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By Paul Williams; photos courtesy Porsche
Inside the Porsche Classic Workshop
Stuttgart, Germany – For those planning to restore a classic car — especially a limited production vehicle like an early Porsche — it doesn’t get much better than having the factory that built your car do the work.
Sure, there are many specialist shops that will do an exceptional job, but let’s face it, if you own something like a Porsche 356, an early 911, a historic Speedster or an exotic Porsche 959, you want to know it’s in the right hands before a team sets about disassembling it.
Porsche Classic, based in Zuffenhausen (although currently located in temporary premises nearby) exists as a separate division of the company, and is charged with restoring and maintaining classic Porsches. Customers bring their cars from around the world to the workshop, where a team of 30 experts under the direction of Manager Jochen Bader can do everything from performing regular service, to rebuilding engines, to returning vehicles to showroom condition.
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The division has access to a store of 35,000 parts (many of which are produced by the original suppliers) which it manages for all Porsche models 10 years after the end of production. In fact, this was the Porsche Classic division’s main role for the past 30 years, before expanding to become a specialist restoration shop in 2003.
The most popular cars restored by Porsche Classic are the 356 and 911 models, although the 914, 964, 959 and all retired water-cooled four-and eight-cylinder models can also found on the premises.
The technicians who work at Porsche Classic are a multi-talented group, whose skills cover the full range of automotive craft and engineering. The jobs at Porsche Classic are considered choice opportunities within the company, requiring a skill set that goes well beyond normal technical abilities.
Porsche Classic has access to several resources only found on site. For instance, the company retains all of the jigs that were originally used to construct Porsche vehicles, even those from a half-century ago. These are used to precisely determine the structural integrity of the Porsche body shells, and guide their repair if required. If the appropriate jig doesn’t fit into the space for the rear window, for instance, or into a door opening, technicians know that the entire shell may be twisted.
A full restoration goes through five steps, starting with cost estimation, followed by arrival, dismantling, mechanical and body work, then final completion.
In practice, the process is of course more complex, starting with cost estimation. Based on photos, Porsche Classic can generate a rough estimate of the cost of restoring a subject car. Something really rare, like a “James Dean” 550 Spyder, could take 1,500 hours or more, and with a shop rate of 97 Euros per hour, this adds up! Nonetheless, such a car is worth considerably more than its restoration cost, and having Porsche actually do the restoration also adds value to the car.