Heavenly bodies: Porsche's Race for the Stars

Heavenly bodies: Porsche's Race for the Stars
Automobilist was given free rein to blast off into space, to produce a series of fine art posters capturing the days of future past, with historic Porsche Racing cars exploring motor sport options on other planets and on earth many years from now.

A now defunct British tabloid newspaper, famous for ridiculous headlines, once ran a front page story proclaiming “World War 2 Bomber Found On Moon.” Ridiculous indeed, but it does reflect mankind’s centuries old obsession with space travel. The fertile minds of science fiction writers have tended to be rather optimistic in terms of how soon we would find ourselves living on other planets. Go back just fifty years and scientists, real and pseudo, were predicting colonies of modern “Pilgrim Fathers” starting new lives in the outer reaches of space as early as the start of this current century.

It is yet to happen, but that didn’t stop the designers and artists at Automobilist from imagining it.

The whole Porsche project allowed us to unleash our creativity, because while the watchword for all our work has always been accuracy down to the smallest detail, stepping into future worlds gave us an unusual level of graphic freedom. This series of posters – the Porsche 356 SL racing on Mars in 2096, the Porsche 911 Carrera RSR on the moon in 2078 and the 917 KH, which in its day did actually look as though it was designed for space travel, seen here racing at Le Mans in 2054 – involved combining the cars, true to the original in every detail, with whatever vision we had for these future locations.

The creative process began in our usual way, because the three posters set in the future were paired with artwork of the same cars in their true historical context: the 356 SL racing in the Carrera PanAmericana in Mexico in the Fifties, the 917 KH winning Le Mans in 1970 and the 911 RSR tackling the Daytona 24 Hours in 1973. Weeks of work went into ensuring everything was accurate down to the last nut and bolt and the image was gradually developed using photography and cutting edge computer generated imagery, so that each car involved our team of specialists in a thousand hours of work. The result is posters that really capture a moment in a way that a conventional photo cannot, with the perfect angle for the shot and the smallest detail clear to see, so that you can almost smell the hot oil and hear the tyres screeching.


Where our designers were given free rein was in the trio of future artworks, which allowed them creative license to do what the hell they liked! They decided to transpose the Daytona-winning 911 to the moon. The car would have to be one of Porsche’s E-Performance models because there is no atmosphere, therefore no oxygen on the moon and so an internal combustion engine would not work. Everything is pushed to the limit so the race has been extended from 24 hours to 72 and it takes place around the rim of the famous Giordano Bruno crater, located on the far side of the moon. The Carrera RSR has evolved in the minds of our artists, but the wonderful 1973 livery has been preserved.


As for the 356 that tackled the PanAmericana, it was given a late 21st century makeover for 2096. By that date, we might be looking beyond planet earth for adventure. What better way to recreate the dry, dusty and deathly roads of Mexico than a visit to Mars, the inhospitable red planet. Is there life on Mars? Even David Bowie didn’t know the answer to that one, but the artists at Automobilist reckon there will be one day.


However, when it came to the 917, it was felt that only a race at Le Mans itself could do it justice. Fast forward, then, to 2052 and the greatest endurance race of all time is still on the calendar. In a dystopian world of fading sunlight due to atmospheric ejecta from a supervolcanic episode, a world in which megalopolises exist under huge, connected protective domes, the world’s greatest race continues on a hugely expanded circuit at Le Sarthe in the southern quarter of the so-called Grande Agglomération Occidentale that stretches from Paris to Bordeaux. Against a vast neon-lit backdrop of towering city blocks the 24 Hours of Le Mans is run each year, and while dwindling supplies of rare earth metals have made battery power a luxury, the 917 – simple, elegant, astonishingly robust and powerful – still races at the head of the pack.

Designing posters based on the future rather than the past was a new direction for Automobilist and one that was great fun to work on. It’s unlikely we will still be around when those future dates become today, so if you acquire one of these posters, be sure to leave instructions for children and grandchildren to check out if our dreams ever became reality!

Images courtesy Porsche / Automobilist

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