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Porsche - A reason to celebrate

A reason to celebrate

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Left: Sarah and Hiram Vazquez, Shreveport (Louisiana), USA, Cayman; right: Rainer Otto, with his family, Königswinter, Germany, 911 Turbo

Picking up your own Porsche straight from the plant has been something very special for 65 years. Now we show how it feels.

Sometimes everything about automotive passion starts with a Matchbox car. In Torsten Welcker’s case, it was a white 911 convertible that friends gave him years ago. “With a red interior!” says the 49-year-old, with a smile. He still has his miniature Porsche; his passion for the idea of one day driving a real Porsche never went away. Today is the day that he will fulfill his dream at a scale of 1:1.

As early as 8 a.m., there is plenty of commotion in the lounge of the Porsche factory collection building, right at the main entrance to Plant 2 in Zuffenhausen. The first customers are arriving. After registering at reception, they sit down on the black leather sofas, drink coffee, and have something to eat. Their faces beam with anticipation but also reveal a certain amount of nervousness. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the moment just before the Christmas gifts are unwrapped. However, today’s present is one that everyone is giving themselves: their own Porsche. For most of them, a long–held wish is being fulfilled for the first time. Others have been here before—but they are no less excited.

Naturally, Torsten Welcker has decided on a convertible. However, unlike the Matchbox car, it is black, not white. With black rims. Yet it does have red decorative stitching and the Porsche double-clutch transmission (PDK)—Welcker takes both of those items seriously. He also likes things sporty, whether it is his car or his clothing—today he is wearing jeans and a hooded sweater.

“Would you like license plate holders, or no holder, or one at the rear and none at the front?” the woman at reception asks him. She mentions that most people take one at the rear and none at the front. He takes the opposite choice. The big moment is getting closer.

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Left: Torsten Welcker, Reichelsheim, Germany, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet; right: Joseph Dason, Toronto, Canada, Panamera GTS

Before he is taken to his car, there will be a tour of the plant. Apart from finally receiving their car, this tour is the highlight of the day for many customers—visiting the cradle of the company, seeing where their Porsche was built—it’s an experience they will tell their friends and family about afterward. The tour, in German and English, lasts around an hour and a half. “While most people who pick up their car in person are from Germany, we do get future Porsche owners from overseas in Plant 2 every day,” explains Ronald Till, who has years of experience as a customer care agent in the plant pickup center.

One of these customers is Joseph Dason. He has arrived specially from Canada to pick up his Panamera GTS today. Yes, even the Panameras, Cayennes, and Macans—which are built in Leipzig—can be picked up in Stuttgart, and Boxsters, Caymans, 911s, and 918 Spyders can be picked up at the plant in Saxony. There are arguments in favor of both locations: Leipzig can offer a few racy circuits around Porsche’s own racetrack, whereas Zuffenhausen has a very attractively presented history of the company in the Porsche Museum.

Joseph Dason decided on the history, because that is what brought him to Europe. The 62-year-old engineer is originally from Australia, but has lived in Toronto for 24 years. He had planned the European trip with his wife, his son, and his 92-year-old father, who originally emigrated to Australia from Poland, and now wanted to visit his homeland once again. Joseph Dason brought his father from Australia to Canada, from where they would travel on to Europe. But a few days before their departure, his father decided not to put himself through the strain of the journey. What could they do? The tickets were booked … It was incredibly fortuitous that Joseph Dason had ordered a Panamera GTS. Instead of having it delivered in Canada, he quickly changed to the European Delivery Program.

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Celebrity driver: Conductor Herbert von Karajan (center) picks up his 550 A Spyder in 1959.

This program allows Porsche customers in North America to combine their vehicle pickup with a road trip in Europe. The customer selects the destinations and Porsche organizes everything—from an individualized route plan and hotel accommodation to the transportation of the vehicle to the customer’s home after the trip. In sixteen European cities, as well as at the Zuffenhausen and Leipzig plants, there are drop-off points where customers can leave their Porsche for its sea journey to their homes. Dason’s sixteen-day tour will start right at the customer car park at the plant gate and will take him from Stuttgart through Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland (on behalf of his father), and back to Germany.

“Everything is so quiet and clean, and the staff all really give the impression that they love working here,” he says when he returns from the plant tour. As an engineer, he was particularly keen to see Porsche production.

Now he is to be taken to his own car. The customer care agent takes a good hour and a half per vehicle to explain the car in detail to each new owner and to answer any questions. The delivery hall is one floor above the lounge. “You can tell that the customer’s excitement is building with each step,” says customer care agent Till. On average, fifteen customers per day pick up a Porsche at the Zuffenhausen plant. And that has been the case now for 65 years. Customers have come from almost every country, and have included aristocrats, actors, sportspeople, musicians, and others from among the great and good. It is a very special day for everyone.

At around 4 p.m., Torsten Welcker leaves the car park in his new 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet. To begin with, he is only driving home to Reichelsheim, near Frankfurt. He has planned a trip to Lake Starnberg, near Munich, for the weekend. There’s one thing he’s bound to have in his luggage: a white Matchbox car with a red interior.

By Thorsten Schönfeld
Photos by Rafael Krötz

65 years of factory collection

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Early customer: In 1950 the physician Dr. Ottomar Domnick (right) made a toast to his new 356.

On April 6, 1950, the first Porsche 356 rolled off the production lines in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. The history of factory collections started at the same time. What started with few vehicles and customers and, due to the lack of facilities, took place outside, became more and more popular over the years. Now, more than five thousand customers per year collect their new Porsche at the plants in Zuffenhausen and Leipzig. To make the collection a unique experience, Porsche offers a comprehensive framework program, including the plant tour, a lunch, and—in Zuffenhausen—a visit to the Porsche Museum. At the Leipzig location, the plant’s own racetrack is available for test-drives. You can find more information on the Internet at www.porsche.com under the heading Service & Accessories/Factory collection.