Five decades of the Porsche 911, this weekend the iconic sports coupe takes the stage as the stunning central feature at Goodwood
The Central Feature sculpture soars 34 metres into the sky and is the tallest in the history of the Festival so far. The Goodwood Festival of Speed this year celebrates it 20th year.
From the base of the sculpture is front of Goodwood House, three futuristic white, steel ‘arrows’ race upwards, each with an example of the 911 at its apex. The origins of the 911 are honoured with an early Golf Blue coupe from 1965, the motorsport record of the model is highlighted by a Yellow 2.7 RS from 1973, and the latest all-wheel drive ‘Type 991’ Carrera 4 underlines the everyday usability of the sports car from Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
Formally unveiled on Thursday 11 July by Lord March and Wolfgang Hatz, board member for Research and Development at Porsche AG, the bespoke, highly distinctive ‘art installation’ has been designed by acclaimed artist and sculptor Gerry Judah.
The ‘Central Feature’ has become synonymous with the Festival of Speed, and this year’s focal point is a tremendous example of what these complex yet elegant sculptures are all about. It draws from the combined spirits of Goodwood and Porsche to create a dynamic and innovative design which is also lightweight, superbly engineered, and utterly reflective of the Porsche 911 itself: simple, pure and built for the job. The 911 can equally be regarded as a ‘living work of art’, which has been honed and developed over the past 50 years, in a continual process of evolution.
The 34-metre high steel monocoque sculpture weighs 25 tonnes and brings together brilliantly the feelings of excitement, wonder, beauty and function which so exemplify the 911.
Fittingly, Gerry Judah came up with the idea for the Porsche sculpture while on the road; “Great ideas can take a moment, good ideas can take a long time. I got the idea for the Porsche sculpture while I was driving; it came to me in a flash!”
“I had to create a sculpture which personifies the energy and dynamic excitement not just of the cars and Festival of Speed, but also reflected how something as beautiful and dynamic as the 911 can in turn celebrate the event.”
“The 911 is a fantastic shape, so I had to think, ‘what can I do with it?’ You can’t deconstruct it, so in the context of the Festival, however beautiful the 911 is, you need to embody a sense of speed. So the sculpture has to give the car the energy it deserves.”
And, he adds with a smile; “You can’t just put a car on a plinth; it has to be exciting!”
The high, slender design supports three great cars from different periods in the history of the 911; “the concept was that each car is shooting into the sky, supporting one another, racing each other, captured in a perfect moment.”
Each leg is a monocoque of sheet steel welded together, with no internal structure, and comes down to a small point at the base narrow enough you can almost fit your hands around. Finished in a clean, white coating, the sculpture has an elegant simplicity. “Essentially, the design of the sculpture relates to me what the 911 is all about. The 911 has its own design and shape; I did not want to embellish it,” says Gerry.
Like all great works of art, the manner in which the public engage with the sculpture and enjoy it is important to Gerry. “It is always a thrill to see the sculpture when you come around the corner of the House; people feel it belongs to them once it is built. It has this impressive backdrop against the flint walls of the House, a terrific setting in an old country estate, and as soon as you see it you should get the feeling ‘this is the Festival of Speed, this is Porsche.’”
Few other cars in the world can look back on such a long tradition and continuity as the Porsche 911. It has been inspiring car enthusiasts around the world since its debut as the model 901 at the IAA International Automotive Show, Frankfurt, in September 1963. Today it is considered by its many devoted fans as the benchmark for all others. The 911 is also the central point of reference for all other Porsche series. Every Porsche is the most sporting car in its category, and each one carries a piece of the 911 philosophy.
Read More articles about Goodwood at Drive or the 50th Anniversary of the Porsche 911
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