STUCK, IN THE MID­DLE

The 928 is a trans-con­ti­nen­tal express, and we ce­ment its rep­u­ta­tion by driv­ing 928 miles from Sil­ver­stone to the Nür­bur­gring and back in a 928 GT. There’s a bonus ball: Hans Stuck gets re­united with his 928 CS, too

911 Porsche World - - 928: Meeting Stuck - Words: Johnny Ti­pler Pho­tog­ra­phy: Antony Fraser

Would you be­lieve it’s 928 miles from Sil­ver­stone to the Nür­bur­gring and back? Let’s do the dis­tance in a 928 and see if we can ver­ify it! I’ve picked up this gleam­ing white 928 GT, cour­tesy of Gmund Cars of Knares­bor­ough, and met up with my oppo at show­ery Sil­ver­stone, where we book­mark the cir­cuit be­fore head­ing for Dover. We check in with DFDS Se­aways at Dover docks and ease the Great White Shark on board the good ship ‘Dunkerque Se­aways’ for the two-hour cross­ing to Dunkirk. No evac­u­a­tion pro­ce­dure here – though I can’t speak for my col­league in this in­stance – and we re­lax in the Pre­mium lounge watch­ing the yachts bob­bing up and down on the briny. Dunkirk places us a few miles fur­ther east than Calais, and we set the com­pass for Spa-fran­cor­champs to book­mark the cir­cuitous route to The ’Ring.

Our sleek steed has done around 91K, so it’s al­ready had a good life. An­other 1000 or so isn’t go­ing to have a pro­found ef­fect ei­ther on its value or con­di­tion. First reg­is­tered in August 1989 and de­liv­ered to AFN Guild­ford, its early years were spent in Sur­rey and Berk­shire be­fore records seem to peter out in 1995. As we purr east­wards, I can’t help think­ing that if any car mer­its an au­to­matic shift, rather than the five-speed man­ual we’re blessed with here in the GT, it is the 928. First, dog-leg left, is more or less re­dun­dant in most cir­cum­stances, ex­cept when I’m mov­ing around in a park­ing sit­u­a­tion, while 2nd to 5th are pro­cessed in short or­der, so torquey is the 5.0-litre V8, even though they are quite widely spaced. In fact, it pulls from vir­tu­ally a stand­still in 5th. Nor­mally I ap­pre­ci­ate a man­ual shift, but a car like this suits an au­to­matic, and you ex­pect the car to do the work for you. For a coupé, it is a roomy shell and I can stretch my left leg out be­hind the ped­als which is wel­come on a long run. The steer­ing’s nicely weighted, for the Au­toroute/au­to­bahn, at any rate, while the brakes, se­cure as they are, do re­quire a cer­tain amount of pump­ing to get them up to scratch. The vo­lu­mi­nous 19-gal­lon (86 litres) fuel tank de­mands £85 to brim it, which is a bit of a shocker, but then at a steady 70–80mph it does well to av­er­age 25–30mpg, and that does al­low con­sid­er­able in­ter­vals be­tween re­fu­elling stops. Nev­er­the­less, I’ve seen the on-board com­puter mon­i­tor the fuel con­sump­tion from any­thing be­tween 10mpg un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion, to 35mpg on a light-footed

” 60mph cruise, while shuf­fling along in a queue it’s a de­press­ing 22mpg.

I’ve got into the habit of run­ning with head­lights on, so I turn the 928’s switch, and up pop the frog-eyes from their hous­ings at the front of the car, spoil­ing the over­all sym­me­try of the egg-shape, and yet they are a pair of eggs them­selves. Run­ning at night, they each have a nice

We need to cover a bit of ground, so I turn up the wick

lit­tle light on the top of them so from the cock­pit you can tell where the front cor­ners of the car are. We need to cover a bit of ground, so I turn up the wick. At high speed, it’s im­pe­ri­ous and dom­i­nant of other traf­fic. At 100mph it is rock solid, and it’s easy to see where the trans-con­ti­nen­tal express al­lu­sion comes from: it is up here at these sorts of speeds that the 928 comes into its own; no shilly-shal­ly­ing with your na­tional speed lim­its; this is the de­fin­i­tive Au­to­bahn-stormer. Or, cer­tainly was, back in the day, be­fore its mod­ern V8 coun­ter­parts came on the scene. But there’s a para­dox. It’s tricky in tighter cor­ners of the kind be­tween, say, Höhe Acht and Ade­nau, re­quir­ing quite deft hand­i­work with the wheel. Speak­ing as some­one who once owned a barge, I recog­nise a wal­low­ing sen­sa­tion when I ex­pe­ri­ence one, and on the back roads this cer­tainly does have an in­cli­na­tion to do just that, and un­der these con­di­tions it’s not quite the re­lax­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that a grand tour­ing car should be pro­vid­ing. Jour­ney­ing through the Ar­dennes-eifel moun­tain re­gion, along­side grassy hill pas­tures dot­ted with cat­tle and hay-bale rolls, lit­tle vil­lages of white houses with gera­nium pots on their win­dowsills, are some wonderful mo­tor­ing roads, which I can at­tack with the 928 in a scruff of the neck kind of way, though it’s stolid rather than lithe in the man­ner of a 911. A legacy of its 40-year-long his­tory? Its suc­ces­sors are way more ca­pa­ble in the twisty bits.

