Book Review: Porsche Showroom Posters: The First 25 Years
Author: Everett Anton Singer
Format: Hardcover, 12” x 12”, 50 pages
Price: $78.96 Hardcover; $39.95 Softcover
Review by Lee Robie
The fun thing about writing for Sports Car Digest is that I get to read books that I would never have otherwise known about. And so it is with Tony Singer’s Porsche Showroom Posters: The First 25 Years, an eclectic collection of historical Porsche factory posters.
As it says in the introduction, “Porsche…used print media, posters in particular, to spread the word about their great cars, create branding, and connect to the public.” Some posters were produced in sufficient quantities to give to customers, while others were intended just for display by the dealers. Original Porsche posters from this era are hard to find, commanding prices in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. The de facto reference guide for collectors was published by Jurgen Lewandowski in 1984.
To understand Porsche Showroom Posters, you first need to understand Tony Singer. Besides being a memorabilia dealer and long time Porsche 356 fanatic, Singer’s professional background is in high-end color printing. He’s an expert in accurate color reproduction, but more than that, he’s particular. He attends to details. Precision matters to him. It turns out that Lewandowski’s Porsche Poster Book, updated and re-issued in early 2008, didn’t sit well with Tony Singer.
He told me that he was so disappointed with the layout choices and color inaccuracies in the Lewandowski book that he resolved to publish his own book. He carefully controlled the scanning and production process, and self-published, retaining highly-regarded Hemlock printers to produce the final product. I wouldn’t know mahogany metallic from macadamia, but I do know that Tony Singer sweated the details to get this book right.
At fifty pages and twelve inches square, Porsche Showroom Posters is an odd-shaped book; reading it is kind of like flopping open an old double LP. The posters date from 1949 to 1974, and are presented in chronological order. Each page is a single poster identified with its original dimensions and country of origin (Germany or America); the year and artist are included only if they appeared on the original poster.
About half of the 45 posters feature photographs of the 356 or 911 models from that era, with the rest employing drawings and artwork. The cars look clunky by modern standards, and its interesting to see how they were pitched in a simpler time. Eight of the posters illustrate the exclusive and highly desirable “Porsche lifestyle” of money, beautiful women, and gentlemanly sports. They are annotated with the chauvinistic marketing slogans of the time, such as “For carefree country life” or my favorite, “911: A new coupe for the man who has ‘arrived’.”
Fully ten of the images feature detailed technical illustrations. If you need a refresher on how to lube a 356, or want to kick back and study a 1960 wiring diagram, you’re in luck. Several of the posters trumpet Porsche’s crash-worthiness, including one featuring a letter to Ferry Porsche from the father of a man who trashed his 356 on a “bad curve.” I imagine that, for quite a few unsuspecting drivers, the sudden trailing-throttle oversteer of these cars made crash-worthiness an extremely important feature.
Porsche Showroom Posters is a specialty, low-volume title intended as a reference for memorabilia collectors, dealers, and Porsche enthusiasts. For a general reader like me, some additional background information, or even an annotated table of contents, would have been helpful. But for its intended audience, I suspect that the posters alone are sufficient to tell the story.
The hard cover edition that I reviewed is beautifully produced on high quality stock with a dust jacket and cloth cover; it sells for around $87.00 and is limited to 356 (get it?) signed and numbered copies. Singer reports that it is already about two thirds sold out. A soft cover edition sells for $48.00. Both prices include shipping direct from VintageAutoPosters.com, where you can view the entire contents online and try before you buy.