Unsurprisingly for a house shared by a writer and a teacher, this place is packed full of books and I just added another big pile of them. As work on my new office and garage continues, I recently cleared out my old office and ended up bringing several boxes of books and magazines home. I now have to figure out what to sell and what to keep.
I started buying my own books using book tokens and pocket money before I was ten, but eventually became a huge fan of car magazines, as my favourite motoring writers appeared in print every month: I didn’t have to wait years for their next piece of work. Joining their ranks became my primary ambition.
When I left Ireland and moved to London in the late 1980s, I brought only a handful of books with me, but it didn’t take long for the weekly book buying to start again in the UK, topped up by numerous monthly car magazine subscriptions. Living in a camper van for a couple of years meant getting rid of several hundred magazines and I’ve probably recycled thousands of magazines over the years, but some have survived every clear out and remain in my current collection – I’ll share some of these at some stage.
The Internet has calmed my library size down, as I now tend to buy the stuff I want to read secondhand and then either pass it on to someone else via Facebook or put it back on eBay and see what else is about. Behind the in-and-out regular reads lies a decent sized reference library, all centred on Porsche.
The collection began when I started writing for Porsche magazines alongside writing for Autocar and realised that some of my favourite journalists had written their own Porsche books several years previously. David Vivian and Mike McCarthy’s 911 books were the first ones I read, but Chris Harvey’s excellent book “Porsche 911 in all its forms” – the 1988 edition – remains perhaps my favourite of the journo creations and can often be found for less than a quid on eBay.
As Ferry Porsche was the root of my Porsche fascination, I bought everything Ferry ever had a hand in, so all of his various auto/biographies and some of the books he wrote forewords for, including another of Harvey’s Porsche books. Ferry’s own Cars are my Life is a great read and under a fiver inc delivery from the Air Ambulance shop on Amazon.
I’ve never really been into the brand trophy books, as some of the titles marketed as ultimate reference works are out of date almost as soon as they are published, and the world these cars exist in is always changing. Not to mention that errors are soon found by the forum experts. I prefer the collections of road tests like the Brooklands compendiums, that give real insight and period reaction, as well as comparing the cars to their contemporaries and of course these are much cheaper to buy.
That said, every Porsche library needs one or two trophy books on the shelf. Dieter Landenberger’s advertising collection – Porsche – Die Marke. Die Werbung: Geschichte einer Leidenschaft – is a lovely piece of work, even for someone who doesn’t speak German. Jürgen Lewandowski’s book on Porsche Racing Posters, Porsche – die Rennplakate, is another nice one.
Rainer Schlegelmilch’s compilation of his photos of sports car racing from 1962-1973 is still just £30 to buy at this time and offers a great insight into racing of the period: so different to the re-run events like Le Mans Classic and Mille Miglia Historic which often seem to be aimed mainly at marketing departments “and the one percent”, as my friend John Gray would say.
I’m quite picky in what I keep and many of these office refugees will be off to eBay soon, but I have seen some mega Porsche libraries over the years and know some of you have excellent collections of your own. So my question to answer in the comments is: which ONE Porsche book would you keep if forced to get rid of them all?
I’m currently back in Gran Canaria (off the coast of Morocco) and recently finished two books by the British adventure traveller and journalist, Chris Scott: Desert Travels and The Street Riding Years: Despatching through 1980s London. Each is an excellent read for bike fans and non-bikers alike, and Chris inevitably and entertainingly wanders off-piste into other areas.
I had just finished reading Street Riding Years, which devotes a good percentage of its pages to discussing the character flaws of the author’s various bikes through the years, when a question arose on a UK forum for BMW GS motorcycle anoraks. The original poster asked this and sparked an interesting thread:
I was chatting at the lights to a chap on a fancy new BMW. He was commenting that he liked his new bike, and it was eye-wateringly fast, but that he missed the character of his old R1150GS. I nodded, sagely, sitting aside my old R1150GS. But when he shot off, I thought – I don’t actually know what that means. Any thoughts on what makes character in a bike, and in a 1150 specifically?
