Porsche's Auto Exotica

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STEEL BEAUTIES: Car fans gaze upon Porsche's iconic autos

The financial crisis may have taken a bite out of Porsche's sales figures, but there's still reason to celebrate at the automaker's headquarters in the southern German city of Stuttgart. Yes, it's a year late, but the spectacular new Porsche Museum is finally finished and has just opened to the public.

Designed by Viennese architecture firm Delugan Meissl, the spaceship-like structure rests on only three pillars, making it appear as if the building is floating. At the museum's heart is a 60,280-sq.-ft. (5,600 sq m) exhibition hall housing around 80 cars — some of them are still used for racing — along with numerous smaller exhibits on all things Porsche.

All of this history is on show in a historically significant location: the museum is in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, the otherwise obscure district where, in 1938, Ferdinand Porsche built the first VW Beetle, and, a year later, the 64 — the forefather of Porsche sports cars ever since. But you may prefer to skip the history and simply admire the stunningly beautiful automobiles. Car lovers can spend all day taking in models such as the 356 No. 1 Roadster (released in 1948, it was the first sports car ever to bear the Porsche name), an armada of 917 racing cars, and numerous variations on the iconic 911, whose shape still best captures the Porsche spirit.

From the foyer in the basement, you can take a peek into the workshop where mechanics restore classic vehicles, or have a look inside the museum's archive, where journalists and researchers can study the Porsche story through millions of photos, documents, books and films. And, of course, there's a gift shop, for those who have always dreamed of owning their own Porsche — even if it's just a little one. For more information, visit www.porsche.com/international/aboutporsche/porschemuseum.

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