While I was at Garage Company on Saturday for the Born Free Bike Night, I was captivated by one of the helmets in Yoshi’s huge display wall. This Porsche Design motorcycle helmet — clearly influenced by that of an astronaut — was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and actually went into limited production in the late ‘70s.
Porsche Design isn’t Porsche. Instead it’s a separate design consultancy that was founded by Ferdinand, designer of the original 911 and grandson of the car company’s founder. It looks like he actually penned this helmet himself.
Of this “CP 4” Porsche design says, “the integrated visor performs a unique function: unlike other helmets, it ensures safe riding even when partly or fully raised. The frontal outer shell protects the raised visor from damage and creates a distinctive two-tone look.”
So that astronaut’s helmet look isn’t just an affectation, it’s there to encapsulate the visor when open. What’s not clear is how doing so “ensures safe riding.” The only thing that comes to mind is the potential for added visor retention. Was that a problem in 1976, the year the helmet was designed?
Porsche says it designed the helmet for Kiwi, but it ended up being produced by tiny German label Romer. As you can see in this ad, which ran in a 1981 edition of American Motorcyclist, the Porsche Design helmet was sold in America, where it was DOT approved. Selling points appear to have been the Porsche name and integrated ventilation which employed the low pressure area behind the helmet to pull air through, similar to the way virtually every helmet ventilation system works today.
Long past their sell-by dates, these helmets apparently enjoy some limited collectibility. They occasionally pop up on eBay for anything from $75 to $200.