Instagram artist Jeffrey Docherty seems almost lost for words. It is the New Zealander’s first visit to Thailand, and he has just met someone he’s been following on Instagram for years – a connection made possible by a shared passion for Porsche.
This is Das Treffen, the annual gathering for Porsche enthusiasts in Thailand, which is back for its fourth year running. The event sees more than 400 Porsche cars on display, and anyone who shows up in a Porsche gets to park in the exhibition area. “If you drive a Porsche, you just come in, you are part of the show, and you become part of the family,” says its creator Tenn Xoomsai. And it is undoubtedly a family event – there may be track-tuned race cars on display, but there are as many modern, water-cooled cars such as 911s, Caymans and Cayennes, transporting everything and everyone, right down to the family dog.
Korn Thongtour, an affable architect, has brought his wife and twin six-year-olds in his 1969 911E, one of a collection of classics that inhabit a glass-walled garage in his Bangkok home. Despite the language barrier, Korn and Jeffrey have shared a bond over their love for Porsche and design through social media for years, and at last they are face to face.
This passion was inevitable for Jeffrey. “I grew up in a household where my father was a mechanic, and his dad was a mechanic. It was destined that I would also inherit this love for the automobile,” he says. “With my dad taking me to racing events, classic car shows, and rallies, we shared an interest that would become my love.”
Growing up in Twizel, New Zealand – a town so small “if you blink you’ll miss it” – and studying in Christchurch, cars were always in Jeffrey’s blood. But after moving to Melbourne and subsequently New York, where he worked for the New York Times and several fashion magazines, he found himself “at a time of my life where I was absent of owning or driving a car.”
After accepting a job at Nike – where he now works as a Senior Creative Director – in Portland Oregon, and moving into a house with a garage, he set about redressing those lost years.
“I have a 1963 Karmann Ghia, and as I started going to early Volkswagen car shows I started to notice the early Porsche models – there’d always be a 914 or 356 showing up – and I found those were catching my eye and starting to interest me more and more.”
This led to the purchase and restoration of a 911 SC, which brought Jeffrey into Oregon’s Porsche community. “You think you’re going in to get the motor rebuilt or something, and it turns into a friendship,” he says.
Away from work, Jeffery started sketching cars and creating artwork based on the history of Porsche, and sharing this work online. Porsche Asia Pacific had been following his work, and invited him to create the graphics and artwork for this fourth edition of Das Treffen.
“I was at a pretty fortunate situation with the power of the internet and social media connecting communities globally, and in particular the Porsche community,” he says. “The cars are really vibrant, bold pieces of art, why can’t we surround them and complement them with art?”
“All the artwork is basically putting the cars that are already there through a slightly different and more artistic lens. But the colours that we choose are all based on iconic Porsche colours, and those true Porsche community folks and enthusiasts will know that too. It’ll feel credible, it’ll feel authentic, and it really delivers Porsche back to the Porsche community.”
And the Porsche community in question voted with its feet, queuing to take photographs of Jeffery’s work, in person and with their cars. “What I’ll go back and tell Porsche enthusiasts in the US is that Das Treffen is phenomenal,” says Jeffrey. "You’ve got to get down there. Honestly my phone is already buzzing non-stop because I’m posting pictures, and people are saying ‘where are you? That’s not the US.’ And when I say Thailand that’s the last thing they can imagine. It is awesome.”