Some other as­pects date it, too. The dash­board and con­sole para­pher­na­lia are well co-or­di­nated, es­pe­cially com­pared with a con­tem­po­rary 911 from the 1980s, though it’s all very much of the Star­ship En­ter­prise per­sua­sion. The Blaupunkt Bre­men cas­sette player to­tally gives the game away; I mean, it must be 25 years since I last played a cas­sette tape. How­ever, the 928 GT is a very ef­fi­cient mode of express trans­porta­tion, a proper grand tour­ing car for cross­ing con­ti­nents in con­sid­er­able com­fort and ease. And that is pre­cisely why Porsche handed out a small num­ber of 928 Club Sports to its star driv­ers dur­ing the late 1980s, so they could travel in style from cir­cuit to cir­cuit.

Which brings us to our Nür­bur­gring nog­gin: lunch in the Porsche hos­pi­tal­ity tent with none other than erst­while F1, F2 and DTM star – and two-times Le Mans win­ner (’86 and ’87), the ebul­lient Hans-joachim Stuck. The Zuf­fen­hausen promo girls usher us into the mar­quee be­side the

Nord­schleife, where Hans greets us warmly. He’s here for the Porsche Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence train­ing day, just ahead of the fab­u­lous Old Timer meet­ing, wear­ing his Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor Sport rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s hat, a role he’s per­formed since 2008. We’ve got a sur­prise for him. Last year we spot­ted the very 928 CS he was given in 1987 in the pri­vate col­lec­tion of PC Gelder­land at Lei­den, be­long­ing to pro­pri­etor Mark Wegh, and Mark kindly agreed to have Hans’s 928 trail­ered to The ’Ring for this ren­dezvous. Hans was over­joyed to be re­united with ‘his’ 928. In point of fact, he re­ceived a suc­ces­sion of 928s dur­ing his ten­ure as a works driver, and the first one he in­her­ited from Ste­fan Bellof. ‘I knew when I joined the Porsche fac­tory team in ’85 that all the driv­ers were al­lo­cated these cars, and Pro­fes­sor Bott said, “Hans, we want to give you a car, and Ste­fan (Bellof) just gave his car back yes­ter­day,” so I took Ste­fan’s 928. He’d brought it up to Weis­sach the day be­fore, it was washed, and they put some fresh tyres on it, but there were still loads of things in the car be­long­ing to Ste­fan: I found a pair of shoes, some tick­ets for the race track, all sorts; he must have lived in that car. I’d never driven a 928 be­fore, but I found out in the first 10km go­ing from Weis­sach to the mo­tor­way, the power, the sound – that V8 is a jewel – you have this long hood in front of your nose, per­fect seat­ing po­si­tion, it was just great.’

Hans had five 928s in to­tal. ‘Year by year we reg­u­larly got new cars, and this was the sec­ond one. I loved it from the first day I got it. ‘it’s in mint con­di­tion, still per­fect. Look at the qual­ity of the leather – even the steer­ing wheel, maybe a hun­dred peo­ple have touched it, but it’s still like new! So cool, my lit­tle baby.’ An orig­i­nal num­ber plate amongst the tool­kit un­der the hatch­back con­firms it’s his car from ’87. ‘I had two white ones when the 962s were in Roth­mans liv­ery, and then when we had the Su­per Cup I had a dark blue one, then an­other white one, and the last one was a red 928 GTS, which was a real flyer: it had 350 horse­power, and for me the great thing was that it was a per­fect car for driv­ing long dis­tances be­tween the tracks for races and test­ing, but also you could go onto a track with it and it was a per­fect track car as well. Don’t for­get this was a Club Sport and the Club Sport is set up pre­cisely for that.’ In­deed, the sound of the Club Sport V8 is a much stronger, more pur­pose­ful note than our GT’S.

