el jefe

"Dick who?"

behind the scenes was a genius. Porsche's design Chief Tony Lapine had a secret weapon on his hands. aside from 928 designer Wolfgang Möbius and 924 stylist Harm Legaaij, one man helped make the icons sing both physically and visually — Dick Söderberg.
I'm not surprised if you've never heard of this Porsche designer. few writers and historians mention his name these days, and that's a goddamned shame.  Dick was a graduate from the Los Angeles Art Center in Pasadena and a student of Strother MacMinn. Mac was one of the most influential automotive design professors in the history of Industrial Design. Chuck Pelly, designer of the Plymouth Voyager, Ford design chief Jack Telnack, GM's Tom Peters, Neil Walling of Chrysler, Willie Davidson, the tail after the hyphen of Harley-Davidson studied under Mac's tutelage.

after graduating, Dick began a stint at Opel in Germany during the late 60s before shuffling off to Porsche where he'd spend 28 years as Chief Designer of the Concept Studio there. 

if you own the very last Euro 924S' made, a 944 Turbo, 944S2, or 944S/944 with option M472 (winger rear embellisher), it's your responsibility to have Dick Söderberg's name written down on a piece of paper and memorized until his name becomes part of your vocabulary. if you own one of these Porsches and we meet in person, you'd better remember.
the abstract describes Dick's patent like this:

"A passenger motor vehicle rear section includes body parts extending adjacent the road surface and an apron which is so constructed that it performs a protective function for traffic participants who follow the vehicle as well as covering body parts and/or aggregates of the passenger motor vehicle and additionally is aerodynamically designed; the apron has the shape of a plate which extends in the vehicle longitudinal direction, is arranged at a distance to the body parts and is secured at the latter."

it was filed on June 23, 1986 as a continuation of an abandoned application filed on August 31, 1984—this file is on my research list for another time. on March 31, 1987, well after the first Turbos were out rolling around the globe with these diffusers on.

if you think this is simply a decorative piece, go and sell your Porsche, and buy a Prius. Porsche does absolutely nothing in the realm of pretentious semiotizations, semantic parlance for "extra bullshit to make something look better." 

the higher speeds of the Turbo, S2, and 944S/924S (optional), needed more downforce than the rear wing could provide. as the air flows under the car at higher speeds, the diffuser acts as a sort of manager reintegrating the air into the high pressure ambient air at the rear of the car. this reduces turbulence and drag while improving airflow under the car. 

if you study its shape on a Turbo or S2, you can begin to visualize how air flows though it. air from the sides of the car flows through the side wings (Fig, 2, Nº 18/20) integrating it with the turbulence coming from the roof and off the rear spoiler. the flow coming from under the car meets up with these confluences as it flows through the bottom part of the diffuser. the angle of the diffuser is also part of aerodynamic physics that must accurately calculated since it must prevent flow separation from the roof and sides.  

a more aggressive rear spoiler to further increase downforce would be the logical solution, but the cost of this increased downforce results in parasitic drag...you lose speed. the rear diffuser offers this extra downforce and lovely air mangement not only keeping the rear end planted, but doing it without unnecessary speed/power sucking drag. capiche, socio?

aside from being an aerodynamic aid, it leads a second life as a stone and dirt catcher the rear wheels kick up to prevent drivers up your trumpet or pedestrians from being pelleted. genius
the two figures above illustrate the flow velocity of the air under the body with red showing high velocity and blue showing low. ©Tudor Mirron and Sports Racer Network
Porsche has these parts named and numbered as follows:
  • 951 504 051 00 - winged rear apron (left)
  • 951 052 052 00 - winged rear apron (right)
so, do you understand the magnitude of Herr Söderberg's creation? more than just a design, he created a perfect solution to the dynamic physics involved with increased speed and horsepower. he also helped ignite a revolution that would spread into Formula 1; they began adopting rear diffusers in 1986.

imagine that, our little old 944 Turbos, S2s, and Ss, capitalized on technology created over 30 years ago that has become all the rage in contemporary automotive design. you, dear flüssiger, are driving one of the most advanced machines in the world created by people who shaped the future of automotive design as we knew it.


patent number: 4,653,795

the diffuser pieces



Anders Kåhrström
01/23/2017 15:05

Interesting! The rear diffuser on the 944 is piece of art,


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