Doing something you never thought you would!
In part 1 of this series, Roy updated his stable with a new Carrera GTS and opted to take European Delivery. We left off with him as he tries to get some rest before the big day – picking up his car at the Porsche Factory. Here’s what happened next.
On the morning of Friday October 19th, we cabbed it to the Porsche Factory in Zuffenhausen. What an amazing facility! The plant is constrained by the city around it and there are numerous overhead bridges between the buildings carrying all manner of car parts. In fact, we later learned that if there is a plant disruption, the just-in-time delivery trucks have to stop no matter where they are on route and wait it out until the lines re-start. There is simply no room for them to park at the factory site. We started with a very nice breakfast and met our delivery coordinator. Next, it was finally time to see our new car. My wife and I were challenged to go into the showroom to find it along with the dozen or so other cars sitting there. No problem! There it was, so shiny and beautiful. What a moment!
Over the next hour and a half, our coordinator went through all the car’s features and safety equipment. Then it was time to drive it out of the showroom. What a fantastic sound when I fired it up for the first time!
I drove my new 911 to the parking area outside the building and pulled in along side two other beautiful Euro Delivery 911s–a Targa GTS and a GT3 RS. Next was the factory tour followed by a superb lunch in the factory building and the museum tour. The tour was incredibly informative, especially to see how much customization each and every car on the assembly line gets and the extent of the ‘hands on’ involvement. Every car is personalized to its new owner’s tastes. Clearly, this is where the ‘Options’ list rubber meets the road, so to speak. The production employees have to know how to deal with every unique work order and their training is extensive, to say the least.
After leaving the plant, we crossed the street to visit the Porsche Museum. Walking through it was like following a historical timeline, described in terms of Porsche models. I would highly recommend seeing it for an up close and personal understanding of the history of this amazing car company.
Towards the end of the day, it was time to leave Stuttgart for Baden Baden. There’s a reason the locals call the city of Stuttgart a parking lot. Getting out of town was brutal. In contrast, Baden Baden was a quaint touristy town with very narrow cobblestone streets and for someone in a brand-new car, a slow and careful drive.
Baden Baden is famous for both its spas as well as Mount Merkur. Mount Merkur is the highest hill in the region with fantastic views. There are a multitude of trails so having a really detailed GPS is strongly recommended. After getting thoroughly lost on the trails, we were cold and worn out and in need of a little pampering. We decided that the best remedy was the Roman baths experience. If you go and are a little self-conscious about your natural appearance, attend the days were men/women are segregated. Otherwise, just do it the German way.
After a couple of days, we left Baden Baden and drove east to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well preserved medieval walled city established in 950 AD. One can spend a day touring this historic site, but we were back on the road heading for Leipzig before it got too late. Of course, the real rush was to let the GTS find its legs on many of the unlimited speed sections.
Leipzig is an industrial city in what used to be East Germany. The city has beautiful parks and a highly notable zoo. We also toured the area outside the city which included a trip to Colditz Castle.
Colditz is famous for having held Allied POW officers during WWII. It is worth the visit to see how the prisoners played cat and mouse with their captors and the ingenuity of the escape attempts, both successful and unsuccessful.
On our second last day in Leipzig, we drove to the Porsche factory where the SUVs and the Panameras are manufactured. The first order of business was the co-pilot ride in the 911 Cup car. After getting my helmet and HANS device, I headed for the car where professional driver Michael was waiting. I opted for the video record of the ride which provided Vivienne with a high degree of amusement. The in-car camera showed my helmet bobbing to and fro while in contrast, Mike’s head was as still as can be. Yeah, really funny. What a violent adrenaline high. A second fascinating plant tour followed along with a pricey visit to the gift shop.
So now I have one last box to check. The Nürburgring.
We left Leipzig on Wednesday morning, stopping on the way at Bad Hersfeld, roughly half way to Nürburg. There’s a Michelin star restaurant in this quaint town but sadly not open for lunch. Back on the road, I stopped to re-fuel at a Shell station and paid 111 Euro for a tank full of 100 Octane and have the receipt to prove it. Well, I’m heading to a racetrack after all.
We finally arrived at Hotel Am Tiergarten in Nürburg in time for dinner. The hotel is a favourite for track rats and the restaurant was full of manufacturer reps and drivers as the next day was manufacturer’s day on the Nordschliefe. During the meal, we spoke with a rep from Nissan who helpfully pointed out that a local company called Apex Nürburg could provide Track Day information.
We toured around the area on Thursday. Driving the twisties into the nearby towns like Adenau was a Porsche Pilot’s dream. My wife loved being at the wheel for that. Back in Nürburg, we got to see the ‘Ring’ up close and personal. There was a viewing station near Brünnchen (Little Well) corner that we found. From there, we watched as professional drivers piloted many brands of cars which went flying past, squealing the tires and stressing their mechanical components. When a brand model advertises that it has been tested on the Nürburgring, they really mean it.
Vivienne and I then walked alongside the track on an adjacent path for a couple of kilometers until we reached the well-known Karussell–a steeply banked concrete surfaced 180-degree corner. I understand that 80 to 85 kph is the max speed for most cars before centrifugal force intervenes and ruins your day. Seeing the road surface undulations and watching the drivers negotiate up-shifts, down-shifts, braking zones, apexes and acceleration points was simply intimidating.
It was now 4pm and decision time when we got back to the village. To Nordschliefe or not to Nordschliefe? That was the question. Stay tuned.
Will Roy ultimately decide to drive the Nürburgring himself? Or will he (like our VP Terrence Tong) come home with that one last checkbox unchecked? Find out in our last installment!
(Provinz: May 2019)