Porsches Owned by Steve McQueen, Janis Joplin Headline New Exhibit | Edmunds

Porsches Owned by Steve McQueen, Janis Joplin Headline New Exhibit

Just the Facts:
  • Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed, an exhibit of 22 significant Porsche models, has opened at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
  • Included in the collection are cars owned by celebrities like Steve McQueen, Janis Joplin and Ralph Lauren.
  • The exhibit, which runs through January 20, 2014, also features noteworthy racecars, prototypes and concept cars.

RALEIGH, North CarolinaPorsche by Design: Seducing Speed, a new exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art, features 22 legendary Porsche models said to exemplify the Stuttgart company's distinctive blend of art and technology.

The exhibition, which runs through January 20, 2014, includes noteworthy racecars, concept cars, prototypes and vehicles owned by such celebrities as Steve McQueen, Ralph Lauren and Janis Joplin.

The oldest car in the collection is the 1938 Type 64 Berlin-Rom Racer, the only existing complete example of this ultra-rare model. It was built under the watchful eye of company founder Ferdinand Porsche especially for the Berlin-Rome endurance race. Although it did not bear the Porsche name, called only Type 64, it is considered the forerunner of all later Porsche-badged models.

One car sure to draw a crowd is a 1958 Porsche Speedster 1600 Super owned by Steve McQueen and still part of the McQueen family collection. This was the first car the actor and race driver bought new and the first in which he competed, winning an SCCA meet with it in Santa Barbara in 1959.

Another exhibit car with celebrity cachet is a 1965 Porsche 356C Cabriolet owned by Janis Joplin. When she bought it in 1968 for $3,500, it was plain white, not at all in keeping with the rock goddess' style. Her friend and roadie Dave Richards gave it a psychedelic paint job with butterflies, flowers, astrological symbols and even a depiction of Janis and her band.

Finding a Porsche 959 for the exhibit must have presented a challenge. Only about 300 of the ground-breaking supercars were built and — due to government regulations — none were sold in the U.S., so just a handful of wealthy American enthusiasts own them. Luckily for exhibit visitors, the museum borrowed a 1988 model from the extensive collection of fashion mogul Ralph Lauren.

A number of significant racecars found their way into the exhibit, including a 1960 Porsche 718 RS60 Spyder, a 1962 Type 804, Porsche's first Formula 1 car and a 1971 example of the legendary Porsche 917.

Fans of concepts and preproduction models will revel in the museum's inclusion of a 1953 Porsche 550 prototype, one of several made that year. A 550 went on to win the 1954 Carrera Panamericana road race, scoring the first win in international competition for a midengine car.

Another noteworthy prototype in the exhibit is the 1963 Type 901, precursor to the iconic Porsche 911, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Thirteen 901 prototypes were built before the car went into production as the 911, and this reportedly is the only original still in existence.

Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed was the brainchild of managing curator Barbara Weidemann of the North Carolina Museum of Art, who brought in Ken Gross to serve as curator. Gross, who has curated several other exhibits, is an author, former director of the Petersen Automotive Museum and judge at the Pebble Beach Concours for many years.

Edmunds says: A little bit out in the boondocks, but a must-see exhibit for Porsche fans.

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