Select Page
Sebastian Vettel tests the Porsche 963

Sebastian Vettel tests the Porsche 963

Porsche has announced that four-time F1 champion, Sebastian Vettel, will test the Porsche 963 hypercar as part of a 36-hour test for Porsche Penske Motorsport ahead of the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours.

The 36 year-old from Heppenheim, which is about 90 miles north-west of Stuttgart, has prepared for the test by meeting the team at its Mannheim base on March 14th and doing some miles on the sim the following day. Yesterday was his first real-life run in the physical car on track at Weissach – one of few times he has driven a race car with a roof.

Vettel excited ahead of the test

“I’m looking forward to testing the Porsche 963,” said Sebastian. “I’ve always followed other racing series and my curiosity for endurance events encouraged me to just give it a shot. I already got the chance to get a feel for the car during a rollout in Weissach, and I’m excited about the long run in Aragón.

“I’m looking forward to my time behind the wheel. It’ll definitely take an adjustment and some getting used to but everyone in the team is very open and helps me. This will be a new experience for me. We will then see what happens next in this respect – at the moment there are no further plans for the future.”

Alongside Sebastian for the test at the 3.3-mile Aragón circuit in north east Spain will be works drivers Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Fred Makowiecki, Kévin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor. The endurance test serves as preparation for the highlight of the season in Le Mans on 15/16 June. As the record holder, Porsche aims to secure its 20th outright victory at the Circuit des 24 Heures.

Porsche has had good fortune putting successful F1 drivers including Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg in its cars, but no Germans of late (not that there are many to choose from – although German-born Lotterrer did have a run out with Caterham in 2014), so a tie up with Vettel is excellent news. It is exciting on many levels, not least of which is the return of a potentially competitive Sebastian against his somewhat subdued F1 exit following two years with the Aston Martin Grand Prix team, now newly reinvigorated with Fernando Alonso on board.

It’s funny that, at 35, Vettel was seen as an elder in F1 where he eventually gained a reputation for being particularly empathetic towards young drivers, encouraging the highly competitive driver field to embody their emotions more deeply. “You cannot always be the best. But you can do your best,” as Vettel puts it.

I like the idea of this new-Seb personality integrated with some Porsche brand communications; the concept has a potential softness and emotionally considerate tone that I often think carmakers lack. I hope they take advantage of his genuine and caring nature as well as reawakening our awareness of his speed – that could lead to some very exciting storytelling and hopefully some race-winning history too.

Vettel is famously an avid historian and loves racing history, with a car collection including Mansell’s 1992 Williams FW14B F1 car, which he runs on sustainable fuel. Thoughts of former Porsche F1 pilots including Hans Herrmann, Edgar Barth and other drivers of that calibre are not far away today. We live in exciting times.

Guy Allen: Kinetic

Guy Allen: Kinetic

Inimitable graphic artist and illustrator Guy Allen has just released another great series of classic car prints. Titled Kinetic, Part 1 is a four-car series featuring the 1973 911 Carrera RS, Jaguar E-Type, Lamborghini Miura and BMW CSL.

Guy Allen Kinetic Prints Framed

I have been captivated by Guy’s work for over 15 years, ever since seeing his first Felix Petrol cartoon. Our freelance paths have intersected many times over the years and he was the obvious choice of collaborator on two series of t-shirts and prints we produced for my Impact Bumpers Porsche forum in the late 2000s.

Guy has the knack of picking up on an idea and quickly understanding the basic dynamic concept, but then taking it further in exciting and engaging ways that one has not imagined. Some of his finest work involves the 911 and I have many of his prints in my small collection.

The latest print in my collection features the Carrera RS. This classic design blending so much Porsche iconography – including the Carerra side stripe, ducktail spoiler and Fuchs alloy wheel – must be one of the most illustrated 911s ever, but Guy again manages to bring something new to the legend. A hat tip also for resisting the urge to widen the wheels and tyres and lose the knife-edge nature of those early ’70s 911s, balletically balanced on the tiptoe of the tyres as they chase driving nirvana. It is no surprise that his artistry is often commissioned by Porsche itself.

Guy Allen development sketches for Kinetic

If you have not got some of Guy’s work, I encourage you to start with the Kinetic Carrera RS. The print is limited to 100 signed and numbered examples and his Porsche works tend to sell out pretty quickly. Printed on archive quality paper using pigment inks, the large A3 work ships unframed and worldwide shipping is free.

