By on March 5, 2012

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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15 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera...”

  • avatar

    i think the badge on this car is symptomatic of what is wrong with porsche and porsche drivers

    we want EVERYONE to be sure what this car is its relative pecking order

    i assume there’s a no cost badge delete?

  • avatar

    In my book, wheelbase is like cowbell — you can never have too much. I think the new 911 looks great, but wish the rear wheels were pushed even further back to balance weight distribtion further.

    I think this is a great idea for a collumn!

  • avatar

    I like this trend. Long ago I had a 356B in black and loved the look especially from the rear – the rear quarters had the feel of feline haunches which contrasted with the overall Germanic uptightness of the machine. This new design seems to have a chopped and channeled 356 lurking inside.

  • avatar

    Fantastic piece on Jeff Sanders (and the good conversation that followed it). And thank you for the designer’s insight into the fox body Continental on the Piston Slap.

  • avatar

    I believe both the flat black plug in the intake on the right and the body color plug on the bumper itself are the front parking sensors, if that is the plug you are talking about. Pretty standard fair for the industry to incorporate those like that.

    • 0 avatar

      The parking sensors are in the corners, you can see them in the last picture. If they have a hidden sensor in the front, they need to be more like my Dad’s 2006 Lincoln Town Car, the sensors are hidden inside the painted bumper. And it’s factory.

      Panther Love conquers all.

  • avatar

    Where’s the venom?

  • avatar


    Are there any really pretty (maybe even voluptuous) cars that middle- or working class folks can buy? Or is ugly the price they pay for not being financially well-endowed?

    I really like the curvy rear quarter wrapping around the sticky-outtie rear wheel part. It may be dorky to say so here, but I also really the similar effect on the newer Ram 2500 dually trucks. How they built a similar nice curve into the sheetmetal rather than build the same straight bed and then slap on plastic housings.

    This new 911 is very nice, but I still think I’d rather have the Cayman.

  • avatar

    It reminds me of the wide haunches on my (Z3) M Roadster. Sportscars are like women. They look best with some soft curves. God I miss that car.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    Good point on the mirrors, I hate standing mirrors.

    The absolute WORST standing mirrors are on the A7

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