EP1 black/green-blue Tartan used on the '79 924 Turbo
some love it and some squeeze their eyes shut in utter distaste—remaining true to my eccentric dandy tastes, I'm the former. but perhaps there's more too it than just a whim when Porsche chose to use textiles reserved for trendy pajamas and golf pants, it seems they understood the underlying message of what Tartan represented and fittingly adapted it to their cars.
if you were preoccupied with tryng to steal a peek of forbidden fruit up the history teacher's skirt, or too baked to care, you'd've missed how the Union of 1707 between Scotland and England was terribly unpopular with the Highlanders. the Scots had had enough of Britain's shite and a series of uprisings ensued, the major ones being the Jacobite Rising of 1717, and then 1745 finally coming to a head in the Battle of Cullonden in 1746.
now it must be known that Tartan clothing was extremely popular in Scottish Highland culture; so much so that throughout the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries, Tartan clothing was seen to be characteristic of Highland dress. since it became the indentity of Scottish Gael, the British imposed the Dress Act of 1746 after the Scots were defeated in the Battle of Cullonden that year which forbade the wearing of Tartan dress in the Highlands in an attempt to castrate the rebellious spirit of Scottish culture. problem is, you simply can't remove the rebel from the Highlander.
EP2 brown/brown-beige Tartan used on the '79 924 Turbo
if you've made the connection between the short history lesson and what may be the motive behind Porsche's adoption of Tartan, our thinking is parallel...for the moment.
now before I go off an some wild tangent, let me explain the differences between Tartan and Plaid since many think they are one in the same. the general rule goes something like this; all Tartans are Plaids but not are Plaids are Tartans. Plaids, as defined by modern designers, are patterns of stripes that meet at right angles whilst Tartans are horizontal and vertical patterns that match thus creating a perfect grid.
in Scotland however, what's considered Plaid or 'plaide' comes from the Gaelic word for 'large wrap or blanket which is also known as 'The Belted Plaid' as it's a blanket that has been gathered and belted around the waist. so 'Tartan and 'Plaid' are not two different types of design, 'Plaid' is type of garment and 'Tartan' is the actual pattern of cloth the garment is made from. because the 'Plaides' where made from Tartan cloth, the confusion is understandable.
1979 911 brochure with a few Tartan options
page from a 914 seat cloth brochure
1978 928 sporting a smart set of AL6 brown/brown-beige Tartan seats.
and another '78 928 whose seats wear an AL2 black/red-blue version of Tartan.
even the 968 offered a form of "Plaid" as seen in this rare case.
it's easy to see how the origins of Tartan might influence a more romanticised approach in design. but the fact is, I really want to believe that the intention of Porsche's designers who chose this lovely cloth was to underscore their product's rebelliousness against conventionalism. after all, Zuffenhausen have successfully gone their own way with rear-engine/air-cooled design followed by mid-engine/air-cooled. the 928 came along furthering the commoner's perception of egg-shaped/meatball-without-a- face-and-ass weirdo design that clearly stood the test of time proving resistent to fads, but I'm afraid I might be accused of spewing idealist rhetoric. you see, as much as I'd like to consider this an esoteric concept with a deeper meaning that others could never figure out, Porsche's use of Tartan cloth may just have been in tune with the fashion of the times.
Tartan/Plaid was very popular in the 70's as it was used in and on anything imaginable be it sport coats, shoes, maxi pads, wallpaper, or condoms. the punk movement picked up on it, Queen Elizabeth the II's Royal Stewart Tartan was mocked by appopriation with the punk movement in England, and then the counterculturalists and grunge movement took it from there.
with this argument, it all begins to make more sense in a fairly logical and obvious scope. but I'll err on the side of esotericism and pretend to feel privvy to Porsche's intentions while I turn my nose up at the oik who opines that his grandmother has a tablecloth that looks exactly like the inlays in my seats.highball!image sources: http://www.914world.com, http://forums.pelicanparts.com, http://rennlist.com
924 seats are currently offered on eBay.de:http://www.ebay.de/1, http://www.ebay.de/2
at the end of the day, no one gives two shits about the origins of Tartan when there are more important things vying to entertain your eyes.