30th anniversary of the Porsche 911 was its first real landmark and the car was feted in Stuttgart
The 30th anniversary of the 911 was its first real landmark and the car was feted in Stuttgart with due ceremony. Its 25th had passed almost unnoticed, but given the uncertainty and managerial turmoil at Zuffenhausen in autumn 1988, few would have been in the mood.
Total 911 recounts the story behind a famous picture from Porsche’s past…
Five years on, however, the outlook was improving. Porsche had managed to retain its independence without incurring debts; having returned in 1991 as spokesman for the board, Wendelin Wiedeking was now in charge. Redundancies had followed, but his campaign to streamline manufacturing practice and reduce inventories was having an effect. Porsche was still loss-making in September 1993, but at least the deficit was steadily shrinking.
Sharing production with the 964 – which in its final year was far from filling the lines – was the Mercedes-Benz 500E. This was a profitable subcontract job from Porsche’s large neighbour, which was also keen to see Porsche stay out of foreign hands. Insiders could see positive signs: the Boxster concept that was displayed earlier had stunned everyone; while the new 911, the striking 993, was about to be launched.
It was an appropriate moment to look back on a sports car that had already become an automotive icon to rival its now-deceased cousin, the VW Beetle. At the ceremony in Stuttgart, the noble square in front of the Rathaus was filled with serried ranks of 911s, and among the VIPs were most of the old guard who’d accompanied the 911 over those 30 years, and in the case of the trio in the photograph, the 356 before that. Ferry Porsche, now looking his 84 years, is seen with his sister Louise Piéch (five years older, but as alert as ever) and Huschke von Hanstein (centre), Ferry’s former racing manager and general fixer who for many years was the face of Porsche PR. Helmuth Bott, returning to see old colleagues, was also there, although not in shot. It was the last time these Porsche notables would all convene in a public setting; by 1999, they had all passed away.
One senior figure of the original 911 generation is Horst Marchart, seen here in profile behind Huschke. A self-effacing Austrian who joined Porsche from Steyr in 1960, he suggested the heresy of the shared 986/996 platform. Promoted to engineering director, he would push through the programme that rescued Porsche. He retired in 2001 after a Porsche career as memorable as his successor’s would be forgettable.