TEQUIPMENT AT 20 #Porsche-991
Accessorise! Porsche Tequipment celebrates its 20th birthday this year. In conjunction with Porsche Exclusive, enhancing a Porsche to perfectly fit you and your lifestyle is simple. Story: Simon Jackson & Ben White Photography: Gus Gregory & Porsche
There’s a rather famous quote from Ferry Porsche defining precisely why he started his little sports car company out of a rustic workshop in Austria: “In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself.” Professor Porsche’s premise is one of the founding concepts of the Porsche brand, an ethos that served as a building block for the goliath car company we know so well today. It’s an underlying ‘anything is possible’ philosophy that hasn’t been lost at Porsche in the modern age, and it’s largely responsible for the range of customisation options available to Porsche customers today. If Porsche doesn’t currently offer the car specification you desire then it will build it for you.
Personalising your vehicle to suit your individual needs is common sense in many respects, after all why shouldn’t a means of transport be as individual as you are? And practical, too? Since the early days Porsche has been in the business of ensuring its cars could fit you and your lifestyle as perfectly as possible. As far back as 1950 customers were requesting outrageous flights of fancy on Porsche cars, a 356 was even covered in fur as one of the first of what Porsche calls its customer ‘special requests’. Here Porsche was fulfilling customers’ desires by providing unique touches directly at the production line, all under the motto ‘individuality straight from the factory’. Not all of these unique requests brought to bear at Zuffenhausen were quite as extreme as furry bodywork, though. In the early 1950s 356s were seen with practical accessories, too, such as ski racks, and by 1960 two-tone colour to sample paintwork was not unusual. In 1968 a special customer order was completed on a Porsche 911 S 2.0-litre for the London-to-Sydney rally, an entirely bespoke vehicle built-up expressly for the purpose of endurance competition. On a street level these additional accessory requests may have been rather more subdued, but they too were proving popular. The concept of further enhancing your Porsche, before and after taking delivery of it, using appropriate, officially sanctioned accessories was born. So in 1972 Porsche gave its accessories arm a name: the Porsche Parts Service.
At first the Service’s offerings were predominantly restricted to the kinds of items on sale at your local motor factors – wheel covers and floor mats – but the difference here was that they were now official Porsche branded products. The concept rapidly expanded, in part thanks to the specialists at the Parts Service division working independently on new and exciting commodities, at the same time as considering those requested through the Porsche customer network. The first ever wind deflector on a Porsche was born through the division’s research and development: the Porsche Parts Service worked with an external supplier on the development of a deflector, which would later make full production, becoming available as a retrofit item. And the wind deflector’s popularity at dealer level meant it was then subsequently incorporated into the factory-fit optional equipment list on Porsche cars from the 944 and 968 onwards.
On the one hand Porsche’s original accessories for post-purchase fitment were growing in popularity but the items produced by the division were wholly distinct from the work going on the factory floor, where any bespoke vehicle requests were being carried out. Up until the mid-1980s this made-to-order vehicle service was referred to as the ‘Sonderwunschprogramm’, which translates as the ‘Special Wishes Programme’, but in 1986 it was renamed ‘Porsche Exclusive’. Staying true to Ferry Porsche’s original mantra, the mission statement of Porsche Exclusive was to follow in the already established traditions of customised Porsche vehicles. Drawing on gathered experience in the field, creating unique models and limited production runs, Porsche Exclusive would represent a factory-sanctioned method of Porsche modification. Today a comprehensive range of options is available for unique vehicle personalisation – options that the company proudly states are ‘virtually limitless’. Over the years that followed, Porsche Exclusive brought us some of the most exceptional cars to ever wear the firm’s famous crest. A one-off ‘935 Street’, a Porsche-built street-legal version of the 935 race car completed in the early 1980s set a precedent for what would followed. But Porsche Exclusive wasn’t only in the business of creating single vehicles – limited production run models have become part of the DNA of the Exclusive department’s work, and it is responsible for some truly epic cars, from the 76 Turbo Slant Nose 964s to just a pair of 993 Speedsters, the 250 997 Sport Classics to, more recently, 100 Panamera Exclusive Series saloons. Ferry Porsche would certainly have been proud.
