December 10, 2023

Wade Through Films

The Ultimate Driving Machines

The Crawford Museum’s new Porsche exhibit shows how the 911 evolved from near-death to world-beating supercar

The Crawford Museum's new Porsche exhibit shows how the 911 evolved from near-death to world-beating supercar

Back in 1981 Porsche had the 911 on the chopping block. The 928 was always intended to take over as the company’s flagship model, and the 911 was destined to fade away into the history books. Even though the 911’s popularity never really waned through the 70s and early 80s, it was just going to keep floating in the market without any updates until Porsche cut it off entirely. Obviously that didn’t happen, and the last 42 years have been a testament to the 911’s staying power. Thankfully the car was saved from the scrap heap of time by then-new CEO Peter Schutz. The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio has assembled the perfect exhibit to explain how the 911 rose from its deathbed to become one of the most iconic sports cars of all time, and they’re fittingly calling it Porsche 911: The Evolution of an Icon.

Peter Schutz, speaking to Car and Driver magazine: “As far as the company was concerned, the 911 was history. But I overturned the board’s decision in my third week on the job. I remember the day quite well: I went down to the office of our lead engineer, Professor Helmuth Bott, to discuss plans for our upcoming model. I noticed a chart hanging on his wall that depicted the ongoing development trends of our top three lines: 911, 928, and 944. With the latter options, the graph showed a steady rise in production for years to come. But for the 911, the line stopped in 1981. I grabbed a marker off Professor Bott’s desk and extended the 911 line across the page, onto the wall, and out the door. When I came back, Bott stood there, grinning. “Do we understand each other?” I asked. And with a nod, we did.”

This exhibit, opening on Thursday, features 16 incredible Porsches, sourced from local Clevelander members of the North Ohio Region PCA. Among the gathering is a dozen 911s ranging from a 1980 911 SC Targa to a 2003 996 GT3 Supercup, and everything in between. Context for the 911’s evolution is provided by the inclusion of an early production 928, a gorgeous 944 Turbo modified by Andial, and possibly the nicest 986 Boxster remaining in existence. Of course the exhibit is capped off with the inclusion of the techno-giant Porsche of the future, a 959 Komfort. If you aren’t intimately familiar with Porsche’s history from the early 1980s to today, this is an exhibit you’ll want to check out for sure. It runs from November 17, 2022 until April 2, 2023, and you can find more information at

Disclosure: While I have been in an editorial position here at FlatSixes for nearly a decade, I recently was appointed the Director of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, and this is my first exhibit as director. I will not monetarily benefit directly from your attendance of the musuem, or ticket purchase to see the exhibit, nor is this post a paid advertisement for the museum or exhibit. I do have personal and professional investment in the exhibit’s success, and do hope you come check it out. Thank you!