Behind the Scenes at the Porsche Classic Factory Restoration Facility

I’ve been saying it for years. One of these days, it’ll be my turn to finally buy the car I’ve desired since I was a child. Other machines – racier exotics – have come and gone through my fantasies, but an air-cooled Porsche 911 Carrera is the one I’ve coveted all along.

Mine would be an ’87–89 Coupe. Black Fuchs wheels. No whale tail. Just that classic 911 profile and enough “patina” to make me not freak out whenever I need park it somewhere.

Alas, every time I get close to being ready to make it happen, grown-up responsibilities get in the way and, inevitably, the cost continues to edge further and further out of reach.


Porsche recognizes the importance of the owners of its Classic cars. In Canada, there are nearly 20,000 Classic vehicles. This represents 27 percent of the total inventory of Porsches owned in Canada today, and that number is set to rise dramatically when 7,231 first-generation Cayennes become Classic Porsches in 2020.

That more than a quarter of Canada’s Porsches are deemed Classic cars is shocking until you consider that more than 70 percent of all the Porsches ever built during the marque’s 70-year history are still on the road. Subtract the unfortunate machines that lost their lives in serious crashes, or being trashed in movies (curse those Risky Business producers for drowning that hapless 928), or models that went through periods of undesirability (914, 924) and left to decay, and it suggests that most Porsche owners have done a fine job of keeping them properly maintained.

Of course, Porsche deserves considerable credit for the longevity too, after all, they’re the ones who built dozens of models that have earned enthusiasts’ love the world over. Plus, the cars they’ve crafted are generally well engineered and over-built, contributing significantly to my personal desire to have that old 911.

Porsche’s research has shown that demographically, owners of its Classic cars don’t differ much from buyers of new Porsches, which presumably is to say they’re generally affluent and educated. That’s a good thing since Porsches can be notoriously expensive to maintain – more so to repair – even when the cars themselves may be at a low point in depreciation.

The 986 (first-generation) Boxster is at that point now. Front engine 928s, 924s, 944s, and 968s have been through it and the best examples are now on a sharp rise in value. The trouble is, when values dip to only four-figure-affordability, it opens them up to different buyers, many of whom may not know of, or care about, proper maintenance, resulting in catastrophically expensive repairs that could see the machine end up in a scrap yard. It’s no fun owning a dream car if the blown engine costs three times more to repair than the purchase price of the car in the first place.

There’s motivation for Porsche to step up and do what they can to help keep their cars on the road indefinitely.

Porsche Classics Partners in Canada

Desirable classics winning awards at Concourse events, or being enjoyed for weekend drives reinforce the brand’s reputation for building excellent, long-lasting products. Plus, existing Porsche owners – even those with Classic Porsches – make for great new Porsche sales opportunities, particularly as the brand expands its model lineup to include machines that have long since broadened past the sports car realm.

More importantly, owners of classic Porsches tend to service their machines at independent shops, primarily for cost, but also convenience reasons. That’s lost revenue for Porsche’s dealerships, so further support for the Classics at the retailer level makes sense.

Porsche Classic continues to manufacture over 52,000 parts and accessories for various models, ensuring that as components invariably wear over time, the car’s factory-correct originality can always be maintained. They’ve gotten pretty creative with the processes too, recognizing that technology often enables better processes (nine of the current parts catalogue are 3D-printer-created), but original-looking parts are key for those looking to create show-winning restorations. Wondering what oil should go in your air-cooled Porsche? How about an authentic, original-spec 356 tool kit? Porsche Classic has owners covered.

There are currently two Porsche Classic Partner (PCP) dealerships in Canada, with the first being located in Victoria and the second, Pfaff Porsche, just outside Toronto. Dealerships in Montreal and Oakville are each set to receive their PCP certification in the near future.

These dealerships undergo rigorous training and are required to ensure the tools and equipment necessary to maintain the historic vehicles are in their service area cabinets. These dealerships have begun actively dedicating valuable showroom space to sublime examples of classic Porsches.

The excitement around Porsche’s classics has clearly resonated with several other Canadian dealerships as ten different shops are taking part in a Restoration Competition announced in July 2018. The cars selected run a wide gamut, including a 356, 944 Turbo, ’69 911 Targa, 911 SC, and a pair of 993s. The winner will be announced in October 2019, following a “Porsche Weekend” celebration at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant GT3 Cup Challenge event and next year’s Concours d’Elegance at Cobble Beach.

Porsche Classic Factory Restoration

Porsche Cars North America’s office is situated next the Atlanta airport in a $100M facility for 500 employees, with a comprehensive driving track and an Experience Center that’s all impressive enough to double as the Avengers’ headquarters in the recent films. It’s also the only Porsche Classic Factory Restoration facility outside of Germany.

Coinciding with a 70th Anniversary celebration and auction offering up some of the most desirable Porsches in the world, a few of the North American automotive media were invited to see the state-of-the-art facility.

Inside the spotless garage, a pair of red 911s were perched on hoists. A blue 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring sat nearby awaiting its fully restored engine to be reinstalled, while a barn-find 356 Coupe was stripped to its bare metal.

A look at the underside of the older 911 showed the extent to which the Restoration facility does its job. Fasteners, bolts and washers all gleamed as new. And while the trend these days amongst many collectors is to take well-worn cars and leave them original, the reality is those machines are often very poor drivers, or potentially unsafe for the roads. A car restored with certified all-Porsche parts will make for a much better driving machine, and still be Concourse-ready.

Of course, all of this costs money, and restorations can often take 2,500 labour hours – or two years – to complete.

Two examples of how extensively the cars can be recreated were shown. The first, a Carrera GT – still considered one of Porsche’s most spectacular and fearsome road cars – underwent a complete update with everything from paint (now a splendid Oak Green metallic hue), to wheels with rims plated in silver, to luggage bay cargo mats created out of quilted leather being crafted by hand.

The car was unveiled to the owner for the first time amidst his family, key Porsche personnel, and a small audience; all of whom seemed to appreciate how impressive the finished product is.

The second example is equally unique. Based on a coveted 993 body that the factory had in storage, the idea arose to build an entire car based on the Porsche Classic catalogue parts and a leftover ’98 911 Turbo engine. Project Gold resulted in a spectacular, one-of-a-kind machine that embodies all the best of the last air-cooled generation cars. The proceeds from the winning $3M auction bid will go to the Ferry Porsche Foundation – an organization geared toward helping youth who have suffered social hardships.

The rest of the auction had some exciting moments too, like when the 1983 956 Group C Le Mans car roared onto the stage, or when the 1985 959 from the Paris–Dakar Rally shattered the high estimate by $2M to reach a winning bid of $5.4M.

While I didn’t see any 911s that met my demanding spec, I did decide to keep an eye on a particularly stunning ’89 911 Turbo Coupe. Finished in perfect black-on-black and offered without reserve, I pondered what sort of distraction might be needed to prevent any other bidders, enabling me to snatch the car up for a fraction of its true value.

Alas, as the auctioneer’s hammer crashed down, the final bid sat at $175,000, more than a little beyond my meagre budget.


One of these days…

One of these days… 10/30/2018 10:00:00 AM