Top 5 Porsche Stylistic Icons of All Time

There have been a lot of things I’ve loved about Porsche cars over the years. What reminds us of various Porsche models or associated times in our lives is different for each of us. It’s always interesting to see which styling attributes people key in on when recognizing a Porsche and what drives them to love one model over another.

I got to thinking about what would be on my list of what could be considered Porsche icons or single stylistic elements regardless of model or year. Beyond that, what would generally be considered the top 5 Porsche icons or stylistic elements of all time? Here’s my attempt at compiling a list.

Porsche Crest
You may disagree with this one being on the list since it could be argued it’s not a stylistic element, but I couldn’t not include this as an icon. It is THE gold standard of icons for Porsche. The gold contrasting against the red and black screams class and high end. The badge is actually the coat of arms of the city of Stuttgart (if you’re new to Porsche, that’s the original place factory location). Stuttgart was built on the site of a stud farm, which would explain the appearance of the horse in the coat of arms. The antlers and red and black stripes are part of the arms of the state of Wuerttemberg. (info from A History of Car Logos)

It reminds me of going to the little family crest shops in Amish Country when I was a kid. I sometimes wonder if GM or Ford would have been more successful if they’d have chosen a classy icon like Porsche did.

Whale Tail
Who doesn’t love a whale tail?! Well, my kids for one. Their comment was “Nice car, but I don’t like the big thing on the back.” Blasphemy I say! They’ll learn soon enough. To me, the whale tail is one of those classic Porsche icons of the late 70’s and 80’s. It was such a blatant (and big) in your face attachment to an otherwise sleek and minimal back end. You either loved it or hated it. But pulling up next to one, you just knew it was going to be FAST!

Some people didn’t like the whale tail, but instead preferred the tea tray spoiler. That always felt a bit like a half hearted attempt at 911 Turbo styling without committing to the full treatment. Aside from practical applications at high speeds, I really didn’t see a point in going halfway.

Flared Fenders
Although my preference is to see flared fenders with a whale tail, I have seen a few earlier Carreras with flared fenders and no whale tail that look pretty amazing. I suppose this goes on my timeless Porsche icon list largely due to their existing on the 911 Turbo model. One could probably argue that the 911 Turbo embodies darn near everything that I have loved about Porsche cars.

Again, this is one of those things that few other than Porsche could pull off without looking strange, aftermarkety, or just plain stupid. The integration of the fenders into the overall styling of the 911 body always made them feel like they just belonged. In most cases, you could look at nothing but the fender flares and know you were looking at a Porsche.

“Bug Eye” Lights
Another love or hate thing. Although I doubt people would equate Porsche to a car without the front end light treatment. This is one of those classic icons that has, for the most part, survived throughout 911 history and has even spilled over into other models. It’s dang tough not to recognize a 911 from just about any angle given this stylistic icon alone.

Hood Vent
This one may seem like a strange one, but for as long as I’ve liked Porsches, I’ve longed to see that hood vent at the bottom of my view looking out the windshield. Sure lots of cars have something functional on the hood to take in more air, but most of them look out of place and overdone. I really have no idea what the hood vent is even for and I couldn’t find an answer online in my quick search (“Do you even know what a balm does?!”). This goes on my list because it’s one of the things I absolutely love about 911 styling.

Alternate: Fast Back
I’m throwing this in as an alternate in case people hated the Hood Vent one. As much as the whale tail epitomizes and identifies the top of Porsche’s production line, the sleek sloping rear deck lid contributes largely to the minimalistic, yet carefully styled silhouette of the 911 model line. The shape is unmistakable as a Porsche. Again, it’s tough to not recognize the car for what it is from about any angle regardless of whether or not you can see the entire car.

See a common theme emerging from this list? Maybe I’m biased, but the 911 really is the long standing representation of the Porsche brand. I would venture to guess that by and large, when people hear the name “Porsche” they think of the 911. It will be interesting to see what the next 25 years brings and if the association with the name changes.

I’d love to hear what would be on your list. Add a comment with your favorite Porsche styling icons.


  1. Porsche has done the best job of keeping with some consistency in their models. I like your top 5. It really helps to build the reputation of the manufacturer in my opinion. I have always been a fan of the sleek look of the Ferrari but the newer models seem to be getting away from that tough, menacing look I loved growing up.

  2. 5 for 5 ! i agree with you on each and every one!

  3. I agree with the first 3.

  4. always liked the crest,but never knew it’s history.thanks!

  5. Those are five great examples. I do also love the whale tail in the years it was available.

  6. Phil Schneider says

    I like the bathtub shape

  7. mitchell says

    the whale tale to me is probably most emblematic. the prestigious crest second. sometimes i really like the lights, but other times they remind me of old VWs