If any model deserves to be placed at the top of the Porsche range, it is the Porsche 928. As explosive as anything and as much fun as the 911, the big, luxury grand tourer does it all, but with grace and subtlety as permanent options. Its very existence was challenged by the oil crisis of the mid-1970s, and its design programme threatened by Ralph Nader’s invective about the safety of rear-engined cars (Nader’s book Unsafe At Any Speed was highly influential among US politicians).
Porsche’s only experience with anything else was restricted to the Porsche 924, but that was enough to set Porsche engineers on an experimental path of such rigorous testing that the outcome could only be all or nothing. The 928 launched with a big front-mounted, water-cooled V8 driving the rear wheels, and an astounding 50:50 weight distribution that made featherlight handling of its capacious 2+2 interior. Jaws dropped at the 1977 Geneva motor show prototype, and the Porsche 928 was voted European Car of the Year for 1978.
It remains the only sports car to have won the accolade. The fabulous body shape sat low and broad on all sorts of technical innovations. Apart from the aluminium engine block and heads, the Weissach axle was a revolutionary design that reduced oversteer by involving the rear suspension in self-adjustment during cornering.
It was adapted for use across the whole Porsche range, and eventually Porsche created a special 928 Weissach edition of 205 cars painted ‘champagne gold’ and with matching brushed gold alloy wheels (and a hugely coveted, exclusive three-piece Porsche luggage set). The Porsche 928 was born as crown prince to an automotive aristocracy. From the start, and through all its many editions, its speed, acceleration and compliance earned the car its star ranking.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Germany
FIRST MANUFACTURED: 1978 (until 1995)
ENGINE: 4,474 CC V8
PERFORMANCE: Top speed in range of 138-171 mph (221-275 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in range 5.1-7.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW: The Porsche 928 is also known as the ‘Land Shark’ (because it gobbles up road miles with smooth amiability). It features the world’s longest timing belt (toothed, Gilmer type) in a production vehicle. Laid out, it measures 2.1 m (7 ft).