Porsche recently invited Taste of Life to its headquarters in Germany, an affair that won’t be forgotten, even once my blood pressure settles back down. In truth, the excitement of the trip wasn’t simply fueled on the racetrack — I took away a long-lasting appreciation and improved understanding of the luxury car’s legacy of perfection in design and craftsmanship.
A 10-hour plane ride from Toronto to Berlin sped by, despite my eagerness to visit Porsche’s headquarters in Stuttgart. Upon landing, however, we took a detour.
We weren’t just sightseeing Leipzig, the city poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe coined “Little Paris” for its charming architecture, feel, and buzzing commerce. In fact, Porsche’s largest factory rests within the limits of the city. Leipzig is grounded in rich German heritage — Bach, for example, was the musical head at Thomas Church for two decades. A thousand years ago, Leipzig was already a flourishing trade city, and was later recognized internationally for its trade fairs.
A two-hour drive later, we arrived at the Leipzig factory for a tour, a special treat that’s not open to the public. A space-age-looking building overlooks the million-square-foot factory, a production base that took 15 years to build. Today, it’s where Porsche manufactures its most popular cars, such as the Macan, Cayenne, and Panamera.
We cloaked ourselves in the special uniforms for guests and followed staff to the assembly factory, quality inspection center, and the logistics system. What stood out right away was that the stereotypes of Germans being impeccably precise and organized seemed clearly and impressively accurate. Whatever you imagine an enormous manufacturing facility to be, it wasn’t — the environment was spotless and soothingly quiet, much like the experience of speeding inside a Porsche itself. From the car model design to the technical parameters and performance and even to the final inspection, the German specialists have earned their reputation for meticulous excellence. A Porsche truly is a perfect work of art.
It does seem that Porsche’s power and beauty is a reflection of the German mindset. The workers seem calm and focused, not nervous or overworked, maybe in part due to the snack and coffee stops stationed comfortably throughout the workspace.
Porsche has also mastered the philosophy of zero stock, where cars are only manufactured after an order comes in, a key to their rise as a top sports-car brand. It saves cost but also allows freedom to offer more customization and personalized luxury, especially important today for the world’s elite.
Of course, visiting the world’s top sports-car factory, I certainly had a need for speed, or so I thought. We headed to the test track, and I sat down in the passenger seat beside a trusted professional driver of a track-ready souped-up Porsche. Suddenly, I heard the roar of the engine, we jet forward, and my body pressed to the seat back like an octopus. A strong feeling of regret hit me. At the half-lap, we approached a nearly 90-degree turn, but we were still going 120 km/hr. My mind flew into a panic, and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I couldn’t help screaming. What’s worse is that the camera in the car had recorded the whole thing — my embarrassing “near-death” experience. Still, I’d go again in a heartbeat.
The speedster’s car
The next day, we sped off to Stuttgart to experience the German car-maker’s heritage at its $100-million Porsche Museum, now a pilgrimage destination for sports-car aficionados, located just behind the brand’s headquarters.
The founder, Ferdinand Porsche, started off making electric carriages and tractors, and then, at the request of the German government, he invented the “People’s Car” — the Volkswagen beetle — a car for everybody.
Inside the 5,600-square-metre exhibition hall, 100 Porsches captured my eye, with another 600 car moulds from different eras spread throughout the museum. Studying and enjoying them chronologically gave a strong impression of the brand’s passion, ingenuity, and constant innovation.
After World War II in 1948, the founder’s son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, inspired the creation of Porsche’s first sports car — the 356, which would revolutionize the company’s future. Its characteristics, such as a light body, low wind drag, ease of driving, and air-cooled engine, were taken from the beetle and reimagined for the thrill-seeker.
A tribute to Porsche’s special heritage is illustrated with a Porsche 956 that hangs upside down on the museum ceiling, signifying a “flying car,” or one that can go 321.4km/h (a plane’s take-off speed), which is theoretically fast enough to drive upside down.
Dismantled engine displays and car parts also line the museum, always accompanied by a wealth of background history and insider secrets about Porsche’s storied craftsmanship and design. The 150-plus racing trophies perfectly accentuate that same lengthy, victorious past.
Two days of illumination about Porsche had rocketed my anticipation for the last leg of the trip — a cruise in a Porsche 911 Turbo. As I sank into the driver’s seat, the light aroma of fresh leather sparked an appreciation for Porsche’s truly unparalleled craftsmanship, a balance of beauty and power.
My hands glided over the wheel and gear stick, soaking in the quiet before the storm, admiring the fine details of the dashboard. I lightly stepped on the gas and was pulled forward through Stuttgart’s picturesque roads, lost in the moment of union between road, vistas, and my graceful mechanical horse.
The spacious interior eased any pressure of a racing car, while its smooth grip on the ground simply dissolved any sense of separation — a joy when winding through the countryside. I was left with the hum of my own thoughts, as hardly any noise could be heard outside, even at high speeds. Somewhere in the midst of my daydreaming and driving, I conceded that Porsche was truly deserving of its reputation.
Stuttgart’s city emblem is a black horse rearing up in a golden field, a perfect choice for the emblem of Porsche — truly the city’s greatest steed, a heritage hallmarked by leaping over obstacles and surpassing any limits in sports-car manufacturing.
Our feast at the luxurious restaurant on the top of Porsche Museum brought a perfect end to a journey that will stay with me. Fortunately, my next unforgettable memories with the sports car may be as early as this spring, when Taste of Life and Porsche cohost a “Porsche Test Drive Trip” in Western Canada. Patrons will have the unique opportunity to drive Porsche’s most rare, classic cars along British Columbia’s captivating mountain and sea scapes, while also sampling delectable treats, spa, and other surprises. Don’t let the event speed you by.
Text by Taylor Mathews Photos Courtesy of Porsche