Watch Me Spin Out A $4 Million Porsche And Talk About Rear Engine Cars

When Porsche announced they would be taking a bunch of their cars from their collection, some right out of their museum, covering seven decades of Porsche cars and taking them to Sonoma Raceway for a bunch of gassy auto journalists to drive around, I was of course interested, but with a caveat: I didn’t want to talk about the same things that have been said about these cars forever. No breathless, reverential praise or the same clichés you’ve heard a million times before. I wanted to put these cars in a larger perspective, in a framework of a larger history. The history of rear-engined cars.

These Porsches are ideal for this sort of thing because, duh, they’re rear-engined. Porsche is arguably the most important holdout of rear-engine automotive design as well, with hardly anyone else still producing true rear-engine designs except for the Renault Twingo/Smart platform and large bus manufacturers.

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Well, I guess lots of EVs are technically rear-motor’d, so perhaps we’ll see a renaissance there, but I’m talking about traditional combustion cars now.

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As someone who loves rear engines, Porsche’s dogged refusal to abandon rear-engine designs has always delighted me, and in this video I go into why this is the case, all while trying not to spin out again on that rain-slicked track.

Regarding that spin-out at the beginning, let me just say that skinny tires, a wet track, and all the weight in your butt is a tricky combo to deal with, especially when you’re talking to a camera and maybe going a bit quicker than a smarter person should.

I found out afterwards that the Porsche 356 America I was driving there was one of 14 left and worth somewhere between three and four million dollars, so I’m really, really happy I got it to stop on the grass instead of against a wall.

If I had hit a wall, I don’t think I’d be offended if Porsche just decided to relive me of my kidneys right there on the track.

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All of these cars were an absolute dream to drive—how often do you get to be behind the wheel of a 959? I hope my little exploration of the history of rear-engined cars proves interesting, and maybe will make you a little nostalgic for a future that never really managed to happen, and is now only glimpsed at in cars like the 911.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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DISCUSSION

My god, Torch. Just how short are your legs?!

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