Cars

Porsche Played a Surprising Role in the New ‘Star Wars’ Movie

Porsche, although now an automaker, was a design firm first. And building cars like the fast-charging Taycan, whose drive system forms the basis of a planned EV off-road racer, requires keeping one eye towards the future. But it also requires, at times, looking back. To a long, long time ago, in a galaxy really rather close. Perhaps that’s why the Porsche design team was approached by Lucasfilm to develop something special for Star Wars.

This wouldn’t be the first time an automaker and the Star Wars team partnered-up. But, while we’ve known that Porsche would help introduce a new film character, the German automaker also teased that something else was coming. Turns out, the Porsche design team made a Star Wars starship.

What exactly is ‘Porsche’ about this Star Wars starship?

Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter
Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter | Porsche

Officially named the Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter, the Porsche design team claim to have taken inspiration from several iconic Star Wars vessels. Specifically, the X-Wing, Y-Wing, and U-Wing. And if you look closely, you can see R2-D2 in the traditional astromech location. Leafing through my Star Wars Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, I can also see a bit of V-Wing and T-47 airspeeders, and even I-7 Howlrunner.

Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter overhead
Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter overhead | Porsche

But the Tri-Wing also takes inspiration from several Porsche models. For example, the sloping roof and general tapering of the cabin are said to resemble the 911 and Taycan. There’s also a bit of the 911’s engine cover louvers behind the cabin, complete with a third brake light. The Tri-Wing’s rear light bar also resembles Porsche’s current production one.

2020 Porsche Taycan
2020 Porsche Taycan | Porsche

The Taycan resemblance grows stronger in the front, according to Car and Driver and Roadshow. The ‘grille’ mimics the Taycan’s air intakes, for one. Also, the four-point lights resemble Porsche’s own four-beam units closely.

Porsche 918 Spyder
Porsche 918 Spyder | Porsche

The Tri-Wing’s cabin also has another Porsche model influence. Specifically, the pilot’s low seating position is said to be inspired by the 918 Spyder.

Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter cabin closed
Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter cabin closed | Porsche

Finally, the team wanted to stay true to Porsche’s perspective on design. So, instead of going tall and narrow, the designers went for wide and low, and overall, functional. All the instruments are aligned directly with the driver, just like in Porsche’s sportiest models. And nothing on the starship’s exterior is wasted.

Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter rearview
Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter rearview | Porsche

Porsche, sadly, has not revealed what kind of engines the Tri-Wing has. But based on the Star Wars universe, they’re probably ion engines. Wonder how it compares with the X-Wing at the Kessel Run.

Will this Porsche starship show up in the newest Star Wars film?

Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter cabin
Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter cabin | Porsche

Unfortunately, it appears that the Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter will not appear in The Rise of Skywalker. However, there will be a detailed 5-foot-long model of the starship present at the movie’s premiere in Los Angeles.

Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter sideview
Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter side view | Porsche

The Porsche design team themselves stated that most starships in the Star Wars films only appear on-screen for split-seconds at a time. And, being projected that way means the Tri-Wing would be only visible in 2D, as opposed to 3D for a real-life vehicle. So, why did Porsche work on this?

Can we expect further design projects like this from Porsche?

For one, publicity and marketing. Porsche is an extremely prominent automaker, and not only for the Taycan’s recent Nurburgring records. And with Star Wars hype cranking ever higher as The Rise of Skywalker premiere draws near, this is another well-considered marketing move.

But as the Porsche design team explained, this wasn’t just an ad opportunity. Usually, in designing vehicles, designers and engineers are limited by legislation, regulations, and so on. There are so many restrictions and design mandates. Having studied engineering, and having read multiple designer interviews, this is not something only Porsche people feel.

But designing an actual starship? Sketching out something that has to catch someone’s eye in an instant, and be instantly recognizable? That’s a challenge for engineers and artists alike. And Lucasfilm, in contrast to the automotive industry, had very few requirements. The Tri-Wing had to have two front entries, a large rear cargo door, and enough room inside for up to 5 crew members, including two pilots.

From that, the Porsche team produced the Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter. As a car and Star Wars fan, I hope the Force wills that more automakers design starships. It’d make for a fun pod-race update.