A high-riding Porsche doesn’t sound ridiculous in an era when SUVs and crossovers are dominating the market. But back in the 1980s, anything with large off-road tires sitting higher than a few inches off the ground and wearing a Porsche badge was a revolution.
One such quite unusual car from the Stuttgart-based brand was the Panamericana. It was a one-off concept shown during the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show exploring the idea of a performance buggy with 911 traits. The study was inspired by the Carrera Panamericana endurance race from the first half of the 1950s, in which Porsche dominated its class in 1954 to register one of its greatest international motorsport successes.
Gallery: 1989 Porsche Panamericana concept
The concept featured many unique design and tech features. A new video from That Nine Eleven Guy on YouTube takes a deeper look at what the Panamericana hides underneath its buggy-like exterior. Visually, it was characterized by its partially open wheel arches and some of the lines and proportions remind us of the 959. Long suspension travel and removable zippered fabric top were among the most unusual features for a 911-based vehicle in the 1980s.
Despite its open-top layout, the Panamericana wasn’t meant to be driven on a California boulevard on a sunny day. Instead, it was all about off-roading and it’s probably safe to say it’s the ancient predecessor of the Cayenne, Porsche’s first production SUV.
As a typical Porsche product though, the Panamericana was a synonym for performance. Under the hood was a standard 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine from the Carrera 4 with a peak output of 250 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. Power was reaching all four wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox for a 0-62 miles per hour (0-100 kilometers per hour) acceleration in just 5.8 seconds. The top speed was approximately 160 mph (257 kph).