A feature on the 911’s rear for more than 40 years, the rear reflector panel truly is a design icon
We explore why the rear reflector panel is so beloved by enthusiasts
Porsche’s overriding ethos has very much been one of function over form, and nowhere has that been more evident than on the 911. that’s not to say that it didn’t ignore the value of appealing aesthetics, which explains why the company decided to garnish the rear of the neunelfer with a neatly styled reflector panel from 1974.
linking the rear light units, it brought a more cohesive look to an otherwise unused area of metalwork, and embellished with that famous Porsche script it soon became a trademark element of the overall design. it would make its first appearance on the 2.7-litre g-series models, making the rear of the car allegedly more visible at night. However, it wouldn’t be long before Porsche’s desire for continuous development led the company to make the panel more functional. Just a few years into carrera 3.2 production it had become the perfect location for the rear fog lamps, finally doing away with separate items hung rather untidily below the rear bumper, and the Porsche script was now red rather than the more contrasting black.
With the 964 there was a chance to develop things further, this time seeing the reversing lamps moved from the main rear light cluster to the outer edges of the panel, blended in to the red reflector. Having been a feature for nigh-on two decades there was no need to mess with a successful recipe, the 993 maintaining the look, but with its small, oblong reversing lamps now more prominent, although its successor would mark a significant departure by doing away with it altogether. Yes, the overall look was cleaner, but it was certainly missed, hence it’s much-welcomed return on the wide-bodied 996 c4s, where it was attached to the engine lid rather than the bodywork beneath. After a brief hiatus with the 997.1 generation, a slimmer reflector panel returned for the 997.2 as a key design trait of 4Wd carrera models, before evolving into a full-blown running light on the 4Wd 991-generation cars.
As an intrinsic part of the 911 for more than four decades, it remains a focus of interest for enthusiasts. in fact, it doesn’t take long to find entire forum discussions devoted to it, which perhaps tells us all we need to know about this unique piece of Porsche design.
“An intrinsic part of the 911… it remains a focus of interest for enthusiasts”