He waxes starry-eyed. ‘This was a fan­tas­tic car to drive re­ally fast, but it was still a re­laxed drive. In ’86 I drove my 928 to Le Mans and then I did the 24-Hours, and after the race I was still so fired up with adrenalin that I started to drive back home, but then I felt so tired I drove into a park­ing lot and fell asleep – and sud­denly there was a po­lice­man knock­ing on the win­dow to see if I’m still alive! The long­est jour­neys I did in the 928s were from Aus­tria to Le Mans and Nardo in south­ern Italy. I live in the south of France now, which is about nine hours from my home in Aus­tria, and I do it reg­u­larly, and l like that. I never have any prob­lems get­ting tired. If I do some­times, I stop, I run around the car five times this way and five times the other way, and it re­stores the blood cir­cu­la­tion. What re­ally makes me crazy is traf­fic jams; I hate that, and the Ger­man mo­tor­ways at the mo­ment have so many road works.’

Hav­ing vi­able back seats, the 928 could also serve as Stuck fam­ily trans­port: ‘My son Jo­hannes was car­ried around in there

as a baby, so it brings back re­ally pre­cious mem­o­ries. Now I re­ally re­gret I didn’t buy it for a good price after I was sup­posed to hand it back, and now I prob­a­bly couldn’t af­ford it! Still, I’m happy to see it in such great con­di­tion here.’ His per­sonal ‘old timer’ col­lec­tion in­cludes a BMW 700 – ‘from the years that my dad was driv­ing; I also have a BMW 2002 Turbo, a ’51 Bee­tle which is my year of birth, and I have a ’79 con­vert­ible Bee­tle; I have an M3 CS, the one with the car­bon roof, and my wife has an ’83 Turbo-look 3.2 Car­rera Cabri­o­let. And I also have a 1936 Porsche tractor!’ Is there room for a 928? Who knows! Hans takes ‘his’ 928 CS up the road to Dot­tinger Höhe: ‘do I re­ally have to give it back? It runs per­fectly, the gear­box is fine, there is no rat­tling, great steer­ing, good power; it’s a big day for me. If Mr Wegh ever wants to run the car in a clas­sic event and he needs a driver he should call me and we’ll do it.’

Not on this oc­ca­sion though. The Nord­schleife start­line is rammed with pri­va­teer punter Porsches, and it’s wet, and not a day to be on track in this par­tic­u­lar icon, at any rate. As Hans points out, ‘to­day is the clas­sic day, where peo­ple come with their re­ally pre­cious 911s, 914s and 356s, and they take the cars out with in­struc­tors to get to know the track. We (Hans and Wal­ter Röhrl) have a Panam­era Turbo to give taxi rides, and the lucky ones draw a raf­fle ticket to get the ride.’ We es­ti­mate at least 100 Porsches on track. It’s rain­ing on and off, and later when we drive around to Brun­nchen to watch, they are com­ing gin­gerly by in batches of half-a-dozen cars, led by an in­struc­tor in a 991. A Panam­era swoops into view, go­ing three times as fast: that’ll be Hans!

We pay our re­spects, and on the way out we bump into Wal­ter Röhrl. I can’t re­sist ask­ing the ques­tion: was he ever of­fered a 928? ‘Not ex­actly; they lent me one to drive home from the fac­tory one evening, and next day on the phone they asked if I wanted to keep it, and I said, “no, and if you want this car back you will have to come and col­lect it!” It was just not my kind of car.’ Each to his own. 928 miles in a 928, though? After the long haul back to Blighty in the Great White Shark I can’t wait to get out in the flighty Boxster. PW

Splash­ing around. As is so of­ten the way, the weather at the ’Ring isn’t ex­actly bril­liant for en­thu­si­as­tic 928 driv­ing

928 GT keeps a weather eye on some very brave clas­sic Porsche own­ers

Ap­par­ently it’s 928 miles from Sil­ver­stone to the Nür­bur­gring and back. Well, that’s how Ti­pler sold the trip to the edi­tor, at least...

There are worse ways to travel. The 928 may not be at its ab­so­lute best on the twisty bits, but it’s far from dis­graced and it’s the con­sum­mate longdis­tance ma­chine

Right: Ti­pler at the wheel. Note, as a 928 GT, this is a man­ual and so more driver fo­cused than most 928s

Be­low: Stuck’s CS with our GT. Bot­tom right: PDK de­cal de­notes this 928 as one of the devel­op­ment cars used for Porsche’s early for­ays into PDK trans­mis­sion. The sys­tem is not fit­ted now

The ever ebul­lient Hans Stuck is de­lighted to be re­united with his old 928. He’s even pleased to see Ti­pler!

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