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The Porsche 963 #75 in Le Mans livery viewed from the top: The colors of former Le Mans vehicles enhance the design of the race car.

6/2/2023

From idea to racetrack: Interview with Stéphane Lenglin.

A childhood dream comes true.

Stéphane Lenglin loves cars – so much so that he has made them his profession. The Exterieur Designer has been involved in the design of quite a few Porsche vehicles so far and it was his hand that shaped the Porsche 963, while also earning it its stripes. Seven colors adorn the Hypercar and pay hommage to Porsche's history in Le Mans. Stéphane Lenglin spoke with us about his favorite topic: vehicle design.

Question: You’ve been working as an exterior designer for Porsche for about six years. What vehicle design has been your favorite so far and why?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: Yes, time flies. It's going to be seven years in July of me being part of the exterior design team. And I have been working on many projects over those years. From concept studies to production cars, but so far, my highlight will be the 992 GT3 – after the 963 of course.

 

Why that? First, because it was one of my first big projects, which I have led from the first sketch to production. Also, because that’s a car I would love to own, if I manage to save enough money… It's important to dream!

 

Question: What would you say defines the Porsche design DNA?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: First of all, the Porsche design DNA to me is the timeless and iconic design with an important history. It’s what makes the Porsche design so unique. We Porsche designers always look and take inspiration from the past of the brand to create the future of the Porsche identity. Porsche developed its own way of maintaining its identity over the years. Opting for consequent evolution instead of a complete revolution. There is also the idea of ""form follows function"", which is also important to the Porsche DNA. Porsche design is authentic and honest. The ""clean"" surface treatment and the proportions are equally important.

 

And of course, Porsche has its iconic design themes, which are visible in all model ranges: the roof flyline, signature window graphic, the low nose and pronounced shoulder. All this defines the Porsche DNA.

 

Question: What do you love about your job as exterior designer?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: Almost everything. Since I was a kid, I always loved drawing cars. Now, I have the luck to combine my hobby and my job. What I also really like is that I face new challenges every day. As exterior designer for Porsche, I like the fact that I have the possibility to work on very different projects from production car to design study and motorsport project. It’s never boring and I always learn new things.

 

Question: What inspires you when you begin to work on a new exterior design?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: At first, I like to start a project by getting a clear head. To achieve this, I listen to some peaceful music and sketch on a white sheet of paper. That is the best way for me to begin.

 

Then, I will take my inspiration from what is around me. That can be anything: objects, cars, architecture etc. A look into the past can also be really inspiring for me, because design is a bit like the fashion industry: It’s kind of a circle. Trends come and go. We just have to introduce a bit of a modern spin and technology to make it work.

A legend in the making.

Question: The Porsche 963 is subject to the regulations of the IMSA and WEC. How did you make those work for the design of the vehicle while maintaining the unique Porsche look?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: This was the hardest task to work on. But it is a part of my job as a designer, to work with regulation, package, etc. At the beginning of the project, I started to work without looking at the regulations, to allow for a maximum of freedom for creativity. Some weeks later, the regulation, package and engineer input came into the process.

 

I still remember the day I received the regulation file: It was just a lot of rectangular boxes into which I had to fit a race car inside (laughs). That is when the real task of designing the car starts: A couple of months of exchange and teamwork with the Porsche Motorsport Engineering Department, always with the “key sketch” as the main guideline and finally, we all together created the look of the race car as it is today.

 

Question: How does the design of a race car like the 963 differ from that of a road vehicle?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: I will say the overall proportion of the race car is very different from a road vehicle. The 963 is long, wide and flat. It has only one seat and no luggage space. Road cars are kind of the opposite. Race cars are also made to be the fastest on the track. Today, road cars have to be efficient, comfortable, safe etc. They both operate in different area but they have to share the same Porsche Design DNA.

 

Question: You seem to enjoy classic cars – does that apply to historic race cars as well? And: Can we find elements of those in the Porsche 963?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: Yes, I love classic cars and historic racing cars. They were not as fast as todays race cars, but they looked so unique.

 

There are some details in the 963, which have been inspired by the Porsche 962. For example the shape of the air intake in front of the windshield, as well as the aero feature behind the front wheels. The overall surface treatment was also inspired by the Porsche 917 – a clean and simple shape.

 

On top of that, with the regulations nowadays, we have a different era for form exploration. More aero, technology, performance, regulation and other stuff are involved. That is why the livery, and the name of the car also celebrate the historic race cars.

A view from the rear of the Porsche 963 in Le Mans livery.

A Butterfly for Le Mans.

Question: With the special Le Mans livery, you were brought back in to a vehicle you are well-familiar with. How was the process of developing the now iconic look?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: Yes, I was really happy when the colleague from Motorsport Marketing contacted and trusted me to also work on a special livery for the 100 Years of 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

The idea was not to completely rethink the livery, but more to create an evolution of it. In a way, we wanted to celebrate the past historic success of Porsche Motorsport. The livery of these previous cars was so unique and recognizable, that’s why we decided to use the main colors of each of those successful cars and apply them to the existing livery. After a couple of loops regarding what color to take and in which order to apply it on the car (as it had to be perfectly harmonious), we agreed on the final livery. Thanks again for the great teamwork and collaboration!

 

Question: Out of all the vehicles that inspired the Le Mans livery, which design did you like the most?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: I like all of them to be honest. They are all special. The fact that the people still remember them after all these years is impressive to me. Porsche always did a great job of that. But if I had to choose one, I will say it's the Salzburg livery.

 

Question: The fans have dubbed the Le Mans livery “Butterfly”. What do you think of the nickname?

 

Stéphane Lenglin: I did also vote for “Butterfly”. I think it’s cool. It does bring a bit of a poetic feel to the overall project.

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