1:5 Scale Model Porsche Targa

This impressively detailed 1:5 scale Porsche 911 Targa was created using imaginative craftsmanship and improvisation, over 50 years before the advent of 3D printing would have seen off most of the challenges associated with the build.

May 4, 2022

The Targa, the first open-top 911, confronted expert craftsman Elmar Rossmayer with a very special challenge, especially as Porsche’s commission included a fully detailed and functional interior.

The blue 1:5-scale Targa today forms part of the ‘50 Years of Porsche Design’ exhibition at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart.

A highlight of the ‘50 Years of Porsche Design’ special exhibition currently being held at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, this 1:5-scale model Porsche 911 Targa was built entirely by hand and from scratch: from measuring, filing, and casting to drilling, milling and turning.

Despite being something of an automotive jewel, it was actually a model ship that formed the impetus for the 911 Targa project.

While at the Württembergischer Yacht Club in Lindau on Lake Constance, a member of the Porsche family discovered an exquisite model in a display case. A small brass sign below the case was engraved with the name of the model maker: Elmar Rossmayer.

“It all began with this sign,” says Rossmayer, now aged in his 80s.

It wasn’t long afterwards that he received a call from Porsche in Zuffenhausen asking if he could also build model cars.

“First, I asked my wife what she thought of it. For my part, I was a bit scared of biting off more than I could chew. Porsche, this world-famous company, wants me to build them a model? But really, I had nothing to lose.”

His model-building career started with an early 911 Coupé. The blue 1:5-scale Targa that today forms part of the ‘50 Years of Porsche Design’ exhibition was Rossmayer’s second order from the sports car manufacturer.

“Such pieces are increasingly garnering more attention. We’ve noticed that models are particularly appealing to our visitors,” says Tobias Mauler, the man responsible for small exhibits in the museum. “Perhaps that’s partly because they remind so many people of their own childhood model collections. They clearly have a strong emotional resonance.”

Porsche has hundreds of small exhibits in its collection – not only models, but also trophies, sculptures and technical miniatures that illustrate how different technology functions. The manufacturer says such historical gems can be the magic ingredients that spice up the exhibition and add a new facet to the topics on display. The work of Elmar Rossmayer is intrinsic to that.

The virtuoso craftsman trained as a mechanic with Maybach in Friedrichshafen and had always preferred being in the workshop to the classroom.

“When I started my training, drilling, filing, and milling were nothing new for me. I had started testing my skills with models at an early age, beginning with ships,” says Rossmayer.

But the Targa, the first open-top 911, nevertheless confronted the expert craftsman with a very special challenge.

“Porsche wanted a complete interior, a removable Targa roof and rear window that could be removed. And while the 1:5- scale Coupé had no interior and wheels with hubcaps, the blue Targa was supposed to be on Fuchs rims. That was an additional task,” he says.

In the age of 3D printers none of this would have been a problem, but 54 years ago, when the miniature was created, the 1:5-scale Targa was a matter of imaginative craftsmanship and, above all, improvisation.

It started with the body, which today shines in impeccable blue paint.

“For me, only one solution made any sense: epoxy resin. What that means, however, is that you first must make a wooden model of the right size and cast a negative and a positive mould for each part. Then the epoxy resin hardens perfectly, and you can rework it really well.”

Time and again, Rossmayer had to find solutions for the details. For example, he replicated the patterned texture in the lower part of the dashboard with the profile of a shoe sole, which had to be cut down to the right size.

Even something as banal as a perfectly ordinary tyre can pose a daunting challenge. The model maker started by cutting the tread wider and then inserting a piece that mimicked the narrow grooves, as such fine structures can’t be milled directly on a 1:5 scale model.

Rossmayer then sanded the whole thing again. The letters for the writing on the tyres came from a typesetter and were inserted into the basic form in the correct order and then cast perfectly. A similar method was utilised for the raised tyre formats on the sidewalls. The Fuchs rims were little works of art as well, painstakingly crafted into their original form on the lathe. As on the full-size car, they were fastened with bolts and can be removed.

The model was equally refined in the interior. The sun visors are adjustable, and the seat positions can be altered. Naturally, the five round instrument dials in the cockpit are fully readable.

“I simply photographed them and then shrank them to the exact size. All five dials are protected by glass, of course,” says the master modelmaker.

Sometime after taking delivery of the Targa, it was almost lost to Porsche again, because it went back to Rossmayer and his workshop, together with the 1:5-scale model of a Porsche 914.

“At some point I stood here in my little realm and thought, what would happen to these treasures once I was gone?” he remembers. “I knew at once: I had to call Porsche. The models had to return home to Zuffenhausen.”