Once considered by Porsche engineers as a replacement for the 911, the front-engine 928’s life was tragically cut short in 1995. But what if it survives? The Porsche “Nebula” art car imagines what the 928 might have looked like towards the end of the decade and into the 20th century.
The car is making its first public appearance this week at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. It was created by artists Daniel Arsham and Khazil Salim, and is filled with sweet Y2K-era details. Having lived in that era as sensitive adults, most of us autoblog Didn’t even know one could feel nostalgia for a time that didn’t seem so long ago.
One look at Nebula’s details though, and memories come flooding back. In particular, circles spinning into each other like a cell in mitosis was a hallmark of the beginning of the dot-com era. The shape can be seen in the form of fog light and turn signal combo in the front bumper and lower air intakes. Look closely at the fog lamps and you’ll notice a dot-gradient pattern with blackened edges. The aesthetics are entirely reminiscent of electronics like the iMac G3 or Apple eMate 300 laptops.
The Y2K cues extended to the color as well, which tended to be the metallic mauve that was popular at the time. The taillights of the 928 also get the cytokinesis treatment, which fits in well with its curvy rear. Instead of the standard Porsche sans-serif typeface on the back, the word “Nebula” is written in a retro-futuristic font that evokes Razor scooters and turn-of-the-century video games. The Nebula’s wheels recall the 1989 Panamericana concept that preceded the 993, but also the Antera 141 that appeared in several “Wheel Warehouse” magazine ads.
On the inside, the Dividing Nucleus theme continues on the door speakers and steering wheel. While not practical, it is certainly unique looking and fits in well with the rest of the car. and is combined with a blobject shift knob.
Even things we’re not a fan of aesthetically can be described as period correct for the era. The deep purple suede covering most of the interior seems excessive, but the color is not without precedent. The huge wing at the rear looks suspicious, but at the time cars like the Toyota Supra and Mitsubishi 3000GT used to come straight from the factory with sky-high spoilers.
Y2K was almost 25 years ago, which means that in most states if it were a car it would soon qualify for historic plates and be federally legal to import. While the design of the car at the time was described in unflattering terms such as “bar of soap”, the right combination of cues could generate a strong enthusiasm among enthusiasts of a certain age.
“Nebula” means a cloud of dust in outer space and sounds cool enough to be the name of a sports car. But in Latin it means “cloud” or “mist” and is also the root of the world “nebulus”, which means nebulous or formless. That seems like a perfect description of the organic shapes dominating car design around the year 2000. As we said at the time, “It’s tight.”