Vellum Venom: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom 2012 porsche 911 carrera

Vellum is a material at the heart of Automotive and Industrial Design. Venom is something this website has in spades: so a few positive comments from a recent Piston Slap column brought the two concepts together. Before we start; some ground rules: I analyze what’s seen from my camera phone, no press cars and therefore no time to second guess my thoughts.

And a few shout outs:

  • Jeff Sanders: it was 5 years ago this week when you left us. I will never forget you.
  • Jack Telnack: for forming a team that made the cars of my childhood so remarkable. Meeting you in 2007 was an honor.
  • Robert Cumberford: for not being offended that I’m copying your idea.
  • My Parents: for paying the Industrial Design tuition to the Center (now College) for Creative Studies.

On to our first subject, the new 991 iteration of the 911: slightly longer, wider and with a ton more wheelbase in the proud Harley Earl Tradition, but you’d be forgiven if you see little difference between this and the outgoing model. That said, the evolutionary changes are noteworthy, beautiful and maybe a little laughable.

The first thing most notice are the new taillights. Mercifully, the 991 is part of a new crop of vehicles ushering back the era of normal sized lighting pods: back when the non-functional portions of plastic lens were not a significant part of a vehicle’s real estate.

Even better, the new lighting pods and extra dimensions translate into an even more voluptuous side profile. It’s not obscene like a Ferrari Testarossa, the more prodigious fenders give the feeling of even more tumblehome…which is sorely needed in today’s age of boxy silhouettes.

While I wanted a direct shot of the side, I intentionally steer clear of the press car lifestyle. So this 991 merely sits in a dealership’s inventory. But even from here, the extra wheelbase pushes the rear wheels further behind the greenhouse, giving the 911 less of a Pure-Porsche feel…even if it still is purely evolutionary in scope.

Aye, there’s the rub. While I’ve read that moving the side mirrors to the door removes a boatload of aerodynamic nightmares, they aren’t nearly as elegant as having them on the A-pillar like the older models. More to the point, imagine if that plastic triangle on the A-pillar was the footprint for the mirror instead? Not to mention the flat black plastic trim on the mirror’s base is just asking to turn chalky after a few visits with an orbital buffer operated by an unprofessional.

The 991’s extra length and width translates into a sleeker, less stubby nose. If you squint just a touch or remove your corrective lenses, the new schnoz turns into something distinctly Ferrari 430-like. I am sure the Purists hate it, but this is a significant improvement for most everyone else.

Yes! What’s not to like about a bit more nose?

The only big problem? The wannabe Lambo lower valence. I know everyone steals everyone’s ideas in this business, but the 911 is supposed to be a little voluptuous, not wedgy and boxy. I’d love to take a heat gun to the lower bumper and bring a little sexy back. And what’s up with the flat black plug in the center? That’s a little cheap and chintzy for a big dollar Porker. If you need that for cooling in an upcoming model, just make a new bumper cover and add another grand to the asking price! Your clientele will neither know, nor care!

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3 of 15 comments
  • Hogie roll Hogie roll on Mar 05, 2012

    You're quite the Renaissance man aren't you Sajeev? You've studied engineering, business and design? Did I miss anything?

    • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Mar 06, 2012

      And tons of cross-functional electives that taught me $20 words. Some day it will all be worth something.

  • -Cole- -Cole- on Mar 05, 2012

    Good point on the mirrors, I hate standing mirrors. The absolute WORST standing mirrors are on the A7

  • Canam23 A fine car, but I still preferred the Mazda 6, very pretty and zoom zoom!
  • Jrhurren As a (non-auto) safety professional, I have serious reservations that humans can stay attentive at scale with partial automation. Our brains naturally offload tasks and, when faced with mostly-reliable technology, happily start paying attention to something else (eg texting while driving). My prediction is that these technologies will not reduce traffic fatalities until we get to Level 5.
  • SilverCoupe Do the real cars self-dent when hit by the virtual ones?
  • SCE to AUX From the SAE: Level 3: "When the feature requests, you must drive."The timing of that request will be the subject of lawsuits. Too little warning, and this is just a Level 2 system wearing nicer clothes.Pretty car, though.
  • Analoggrotto So, who has the digital Tourettes?