SE­LEC­TION RS

We drop in on the French pur­vey­ors of Porsche cloth­ing and mem­o­ra­bilia

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Johnny Ti­pler Photos: Antony Fraser

We head to France and drop in on Se­lec­tion RS, which can only be de­scribed as the ul­ti­mate toy store for any Porsche fa­natic. Whether youʼre a model col­lec­tor, a lover of watches or sim­ply want to turn your home into a homage to Stuttgartʼs finest, you need to add this store to your list

Youʼd have to be a poker-faced Scrooge not to be in­spired by the glit­ter­ing con­tents of Ber­trand Vienʼs tem­ple to Porsche para­pher­na­lia. Thereʼs ev­ery­thing the fan could pos­si­bly wish for here, from cloth­ing to model cars. Weʼre at­tend­ing the grand open­ing of the Zuf­fen­hausen-fo­cussed su­per­store, and he has in­vited over 200 guests, so the ad­ja­cent car park is full of Porsches an­cient and, it has to be said, mainly mod­ern.

Be­ing a Septem­ber Satur­day, doubt­less many lo­cals are us­ing the op­por­tu­nity to give their pride and joy an air­ing. Pride of place in the show­room are a mod­ern 918 Spy­der and a Car­rera GT, whilst the yard be­hind the build­ing fea­tures a col­lec­tion of pun­tersʼ air-cooled clas­sics.

Based in Ve­soul in the Haute-saône re­gion of east­ern France, Ber­trand has been mar­ket­ing Porsche-tagged ranges of goods on-line since 2012, but ear­lier this year he de­cided to open his premises with a proper shop so cus­tomers could browse at leisure and check out the prod­uct ranges be­fore com­mit­ting to buy any­thing. And thereʼs no obli­ga­tion to pur­chase any­thing; itʼs great just to ogle the wares and maybe build a men­tal wish list to do the busi­ness on-line once back home.

The first dis­play that catches my eye is a his­tory of Porsche cars pre­sented as 1:18 scale mod­els, housed in a long show­case: from the ear­li­est 356 and de­riv­a­tives, right up to the very lat­est 991 Coupe, Turbo, GT2 and Cabri­o­let, and 718 Boxster and Cay­man. Rac­ing cars, too – the oblig­a­tory 917, 906, 910 and Car­rera Cup cars. Ber­trand is pleased with it: ʻitʼs a nice pre­sen­ta­tion so peo­ple can see how the com­pany evolved, from the orig­i­nal 356 through the 2.7 RS and 996 GT3, and so on.ʼ

Iʼve never seen a dis­play of mod­els thatʼs quite so spe­cific, but in fact some mod­els are no longer avail­able. As Ber­trand says, ʻyou can­not buy some of them be­cause they have not been pro­duced for maybe 10 years now, so those are com­ing from our own col­lec­tion, but the ones with prices marked are the ones which are in stock. Peo­ple who know the mod­els can say, “Oh, I had this one, I re­mem­ber that,” and those who donʼt know Porsches that well can dis­cover the ex­tent of the model range.ʼ

If it is scale mod­els that in­ter­est you, Ber­trand stocks a good cross-sec­tion of mak­ers: Spark, Minichamps, Tec­nomodel, Norev, Schuco, GT Spirit, Cult, Au­toart – the list goes on. While he or­gan­ises his open­ing cer­e­mony, we take a tour of the shelved aisles. Hereʼs a Porsche lo­goʼd table­lamp; and here is a clock; thereʼs del­i­cate crock­ery and a cal­en­dar, a wine cooler, Porsche bot­tle stops, Eau-deCologne, and wrist-watches branded Se­lec­tion RS.

Ber­trand shows us the Porsche De­sign ʻDriver Se­lec­tion Col­lec­tion,ʼ con­sist­ing of all the ap­parel avail­able from the works sou­venir de­part­ment, as well as racks of T-shirts from the likes of Hun­ziker and a rather nice Jo Sif­fert wind­cheater, and as Ber­trand ex­plains, ʻwe present one of each item, and we have all the sizes in stock. So here we also have gloves and jack­ets in Mar­tini and Gulf rac­ing styles, plus key fobs, ties, pin badges, sun­glasses, watches, driv­ing shoes and caps.ʼ

You might won­der, not un­rea­son­ably, what would mo­ti­vate some­one to open such a spe­cialised out­let in a pro­vin­cial city, and in­deed where your cus­tomers are go­ing to come from. But as Kevin Cost­ner says in Field of Dreams, ʻBuild it and they will come.ʼ If you build it big enough, itʼs a des­ti­na­tion, and peo­ple will come to see it. And the proof of the pud­ding is the stream of Porsches that are queu­ing to get in.

