Perhaps no car company has mastered the art of spinning off model derivatives quite like Porsche. Want a 911? Pick from 15, with more on the way. Feel like something cheaper and mid-engined? Help yourself to one of 10 different 718 models. Care for an SUV? Choose from a dozen different Cayennes, or four Macans (though you'll soon be able to grab an electric one as well).
But Porsche never stops innovating, either; they're constantly finding new ways to remix or tweak those existing model ranges into new variants. Still, we certainly weren't expecting anything as wild as what this 911 prototype recently spied on the Nurburgring Nordschleife might suggest: that Zuffenhausen could be fooling around with the idea of an off-road 911.
The car in question was caught whipping around the 'Ring by the YouTube channel known as Statesidesupercars during a manufacturer test session at the fabled race track. While it only appears for a few seconds, but it's obvious that something is off about this black Porsche: it's based on a regular 911 Carrera, but seems to be riding a bit higher than normal, and there are weird, exaggerated wheel arches that seem to be there to disguise the larger wheel gaps. (Skip to 4:52 if you just want to see the wild 911.)
Spy photos obtained by Motor1 provide a better look at the weird 911 (they paid good money for them so we're not going to steal them, but you can see them here). It does indeed seem to ride a couple inches taller than your average 911, suggesting Porsche has tacked on extra suspension travel. Unless Porsche is trying to see if they can fit 28-inch rims on a sports car, the most obvious explanation for this would seem to be that the carmaker is toying with the idea of a 911 with vaguely SUV-like off-road capabilities.
Especially considering that an all-terrain 911 isn't as random or wild an idea as it might seem. The Porsche 959 that paved the way for the modern 911 served as an off-road rally car several decades ago; in more recent years, a handful of people have made a cottage industry out of lifting 911s and turning them into surprisingly effective off-roaders. There's the Keen Project Safari 911, which is a Porsche 964 turned into a de facto rally car; noted Porsche tuners Gemballa and Ruf have recently released their own interpretations of a Safari 911, as well.
Given all that interest...would it be that much of a surprise to see the 911's creator take a stab at making an all-terrain version?