In 1978, auto journalists enthusiastically cheered Porsche’s addition of a grand touring machine to its lineup. In stark contrast to its past sports cars, Porsche’s 928 was powered by a 4.5-liter water-cooled V-8 driving the rear wheels through a rear-mounted five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. Four occupants enjoyed luxurious accommodations inside distinctive coachwork. The $26,150 base price may seem like peanuts today, but four decades ago, this was a major climb up the luxury ladder for Porsche.
Car and Driver heralded the 928 as the best car it had ever tested. It was the first sports car to win European Car of the Year laurels. Originally intended to replace the 911 in Porsche’s lineup, the 928’s role was redefined by Peter Schutz, Porsche’s President and CEO from 1981–87. While the 928 expired in 1995 after a long and fruitful life, the 911 now shows signs of immortality.
Michigan-based artist and Porsche enthusiast Paul Grusche, 49, bought his 81,815-mile 928 in 2011. This 1978 Euro-spec five-speed model was originally delivered in Nebraska and no longer had factory paint or interior trim. Except for worn-out synchros, it drove well and had its original engine and transmission. Grusche gave the driveline a thorough service, including new head gaskets, and had the seats reupholstered in his favorite shade of red.
Because he was annoyed by the lack of respect devoted to the 928 in recent years and the fact that his example wasn’t the best candidate to preserve in stock form, Grusche embraced the Art Car theme for his Porsche. Instead of explaining his 928’s place in the cosmos via stump speeches, Grusche fastidiously wrapped his GT with the major magazine articles published in 1977 and ’78.
The process began with more than 300 pages from car magazines which were scanned, retouched where necessary, and converted to black and white digital files then printed onto Orajet vinyl bumper sticker material. Other images from movies that featured the 928—Weird Science, Scarface, and Risky Business—and two 1978 European Car of the Year stickers (one per side above each marker light) were added to the mix.
More than 80 hours over seven months were required to hand lay more than 300 8.5 by 11-inch vinyl stickers. The 928’s pop-up headlamps were chrome-plated to contrast with the black and white body surfaces. No clear coat was applied over the vinyl skin to facilitate repair of scrapes and scratches. Grusche conscientiously garages his prize during foul weather.
Grusche hopes that his art work might someday be displayed at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany. He cites four other Porsche art cars, including the 1965 356C Cabriolet owned by Janis Joplin adorned with a psychedelic “History of the Universe” mural.
Proving that he’s onto something, Grusche’s Art Car was the rock star at the first-ever Cars and Caffeine gathering held recently at Hagerty’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, editorial office. If you stop by at the next one coming up on October 12, you just might see it in person.
The day I brought it home January 12, 2012. Hard to tell but the repaint is fading on the rear quarter and was cracking off on the other side.