The launch of the new Porsche 991 Carrera 4 heralds the return of the full-width reflector between the rear lights – a Porsche 911 trademark for many years.
The latest reflector is very thin and some would say a pale reflection of previous attempts (sorry, couldn’t resist). However, I like it. It’s very elegant and, to my mind, better integrated into the design than that of the 997 Carrera 4.
Today, the reflector signifies four-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4s but when it was first introduced in 1974 it was fitted to all 911s, and remained so for many years.
Back then, such a reflector was a popular styling device, and had been used by, say, Ford and Vauxhall since the 1960s. There could be an argument for it making the car more visible from behind but, really, it was just there to look good, although it did become a usual home for the rear foglamp, which was previously bolted under the bumper.
The reflector disappeared with the launch of the all-new 996 in 1997, but then returned on the wide-bodied 996 Carrera 4S of 2001. This differed from previous ones in that it was attached to the engine cover, rather than being attached to the bodywork below.
When the 997 came along we once again thought that the reflector had been consigned to the history books.However, when the revised 997 range was launched in 2008, the wider-bodied Carrera 4 and 4S models gained a slimmer and more subtle interpretation of the popular styling device.