We sit down for dinner with Norbert Singer and then flick the lights on in the Porsche Museum for some private time with a stunning collection of German lovelies.
The couple of days prior to what is about to roll-out in front of me were quite intense. A whistle stop tour of the Geneva Motorshow with Phill Tromans (which started with a long evening being subjected to the VW Group’s product strategy) was then followed by a late night, a full day at Geneva itself, another late night, and an absurdly early morning. By day three, I was already knackered.
So as I dragged myself from the comfy seat on the plane, out of customs and into the airport hotel, all I could think about was food. I needed FOOD badly. Thankfully Porsche wasn’t going to let me down, and a quick call from the lovely Anja (Porsche public relations manager for the Middle East) soon had me very excited about our stop-off at the Porsche Museum and, more importantly, the Christophorus restaurant up on the third floor.
In between mingling and chatting with other motoring hacks in the room, I slide myself into my seat and found myself captivated by the die cast Porsche 917 model in front of me. Cool idea I thought, and looking up and down the long table at which I was seated, I saw other models from the Porsche line-up. A neat touch.
Silly me completely missed the relevance though and as I looked up from my view finder, I stared straight into the eyes of this chap: living legend; a God within my world; Norbert Singer. The man that played a pivitol role in every single one of Porsches dominating 16 overall victories at the greatest endurance race on the planet; the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Dinner was going to be a special occasion then! I found myself utterly engaged with the man, who sat there happily regaling stories to me from his earliest gig ensuring the mighty Porsche 917 could finish an endurance race, to developing the Porsche 911 into a formidable racing car, and who could ignore his influence in the direction and design of the car that will hold Porsche in the history books until the end of time: the Porsche 962.
I honestly could have spent all night in the presense of Mr Singer and very nearly did. As the final morsels of food were destroyed, a knowing wink was thrown my way. “Want to see some history?”, asked Norbert. I grabbed my camera and followed the man into what can only be described as the most stunning automotive sweet shop. The Porsche Museum collection was ours, the lights set to shine on all the incredible history and the place was all mine. Empty.
First up, the stunningly sexy Porsche 804. The car that in July 1962 popped Dan Gurney onto the top step of the Grand Prix of France. Weighing in at a very spritely 461kgs, this lightweight, eight cylinder single seater was sadly the only Formula One car developed and built entirely by Porsche. Will that ever change? Who knows. Norbert isn’t letting any secrets slide just yet.
One of the aspects of design that Norbert continued to press home was how Porsche was pushing the boundaries of what was possible at the time. The Porsche 909 bergspyder was a very good example of just how far the company was going back in the day. From the exceptionally thin glass fibre outer shell, aluminium space frame, beryllium brake discs (google that one), this particular car was used as a test bed during hill climb races. With the engine mounted midship and the driver as far forward as possible (popular for hill climbs) the car weighed a faintly ridiculous 384kgs.
A quick divert off the course laid out by Norbert had me salivating over a car that showed just how capable the Porsche 911 really is/was. In 1984 Porsche decided to tackle the most arduous rally raid event there was, the Paris-Dakar. When Rene Metge set out from Paris, his principal reason was to test the first Porsche designed four-wheel drive system: think Carrera 4, before the Carrera 4. Three cars were entered, with everyone of them crossing the finishing line 11,000kms later. A win for the trophy cabinet and a win for the engineering team.