Buying lunch in Atlanta is a small price to see these rare Porsches

Porsche 356 Speedster in the Porsche Classic Gallery

The museum at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta holds perhaps the greatest sampling of unique Porsche street and race cars outside of Stuttgart. During a visit last month, we ogled some 40 cars and present a small sampling here. We also stood transfixed at the glass-walled workshop watching technicians restore customer cars.

The place is made for gearheads and not just Porsche fans. Dozens of old photos and engine displays are on view in addition to the cars. If you plan a visit, however, you first have to make reservations at the on-site cafeteria. The museum is a stone’s throw from the Atlanta airport and FAA regulations dictate that Porsche keep a record of who attends. The company devised the lunch reservation plan to comply.

The food’s pretty good; the cars are fantastic. And who knows? You might learn a wrenching trick or two.

Porsche Headquarters in Atlanta Georgia
Restaurant 356
Schutz Speedster Prototype
Larry Webster
Schutz Speedster Prototype

The Schutz Speedster Prototype. In 1985, Porsche CEO Peter Schutz developed a 911 with a removable windshield and roof. For track use, the owner could potentially install the small windscreen pictured here, but then later switch to a full windshield and hardtop for the road. This Speedster in a box idea was rejected by the Porsche board. The prototype was sold, however, and it still lives with the original buyer in Michigan.

Helmuth Bott's 959 Prototype
Larry Webster
Helmuth Bott's 959 Prototype

Helmuth Bott’s 959 Prototype. The last of six prototype 959s, this one was driven by chief engineer Helmuth Bott to validate Porsche’s 1986 supercar. This car shook the world when it debuted with its 444-horsepower turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive. Bott, by the way, not only brought this car to life, but is also credited with first nudging Porsche to build test tracks where customers could sample the cars. This car’s home is therefore fitting, as it lives at Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, the company’s first U.S. test track.

1967 Porsche 910
Larry Webster
1967 Porsche 910

1967 Porsche 910. The ’60s were a heady time for Porsche racing, as Motorsports director Ferdinand Piech put the company on a path to dominate endurance racing. The 910 was lighter than the 906 it replaced and also used Formula One style 13-inch centerlock wheels. While a handful were fitted with eight-cylinder engines, the six-cylinder cars succeeded as well with a 910/6 winning the 1967 Nurburgring 1000 KM race.

2004 Porsche Carrera GT
Larry Webster
2004 Porsche Carrera GT

2004 Porsche Carrera GT. Supercars like the Carrera GT require highly skilled mechanics, and this one was used to train them. The entire car, including the 605-hp V-10 engine, was disassembled and then put back together over 60 times. It’s now part of the revolving collection at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta.

1956 Porsche 550 Spyder
Larry Webster
1956 Porsche 550 Spyder

1956 Porsche 550 Spyder. Of the approximately 100 550s built, this is the only one that has never been restored. Even the leather straps holding the rear clamshell down are original. 

1971 Porsche 916
Larry Webster
1971 Porsche 916

1971 Porsche 916. Porsche built 11 of these cars as prototypes, hoping to develop a competitor to the Ferrari Dino. This modified 914 has a flat-six engine lifted from the 911s, a welded steel roof, and fat fender flares. The project was scuttled after Porsche calculated it would have to sell the car for some $15,000, which was about 50 percent more than a 911. 

1992 Porsche 911 America Roadster
Larry Webster
1992 Porsche 911 America Roadster

1992 Porsche 911 America Roadster. Oddly, this car’s owner drove it only 125 miles before parking it. Also, the hardtop was fitting, but the folding soft top was not. It’s still in a crate, awaiting the 17-hour installation process.

1993 Porsche 911 RS America
Larry Webster
1993 Porsche 911 RS America

1993 Porsche 911 RS America. The stripped-down 911 left out air-conditioning and even a radio to save weight. It also cost about $10,000 less than a standard 911 and had the iconic Whale Tail spoiler, which first appeared on the 1975 Turbo.

1990 March/Porsche Indycar
Larry Webster
1990 March/Porsche Indycar

1990 March/Porsche Indycar. Porsche had a rocky relationship with Indycar racing, with this Porsche-powered March car only achieving mediocre results. The upshot, however, was that the V-8 engine eventually found its way into the RS Spyder race car and then reworked for the 918 Spyder hypercar.