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Celebrating 70 years of Porsche: Part 3

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In part 3 of our Porsche party, our guests include the 991.1 GT3 RS and a 911 50th anniversary edition, and that’s how we blend track hooliganism with pure charm and charisma.

Images by Gaurav Thombre
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Porsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition – One of 1963 worldwide

Getting the right people into the right cars is what ratcheted up demand for the GT cars. Remember I said I went to work for Porsche? Back then Pavan used to sit at the end of the corridor on the Porsche floor, building Lamborghini’s network as head of the Italian brand. Fate and circumstance saw him move into the Porsche hot seat two years ago and he has finally turned Porsche into what it should have been right at the start of the Indian journey – a sports car brand. “The last car to be made will be a sports car,” Pavan reminds me, quoting Ferry Porsche.

The biggest challenge Porsche faced when I worked there was nobody knew what the brand stood for. Back then an R8 had more brand cachet and desirability than the 911, and we did ourselves no favours by pushing diesel Cayennes and Panameras in all our communication. 911s weren’t moving, forget Caymans and Boxsters, and a special car like the 50th anniversary edition 911 was sitting in the dealership for months on end.

Eventually Anand Pai chanced upon that car and it now holds pride of place in his garage that has the largest number of Porsches in the country – including the very first 991.2 GT3 to be delivered in India. Sounds clichéd but Anand grew up with a 911 on his bedroom wall. “I always used to look at that picture and think someday I want to have this car.” And that makes Anand’s anniversary edition 911, the only one in the country and one of 1963 worldwide, even more special to him.

“Back then the cars used to come with a lot of chrome, the classic Fuchs design of the wheels, fabric seats with a chequered motif. If you see this car, it gives a similar feel, the dials are in green colour, the badging says 50, it all comes together.” Even though this is a collector’s car Anand does a fair bit driving and loves the usability of the 911. “You can recline the seat! For my height I need to fully push back the seat and once I do it, in other cars, the seat becomes too vertical. In this, no matter what, it’s so comfortable, I can drive it all day and all night.” And then he adds, “My dream of owning a Porsche from childhood, this is the car that fulfilled that dream.”

Fulfilling those dreams is the Porsche Bengaluru dealer Raghu Nayak, an enthusiast amongst hardnosed salesmen. I remember at the very first Porsche India dealer meet (after the earlier importer’s ops were shut down) he was the only guy to order a 911 as his personal car, not a diesel Cayenne. And now he is in line for a GT3.

“I have given first preferences to my customers and the last would be mine,” he says betraying a hint of impatience. That enthusiasm, plus a hands-on approach has seen Raghu’s Porsche Centre Bengaluru get the largest allocation and deliver the most special edition cars. Four of the five cars here were delivered by him. “We choose our customers very carefully,” Raghu tell me. “There is a huge demand. We have to filter, profile a few and then give it to the right custodian.” It’s a remarkable turn around from a time when the 50th anniversary 911 refused to move out of his showroom. And this demand for GT Porsches started only recently – with this white 991.1 GT3 RS.

Porsche 911 991.1 GT3 RS – Thrill, character and a bit of terror

Clad in all-white, enormous centre-lock wheels clad in arch-cramming tyres, rear roll-cage headlining the track-focus, this 991.1 GT3 RS is hardcore, a race car awaiting sponsor stickers and a team of mechanics. It was this generation that marked the shift from the legendary Mezger engine. It borrows wheels, tyres and intent from the 918 Spyder. It also introduced electric power steering to the RS family as well as rear axle steering. But what really broke the internet in Porsche-land was the switch to PDK-only. No manual! Sacrilege! Yet this was a car developed by Porsche Motorsport and its abilities were utterly incredible. We called it thrilling, characterful, slightly terrifying at times and able to compress time and space like nothing else. And for effect we added that no 911 had the same level of clarity or sense of connection. Out here at the MMRT it feels raw, it feels connected, and its responses are mind numbing. It is a track car and, appropriately, it has spent all its life on the track – away from the limelight and snappers. The owner calls himself Panda, he calls his car #PandaRS and he says, “It has much bigger guts than you have. You have to equip yourself to reach the limit of this car rather than other way round”. The GT3 RS, the only one in the country – the ultimate 911! – was Panda’s first Porsche and I’m curious as to why the RennSport when nobody really cared for these cars in India. “Motorsport!” he tells me, “the German company is the essence of motorsport!”

This 991.1 GT3 RS is hardcore, like a race car awaiting sponsor stickers and a team of mechanics

Panda is the perfect illustration of the Porschephile. He bought his car to drive, not to be seen driving it. Motorsport is not just F1 for him. His car isn’t an extension of his man jewels. As we pull into the shiny new pits at the MMRT, Pavan Shetty chimes in. “I think to a layman, when he looks at these cars, I am not surprised when they ask me, they all are 911s, how does it really make a difference.”

Happily that is not a problem anymore as the Indian tribe of Porschephiles is growing faster than he can count to 70. And a Porsche enthusiast, well, he gets it.

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