I am currently in Stuttgart before I'm going to take my flight to Hong Kong for a short meeting tomorrow. I have just finished my appointment with a man who is also called Dr. Z (no further details). I now possess a not inconsiderable small share of his funny company.
Since the STR offers as many leisure possibilities as a New York subway station and the mobile phone network in Germany is not even suitable for a FaceTime conference, I decided to take a taxi and drive to the city center in order to make the four-hour layover acceptable to some extent.
As a passionate petrolhead, it is obligatory for me to visit the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen. A quick look at Google Maps says: 33km distance, 62 minutes driving time. Sounds like the normal madness, which I know from this city.
A country without speed limits and then the rabble dares to stuff them, but this subject deserves its own article.
On to the taxi, the first car in the line is the current VW Sharan... inacceptable! I turned around and took the sixth espresso of the still young day. The second attempt, this time it's an E-Class. Acceptable.
After exactly 62 minutes (high five to future technology), I saw three pillars, each with a 911 at the top in the middle of a roundabout. The beer in Baden-Württemberg must be particularly good, otherwise, no normal person would come up with such an abstruse idea. Ok, they build exactly the same car for more than 50 years now which, on paper, doesn't make sense either. (But who wouldn't simply sell a facelift as a new model if it works?)
The taxi driver stopped between the entrance of the museum and the Porsche dealership on the other side of the street. When I handed him my pitch-black American Express to pay for it, he looked at me in awe and said "Nene, nemmed mir hier ned! Nur Bares isch wahres!" My German is formidable thanks to my regular professional stays in German speaking countries (especially Switzerland - you know why, don't you?), but I still have to struggle with this dialect. When I gave him a 500€ bill, which I luckily found in the pocket of my jacket, he looked at me surprised but gave me my change. Strange people: They don't take credit cards and if you want to pay in cash it doesn't seem to be right either. Next time I'll let Johann fly in, along with the Rolls Royce.
But that's just the way it is. Back to business, we are in the Porsche Museum. Finally!
I have a small personal weakness for Porsche. Every time I visit my old English friend Dr. Downshift at lake Zurich everytime we drive along the lake together in his famously preserved 993 convertible with a felt speed of 30 km/h, I am happy. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen so often, because Dr. Downshift is only in Switzerland for 180 days a year for private reasons. The rest of the time he spends either in rainy England or on Caribbean islands, where you can't even drive with a Land Rover (a proper one). You realize I have many interesting friends. Don't worry, you will get to know them all over the time.
Ok, now really back to business! The Porsche Museum, damn it!
As I found out at the cash desk, the museum changes its exhibition at regular intervals. These are always themed. Unfortunately, I missed the last one about Transaxle Porsche. Oh boy, I love the 928. A real Grand Tourismo. And yes, everyone may have his fetish and should also stand by it!
But the current exhibition has the theme... drumroll... who would have guessed it... 70 years of Porsche! A journey from the first Beetle to the current Beetle. Ok that is not the exact title, but it is all about the 70 year history of Porsche.
So I walked through the museum, past Le Mans winning vehicles and fair cars in contemporary paintwork. I enjoy looking at the vehicles from the good old air-cooled times.
I stopped in front of a 959 Komfort. A great car, technologically way ahead of its time. It had a great competitor: the F40. And despite playing in the same league, they were so different. Ferrari discovered the material Carbon for themselves and Porsche parried with all-wheel drive and fully adjustable suspension. If you like, the 959 is the great-grandfather of the 918 Sypder. Or is it the grandfather? Since the GT1 was only a tool to an aim.
After that, it was time for the modern racing cars, the GT3 R "Grüno", which won the 24h Nürburgring this year and the pink RSR "Die Sau", the Le Mans winner in the GTE class this year. Only this year's overall winner is missing here in the row. Ah, wait a minute, I forgot something... The sportscar manufacturer Porsche didn't take part with the LMP1 this year to drive against other "sportscar manufacturers" like Toyota. That makes me a bit sad, but the future seems to be electric.
After having critically inspected every vehicle in the museum (yes, even the tractors!), I went to the other side of the street to see the present in the Porsche dealership. All the fancy 911 and Panameras with center lock wheels and lots of dead Alcantara cow inside.
I sneaked around a Panamera with a very long name. Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, referring to the license plate. Looks like a normal Panamera, I thought. But suddenly I was startled when a Swabian mother next to me read the price tag of this quite respectable car loudly. "230000€?! Ja heiligs Blechle, do spare ma Liewa noch e bissl un dann gehe ma damit zur Sparkass un könne a Wohnung in Stuttgart ohzahle! Wer gibd denn so viel Geld für a bscheuerts Audo aus?!" There it is again, my fight against the dialect. Roughly translated, the woman said: We already have 25 apartments in Stuttgart but if we save a bit more we will soon have a 26th apartment and then we will be very happy with our bourgeois life.
My really never existing appetite for Panamera passed away completely. I spotted a 911 Turbo Cabrio in the corner. GT Silver, black leather with grey stitchings. Nice, I thought... Perfect for the autumn trip to Sardinia in fourteen days. I need a salesman!
Dear reader, if you think you will be greeted at the Porsche dealership and the salesman asks if he can help you, you are completely wrong about that. But no problem, I am happy to help you not to experience this thoroughly unpleasant situation to not enjoy any service within the Porsche service network.
There are two ways to get into the elitist circle of the serviced customers. The first possibility is to wave with the key matching colour of your already purchased Porsche. If you are like me in the precarious situation that you are currently dependent on third parties for mobility, simply take off your jacket and shirt underneath and display your singlet with the inscription "I am a Porsche customer, serve me!"
The second option worked wonderfully. (I recommend to take at least two of those singlets to every longer trip if you have the spontaneous feeling to buy a fancy Beetle).
A young, usually snotty salesman with bad English appeared in front of me and asked if he had to help. I introduced myself as Dr. Zwischengas and made the Smart-ass understand that he should get me an identically painted 991 Turbo Cabrio and immediately send it to Sardinia. The only reason why I don't consider the example in front of me is that it is equipped with this fancy double clutch gearbox thing and I, as my name suggests, am physically unable to move vehicles without clutch pedal by myself.
"You cannot order a 911 Turbo without PDK." Smart-ass said. My monocle fell off my nose! "Could you repeat that?" I asked him shocked. The second time I heard this unbelievable abstruse sentence again.
I made it clear to him that I am urgently dependent on boost pressure for my convertible cruise and that it is impossible for me to drive a naturally aspirated engine at this event.
Smart-ass replied that every normal 911 is now a turbo and that I should consider ordering a Carrera 4 GTS convertible. I collapsed. That was too much for my heart.
When I was back to my senses, the 928 and its history came to my mind. It was supposed to replace the puristic 911 with its GT character. How this strategy would have worked out for Porsche we all know today. Fortunately, a wise man came to Porsche and made sure that the 911 would be continued and, by the way, made the company one of the most profitable car manufacturers. But unfortunately, he had to leave the company after losing a battle in 2009. The aftermath of this event is now really coming to light.
When I look at the current 911, it seems to me as if history could repeat itself. Only parking heater is missing and the 911 is finally a Grand Tourismo, made for highways and golf club driveways, but no longer for the curvy country roads and Nordschleifen of this world.
Ladies and gentlemen, please be aware!