Saliva gland torture
Let’s face it. You’re not a proper petrol-head unless you had a poster of a whale-tail Porsche 911 on your bedroom wall and knew the difference between a 924, 944 and 968. You might prefer the dramatic Italian offerings or brute American muscle, but any car fundi should entertain a sizable amount of respect for the Stuttgart sports cars.
I’m no different and have always admired Porsches for their simple and no-nonsense (read: German) approach to performance motoring. No backwards butterfly doors, sixteen exhaust pipes and/or high-strung one-off engines. And like it or not, every time a new player enters the performance arena they seem to have their sights set squarely on Porsche and its enduring 911.
It should thus come as no surprise that I continued my pilgrimage from the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart straight over to Zuffenhausen and Porsche’s counterpart. With half the heritage and even less products on offer, the latter museum is only a quarter the size but no less impressive.
Three of four floors will torture any Porsche fan’s saliva glands, while the ground floor houses a trendy café / restaurant and credit card munching gift shop. I’m sorry, but I just had to purchase the Porsche-shaped cookie forms for a friend of mine.
Much like Mercedes, the Porsche exhibition starts chronologically with early prototypes and distinct reminders that the nine-eleven’s dad was called Herr Käfer (beetle). The progression from beetle to 911 obviously encompasses 356 and other elegant shapes but, unlike Mercedes with its dedicated levels, you’re free to roam around the remaining displays in multiple directions.
I did spend the biggest amount of time in the initial line-up of Porsches, as it featured quite a few vehicles I couldn’t identify or hadn’t seen in the flesh. What became abundantly clear is that Porsche took their cars racing pretty much from the start, just like Ferrari nurtured a race team to develop technology and build their brand.
Certain genres of vehicles are obviously grouped together, either by class or era. Six original GT / Le Mans racers were flashing their streamlined bodywork at visitors on a concave LED-lit stand which turned out to be near-impossible to photograph. Much like a display of trophies that Porsches have won over the years, dozens of polished beakers lovingly arranged with piano wire.
Continuing with the racing theme I was happy to run into familiar favourites, the glorious Martini Porsches from the last century. And just to show that they do have zest (or to copy a luxury dealership in Cape Town) Porsche mounted one of their Rothmans racers on the ceiling.
Another vehicle with this livery that caught my attention was the Paris-Dakar 959, because I’m a huge follower of the event and the Porsche was displayed in its original, race-winning, battered and bruised condition. Obviously there was a flawless metallic grey specimen of a road-going 959 on display, which had me staring at its distorted 911 lines for quite some time.
More highlights were the prototype Boxster parked beside a deep green 1990’s prototype complete with Porsche emblems in its tire tread patterns. A Porsche tractor attracted just as much interest as a small sedan experiment (dubbed C88) and a military Kübelwagen-esque creation called the 597 Jagdwagen.
Porsche’s stab at Formula 1 in the shape of the TAG McLaren with its distinctive red ‘n white Marlboro paintwork led to an impressive array of naked Porsche engines which included the F1 car’s lunatic 1.5-litre twin-turbo V6 worth 1600hp. At this point I thought that I was going numb to the sheer Porsche-ness of it all, when the striking 718 RS Spyder and its Formula 2 sister came into view.
Naturally, the modern-day equivalent RS Spyder race car was flaunting its yellow paint around the place, too. It also had interesting neighbours in the form of the desirable Porsche Carrera GT and 911 GT1 road cars. Even the Police Porsches and lanky 928’s looked mundane compared to this diabolical duo.
One of the last line-ups of Porsches was a fair representation of what a modern Porsche fanatic’s garage should resemble. All models from the Cayman to the Cayenne were neatly parked nose-to-tail for all to admire and tempt their cheque books. The new 911 Carrera Convertible even brought an unusual green colour to attract maximum stare and lens potential.
Near the exit I came across a Panamera Turbo which appeared to have fallen victim to an angle grinder. Half the car was cut away to reveal various components and cavities, and before I could finish the sentence in my head a gruff-looking gentleman with a distinct Bavarian accent finished it for me: “They should’ve just given it to me instead of ruining it!” I concur.