Saturday was Porker day. Yes we will be celebrating the birth of the first little Porsche sports car in a small stable in Gmund, Austria. The two wise men and one wise woman, Ferdinand, Ferry and Louise, were on hand on June 8, 1948, when the Erwin Komenda-designed, handmade 356 was pushed out (of the stable).
Of course, the first Porsche-designed vehicle was a mistake Ferdy had to live with all his life. Almost 50 years to the day before the 356, the Ferdy Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model rolled silently on to the streets of Vienna. Yup, he had slipped a 2.2kw electric motor into the back of a horse carriage (minus the horses) and you could cruise around the strasses of Wien through the depths of horse poo for two to three hours at up to 35km/h.
Of course, being a Porsche it had to go racing. Many of you will remember the Berlin International Motor Vehicle Exhibition in September 1899. The good old boys from the Mitteleuropaischer Motorwagenverein organised it at the exhibition grounds near the railway station. Michael McMichael says it was one of the best car events he’s been to. “At the first exhibition in 1897 only eight cars turned up but two years later we had over 100,” Michael said in an exclusive interview from his BMW cave, brown snake sanctuary and Coopers home brewery in Stepney, Adelaide. Michael is currently brewing his own Coopers OC Wit (think Belgian style wheat beer) on a working holiday in the orange groves of California.
Michael has generously passed on the recipe for readers. (Just email me for brewing instructions. Note the motoring column in The Weekend Australian business section takes no responsibility for alcoholic poisoning, blindness or bad breath caused by ingesting this beer.) Crush 15g of coriander seeds (not entire packet) in a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin to open the kernels. In a good size pot (no, not the stuff you are buying from California and saying it’s only for health reasons) bring 500g of light dry malt to the boil with three litres of water. Add the coriander seeds and East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets and boil for 10 minutes. Mix in the Thomas Coopers Preachers Hefe Wheat and the other 500g of light dry malt. Don’t be concerned if lumps persist as these will probably dissolve over the course of a few hours. If they don’t and appear to be turning into living creatures I would ring Dr Tim Cooper on the helpline at the brewery straight away on 1300 654 455.
Anyway, as part of the 1899 knees-up, the Mitteleuropaischer Motorwagenverein decided to put on a 40km race from Berlin to Zehlendorf and back. No prizes for picking the winner here, readers. Ferdy even packed his horseless carriage with three of his besties and still finished 18 minutes ahead of the second-place getter.
But then it hit him. He had unleashed the electric devil on to the world.
Over the next 51 years he put it right by building proper internal combustion cars like the 356 and his kids put it even righter with cars like the 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo, a racing car now steeped in history.
Dave Gooding, who will be auctioning the Porker for about $10 million at Amelia Island next month, says: “This racing car changed the course of history for Porsche by fundamentally altering the company’s approach to production and racing cars.” The RSR was first to use a turbocharged engine in a production-based race car. Built for the Martini & Rossi-sponsored works team, the car Dave will have up on the blocks became a racing legend when it took second outright at the 1974 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has two other racers that may be closer to your price point: a 1990 Porsche 962C ($2m) and 1976 Porsche 934 ($1.6m).
RM Sotheby’s will also be at Amelia Island with a group of 11 964s (and one 930) that were put together by a single collector and are the last of the truly hand-built Porsches. From $300,000 to $1.8m.
Classic car insurer Hagerty has just issued its list of the top 20 hottest cars to buy right now. There are three Porkers under $30,000 that Hagerty’s experts say look good buying. The 1997-2004 Boxster is about $11,000 in the US. This was a $140,000 car here. Now you’ll pay $17,000 to $21,000. Like all Porkers, but particularly the Boxsters, buy the lowest-mileage, best-serviced one you can afford. And buy an S.
Then there’s the Porsche 924. Front-engined, not much power but a lot of fun if you get a good one somewhere around $15,000. Finally the 1999-2005 Porsche 911. This car signalled the end of an era. The first of the water versus air-cooled engines, crook-looking fried-eggs front lights and a serious intermediate shaft bearing issue. Didn’t stop me buying one though. About $220,000 new, I would pay somewhere in the mid $40Ks for a sorted 2003-2004 model.
In non-Porker-related news, this month the Peninsula Hotel Group announced its third annual Best of the Best Award in Paris. Eight cars were in the running including the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider and the 1933-35 Lancia Astura Aerodinamica Coupe but the gold medal went to the 1936 Bugatti Type 57sc Coupe Atlantic. Now while you can buy Ralph Lauren’s for about $60m, I would just look at the photo on the top of the column and drool.