The new 919 Hybrid opened its account last weekend, cheered on by a mighty throng of cars and drivers from the Porsche Club Great Britain. The tribe was embedded for the first chapter of the WEC with more than 500 Porsches old and new, swapping stories, building firm friendships and watching the 919s and RSRs battle their way to the podium.
‘PCGB’ was created by a tiny handful of 356 owners back in 1961. The 911 was still a twinkle in Porsche’s eye and attendees of the first official meeting numbered a modest nine. But the loyalty and passion inherent in Porsche owners soon saw numbers swell, and with the rapid uptake of the 911 through the late 1960s, the club was quickly and firmly rooted.
Today, 18,000 members in 31 appointed regions make it the largest officially recognised Porsche club in Europe. The cars you can expect to see at PCGB events are so numerous and varied that it feels like a mobile museum, with early 356 coupes alongside blown, be-winged GT cars.
The transaxle generations are equally well represented, with 924 Carrera GTs rubbing polyurethane shoulders with pristine 928s. Every taste is catered for in the specially designated Porsche paddock, a sort of Stuttgart smorgasbord for a weekend of racing.
The first member we catch up with is Chris Pruden, who owns a coffee company, but devotes his downtime to a 911 SC 3.0. He’s had it for almost a decade now and used to use it for his daily commute.
Chris Pruden's wife started something when she bought him a track day for his 40th birthday – and he ended up buying a 911 SC 3.0
“It all started when my wife bought me a track day for my 40th, and then we went on a Nurburgring tour. I bought it after that, and then ran it for a few years. It’s done 42,000 miles since.”
Jackie Ickx signature on the glovebox is a highlight
That sort mileage doesn’t come without some serious TLC, however. “About four or five years ago I put it in for restoration, doing things to it as and when I could, including a completely new top and bottom end. We put new oil lines in, it’s had new calipers, the body had all sorts done to it and it’s got a race spec exhaust. It sounds like we messed around with it, but the car is as original, apart from the wheels.
“People ask whether I enjoyed the restoration and I can’t say I did. The car is so personal to me that it was all a bit nerve-wracking. And of course there was the cost. I was more relieved after it was all finished.
“I’ve got other Porsches. A 997 S, a 924 A-bodied, and a Boxster, but I’d sell all of them to keep this one. The irony is that the wife got me into all this, but she gets motion sickness so hardly ever comes in the car with me.”
Nearby, the tribe spots something unusual, and quickly gets talking to motor sports agent Darren Andrew. His first Porsche is a standard 997.2 3.6 Carrera, but its rare cream paintwork makes it stand out even here.
The rare cream paint job on Darren Andrew's 997.2 3.6 Carrera makes it a head-turner
“It was a 50th treat to myself back in 2014. I’ve always been a fan of the brand – the shape, the motorsport heritage, Steve McQueen. But I’m not mechanically minded so I knew I wanted a 997. I was searching online and saw a cream white one. I just had to have it. I was in London the next day, had paid the £500 deposit without even seeing it, and then as soon as it drove around the corner, I phoned the finance guy and told him to transfer the money. I hadn’t even sat in it, let alone driven it.
“That’s so not me. I’m not the sort of guy who does impulse buys. And I’m not a Porsche nut like some of the other guys at the Club. They’ve all owned, or do own, loads of them. This is my first Porsche and I’ll be buried in that car.”
Somewhat more of a veteran is Peter Rhodes, a retired property developer whose Porsche back catalogue includes 964s, 993s, two 996 C4S and various Turbo and Targa permutations.
His current car is a 991.1 GT3 Club Sport, and one of only two finished in Mexico Blue in the UK.
Peter Rhodes with his 991.1 GT3 Club Sport – one of only two finished in Mexico Blue here in the UK
“I first got into Porsches in 1996 and it’s been a good run since. I went to look at a 928 GTS. That was the Porsche I wanted. But then the dealer steered me towards a 911 and asked if I wanted to try one of those. I’ve never looked back.”
Despite Peter’s years of experience with later air-cooled and high performance Porsches, his choice of transmission bucks a current trend: “Other than the 993 Turbo, they’ve all been Tiptronic or PDK. I live in the south east and I’m not tempted by the new GT3 manual because the traffic is so awful. The PDK is so good – I can’t change gear that quickly.”
Peter has never been tempted towards a classic Porsche, and declares that his current GT3 is the keeper. “I’ve had an amazing history with the brand, but I’d never sell this car. I might buy other Porsches, but this one is here to stay. I love that the 911 design has remained the same, with each version just getting subtly better.”
Across the paddock is someone who has approached the brand from the polar opposite perspective. Phil Osborne has owned his 911E for 20 years and it came to him in boxes. “It’s my only Porsche – I was looking at the 356 but couldn’t afford one and I also looked at a 912, but someone told me that a 911 would be just as cheap to restore as a 912, so I ended up in this. I found it in bits – it had new wings ready to go on, but it needed some work. It also came with the wrong engine in it, a T, so I got a 2.2 S for it.
“We do about 2000 miles a year in it, when we go to events like this. I bought a Porsche because I love the reliability of the brand, the style, the build quality. This was my only car for years, so we did the supermarket run in it, or took my daughter to school with her in the back. And then she outgrew my wife, so they swapped places and the daughter went in the front. And then my wife couldn’t cope with that so we had to get a different car. And now my wife calls it the girlfriend because it gets all the care, attention and money.”
Not such an unusual story, especially in this company. And as the 919s and RSRs fire into life the paddock quickly empties, these hundreds of priceless cars with their intimate and fascinating histories temporarily abandoned as Porsche’s LMP and GT teams get down to business.