I replied with a quote from Street Riding Years and something I had also read, written by Clarkson:
“In actor Eric Bana’s 2009 film, ‘Love the Beast’, Jeremy Clarkson assures Bana his recently smashed up 2009 Ford GT Falcon Coupe isn’t worth rebuilding because ‘muscle cars are crap’. Then, in one of his occasional spells of profoundness, Clarkson offers to explain ‘character’. ‘The cars we love the best are the ones with human traits, warts and all. Anything else is just a machine’. Jezzer nailed it. Did my repugnant MZs have character? Do bears floss after meals? Proper Brit bikes of the era had the love-hate qualities of character. Many [Italian and US bikes] too. But Jap Crap and Kraut Crates, not so sure.”
Chris is not a BMW fan. I understand the rationale, but do not share his opinion. To me, character involves the consistent delight of rider/driver, mile after mile. On that basis, the low-fi, hand-assembled 850/1100/1150 twins enjoy bags of character. I get the same joy in use from both my twinspark BMW 1150s (a GS Adventure and an RT) and my pre-VTEC VFR800 as I do from older Porsches and lots of my other cars. They are wonderfully built pieces of travelling equipment and their original designers should be proud.
Great Motorcycle Rides: A5 Bangor-Llangollen-Oswestry
I was at home in Ireland on two wheels last month (see above), clocking up 1500 miles in a week. On my way back to the UK, I parked my 2003 1150RT next to a German biker while waiting for the ferry in Dublin. He was reminiscing about his 100,000 kms on an 1150RT before changing it for the new 1200RT he was riding. We stayed together out of Holyhead for a while, before I came off the main drag for the wonderfully twisty A5 at Bangor. I rode this excellent road down to Llangollen in mid Wales and on to Oswestry, just inside the border with England.
Starting the route at 7pm, I basically had the 90-mile road all to myself. It was as close to heaven as I’ve ever been on a bike. When I eventually got to the end of the best bit, the A5 was closed and I was sent on an additional 20-mile diversion in a southbound loop to the M54. I was a bit weary after a late night with my dad the previous evening, but I stayed happy and arrived home content after almost four hours of riding. When you end up being pushed a lot further than planned and can still keep a smile on your face, that probably says something about a machine and its character.
Vintage Porsche Character
Driving my orange 3-litre 911 is a similar experience. It is hot and noisy inside, but I have never been tempted to change much of that – I just take off a few layers once in a while and wear earphones whenever I drive it. God only knows how many delays and diversions I have experienced in that car over ten years of ownership, but there is something about the machine that just clicks. I turn the key, make one gearchange and am instantly reminded just how much I love it.
With many older cars (and bikes), there may even be a sense that the machine has been imbued with some of the spirit of its builders. There is an awareness of the expert human contribution to the creation of a nicely-built older machine, which then deserves a considerate/likely capable user to get the best from it. At the peak, there exists a techno-spiritual connection to the emotional aspects of what is really just a pile of cast metal, moulded rubber and a few bags of bolts. All emotional conjecture projected by the rider/driver, but I am sure some of you will go with the flow on this.
An engineer could probably make a good list of components that help create the impression of mechanical ‘character’ but, to me, the twist of a key, the momentary clack of an oil-filled cam chain tensioner taking up the slack, the snick of a WEVO or BMW shifter and the rising burble of a flat twin or six go some way towards telling me I have a good thing coming.
What does character mean to you? I would be interested to hear your thoughts below.
I had an email today from my friend Heather, wife and business partner of motorsport artist and designer, Nicolas Hunziker, reminding me that the duo are celebrating ten years in business this month. The mail was well timed, as I am also celebrating a work anniversary today: my seventh year as a full-time freelance, working in and around the classic Porsche hobby.
I still remember parking my company car in the office car park for the last time, returning my work laptop and security pass and catching the train from Weybridge back to Banbury – I think I even kept the ticket stub. Mrs G picked me up in our old Landcruiser and we drove home through the leafy lanes, on a beautifully bright, sunny day. Still got the house, the Landcruiser, the Mrs and the sunshine (today, at least), but I no longer work for a company owned by a hedge fund and run by a revolving door of MDs, each of whom loved to send us on wild-goose research missions to find the secrets of future profit growth, but did nothing in response when we brought home the data.
