're the stuff of dreams. To others, they're barely modified Beetles. Either way, there's no denying the automaker's legendary status. On street, Porsche created one of the most iconic sports cars in history. On the track, they've dominated multiple race series over many decades. Their record at Le Mans, to name one, is staggering.

The Petersen Automotive Museum, home to hundreds of famous motors in its own right, has unveiled the Porsche Effect, a celebratory exhibit that showcases 70 years of some of finest machines the little company from Stuttgart ever produced. From the two-door, rear-engined 356 to the two-door, rear-engined 911, to the two-door, rear-engined 959, to the… hmmm. I kid, I kid.

Beyond their more famous offerings, there are some delightful oddballs. A four-door 928 prototype, for example, elongating the beautiful coupe form into something that managed to be less attractive than the Panamera it predates by decades.

Then there's the bevvy of racers, most notably the 917 K, one of the most dominant race cars in history, and the #17 919 Hybrid that came in second to another 919 in 2015's Le Mans -- a car I was especially delighted to see, having photographed it there.

The Petersen

The Porsche Effect is just one of the exhibits at the Petersen. This multi-story showcase of all things automotive was remodeled top to bottom a few years ago, and we did a tour shortly after. At the time the space now used for the Porsche Effect was an exhibit on the beautiful art deco machines of the '20s and '30s. You can see that, and the rest of the museum, in the gallery below. I've added a few new images at the end of a cool Ferrari exhibit.

The Vault

One of the rare treats possible at the Petersen is getting a special guided tour of their Vault. There are, perhaps, even more cars not on display as there are on display, due to space concerns. You can see many of these in the Vault. We did a tour of that a few years ago, but as you can guess, many of the cars rotate out, get worked on, and so on, so it's likely different if you check it out now. As part of the Porsche Effect, there are a bunch of Porsches down there too, which I included in the main gallery above. I spotted a few additions to the Vault that I didn't catch when I was there before, so I've added those to the end of this gallery.

From Stuttgart, with love

I've owned my Porsche 914 for 13 years now. I adore it and will never sell it. There's just something about how Porsche puts together a car. Given their long success, I'm clearly not the only one to think so. Cars with insane performance that you can drive every day. They're also expensive, and if you're not a car nut, they don't make any sense (well, the modern SUVs notwithstanding). This exhibit, and the cars in the Vault, are a great look at what made these cars so famous. If you can't make it to Stuttgart to tour the factory or their museum, definitely check out the Petersen (or the galleries above).

The Porsche Effect is open now and will run until February, 2019. The Petersen itself is open every day, 10-6. Adults are $16. You'll need to reserve a time (and pay $20 more) to go on a guided Vault tour. 


In his alternate life as a travel writer, Geoff does tours of cool museums and locations around the world including nuclear submarinesmedieval castlesiconic music studios and more. 

You can follow his exploits on TwitterInstagram and on his travel blog BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel