Daniel Arsham Shares Porsche Passion Interview

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Recently we caught up with artist Daniel Arsham about his passion for Porsche while he was in Bangkok Thailand for his most recent show: BANGKOK 3024 — an exhibition created in collaboration and celebration of luxury lifestyle destination Central Embassy‘s 10th anniversary.

The conversation was graciously hosted by rare and vintage Porsche showroom 911 Assistant, which is also the first and only authorized RUF dealer in the country. Speaking with Hypedrive, Arsham shared a broad range of reflections and aspirations when it comes to Porsche, including an inventory of what he’s owned and owns, as well as insights on recent projects and projects he dreams of.

Sparked by Sketching

“Porsche was the car I was drawing as a 10 year old. When I finally got to the point that I needed a car in high school, Porsche was the car I wanted but I couldn’t afford it at that point,” Arsham shared.

What he could afford after working three summers was a 1989 Saab 900 Turbo, which he joked was as close as he could get to the Porsche universe at the time.

“A morphing shape that’s been consistent since 1965.”

Touching on why Porsche, Arsham expressed “a lot of it has to do with following the design language,” adding “from high school watching the 993 generation come out and then the 996 and following this morphing shape that really has been consistent since 1965.”

From the perspective of an artist or designer, he further explained that being able to understand and trace the design lineage throughout all the periods has been inspiring.

“One of the amazing things, especially just walking around here and seeing all these different cars, is that the design language has these key characteristics, you can look at a 1965 911 and a 2023 911 and see these characteristics that are very familiar,” he shared, as he referred to 911 Assistant’s showroom.

“You drive in one of those cars and it’s almost like a time machine of that era.”

Identifying a few significant years, Arsham reflected that despite the underlying characteristics, the ‘73, ‘75 and ‘87 have a “zeitgeist character” and that when “you drive in one of those cars, it’s almost like a time machine of that era — and there’s something really magical about that.”

The Garage

In a rapid-fire session, Arsham shared a brief overview of what he’s owned, what he currently owns and what he dreams of owning at some point in time — in essence, a glimpse into the past, present and future of his ever-evolving garage.

Starting with the past, the artist shared that his first ever Porsche was a 1986 930 Turbo. Others he’s owned but has since let go of include a beloved 1955 Speedster and a near-end-of-production example of the 1998 993 with an Artic Silver exterior over a Boxster Red interior, a car he somewhat wishes he still had.

While the current collection is perhaps too numerous to list in full, Arsham shared that a few highlights include a Japanese-delivered 1991 964 in Mint Green, a 1987 930 Turbo Safari built by Leh Keen in collaboration with Stone Island, an ultra-rare 1992 Macau 964 RS in Amethyst with a uniquely leather-wrapped interior and a 993 project car he’s working on with celebrated mechanic Greg Anagnostopoulos.

Digging up additional examples, Arsham added that there’s also an ‘89 “Sculpture” 911 finished in Coppa Florio Blue, an all-original 1978 SC in Sand Beige, the 930A project car (up for auction via Pharrell’s JOOPITER auction) and a fully refurbished 1980 911 Junior which the artist shares with his sons.

If he could choose any Porsche to own, Arsham said it would be either a “959 or a Carrera GT,” stating that “I’ve driven both but if I had to pick one it would be the 959.” As for his reasoning, he explained that “there’s an incredible mechanic, creator, dealer in California named Bruce Canepa — he creates these reformed 959s and I saw one last year at Pebble Beach — THAT’s the grail.”

Passing Projects

“All the cars for me are these sort of projects in a way, even if I don’t do anything to them, they’re experiences that I have for a particular moment and I’m kind of moving through them,” shared Arsham. Recent examples of this include project cars like the ‘89 G body Porsche that was the key basis for a sculptural work by the artist. He further explained that his cars, like his works, don’t remain hidden behind closed doors but are instead brought out into the world.

Other recent projects include the RWBA, which started as a project between RAUH-Welt BEGRIFF‘s founder Akira Nakai and Arsham but later blossomed into something greater with Porsche and collectibles platform Rally.

Sharing the story, Arsham explained that he had been introduced to Nakai just before the pandemic and that the two wanted to work on a car that hadn’t been done before, which landed them on the 964 Slantnose, “all glassed in and with a fully dripped Arsham Green interior.” The car made its debut in Japan, catching the attention of Porsche in the region and officially becoming part of the automaker’s 75th anniversary celebration.

Fast forward to Mid-April, the vehicle made its way to New York as part of a collaboration with collectibles trading platform Rally, providing enthusiasts a chance to own a fraction of the vehicle — an opportunity which saw just over 500 individual collectors buy out  31,500 shares, priced at $10 USD each, in just 11 minutes.

Speaking on the platform and collaboration, Arsham shared: “I think the concept that Rally has come up with is super unique, this kind of fractional ownership of something, not to mention the shares were only $10 dollars. To be able to participate, go to a museum and see this car there and say ‘I own a piece of that car,’ I think that’s pretty great.”

While his next project can’t be driven, they’re certainly collectible and highly coveted items within the automotive world: his collaboration with Hot Wheels. At the time of this interview, Arsham was leaving Bangkok to wrap up Lap Four, the final release of his four-part series with the legacy toy maker, which features eight total vehicles, four of which are Porsches. “There’s so many different cars I could have done with Hot Wheels, so a lot of it was trying to narrow it down and some cases had to do with what molds they already had.”

“It was all about creating innovation for Hot Wheels, something they had never done before.”

He expressed that if they already had a mold it allowed him to do other things with the wrap or decals, like the 930A, which he noted was one of the more difficult vehicles to produce largely due to the detail involved with the finish. He also noted that material quality was important, especially with the cast cars that featured soapstone — a material developed and used for the first time as part of this project.

“It was all about creating some innovation for Hot Wheels, something they had never done before but getting it to function and work correctly. We wanted these things to move through the tracks in the same way. Overall it was really fun to be out in California at Mattel’s Innovation Lab and play with their Hot Wheels designers.”

When asked what his dream Porsche to work on as a project or collaboration would be, Arsham said without hesitation that it would have to be the Panamericana, after seeing it at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart Germany. “I don’t know whether or not I’d turn it into a sculpture, [but] it’s an incredible car — a prototype study that they had done, kind of around the time the 959 was developed but pre 964 and it has a lot of these really radical styling queues that became part of the future of the 911 design language.”

EV Inevitability 

With news of Porsche releasing a hybrid 911, alongside an increased broader trend toward fully electric sports cars, we got Arsham’s opinion on the state of the space, especially as he leans more towards the classics.

“I think it’s inevitable that all cars are going to be electric at some point. Certainly, I’ve driven the Taycan, all of the Tesla cars and it’s just a different thing for me.”

Not taking a stance on good or bad, he shared that there’s something about the mechanical quality of the cars he personally collects, highlighting aspects like the refurbishing process and the experiences that come with it like working with Anagnostopoulos — expressing “there’s a different level of artistry in them.”

However, he did acknowledge that there’s a difference in driving experience as well and that a lot of these collector cars aren’t designed for significant travel or for moving efficiently around the city in the modern era, noting that as the tech evolves EV culture and cars will become its own thing.

If you’re interested in learning more about the artist’s passion for Porsche or asking your own questions, then we encourage you to check out his dedicated automotive Instagram, carsham.jpg, where “if you know the rating system we can be friends.”

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