It’s now seven years since I was a wage slave and I don’t miss a bit of it. What a joy it is to wake up in the morning, walk downstairs, put the kettle on and instantly be at work. I am truly grateful for what the last seven years have taught me and oh, to have learned it all so much earlier! I look forward to reaching my tenth anniversary and considering my own answers to the questions I just asked Nicolas. Here’s what my artist friend says after a decade of working for himself.
JG: How long did it take until you felt the new venture was going to work?
NH: I was fortunate as I was able to quit my job in advertising (I was writing and directing TV commercials) and take up painting full time, one year into my painting career. In the early days, I would deliver a painting without knowing when or where the next sale would materialise. The mortgage was late more than once, but Heather never discouraged me from pursuing my passion. She always stood by me and put her entrepreneurial spirit to work. And if it hadn’t been for the support of a few early patrons – support which continues to this day – I might not be where I am now.
JG: Can you share a high point from the last ten years?
NH: I can think of several. Obviously getting the official nod from Porsche and McLaren, Gulf, Le Mans etc. to gild my paintings with their logos was huge. A couple of corporate commissions that stand out came from the Porsche Museum and PCNA. But one thing that has surprised me more than anything else is all the doors that my art has opened for me: My own racing activities, meeting people who I have long admired and now I’m lucky to call many of them friends.
JG: Has being in business changed your attitude to/experience of the classic Porsche world?
NH: Yes and no. On the one hand, I’ve had a peek behind the curtain through our apparel company where we were a Porsche OE apparel supplier. On the customer side, it’s been very rewarding to see how our creations have been accepted by the Porsche scene. We started our apparel line in 2011 but we still get a kick out of seeing someone wear one of our shirts walking around Goodwood, Le Mans Classic, Monterey or the local Cars & Coffee event.
JG: Have you learned any surprise lessons about people through your work?
NH: I don’t know if there were surprises, but I’ve learned the following:
1. Develop your own style.
2. Passion is the best inspiration.
3. Art opens doors.
5. Defy convention.
4. Art has value.
I love Nic’s approach to creativity: he is always thinking ahead. Hunziker Corp has some interesting projects in progress, all being documented online. Check out the Hunziker Art Car project (a 996 GT3 built through parts donations in exchange for artwork) and, of course, the famous Hunziker Driving Shoes, as worn by half the car guys in America, going by Heather’s Facebook shares.
Thinking about the questions I asked Nic to answer, my own answers would probably be that I knew it would work before I got started, as I had been data researching and writing full-time for ten years, working as a part-time Porsche freelancer since 2005 and already had an independent Porsche client base. There have been a few upsets in my seven years of freelance (mainly debtors going bust and causing a few headaches – not all financial), but I now recognise these as excellent learning experiences. The most recent upset was easier than the first, having learned how to spot, react and mitigate the effects of such occurrences and acting on my instincts early.
A better business radar is one good thing that has come straight from freelance, but it has not arrived at the expense of being harder with money. I started my freelance career working with people who charged for every single thing they did and I followed their example in the early days. I don’t do that so much nowadays: my attitude to earning has mellowed substantially. Going easier with this aspect has brought in many fun experiences and also taught me to say ‘no thanks’ more, and earlier. Time is the most valuable commodity for any creative, so better to draw a line under things as soon as warning flags are raised and move in a better direction.
Have I met inspirational people? Most definitely: valuable lessons have been learned from good friends all over the world. Have I inspired other people? One or two would say yes. Do I still feel the same passion? Yes, I maintain a deep love for the cars and people of this excellent hobby, but no doubt the movement is different today compared to seven years ago. A new generation has taken the world of classic Porsche in many different directions and we oldies accept that this is how all things go eventually. Some of the hot new trends are nothing new at all, but no point losing sleep over it. Things that don’t excite us so much are the best things ever for other folks, and that is OK.
