The beautiful story of Elmar Rossmayer and his 911 Targa

Christophe Bonnaud

Elmar Rossmayer has a special history, and nothing predestined him to produce 1/5th scale models of Porsche cars for the parent company. It was a member of the Porsche family who discovered the model maker’s talents when he saw a model boat on display at the Lindau Yacht Club… boat on display at the Lindau Yacht Club near Lake Constance. A small brass plate shows the model builder’s contact details, which were immediately written down in a notebook by the Porsche person.

Shortly afterwards, Elmar Rossmayer received a call from Zuffenhausen, asking him if he could build model cars, and more specifically… Porsche. The virtuoso craftsman remembers first asking his wife what she thought. He was clearly impressed by the growing brand and wondered if he had the skills to meet such a demand. But as octogenarian Elmar Rossmayer confided to the manufacturer’s communications editor in April 2022, when this story was made, “I had nothing to lose! “

His first Porsche in this famous 1/5th scale was a 911 Coupé. The blue Targa, which has been added to the “50 Years of Porsche Design” exhibition in the Zuffenhausen Museum, is the second commission for the German manufacturer. Tobias Mauler, head of exhibitions in the Stuttgart museum team, says: “These models are attracting more and more interest from our visitors. Perhaps this is because they remind many people of the model collections of their childhood. They obviously have a strong emotional resonance.”

But back to Elmar Rossmayer and his Targa. This virtuoso craftsman trained as a mechanic at Maybach in Friedrichshafen and has always preferred to be in the workshop rather than in a classroom: “When I started my training, drilling, filing and milling were nothing new to me. I had started testing my skills with model cars from a young age, starting with boats.” The Targa, however, posed a very special challenge for the expert craftsman: “Porsche wanted a complete interior, a removable Targa roof and a removable rear window. And while the 1/5th scale Coupé had no interior and wheels with hubcaps, the blue Targa was supposed to be on Fuchs rims. It was an extra task.”

In the age of 3D printers this would not have been a problem, but 55 years ago, when this remarkable miniature was created, the 1/5th scale Targa was a matter of imagination and, above all, improvisation. It all started with the bodywork, which today gleams with a flawless blue paint job. “For me, only one solution made sense: epoxy resin. But that means first making a wooden model of the right size and casting a negative and then a positive mould for each part. Then the epoxy resin hardens perfectly and you can work on it very well.” Time and again, Rossmayer had to find solutions for the details. He recalls, “I reproduced the patterned texture of the lower part of the dashboard with the profile of a shoe sole, which I had to cut to size.”

Even something as mundane as a perfectly ordinary tyre can be a major challenge. The model maker from Bad Schussenried, a spa town in Baden-Württemberg, explains: “I started by cutting out the widest tread and then inserted a part that imitates the narrow grooves. Such fine structures cannot be milled directly in 1/5th scale. Afterwards, the whole thing had to be sanded down again. The letters for the writing on the tyres came from a typewriter and were inserted into the basic shape in the correct order and then moulded perfectly. I used a similar method for the raised tyre formats on the sidewalls.”

The Fuchs rims are also small works of art, meticulously shaped into their original form on the lathe. Like on the real car, they are bolted on and can be removed. The model is just as refined on the inside. The sun visors are adjustable and the position of the seats can be changed. The five round dials of the cockpit instruments are of course perfectly legible. “I simply photographed them and then shrunk them to the exact size.

The five dials are of course protected by glass. In the end, it was the delivery to Porsche that caused Rossmayer the most problems. “I was very nervous. I smoked a packet of cigarettes on the way there, wondering if Porsche would like the model. And on the way back I was happy that the Targa was so well received. I smoked another whole pack on the spot!”

Porsche was happy to pay the price for this unusual Targa. The modeller charged exactly 1,257.75 hours at ten marks per hour. And the Targa was almost lost to Porsche, as it returned to Rossmayer’s workshop, along with a 1/5th scale model of a Porsche 914. “At one point I was there in my own little kingdom, and I wondered what would happen to these treasures once I was no longer there,” he recalls. “I knew right away that I had to call Porsche. The models had to go back home to Zuffenhausen.” “When we got these gems back, we were speechless, in the best sense of the word,” Mauler continues. “We were then able to restore the Targa for the exhibition.

Text and archive: Communication Porsche AG and Porsche AG Archive.

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Elmar Rossmayer a une histoire particulière, et rien ne le prédestinait à produire des maquettes à l’échelle 1/5e de modèles Porsche pour la maison mère. C’est un membre de la famille Porsche qui a découvert les talents du modéliste en voyant un modèle réduit de… bateau exposé au Yacht Club […]

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