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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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So sad to hear the news that the adorable Sabine Schmitz, Queen of the Nürburgring, has passed away from cancer aged just 51. A two-time winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and a former VLN champion, Sabine may be best remembered as the woman who beat Jeremy Clarkson in a van.
Sabine was born to hotelier parents in Adenau, in the shadow of the Nürburgring. The youngest of three girls, Sabine was raised in the Hotel am Tiergarten in the village of Nürburg, which is now home to the legendary Pistenklause restaurant. All three girls used to borrow their mother’s car to do laps of the ‘Ring and all three apparently tried racing, but it was Sabine who took it most seriously, eventually partnering with veteran BMW M3 driver, Johannes Scheid, to win the Nürburgring 24-Hours in both 1996 and 1997 and win the VLN championship in 1998 – a joint win with Johannes. She remains the only female driver ever to win the N24.
Racing could not pay the bills, so Sabine trained as a somellière and hotel manager, and married a fellow hotelier, with whom she ran a business in Pulheim: north-west of Cologne and 100 kms north of Nürburg. The marriage ended in 2000 and the newly-single Sabine returned to Nürburg, opening a bar called the Fuchsröhre (Foxhole) after one of her favourite parts of the circuit.
She also returned to the track, racing regularly and finding infamy as one of the drivers of the BMW M5 ‘Ring Taxis’. Sabine’s background made her a natural people person. Gifted with irresistible bartender humour, she had ample speed to match her wit, so it was only a matter of time before the motoring media would pick up on her talents. Recognition came in 2004, when BBC Top Gear visited the Nürburgring to test some new twin-turbo diesel Jaguar. Jeremy Clarkson was given the target time of a ten-minute lap, and Sabine was recruited to train him.
When Clarkson eventually managed a 9:59, and shot over the moon with delight, Sabine slapped him back down to earth with a derisory: “I could do that time in a van.” It was a memorable moment. The following year, Top Gear brought a bog-standard Transit (0 to 60 in 21 seconds) to the Nürburgring to give Sabine the chance to make good on her promise. She got within 9 seconds of Clarkson before admitting defeat, but the TV show exposed her to a vast audience. She became a regular fixture on Top Gear, which has been shown in 214 countries to an estimated weekly audience of some 350 million people at its peak.
Sabine did not stay in the pub trade too long on her second time around. She left the Foxhole in 2003 and formed Frikkadelli Racing with her partner, Klaus Abbelen (main image). The duo raced everywhere, running GT3s across Europe and in the Middle East, finishing third in the 2008 N24, beaten only by the two factory-backed Manthey Porsches that had won two previous N24s between them. Away from the circuit, Sabine also indulged her passion for horses, opening a stables in Barweiler – the Eifelranch am Ring.
In 2017, Sabine was diagnosed with a rare form of vulvar cancer. She experienced an adverse reaction to chemotherapy, which cut her options for treatment. Surgery was the only alternative and she had many operations in the years that followed. She did return to racing and promised to run in the 2020 N24, “as long as she was not on an operating table”. “I’m like an Eifel weed,” she told one interviewer, vowing to keep popping up.
Sabine Schmitz died from cancer on 16 March 2021, aged 51. That is no age for anyone to die, let alone someone like Sabine, who enchanted millions of people all over the world with her down-to-earth energy, passion and talent. She will be deeply missed by those who regard the Nordschleife as more than just asphalt. I look forward to raising a glass to Frau Schmitz at the Pistenklause and to celebrating her memory at the N24, some time in the future.
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Ferdinand Magazine is the personal blog of John Glynn, a writer, classic car and motorcycle valuations expert and court expert witness. To explore and enjoy more of my work, and to support the Ferdinand Porsche blog, you can:
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