At ex-works level, through the 1970s and 1980s, the work of the Porsche Parts Service grew in popularity as the appetite for OE fitment original accessories grew. In 1995 Porsche Tequipment was founded, short for ‘technical equipment’. The idea behind the Tequipment range was to ensure that just three months after the launch of a new vehicle, a suitable range of model specific accessories must be ready for customers to purchase. These products cover a spectrum of retrospective visual customisation options (such as aerokits, wheels, and exhaust systems), together with practical solutions to lifestyle transport logistics issues (read bicycle or ski racks and child seats). No matter what the product might be, though, it must undergo rigorous extensive programme of testing during development at the Weissach Development Centre on both Porsche’s test track and in its wind tunnel. Did you really expect any less from Porsche? What’s more, the entire range of model-specific products are penned by the same team of engineers and designers responsible for that particular Porsche vehicle. So the roof-rack such as the one attached to the top of the 991 GTS in our pictures, was designed by the same team behind the 991 itself. What that means is that these products are viewed in a cohesive fashion, they are seen not merely ‘additional’ accessories but rather created to gel beautifully with the car they’re intended for; these are harmonious Porsche parts.
Today, upon its 20th anniversary, there have of course been numerous products of note to emerge under the umbrella of Porsche Tequipment, but perhaps some of the more wellknown are its wheels, which just so happen to be the best sellers in the range of products. The first wheel produced as part of the Tequipment range was the single-piece 17-inch Dyno rim for the 986 Boxster. Sold exclusively as a retrofit item, the wheel was a collaborative effort with the Porsche design studio in Weissach, and it would become a watershed product which would lay the foundations for the later creation of the lauded 19-inch Sport Classic wheel, rolled out through Porsche Tequipment as part of the 911 Sport Classic range.
From humble beginnings offering floor mats and wheel covers, today the official Tequipment range encompasses approximately 400 items, and it is continually growing all the time. It has moved with the times, too, turning to Porsche’s motorsport exploits for inspiration on more than one occasion. One of its latest advents is Porsche’s lap trigger which works in conjunction with its Track Precision app to enable owners to record their lap data. But to summarise, the contemporary range of products is eclectic to say the least! There’s everything from a Charging Pedestal for your 918 Spyder (£1,975.93), snow chains for your Panamera (£567.72), a ski bag for the Macan (£104.87), and a ‘Martini Racing Design’ decorative sticker set for the 991 Carrera (£2,036.90). And that’s not to mention the wealth of vehicle specific roof racks, baby seats, aero kits, ‘SportDesign’ styling additions, together with a lovely little ice scraper with an aluminium telescopic handle and integrated rubber lip – yours for £12.01. Like they said – your wish is Porsche’s command…
If you didn’t know, just by looking at it you could take an educated guess at who makes this bike. The curve that dominates the top tube, harmoniously following into the rear A-frame, imitates the iconic backbone of Porsches throughout the decades. Perhaps the ultimate lifestyle accessory for any fan of the marque, the Porsche Bike strikes a purposeful pose demonstrating a clear intent: to take performance and dynamic pleasure to fans of two-wheeled transport.
Porsche’s new range of bikes was originally launched back in March 2014 as part of the Driver’s Selection, offering three distinct variants. At the top end of the price spectrum is the ‘ #Porsche-Bike-RS
’ (£5,500) – a full carbon, non-suspension bike blending the 9kg lightness of a racer with the flat bars and slick tyres of a top-end commuter. Also available from the brand is the ‘ #Porsche-Bike-RX
’ (£4,500), a more focused mountain bike with top-end componentry, a carbon frame and trail-beating front suspension fork.
Here, the cheapest of the range, is the ‘ #Porsche-Bike
’ which, at £2,500, is a hard-tail, hydroformed aluminium framed machine designed to offer the rider a blend of light offroad ability with practical urban performance. A perfect tool for both commuting and mixedterrain pleasure riding.
Unsurprisingly, Porsche hasn’t skimped on the Bike’s components, hand-picking individual elements from a range of well-known and highly-regarded manufacturers. The wheels, for example, are 32-spoke P99s by DT Swiss with Shimano hubs. These offer a blend of hardwearing off-road ability with smooth rolling and limited rotational mass for on-road riding. Gear changes on the Porsche Bike are particularly intriguing, using a belt-driven eightspeed Shimano Alfine hub. Shimano’s Alfine eight-speed is very well regarded in cycling circles for offering silky smooth operation yet it’s robust enough to be a viable cog-swapper for mountain bikes. Ratios on this setup are equivalent to a 12-38 tooth cassette, offering a very wide spread of gears enabling the rider to bowl along at almost 20mph on the flat yet tackle any incline they may come across.
Providing the damping is a front fork by SR Suntor with a lock-out that can be adjusted on the move. Stopping power is via hydraulic disc brakes from German manufacturer Magura, using the MG26 kit. Other finishing components include low rolling resistance tyres from Schwable and the entire article comes in at a respectable 13kg.
