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

911 Porsche World - - The Usual Suspects -

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.

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