Porsche legend Grant Larson on nailing a concept car

As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, designer Grant Larson reveals how the Porsche Boxster came about

13w ago

The Porsche Boxster is celebrating a quarter of a century on the roads but never has a he concept for the open-top two-seater, the name of which is a portmanteau of “boxer” and “roadster”, was Grant Larson who today is Porsche’s Director Special Projects.

The designer recalls how it all came about: “In October 1991 – I was responsible at the time for advance development in the Design department – I visited the Tokyo Motor Show. Audi presented the Avus Quattro concept car there. At the end of 1991, series development of the Boxster and the 996 was already taking place in other areas, and we decided to build a show car. I had full freedom as regards design. All drafts were produced as 2D drawings. So, not on a screen like today. "

“My boss, Harm Lagaaij, really pushed me on the design, above all as regards the detailed forms. We were lucky that we could call on Peter Müller, a fantastic modeller. Instead of using coordinates in the usual way, he worked only with my drawings. Freehand, as it were. We had originally planned to present our concept car in Geneva in spring 1993. But we decided on Detroit in January because we didn’t want to waste any time. What is more, our focus with the roadster was on the US market, where Porsche was weak at the time, and where Mazda with its Miata and BMW with the Z1 were already present in the roadster segment.”

With the design of Larson’s Boxster concept, Porsche continued the technical development of its earlier Spyder, Speedster and Roadster sports cars, and intentionally included references to the 550 Spyder and the 718 RS 60 from the 1950s.

The mid-engine concept, short body overhang at the rear, front end extending well beyond the front axle and centrally positioned exhaust tailpipe: all these were characteristic features of both the forebears and the concept car.

Distinctive air intakes and air outlet openings were important design elements, as were the headlights with innovative lighting technology and also the tail lights and direction indicators. The interior was designed to match, with metal painted in the exterior colour used on the door panels, instrument carrier and centre console.

The concept for the Boxster was such a hit – both with the public and the wider motoring world – that it halted development of the car. As Larson explains: “Shortly after the presentation in Detroit, we were instructed to stop series design development for the Boxster immediately. The instruction instead was: “Please build the concept exactly like that”.”

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