If you’re a Porsche fanatic and attended Monterey car week, then you were at the Werks Reunion event held on Friday at the Rancho Canada Golf Club in the Carmel Valley. It’s a Porsche Club of America sponsored event that celebrates all things Porsche. This year’s event commemorated 40 years of the turbo, but all comers were welcome. Close to 800 cars were on hand, with many of them arriving at first light and ready to be placed on the grass at 6:30am.
Jeff Zwart strolled the grounds in early light with his iPhone, composing his next Panorama ART piece. Former Indy 500 winner and two-time Indy Car champion Bobby Rahal was there to park his son Graham’s recently delivered Porsche 918 Spyder painted in a Porsche Select color that looked to be somewhere close to either Fern or Emerald Green Metallic. Chad McQueen and Bob Ingram were busy polishing some Ingram Collection cars that included an immaculate 550 Spyder, an Abarth Carrera, a Rothmans-liveried championship winning rally car and a 911 RS 2.7 that participated in Monte Carlo rallies in the late 1970s. Porsche factory racer Patrick Long and endurance racing legend Hurley Haywood also explored the grounds.
Throughout the day PCA past-president Manny Alban interviewed celebrities and experts on the public address system. Perhaps the most popular among them was Klaus Bischoff, director of Porsche AG’s Rolling Museum. Bischoff started working as a factory race mechanic in 1968 and has progressed through the company with a number of roles and programs, culminating in his current position as the man who decides where the rolling stock will go, which cars will see restoration, and being an on-site curator for the cars.
He discussed the Porsche 917K that won the 1971 Spa 1,000-kilometer race in the hands of Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver. Its refresh was recently completed and tested only days before by Patrick Long at Willow Springs Raceway. Bischoff described some of the special challenges in restoring such an historical and iconic car to track-readiness. As Bischoff spoke, onlookers were able to get up close to the car, which was towed onto the field on an open trailer – much as it might have been in 1970 – and displayed with a period correct Volkswagen Porsche service van, also thoroughly redone.
Patrick Long described his experience driving the car, explaining it was “much softer than I expected, a lot more pitch and roll…of course I was always mindful that I was driving a recent restoration of what’s now a $20 million dollar car.” When asked how it compared to a modern GT cars he races, he demurs: “Modern GT cars are much better.” There is something to advanced technology and as they say, sometimes it’s better not to meet your heroes…
Along the golf course fairways and greens there were several eye-catching cars. First was the “preservation” 1967 911 that long-time PCAer John Straub chooses to keep in “as found” condition. It’s a white car with decidedly wrinkled paint, worn interior, and a fair amount of oxidation showing. But don’t let that fool you. Straub is dogged in keeping the car from passing beyond its current condition. He carries with him a large kit of cleaning tools and products. His artist wife laughingly expresses her bemusement with how much time he spends keeping the car “as is.” When socks go missing, she knows that John has commandeered them for his cleaning kit. But there’s more… He cuts them to specific “sock portions” for specific needs. There are full socks, half socks, quarter socks, etc. This pays off; he’s won several awards with the car and there almost always are photographers clustered around the car.
Volunteering is what makes a PCA event special. Anyone who’s been to Parade knows that it’s at least half the fun, a great way to be involved and to meet people. While PCA president Caren Cooper was too busy for lengthy interviews, the former Zone 7 rep was often near the Welcome tent with her 80-something mom Shirley, a fixture at all the PCA events in Zone 7, volunteering for just about everything. Shirley’s not only there to support her daughter. She and her husband George Neidel also are the only two-time winners of PCA’s Family of the Year award (1975 and 1985).
Tom Ridings was on hand with his Olive colored early 911 appropriately dressed out with rack and period correct luggage. Olive is one of those colors the people either love or… Over the years, many of them have been repainted in more easily likeable colors like red or blue, but two things have happened in recent years. One, because of the values of original cars, many of the repainted cars are being restored to their original hues. Also, some of those odd colors from the 60s and 70s are gaining in popularity. Aubergine (eggplant) is another such color. Ridings has one of those too; both are original paint.
While many participants were serious about the concours aspect of the event, there were others there just for fun. After examining the “significant” cars, it was time for a walk around all the cars at the event, an adventure both daunting and satisfying. One stop was Paul Kramer and his tribute rally car complete with lights, roof rack, vintage skis, and if-needed studded snow tires. No, it’s not the real thing, but it typifies what’s best about many PCAers. They’re not so worried about ultimate “originality” but about having fun. Sometimes it’s for performance and sometimes just for show, to get a glance, or to pay tribute to a period.
Under the large shade trees at the far end, far away from all the organized “happenings,” people were enjoying rather lavish picnics and some of the local wines. Salads of three varieties, cheeses and olives, Wiener schnitzel and even homemade desserts were on hand. It was proof yet again that these things are as much about the people as the cars.
A little further on, George Vaccaro had built his own little pavilion, with photos, to document the purchase of his Slate Gray Porsche 912 at the factory in June 1967. He drove the car all over Europe that year, eventually shipping it back to the United States in August and he continues to drive and love the car. The remarkable car is all original except for a repaint on only part of the hood (to satisfy class requirements in concours preservation class) and with just a bit of wear on the mats and steering wheel. The smile on his face and the work he’d done on his display showed how much he loved the car and the life it had shared with him.
Back at the main podium, Manny Alban interviewed Cam Ingram on the 550 Spyder the Ingrams had on display. Over the years, Alban has developed an interview style all his own and Ingram met the challenge with a deep and thorough knowledge of this particular Spyder, not to mention its place in Porsche racing history.
It was an overwhelming gathering of cars and friends, well worth attending to take in the color, the enthusiasm, and the atmosphere of this great one-day Monterey event, PCA style.
All photos © 2015 Sean Cridland. All rights reserved.