THEUSUAL SUSPECTS SPECIAL OCCASION
911&PWWRITERS Brett Fraser does his best not to be cynical about Porsche GB’S ‘British Legends’ 911 special editions and gets away with it. Meanwhile, the stars behind the cars are rather more interesting and the 919 Hybrid LMP1 plays second and third fid
It’s easy to be cynical about special editions – I know, because I am – but for car makers they tend to be solid gold. Dream up a natty name, throw a few stickers at it, include a few extra items of kit, maybe put a numbered plaque on the centre console, then throw wide the showroom doors and get ready to count the cash.
Even Porsche isn’t averse to a special edition. Although being Porsche it puts in a little bit more effort than most. At least, it would like you to think that’s the case. The new ‘British Legends’ 911 special editions that we were invited to see launched at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone are an excellent example.
Strip away all the razzmatazz from the event – but don’t worry, we’ll return to that in a moment – and what Porsche wheeled out was classic special edition fare. The latest generation of 911 Carrera 4 GTS fitted as standard with all Porsche’s dynamic control systems. Lashings of Alcantara upholstery and a splash of carbonfibre. Centrelock wheels. Some stickers. And instead of putting the plaque on the centre console, there’s a pair of them on either B-post, with a facsimile of a famous racing driver’s signature on them. So far, so very marketing department.
Actually, though, the British Legends Edition 911 has a passably interesting and relevant back-story, even though the event invitation’s reference to it being inspired by Porsche’s racing successes at Le Mans was enough to trigger a bullshit alert. Turns out to be true. Sort of. With Porsche winding up its top-tier endurance racing operation, Porsche GB saw an opportunity to celebrate the company’s numerous wins in iconic race cars with a special edition. The smart part was to recognise that some of those wins in some of those iconic race cars were achieved by British drivers, namely Richard Attwood, who helped Porsche to its first overall victory in 1970 in the 917K; Derek Bell, a four-time winner with Porsche, most famously in the Rothmans-liveried 962; and Nick Tandy, who helped Porsche to its first Le Mans win with the hybrid-powered 919 Hybrid in 2015. Hence British Legends.
The connection to British racing heroes I like: the assertion that they fashioned their individual special editions to their personal preferences is a bit far-fetched. They ticked all the options boxes for a C4 GTS seems closer to the truth, while Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur – the company’s bespoke division – added a few unique cosmetics, such as the Alcantara-covered steering column, and the driver’s racing numbers and signatures embossed into the Alcantara on the centre console. Oh, and we shouldn’t forget the subtle external graphics that nod towards the race car associated with each driver, and which several journalists suggested might have been more fun as a properly bold replica livery.