When the Porsche Panamera debuted, it took enthusiasts aback. Not only did it have four doors and an engine that was in the wrong place, but it was also ugly as sin.
At the time, the Panamera’s homely looks seemed like the inevitable conclusion of any attempt to stretch the 911’s iconic styling features over the frame of a large luxury sedan.
However, it turns out that Porsche could have done better. It already had.
The 1988 Porsche 989 sedan concept (seen here via 6SpeedOnline) provides a glimpse at a four-door model that might have been. It looks like a 911 with more generous rear accommodations, which is to say, it looks good.
The 989 was actually created under similar circumstances as the Panamera. In the 1980s Porsche was looking to both expand its customer base and move upmarket, just as it was in the 2000s.
While Porsche added the Cayenne, Cayman, and Panamera to its lineup during the Bush Administration, the front-engined V8 928 was the center of attention during Reagan years. Porsche executives thought this more luxurious coupe would eventually surpass the 911 as the company’s flagship.
In that context, a four-door model makes perfect sense. However, as the 1990s dawned sales of the 928 collapsed, while the traditional 911 experienced a resurgence in popularity.
Some of the 989’s styling was translated to subsequent 911 generations, but the car itself never saw production.
Instead, Porsche returned to the concept nearly two decades later with the Panamera, which is likely a better sedan than the 989 could have been, but is nowhere near as pleasing to look at.