Reading through the list of the Porsche Bike’s components suppliers is a bit like a ‘who’s who’ in quality biking gear, but does it translate when you hit the road?
We took the Porsche Bike (and the 911 GTS) to UK cycling’s iconic Box Hill to see how they stack up as a lifestyle package. First thing’s first, there’s no question that the bike looks ace on the 911’s Tequipment bike rack. Overdoing brand merchandise can be naff but this pairing doesn’t look or feel like that. And the response from onlookers was almost universally positive.
Taking to the road on the bike for the first time is also a very pleasant surprise. The ride is strikingly smooth, especially with that belt drive and hub gearing setup which, once indexed properly, changes up and down with the precision of a PDK box. Up front, those SR Suntor forks soak up potholes and poor road surfaces very nicely, the low rolling-resistance Schwable tyres adding to the comfort factor.
The frame’s geometry means the rider sits very upright but what you lose in aerodynamics you gain in the ability to really throw the Porsche Bike around. Down Box Hill’s Zig Zag road the bike was positive on turn-in but with a real sense of security through the corners. Even with the forks open you can put the hammer down to power out of the switch-backs, picking up speed fast – speed which is easily scrubbed off using the very progressive MG26 hydraulic discs. Getting a bit of air over Box’s speed bumps during the 25mph descent sounds dramatic but the bike soaks up the landings with barely a shrug.
Turn around at the bottom and the incline of Box Hill – so famed during the 2012 Olympics – awaits. Best thing to do is lock-out the forks so you’re not wasting energy through them and it’s then possible to spin up the 1.5-mile, 450ft ascent pretty briskly. Certainly, no-one on a fully-focused road bike was able to make any headway on your correspondent during the sixminute climb.
The Porsche Bike is a very good package. Fit and finish really is outstanding and everything looks like it was bespoke designed for this bike. It offers a truly pleasurable riding experience and took on everything one of British cycling’s most iconic locations had to throw at it with aplomb. There is an unavoidable question hanging over the Porsche Bike, however: the small (or perhaps rather too large) matter of price. At £2500 the Bike sits alongside some very serious competitors that outstrip it in terms of components, weight and brand strength within cycling spheres. But, let’s be honest, we’re not looking at cycling spheres here. The Porsche Bike represents the ultimate on-brand lifestyle purchase for those who love both two and fourwheeled transport – and it’s a lovely thing to ride. From a purely Porsche perspective, it actually makes perfect sense.
Porsche’s Exclusive and Tequipment ranges provide the perfect way to accessorise your life with that extra special something from the brand. The concept of both arms fit cohesively with the company’s approach to car making, abiding by the philosophy first adopted by Ferry Porsche – the idea that something can be wholly customised to suit your needs. With its expansive range of contemporary accessories and aftermarket products, as we have seen, Porsche has turned its hand to producing fully endorsed products including everything from paperclips to carbon fibre shelving units. Porsche has strived to ensure it can offer an immersive experience for the owners of its cars and products but importantly (unlike many other motor manufacturers), these products always demonstrate the brand’s attention to detail, its dedication to quality and that unique ‘Porsche’ identity.
While driving a 911 with a Porsche branded bike on the roof is a sure-fire way to turn heads, this efficient combination of Porsche sports car, roof rack and bicycle beautifully summarises how far Porsche Tequipment and its other spin-off arms have come over the years, and how the brand has stayed close to its original roots, too. Indeed, rolling down a leafy hillside in a 911 GTS side-by-side with one of Porsche’s premium pedal bikes seems a entirely appropriate way of celebrating 20 years of its Tequipment arm. And a fitting tribute to its lasting ethos of excellence in engineering – excellence that it exudes from whatever might end up wearing that famous Porsche crest.
CLASSIC PORSCHE BIKES
The three current bicycles #Porsche
offers aren’t by any means the brand’s first foray into pedalpowered transport. Back in the late 1990s Porsche teamed up with bike builder Votec to create some fairly outlandish looking mountain bikes. These included the striking FS Evolution – a three-spoked, carbon composite machine with full suspension and a bevy of top-end components. A standard FS was also made, also benefitting from a range of top-drawer (at the time) running and finishing gear.
As a bit of a side-note, Australian bike builder Ricardo named one of its 1970s road bikes ‘Porshe’, which was built complete with a look-alike shield, even including the black and yellow colour scheme. It’s unlikely a bike builder would be so bold in this day and age!
Porsche’s Tequipment arm has produced some fascinating products over the years.
Porsche’s Exclusive and Tequipment ranges provide the perfect way to accessorise your life with that extra special something.