Photos by Bruce Sweetman
California has been an important and lucrative market for Porsche ever since John von Neumann purchased a 356 in New York from Max Hoffmann in early 1951 and drove it across the country to his North Hollywood shop, Competition Motors. “I sold the first one and went back east and bought several more,” he is quoted as saying in Karl Ludvigsen’s Excellence Was Expected, “including a Le Mans racing coupe.”
California soon became Porsche’s biggest US market and it is no surprise that Werks Reunion Monterey drew well—even with Rennsport VI coming on its heals one month later. Judged entries were sold out three weeks prior to the event. There were 450 Porsches in the Corral with 29 states represented and one Canadian entry.
Cars moved smoothly onto the manicured fairways of Corral de Tierra Country Club. Judged and Corral entries had received a hangtag in advance and volunteers directed cars without pausing the inflow. Kudos to the organizers for addressing last year’s traffic issues and keeping Werks in this primo location.
The 150 judged cars included a full complement of production classes plus a great showing of 356 Outlaws and 911 Tribute/Sports Purpose cars. Two Emory Motorsports cars headed the line-up, a Black 2018 Coupe and a light blue Speedster-inspired open car. Greg Erickson showed a no-apologies 1960 356B Outlaw “Remade by Hand!” and West Coast Customs displayed their wide-body 356/987 mash-up.
The enthusiasm and love of the marque was as palpable as a roaring flat four or a wailing six as owners shared their stories. Stephen Jones attended his first Werks and Monterey Car Week in the 912 he’s owned since 1973. The car plaque states that its restoration began in 2001 “and continues.”
George Breein praised friends who took over his 10-year 356A Outlaw build. When health issues put the brakes on the project they pushed Breein and his Outlaw over the finish line to the Werks Reunion.
And then there was Michael LaBarre who was flattered to be invited to join the R Gruppe after showing his pristine “Bahama Orange” 1967 911 tribute around the peninsula. “After today it’s going to be my driver,” he exclaimed.
In an interview from the main stage PCNA President & CEO Klaus Zellmer recounted a story about his VW Microbus and Porsche 912. It’s always good to hear an appreciation of the classics from the top brass. Later, Rod Emory described the cross-country maiden voyage of his 1998 “Special” complete with an air-conditioned baby seat that only he could have envisioned.
Since 1948, when Porsche produced its first eponymous model, the company has grown in size and scope far beyond what Ferdinand or Ferry could have foreseen. Werks Reunion Monterey organizers handed out trophies to winners in 13 car classes ranging from 356 to Cayenne, plus 11 corporate awards.
And lest one forget the legacy, parked nearby and overlooking what Porsche had wrought over the last 70 years was Porsche’s (and then von Neumann’s) “racing coupe”. The hand-hammered 356SL, restored to its 1951 Le Mans class-winning configuration, appeared to be saying, “California, Porsche is here to stay.”