As layers pile on top of layers, the core just gets buried slightly deeper, so we must dig harder to find it. The passion, support and encouragement I get from my hardcore Porsche friends (i.e. most of the people I work with) deliver all the energy one needs to press on. These people have shaped my last seven years and continue to exert a huge influence. I guarantee that if you are thinking of starting something new, it is your similarly passionate friends who will help get you through it. That said, all final decisions on what to do next are yours alone to make.
Freelance Advice (if you need it)
For anyone considering leaving their job and trying something new and different, I urge you to go for it, especially if you have a unique skill that is sought after. Do your research well and include contingency plans for all realistic worst case scenarios (not zombie attacks or nuclear holocausts) before walking away from the wage packet. With due diligence done and dusted, stop worrying and think and talk positive.
Walk away from anyone negative. They will kill what you are about to embark on. Avoid all negativity: negative people have nothing to offer the entrepreneur. They are not realists, they are buzzkill and you have already done your homework. Put your headphones on and walk away. Do not let buzzkillers inside your energy fence (I just made that up: please use it unwisely).
Add a few marketing skills to package the products/skills you intend to sell and then work your butt off doing something you love. It is so easy to work doing something that just flows in and around you. It is also incredible fun, most of the time. When it’s not fun, know you are learning something important. Also, never forget that the lesson may be to quit and do something different: I have changed tack many times in the last seven years.
Verify the market you are aiming to work in, nail the skills required (night school, online, private tuition or whatever) and as soon as you are ready to start, go for it. Worst case scenario: you get another job when the money runs out. Best case: there is no limit. You are the limit. I know so many of you have wonderful talents: let them shine brightly, follow the light and see where it leads!
ps: I have a few people to thank for their unflinching support over the last seven years (even over the last twelve years) but none of them would want to be mentioned in public: that’s just not how we do things. I am sure they know who they are – I talk to most of them daily! One or two people not so often nowadays, but the feeling is still the same. Thank you.
As classic Porsches assume the air of treasured possessions such as fine art or jewellery, so more artful representations of the cars arrive on the market to remind us of our passion. Many artists have produced representations of the classic Porsche 911 and 356 models, but these recent sculptures from Rotterdam artist, Stefan de Beer, really caught my eye.
The former car restorer and trained artist has created his Porsche studies with long-time creative partner, Brigitte Broer. The shapes speak for themselves, but I really love the concept of louvred sections, which call to mind the cooling fins on an air-cooled Porsche engine.
“After a successful career as a racecar designer, I returned to my early love for art and architecture,” says Stefan. “Long ago I started my education at the Academy of the Arts, after a few years I switched to car design at TU Delft, the Polytechnisch Bureau Arnhem and the Art Center College of Design in Switzerland. After twelve years as a car designer and engineer, I sold my business and returned to the Academy to start all over again and study art and architecture. Since 2007, I have found a perfect balance between art, architecture and old sportscars.”
Each of Stefan’s sculptures begins with 3D laser scan of a full-size car. CAD techology then is employed to generate a digital representation, at which point the artist select his sections, and transfers those dimensions to a pattern-making machine.
The laser pattern cutter transfers the profiles to high quality acrylic and wood materials for just the right effect. Each sculpture is then assembled by hand. The shapes can also be fitted with a lighting attachment, and even engraved with custom registration plates. The last bit might be a step too far for me – less is more, after all. Every piece comes with a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’, bearing the unique number of the sculpture and the signatures of the makers.
We’ve seen lots of other louvres on classic Porsches this year but none have felt as fresh and airy as these. Order direct from the partnership here.
A Porsche 928 art car painted by eminent German artist, Heinz Mack, will be auctioned at the Lempertz Contemporary Art sale in Cologne on May 30, 2015. Though classic Porsche 928 values are rising along with prices for all other older Porsche models, the likely value of this car is more closely linked to its artistic connections.
