Old’s Cool In celebration of 70 years of Porsche sports cars, Porsche Classic has restored 20 vehicles in matching styles… Story: Simon Jackson. Photography: Dan Bathie.
Over 70 percent of Porsche vehicles sold over the past 70-years remain on our roads today. Just think about that for a second – it’s quite a staggering statement. Another impressive fact is that Porsche is currently able to supply more than 52,000 genuine parts for those cars through a network of over 1,000 suppliers. Porsche Classic, the arm of the Stuttgart brand that caters for older vehicles, has been gaining momentum of late. Though I doubt anyone would openly admit it, Porsche has watched independent specialists corner this side of the automotive world for a long time, now it fancies a piece of the pie – and why not? Who better to assist the rebirth, or routine maintenance, of a classic Porsche than the people who built the thing to begin with?
Each was to be finished in the same ‘Liquid Metal’ silver hue…
Porsche Classic is a global operation, in the UK there are currently four Porsche Centres endorsed as ‘Porsche Classic Partners’; Glasgow, Hatfield, Leeds and Swindon. Outside of these specialist locations, every Porsche Centre and Porsche Recommended Repairer is able to assist classic Porsche owners. All this is something Porsche is keen to promote, what better way to do that than by showcasing its work?
In advance of the recent Classic Motor Show at the NEC, Porsche GB commissioned the restoration of 20 modern classic Porsche vehicles, part of the brand’s celebrations marking 70 years of Porsche sports cars. A mixture of air-and water-cooled, rear- and mid-engined, and transaxle models, importantly the selection included 10 986 Boxsters – one of the latest models to be classified as ‘classic’. The cars in question were not ‘run of the mill’ restorations in that each was to be finished in the same ‘Liquid Metal’ silver hue (a colour developed for the 918 Spyder hypercar), feature all-black interiors, and a manual gearbox. Bare metal restorations were conducted and, in some cases, a full engine rebuild undertaken – some M96 engined cars using a new short block engine, highlighting the availability of such engines from Porsche. Though the aim was to keep the restored vehicles as original as possible, some bespoke touches were included, amongst them a subtle ‘70 years of Porsche’ graphic and bespoke interior trim in original Porsche material – in addition a commemorative plaque appears inside each vehicle. A promotional tool first and foremost, the cars in question also set out to showcase certain Classic Parts, from Porsche’s range of classic motor oils to its Classic satellite navigation and Vehicle Tracking systems. A commemorative presentation folder detailing all the work undertaken, and listing any new ‘feature’ parts, will stay with each car for its lifetime. Porsche has been restoring classic cars for some time, in fact it has enlisted its Centres in competitions to such effect, but nothing before has been undertaken quite on this scale tied together with a common theme and goal.
“Following the success of previous restoration projects, we were keen to find another initiative to tie-in with celebrations of 70 years of Porsche sports cars,” said Jonathan Mannell, Manager, Owner Services, Porsche Cars GB. “The customer feedback from our Centres participating in the previous restoration competitions indicated that there was demand for authentic restorations of Porsche models across the spectrum. Bringing our history and tradition alive in this manner is also a great way to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first Porsche sports car, and to highlight the passion for Porsche Classic at both Porsche Cars GB and our Centres.” With the 70th celebrations in mind, the line-up of restored cars is something of a timeline of Porsche vehicle production.
The oldest vehicle is a 1970 914 – here to represent the 120,000 examples of the flat-four targa topped two-seater sports car, next in the timeline, and the first transaxle car represented, comes a 1981 924 Turbo. The 924 is not alone on the transaxle front, Porsche also restored a 1986 944, 1993 928 GT, and a 1996 968 to complete the set. Of course the iconic 911 could not be ignored, a 1982 G Series 911 SC coupé is the oldest of the breed tackled – it’s what Porsche itself calls ‘the archetypal 1980s poster sports car’. The SC was joined by two further air-cooled 911s, a 1990 964 Carrera 4 and a 1996 993 Carrera 4 before the evolutionary shift from air- to watercooling is represented by two 996 911s; a 1999 996 Carrera 2 and a 2003 996 Turbo, which rounds-out the 911 offerings. The remaining 10 vehicles tell you much about what this project was attempting to highlight for they are all 986 Boxster S models, with Model Years ranging from 2000 to 2002.
The 986 Boxster undoubtedly created waves upon its launch 25 years ago at the Detroit Motor Show, it has since firmly established itself as part of the Porsche family circle. The mid-engine, two seater convertible roadster might not first spring to mind when you think ‘classic Porsche’, but having racked-up a quarter century in our lives it now finds itself defined as exactly that by Porsche itself. If this restoration project is about nothing else, it highlights the fact that Porsche is very keen to point out that both the 986 Boxster and 996 generation of 911 are indeed now classic vehicles, and as such fall under the remit of Porsche Classic. While many owners might not wish to undertake full restorations with these cars given that many simply don’t need that level of refreshment just yet, the support offered by Porsche Classic makes such a task, or simply the job of keeping either in tip-top condition, entirely more straight-forward. And that has to be a good thing…