Classic Retrofit Porsche 993 R&D

Classic Retrofit Porsche 993 R&D

Jonny Hart at Classic Retrofit picked up a pre-Varioram Porsche 993 Carrera 2 Tiptronic Coupe through some trade friends last August. I’ve often thought about using a 993 as a daily driver and I know many of you actually have. it’s been fun to see what Jonny has made of the 993, and how much he has used it when there is also a nicely restored 911 SC, an electric 914 and an electric works van in the fleet.

“Work on the 993 has included an overdue service, a front end strip and rebuild and of course we’re using the 993 as a development vehicle and test mule for our next-generation Porsche electric air conditioning systems,” he says.

“As this car was never fitted with air conditioning, we’ve fitted our full system including our upgraded alternator. This is a harder installation on a Tiptronic as it has an additional transmission oil cooler up front so a second condenser is not possible. Instead, we’re trialling a new-tech version of our single condenser setup.

“Made by a Dutch company, the new condenser is 50% more efficient than the original 964/993 condenser, which is a big improvement. While we have been using twin condenser systems which give massive headroom over the original, a 50% improvement on the original part is more than enough for most users, especially when combined with our new CCU, which is also in testing in our 993.

“Other improvements seen on the test mule include the development of a tightly-packaged combined battery and A/C Compressor mount to minimise the space required by our electric A/C system: watch out for this as a new product. One more product developed for the car is a replacement tweeter mount to fit Focal FN43 tweeters into standard Porsche 993 door cards. This is a great little upgrade for audiophiles and is available to buy now.”

Jonny says that recent road trips to Retromobile in Paris and visits to several UK consultancy clients have shown that, some 30 years after its introduction, the 993 remains a highly capable and comfortable daily driver. While the Tiptronic is relaxing most of the time, the car can still get a shift on when needed. I might need to borrow this one of the days.

New Guy Allen Porsche Art Notebooks

New Guy Allen Porsche Art Notebooks

The key to an enjoyable freelance career is realising one’s most exciting ideas. Saving ideas – good or bad – for future reference is crucial, and a solid notebook habit soon becomes one of the most important practices in a freelancer’s life.

A notebook is not just a writing space: it is also a thinking space. My pile of colourful A5 moleskine notebooks dates back to the mid-2000s, when I first starting writing about Porsche. Their contents are interwoven with several thousand voice memos and tens of thousands of iPhone images shot over the last twenty years.

I therefore regard my notebooks with great affection and appropriate respect and so I was delighted to get an email from my friend Guy Allen last week about a new range of notebooks he has designed in collaboration with German publisher, Dingwort Verlag.

The A5 notebooks contain 176 pages of sustainably sourced 120gsm Munken paper, with a subtle dot grid printed on each page. The recycled leather covers are screenprinted with some of Guy’s most iconic print designs. The covers have a soft-touch coating and a smooth textural finish. Solid thread stitching and a round spine allow the books to lie flat when open. Rounded corners and black edges help to protect against wear and tear.

Guy sent me a notebook to experience the quality. He chose to send his 911 print – one of my favourites and in my Guy Allen collection. It arrived just in time, as I was on the last two pages of my most recent notebook, so today is my first day using this one. My Lamy Al-Star workpens seem to agree with the very beautiful paper and I have several big classic car valuation reports to get through this week, so I will enjoy filling this with thoughts, ideas and conversation notes and whatever else sparks my awareness.

The Guy Allen Art notebooks are available to buy direct from Dingwort Verlag and no doubt they can ship in time for Christmas. I am tempted to add the Col de Turini and Salzburg 917 designs to an order. Guy’s work is beautiful, so I am delighted by the prospect of having it in my hands and on my desk every day.

Rare Air at Saratoga Springs

Rare Air at Saratoga Springs

The beautiful Porsche collection of Steven Harris is about to go on show at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York. Running through to autumn 2021, the exhibition includes many significant models in original factory condition, but also some cars that were modified to match the owner’s intentions. The list of air-cooled Porsches on show includes:

  • 1956 356A Carrera Coupe
  • 1957 356A Carrera Speedster
  • 1958 356A Carrera GT Coupe
  • 1959 Carrera GS Cabriolet
  • 1960 356B T5 Roadster
  • 1963 Carrera 2 GS Cabriolet
  • 1964 356C Couple – Peking to Paris Rally car
  • 1973 911T “SHTang”/RGruppe
  • 1973 911 Carrera RS
  • 1974 911 Carrera RS 3.0
  • 1984 911 SCRS
  • 1992 964 911 Carrera RS Lightweight
  • 1992 964 911 RS N-GT “Macau”
  • 1994 964 911 RS 3.8
  • 1995 993 911 Carrera RS
  • 1995 993 911 GT2

As part of the exhibition’s preparations, my long-time friend and creative partner, James Lipman, flew to NY and shot the collection in studio, for an accompanying book that will document the collection at this moment in time. The photos seen here are by James.