Heinz Mack and ZERO
Born in Lollar near Frankfurt in 1931, Heinz Mack attended the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts during the 1950s, also attaining a philosophy degree at the University of Cologne. In 1957, Mack started an art magazine ‘ZERO’, which ran for a decade and gave rise to the eponymous ZERO art movement.
ZERO held to the notion that art should be void of colour, emotion and individual expression. Founded by a trio of German artists including Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, ZERO later encompassed a wider group of primarily European artists including the Swiss Jean Tinguely and Argentinian-born Italian, Lucio Fontana.
The central theme of Heinz Mack’s art is light. His ideas have been expressed through sculptures and pictures in a hugely diverse range of materials and locations. Often working in open spaces ‘untouched by the fingerprint of civilisation’, Mack’s most recent project, Nine Columns under Sky, was created on the beautiful Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in my favourite city of Venice. Nine seven-metre columns covered in more than 800,000 gold-plated mosaic tiles inspired by the Sahara Desert invite reflection upon this long-term epicentre of Mediterranean art.
Porsche 928 Art Car & Value
While Mack is reputedly a passionate collector of cars, his tastes lean more toward British machinery. Preferring Aston Martins and Jaguars, Mack was asked to paint the Porsche 928S by a friend in 1984.
The Porsche is a 1978 4.4-litre 928S manual with TUV approval to August 2015. The odometer reading shows unknown kilometres but the car is said to display signs of its age. Signed by the artist on both doors and taking some inspiration from period aero tests, the design is said to “accentuate the aerodynamic silhouette of the sports car with small triangles on both sides and a colour spectrum that morphs from white into black”.
Porsche Museum 928 provenance
Previously exhibited at the Porsche Museum, auction estimates for the car run from €40-€45k. Given current prices for standard Porsche 928s of similar vintage, this seems ridiculously low for a bona-fide art car.
The most recent large scale auction of ZERO artist output came at Sotheby’s in 2010, where a catalogue of of 49 paintings and drawings sold for more than four times the original auction estimates, to hit a total of more than £54 million.
Mindful of where the art market has soared to in the five years since, current interest in the unique early 928 and the parallels between classic Porsche and modern art collecting, I can see this car outperforming all expectations at auction. I am excited to see how it goes.
It was good to swap some emails with freelance graphic designer and classic Porsche artist, Arthur Schening, this week. Arthur sent me some examples of his work that really caught my eye: distinctive and evocative renditions of classic Rennsport racing cars. I knew there had to be a theme at work, so I asked him to elaborate. Arthur’s response struck a familiar chord!
Porsche Art by Arthur Schening
When I was very young, my older brother took me to see Steve McQueen’s movie, Le Mans. At that time, the only racing cars I was aware of were American stock cars. The movie cars were different. They were very cool, and exotic, and the sound they made was fantastic. And the Porsches were the good guys – at least that was the way I saw it – battling against the vile Ferraris to ultimate victory. I have been a Porsche man ever since.
Sometime later, I discovered the Porsche 911. It was not beautiful, nor particularly powerful. It was small and odd looking – a bit like me. But there was something about that shape. It was clean and simple, and it looked purposeful. And it fought heroically against the bigger, prettier Ferraris and Corvettes – another villain in my mind. I grew up to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the Ferraris, and admire (although never love) the Corvettes. But they are not Porsches.
Being a freelance graphic designer and illustrator is not lucrative. I was born to a middle-class family. I am not wealthy, and I will never be able to afford the cars that I desire. But my occupation does give me the ability to create a likeness of the things that I love. If I wanted a Porsche 906 or 910, I would have to create it for myself.
I started working on this series of historic racing car illustrations in my free time a few years ago, when I was not working on client projects (a benefit of working for myself). I never intended to illustrate more than a few cars that I wanted to hang on my walls at home. But with each illustration I complete, the list of cars that I covet grows. I suppose this project will continue on for a while longer.
Visit Arthur Schening’s Online Gallery
Arthur Schening is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator living in Arlington, Virginia. His work is available to purchase as prints from his website featuring an online gallery of classic endurance racing sports cars. I am quite taken by his style: expect to see more of it on Ferdinand Magazine in the future!