In an article I wrote for 911 & Porsche World magazine I talked about how I liked the first generation 986 Boxster because it "left off everything that could be left off". I would like to expand on this thought a bit.
The vintage car I have linked in above is the 1948 Porsche #1. The one. The first Porsche. A true, glorified VW. What is important to note is the extreme reserve in the design. The lack of anything busy or fussy. And this is at a time when most automobiles had quite a bit of busy, fussy things going one. Look at any 1948 MG, Jaguar, Fiat, etc and you will see what I mean. They were rolling Victorian drawing (and in some case tea) rooms. This first Porsche did what is hardest and stayed pure and clean. The hardest part in designing anything is to leave things off. A house. An ad. A watch. It is easy to add and add. Make bigger and bolder. But that will only lead to a fad.
Now look at the 987 Boxster compared to the 986. The most vulgar of the design changes is the side vent. The ones that feed air to the engine. The new 987 has large, hard edged gashes often pimped with chrome or carbon fiber. I am sure someone out there will say, "It is functional, the engine needs more air so the practical engineers made the vents larger." Maybe. But I also know that they thought the new design made the car seem more muscular, powerful.
Also notice the redesigned bumpers. Both front and rear now feature deeper creases. More aggressive venting and flaring. Even the wheels are busier by a factor of ten.
This Boxster to Boxster comparison is a small sampling of where Porsche is going design wise. They are straying ever further from their roots in search of a new, broader market. If I put a picture of the Cayman, Cayenne or new 997 (excepting the base Carrera) the family heritage would be tough to see. Don't even get me started on some of the options Porsche makes available like contrasting seat belts, emblazoned wind screens and aero kits for non GT3 cars.
And Porsche is not the only manufacturer to yield to the pressure, wrongly desired, of new and fancy. Look at the pure Audi TT generation one next to the new, bloated version. The Mercedes SLK today has such a busy snout it looks as if the person who did the makeup for Mr. Mistoffelees designed it.
This is not to say I do not like progress and new models. I love it. I look forward to new releases like a fat kid looks forward to pizza day at school. It's just that some times, it would be nice to have a well-prepared cheese pizza versus a messy stack of 'the works' that leaves your slice wilting and dripping.
Pictures from canadiandriver and seriouswheels.com