Steven was responsible for introducing James to the profound effects of immersion in the social scene that surrounds air-cooled Porsche life across North America, particularly in California, where the light hits just right. James’ enthusiasm for a trip to the Baja California taken with Steven sometime in early 2009, and the wonderful images that came out of that trip, led to his selling me on the idea of doing some work out there in May of that year. This was our first R Gruppe Treffen, where we shot the two SWB 911s of Bob Tilton and Chris Nielsen that inspired a raft of work over the next two years and forged lifelong friendships.

Steven’s formative influence does not end there. An esteemed career in architecture has included professorships at Harvard, Yale and Princeton and the work of Steven Harris Architects LLP may be seen all over the world. It is my privilege to have stayed in Steven’s own house in upstate NY and to have briefly experienced what it is to exist inside the vision of a professional whose work I greatly admire.

Combining an achitectural vision with a deep understanding of air-cooled Porsche culture and history (not to mention a keen awareness of market activity) has created to the collection that is partly shown at Saratoga, including several Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance winners. I urge anyone local to the museum to visit and experience Steven’s cognitive precision as expressed through his collection, and to enjoy what blending true passion for these cars and a genetic understanding of what great design looks like can accomplish over time.

About the Saratoga Automobile Museum

The Saratoga Automobile Museum is located within the 2,500-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, in the heart of historic Saratoga Springs, New York. Famous for its legendary one-mile thoroughbred track, the Museum’s facility is the fully restored and renovated New York State Bottling Plant, a beautiful neoclassical structure completed in 1935. 

The Saratoga Automobile Museum was chartered in 1999 and officially opened to the public in June 2002, with a mission to preserve, interpret and exhibit automobiles and automotive artifacts. The museum celebrates the automobile and educates the general public, students and enthusiasts to the role of the automobile in New York State and the wider world. In addition to technical and design aspects, the educational focus is on past, present and future social and economic impacts of the automobile.

New Bids on the Block

New Bids on the Block

The online classic car auction scene has taken off since the first lockdown and I’ve been kept busy inspecting auction cars for sale, including all sorts of classic cars offered through On The Market and Collecting Cars. Now there’s a new online auction seller – Manor Park Classics – whose first sale on April 27th includes a pair of longhood Porsche 911 Targas.

I don’t know much about Manor Park Classics, but their web content appears to be the polar opposite of my taste in content, so it’s no surprise that the name is new to me. The debut auction currently stands at 137 lots: five motorcycles, various items of automobilia and number plates and around 92 cars if my maths is correct.

The sale includes several lots from the Vauxhall Heritage Collection, which will be offered at no reserve, including nice examples of basic Vauxhalls such as the Nova and original Viva. The other lots run the gamut, from Bentleys and Rolls-Royce to low mileage Jaguar XJS, several MGs and classic Minis and a handful of other run-of-the-mill bits and pieces that caught my eye, including a low-ish mile E28 520 at a fairly chunky guide price of £8-10k. I had quite a few E28s back in the day and I do love these cars. My mother began her driving career in a 1974 Renault 6 similar to the LHD 1972 example on offer with another perhaps optimistic guide of £5-6k, but we’ll see how that one does.

The first Porsche for sale is a 1973 RHD Porsche 911 E Targa in Gold, retaining its original tan leather trim but with a recent engine and gearbox rebuild costing some £8.5k. This is a decent engine out service on an MFI car atsome specialists so it is worth knowing what this rebuild entails. The 911 2.4E is my favourite longhood variant so that is a positive if the rest is up to scratch. Auction cars rarely are, so inspect things carefully before bidding.

The other 911 for sale at auction is a 1967 LHD Porsche 911 2.0 Soft-Window Targa in Golf Blue with black trim. In the UK since 1999, this car appears to be quite a good example, having come from its original owner with a huge pile of provenance and offered with body restoration bills for over £21k in the last few years. No mention of who this was with or what panels were replaced and that is important to know. Guide on the soft-window Targa is £90-110k. Bear in mind that there is a 15% Buyers Premium payable on all bids.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can: