By: Various Authors .
Impeccable craftsmanship. A tradition of technical innovation. Stamina to go the distance on road and track alike. These are the hallmarks of the uniquely German automobiles called Porsche, high- performance sports cars that acknowledge few peers and no superiors.
The Essence of Performance is a fascinating pictorial review of these legendary cars and the people who created them. Hundreds of vivid photographs—many drawn from the Porsche Museum archives—trace the evolution of road cars and racing models, starting with the humble 356- series of the Fifties and on through to the 2000 mid-engine Boxster and new-generation 911. The book also highlights the engrossing story of the Porsche company through its many triumphs and a few near disasters.
Though that company is only a little over 50 years old, it continues a family dynasty that began with the automobile itself. Appropriately then, The Essence of Performance begins with a look at Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the extraordinary engineer whose visionary genius and lifelong pursuit of excellence became the soul of today's Porsche company and every car it has ever built. Besides designing military vehicles and some of history's most awesome racing cars, the good Herr Doktor advanced the state of the automotive art by pioneering unit construction, torsion-bar suspension, and even front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, all years before others saw the wisdom to follow. He also created the original Volkswagen Beetle, the most successful "world car" in history.
Sadly, Dr. Porsche barely lived to see the first cars bearing his name, but his ideals and many of his ideas were carried on by his equally inventive and dedicated son, Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche. Beginning with a small team in a tiny Austrian village after World War II, Ferry established the modern Porsche company as a builder of sports cars like no other: light, purposeful, and efficient, yet durable, substantial, and unmistakable in both design and performance. Like his father, Ferry believed in the necessity of proving cars in the heat of competition, and was just as passionate about innovation and careful, considered improvement in pursuit of "driving in its purest form." Helped by his own talented associates, Ferry brought Porsche to the peak of commercial and competition success in remarkably short order, then assured its future with one of the world's greatest sports cars, the storied 911. Timeless in design yet amazingly adaptable to changing times, the 911 has embodied "The Porsche Way" for nearly 40 years, one reason so many enthusiasts still consider it the only "true" Porsche.
Yet while Porsche is most closely associated with air-cooled rear- engine cars like the 911, it has never feared to break with tradition—witness the front-engine four-cylinder 924/944/968 series and the V-8 luxury 928, worthy cars in their own right and part of the undeniable Porsche mystique. Even the mid-engine 914 of the early Seventies, though less successful in sales terms, shows what magic the people of Zuffenhausen can work with even ordinary ingredients.
Whether you're lucky enough to own a Porsche or merely dream that dream, The Essence of Performance is a visual "E-ticket ride" sure to fire the imagination of most any car lover. It's a book as colorful, captivating, and intriguing as the celebrated automobiles it depicts.