May 20, 2018 at 4:49 pm #4954
Looking rather like a contemporary American compact, this is the Porsche Forschungsprojekt-Langzeit-Auto, otherwise known as the FLA. This was a 1973 ‘long-life car research project’ brought about by the awakening of environmental concerns, the brief being to design a vehicle that would last up to 30 years due to a durable body and an unstressed -and therefore low performance- engine. The thinking at the time was that the lack of raw materials by the next century would make recycling necessary and although this has come to pass it has turned out to be as much due to the problem of waste disposal as to material availability. For more details of the mechanical side see below, but the bodywork was to be alloy and the chassis was steel. While that may not sound particularly revolutionary, then as now plastic recycling was nothing like as easy as it was for metal. The car never progressed beyond the stage in which we see it here as the hoped-for interest in taking it further was not forthcoming from any other manufacturer (hence its inclusion in this section). No doubt the potentially higher costs involved in making something from an environmentally-sound angle was the major stumbling block, not just its pink and black interior!
Although not related to the cars that we know and love, Porsche has been very successful since its quite early days when acting as a design consultant for others and while the majority of these projects have naturally been automotive they have also extended into other fields such as aviation. They have certainly contributed to the financial well-being of the firm and of course Dr Porsche founded his pre-war company as a design consultancy.
While this may not be the best shot of the FLA powerplant it is the only one which I have ever seen. The unit was placed behind the rear wheels, transversely and on its side. A four cylinder, 2 litre motor putting out a very unstressed 75bhp, it drove through an automatic gearbox -to eliminate any mechanical stress from a badly driven manual transmission- and again in pursuit of longevity was heavily restricted in terms of RPM. While all of this sounds very un-Porsche-like, there were some ideas incorporated which were precursors of subsequent automotive developments, such as a cooling system of a minimum capacity to aid warming up and so economy and thought given as to how to make the electrical system operate more efficiently.
It is difficult to quantify what effect this project may have had on production Porsches, as although a high proportion of the total Porsche production survives this is probably as much due to the choice of their owners as it is due to any intrinsic lasting qualities. Although the FLA got no further than its appearance at the Frankfurt show it does still exist in the Porsche Museum collection.
Photos: Ted Walker Archive
January 1, 2019 at 6:57 am #5594
A picture of the car at the IAA Frankfurt show in 1973, its only public appearance.
Photo: Porsche AG
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