Out of the changes Porsche has undergone throughout the past decades, some seemed to go as planned (e.g., the introduction of the EV range via the Taycan). Others, while successful, steered from the initial plan. And one of the best examples here involves the 928. Having landed in the late 1970s, this became a successful, front-engined GT, but nowadays its initial aim of replacing the 911 seems amusing. However, the Zuffenhausen automaker hasn’t forgotten the luxurious 2+2, which is why Porsche is now unveiling the Nebula 928 art project—yes, it’s a real car.
The inspiration for this groovy 1978 example of the 928 dives straight into Y2K aesthetics. At the turn of the millenium, there was a blend of hopefulness and angst. Both feelings described events that would mark the world in the decade that followed.
And, arguably, that would be the start of the design diversity trend that’s obvious nowadays—as opposed the the well-defined styles of the previous decades, the 2000s popularized an eclectic style that keeps evolving, which is why so many modern cars share a vide range of styling features.
Porsche is one of the brands that has successfully preserved its design identity, with the carmaker now mixing visual styles from multiple eras for the Nebula 928.
Artist and architect Daniel Arsham, who is famous for the “time-traveling” effect of his work, took the lead on the project. However, for the exterior, key modernization elements like the front and rear bumpers, door mirrors and light clusters, as well as that 996 911-borrowed Aero rear spoiler, come from Khyzyl Saleem. Oh, and if those wheels feel familiar, it’s probably because they’re a nod to the Porsche Panamericana concept of 1989.
The various shades of purple used throughout the exterior and the cabin add another layer of extroversion to the project. Speaking of the interior, this is of particular interest to us. For one, the linked-circle theme on the steering wheel, which can also be found in other places (e.g., door speakers, front and rear lights), shows this is more of an art car than a proper driver’s tool—how would you hold that steering wheel while canyon carving?
Nebula 928 at SXSW 2023
Porsche is showcasing the Nebula 928 at Austin’s annual South x Southwest (SXSW) Festival 2023 (March 10th-14th). However, with the company doubling down on its electrification efforts these days, alongside investing in synthetic fuels to keep that 911 in the ICE realm, one has to wonder why Porsche chose to bring the 928 under the spotlights.
There are two possible reasons here. For starters, the aftermarket is now paying more attention than ever to the Grand Tourer, which results in impressive builds like this 3,000 hp 928 drag racer. So why wouldn’t the automaker build on those efforts?
Then there’s the fact that Porsche was supposed to unveil a spiritual successor to the 928 (think: Panamera Coupe) for the previous decade. And while the said electrification trend is the main culprit for the axing of the project, Porsche’s sporty image means we can expect a battery-powered 928 successor to show up sometime in the future, so it would make sense to keep the original under the spotlights meanwhile.
Update: We added some live SXSW photos of the Nebula Porsche 928 to the gallery, with these coming from Arsham himself.