Cue the music to Patty and Mildred Hill’s best-selling hit and let’s all sing along:
“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Porker etc.” Yes , it’s 90 years since Ferdy Porker, Anton Piech and Adolf Rosenberger set up business and it’s 70 years since Mr Pump, Norm Hamilton, brought the first two Porkers to Australia.
Adolf Rosenberger, a wealthy but talented racer who was good enough to drive for the Mercedes factory, put up the money for Porsche to get going. Ferdy was a brilliant self-taught engineer who among other things invented the first all-wheel drive electric car (boo!), the first hybrid (boo!) and the sensational race-dominating Mercedes-Benz SSK (hooray and yours for about $10m today). Anton Piech was Ferdy’s son-in-law.
Norm Hamilton was one of those Australians born near the turn of the 20th century who could do just about anything and did. While he started off as a brown cardigan-wearing bean counter at NAB, he was a petrol head underneath and studied at night to get his pilot’s licence and served in the air force during the second big one. After all that excitement he came back and bought a pump maker that was where Crown Casino is now.
A customer, Kelly and Lewis Pumps, suggested Norm head to Europe to look at high-pressure pumps for the Snowy scheme. Ed Kelly later became Norm’s first customer for a Porker, a radium green number, which was restored and sold through Duttons not so long ago. Jeff Dutton said that ‘‘Edward suffered a stroke shortly after taking delivery and Norman Hamilton used to go around every second weekend and take him for a drive so he could still enjoy his rare sports car’’. Anyway, there’s Norm driving around the continent looking at pumps from the windows of a big Oldsmobile 88 (a serious muscle car with a healthy V8 under the bonnet) when a silver something flashes by, leaving Norm and the Olds embarrassed in the dust. Norm saw the car parked outside a Gasthaus, went in and found the driver. Friend and readers, you won’t believe this but Richard von Frankenberg was not only a super factory race-winning driver, he set up the Porsche PR department and was a journalist. In fact, someone called him (mistakenly, given your correspondent’s achievements behind the wheel) ‘‘the fastest journalist on earth’’.
After a few steins of Helles (a malty pale lager from Bavaria of 11–12° Plato, 4.5–5 per cent ABV), Norm got Dicky to show him the way to Global Porker HQ to meet the boss and get the Porsche agency for Australia by chucking in the tooling costs to make some right-hand drive numbers. Now Ferdy had turned out 500 Porkers since he set up shop but none had the steering wheel on the right side except one for the famous Austrian one-armed racing driver Otto Mathé.
So, Norm used racing and rallying to get the brand going and his son Alan, who drove a Porsche by himself aged nine, turned it into a highly successful mega boutique business that was eventually bought by the factory. Alan wasn’t a PR person or a journalist but could he drive. And could he run race teams.
Anyway, expect to pay $20m for a good used Porker like the 1970 Porsche 917K. This Gulf-liveried unit was built as a Le Man test car, starred in Steve McQueen’s movie on the French circuit, rested in a barn for 20 years, and was restored and sold by Dave Gooding at Pebble Beach in 2017. One of Ferdy’s originals, like the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, Jerry Seinfeld sold through Dave Gooding in 2016 for $7m; would cost you about $10m today.
The 550 was Porsche’s first built-to-race car. Jerry’s was unrestored and had only travelled 15,000km preserved, which contributes a lot to its value.
You can put yourself into the most practical real sports car on the road, the 911 (drive it to the track, race and drive back home) for around $240k. If you want something electric that brown cardigan-wearing bean counters are queuing up for, the Porker Taycan (one year waiting list) is about $220k.
As a longtime real (911) Porker owner, you buy one because of how it drives (perfectly) but more importantly how it makes you feel (better than sex as I remember it). Happy birthday Ferdy, Anton, Adolf, Norm and Allan.
The classic car market globally is solid but still below the high for the last 12 months with a significant drop off in prices of E-Types in the northern hemisphere. The Hagerty Market Index is slightly above its five-year low in September 2020.
The specialist classic car insurer says: “Despite the positive movement above and despite growth from external market forces (like the stockmarket and home prices), optimism from market experts dropped this month and average condition #3 (good) values drop slightly”. Now talking of auto legends, fang doctor and reader 19 (no readers dropping off the twig or going inside without internet privileges recently) David Ekins pointed out how this very paper had broken the national secrets act this week.
Our South East Asia correspondent, the Walkley Award-winning Amanda Hodge, penned an article headlined ‘‘Sultan set to eyeball Myanmar generals’’. Well, there’s the cat out of the bag about Michael McMichael’s previously hidden role at the forefront of world affairs.
“The Sultan of Stepney is expected to bring the leaders of the junta in Myanmar to the Kensington Hotel in Adelaide later this month in the first concrete step to try to end the junta’s lethal violence against civilians and head off a full-blown civil war.” We won’t be making any further comment on this matter.