“Driving in Los Angeles in a Porsche, you just feel badass,” says Maria Sharapova. And it’s a good year for badasses at the Petersen Automotive Museum, where the yearlong exhibit “The Porsche Effect” opens Feb. 3, featuring rides like Steve McQueen’s 1958 356A 1600 Super Speedster (loaned by his son Chad), which the star raced at the Del Mar, Willow Springs and Laguna Seca race tracks.
“Are there three cooler words you can utter than ‘Steve McQueen’s Speedster’?” asks car guru Spike Feresten, who’ll speak at the Feb. 1 VIP preview. “I cannot wait for the show. I feel like I am going to be with my people that night,” he adds. “There is going to be some serious metal on display.”
Among the 50 highlighted cars are a 1939 Porsche Type 64 60K10 — the progenitor of all Porsches and the foundation for the Porsche aesthetic — as well as the first production car from the brand; a 1949 Porsche 356-2 “Gmu?nd” Coupe; and a slew of historic race cars including a 935 K3 belonging to philanthropist Bruce Meyer that won Le Mans in 1979, a 1985 959 “Paris-Dakar,” and Bruce Canepa’s $20 million-plus 1969 917K, winner of 1970’s 24 Hours of Daytona and painted in the iconic Gulf Blue and Orange livery.
While most car brands wouldn’t be able to sustain momentum over a yearlong show, Porsche resonates across Hollywood with stars from Patrick Dempsey to Jerry Seinfeld.
“I’m enchanted with the level of performance you get from the new models now. My first Porsche was a 1997 Boxster — the first year they were made — and I drove the new 718 Boxster, it’s outstanding what they have done; it has so much power.” says screenwriter Jon Hoeber (Warner Bros.’ upcoming horror entry The Meg).
Asked why the brand still has such deep currency in town, Hoeber replies, “Porsche is multigenerational cool. James Dean was cool when he had one, your dad was cool when he had one when you were a kid. I saw a Porsche 930 from the ‘80s pull up at a stop light recently and I thought, ‘That car is 30 years old but it’s still fucking cool.'”
Vintage models indeed hold a unique allure, notes Macan driver and top stylist Ilaria Urbinati, who recently took a friend’s 928 for a spin. “It’s just like the car from Risky Business,” she says. “I felt like I was going to the future while driving something from the past.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.