The Heart of Porsche
Mr. Fabig, why the combination of individualization and classic?
That’s something that grew slowly over time. The “Classic” part originated from the engineering division, while the “Individualization” portion came in part from the factory repair department and in part from marketing. The official merger was during an organizational change in 2004, when accessories, customization, factory pickup and classic, restoration and the parts business came together in one division. The unifying element was the workshop, because we need it for both the restoration of classic cars and for individualization. Though I should say that our workshop is more than a simple repair shop. I like to call our people there artists who restore and individualize our sports cars. There are also a whole bunch of synergies, especially in the area of purchasing and the supplier structure. Many of our customers who buy a new limited-edition model like the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition also own a classic car. So we’re often dealing with customers who are individualizing one car and having another restored.
There never used to be anything like the Heritage Design Edition in the past . . .
That’s true. Though we recently had the gold 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series in 2017 and, going back in time a bit, there was the limited-edition 993 Turbo S with 345 cars built. But a series of just four cars . . . this is a first for us.
And the first time a series has been placed in the Classic system?
We’re paying tribute to classic elements here, something we already did back in 2009 with the 911 Sport Classic, which was produced just 250 times. Now we are pursuing the goal of reviving decades. It’s something completely new and at the same time a tribute to our history. You could say it’s a faithful reinterpretation of what Porsche was all about in a specific decade like the fifties, for example.
And then there’s the Magnus Walker take on customizing classic Porsches.
Of course, there are lots of different opinions about him as a person. We’ve been in contact with each other for quite some time, and I really like him. He has had a big influence on the scene. And if you ask me, the sorts of things that take place there, in terms of the enthusiasm and the time and financial investment, that is all proof of how much power the Porsche brand has. That’s why we don’t see it as blasphemy, but as a peaceful coexistence of those who want to preserve the car in its original form. The same holds true for the hardcore crowd who demand that a rim needs to have the original stamp on it on the inside.
Could I come to you with a 964 and ask you to turn it to a Singer Porsche?
No, we wouldn’t do that. Though the principle of coexistence applies here too. We certainly think that Singer is positive for the Porsche brand, especially from the perspective of the Porsche community. But you are more than welcome to come to us with your 964 and have us realize your personal ideas.
"It’s something completely new and at the same time a tribute to our history. You could say it’s a faithful reinterpretation of what Porsche was all about in a specific decade like the fifties, for example." - Alexander Fabig
And what if I want my car to be a little wider?
Then we’d say, “Why don’t you let us work with our custom design specialist Grant Larson to see how we can make your own personal dream 964?” You could try to forget the whole Singer thing for a moment and start with what you yourself want the car to be. After all, it’s just a question of shape, colors, material. Now, if you want to know from me how far we will go: everything has to be considered from the perspective of Michael Mauer and his team and with respect for our design principles. We probably won’t give you riveted leather seat covers. There are things we won’t do. We also don’t adopt design elements from other brands. Our philosophy is to “truly create”. We want each car to be created individually for the customer – and usually in a production run of one.
Are your customers predominantly men?
In any case, you would give a customer some pretty good style advice, right? Often, however, the customer doesn’t even know what he wants.
That’s well put. I always say it’s not about the car, but about getting to know the person. That takes time. We take on just a few projects at once. Right now we’ve got a customer with whom we’re just about to start into the project phase and we’ve already spent quite a few hours getting to know him. And every time we meet, we find out a little more about what makes him tick, and that brings us a little closer to his personal dream car.
And what does a meeting like that look like?
During the style consultation we look at sample parts and cars. We walk through the museum collection. We go to our customer service department in Zuffenhausen, look at the vehicles on display. The customer’s initial feedback helps us to develop a sense of which features he likes most.
That requires special training, doesn’t it?
We do have a high degree of specialization. Grant Larson is a real luminary, of course, because he’s such a big figure in Porsche’s history who brings with him the full wealth of experience with which he has influenced the brand. But we’ve also got a customer consultant for special requests who maintains personal customer contact, plus a project manager who keeps a cool head as he tracks all the milestones. Then there’s a technical expert who’s there right from the start and who will later be responsible for the vehicle construction.
"I always say it’s not about the car, but about getting to know the person. That takes time."
For the feasibility?
Right. So there are a total of four people in the core team. The first concept phase runs for about a year until a specification sheet is produced at the end. It contains a technical description of the car, the design is specified – and it gets a price tag.