Itʼs a Porsche petrol­headʼs dream: you could walk into the em­po­rium and very eas­ily spend a great deal of money on things you donʼt re­ally need, like a set of kitchen knives or a Mar­tini rac­ing bag or leather man-bag.

We all need mod­els of the Porsches we find in­spi­ra­tional for what­ever rea­son, and Ber­trand can help find the one youʼre miss­ing. If youʼre a con­nois­seur you might want to just spe­cialise in col­lect­ing one scale of model or one model maker, rather than just col­lect any­thing and ev­ery­thing. Once you get into the main­stream cars, al­most cer­tainly there will be not only model col­lec­tors but peo­ple whoʼve seen their car in here and want a model of it.

There are model kits of course, by Tamiya, Rev­ell and Gunze Sangyo, and thereʼs even a work­ing model of a flat­six en­gine by Franzis, with all the mov­ing parts vis­i­ble. The longer you spend wan­der­ing around the more things you catch sight of which you think, ʻAha! Thatʼs what Iʼve al­ways wanted – things like head­lights which are clocks, and dif­fer­ent style clas­sic crash hel­mets repli­cat­ing those of fa­mous driv­ers like Jo Sif­fert and Steve Mcqueen, as a trib­ute to the Le Mans film. And hereʼs a very nice an­gle-poise lamp, and some great art­works by well-known Porsche ex­po­nents, such as Caro­line Llong and Lau­rence Henry.

“FROM THE ORIG­I­NAL 356 THROUGH THE 2.7 RS…”

Up­stairs on the mez­za­nine deck are shelves of Porsche books – in­clud­ing a cou­ple writ­ten by yours truly, Iʼm de­lighted to see – and mag­a­zines such as this one. This is a great place to re­lax with a brew (from the bar down­stairs) and take stock of what youʼve just bought, or pon­der what else could be on the shop­ping list.

The leather arm­chairs, which are for sale, are not only comfortable but quite spec­tac­u­lar, up­hol­stered in the coloured liv­er­ies of 917 race cars. ʻThe seats are a big suc­cess, es­pe­cially be­cause the price is good and there is also a spe­cial of­fer: we sell them in­di­vid­u­ally for €250, or two for €450.ʼ

Ber­trand de­scribes how he got Se­lec­tion RS off the ground: ʻI had my own col­lec­tion of 1:18-scale model cars, and seven years ago I found one of a 997 Turbo for a very good price and I thought, letʼs buy four of them, keep one for me and sell three, so I sold those, and then I found some 1:43 scale cars, and I also sold those as box sets, and grad­u­ally, month-by-month and year-by-year, our garage filled up with Porsches in lit­tle boxes.

ʻThen we started send­ing out news­let­ters to our clients, and all the time I was ac­cu­mu­lat­ing cus­tomersʼ e-mail ad­dresses in an Ex­cel data­base, and soon we had 100 clients. Five years ago, we cre­ated the Se­lec­tion RS web­site to show our range of items, but we did­nʼt push it at all, we were quite re­laxed about it, and at the time we were sell­ing most of our stock at swap-meets, in Bel­gium, in the Nether­lands, Ger­many, Italy and France.

ʻI was wak­ing up ev­ery Satur­day or Sun­day at four or five oʼ­clock, to­gether with my son who was six or seven years old, and he would come with me to the swap-meets, and we had some very nice mo­ments. It was hard work, but re­ward­ing. Then, four years ago we de­cided we would try to de­velop the busi­ness and make Se­lec­tion RS much big­ger, so we started to ad­ver­tise in mag­a­zines, and took on two more peo­ple to help us out.

ʻWe in­creased the stock by buy­ing in many items, and we started to sell not only model cars, but also cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories like watches, lug­gage, and so on. So, three years ago we sud­denly had a lack of stor­age space be­cause the garage was full, so we set about find­ing a space here in our city, and we found this build­ing, which we di­vided into three sec­tions: show­room, ware­house and dis­patch. Our turnover in­creased quite fast, and now we sell 20 times more than when we started.ʼ

Even though the city of Ve­soul is quite small – we

cer­tainly had to en­list Madame Sat­nav to find it – Ber­trand an­tic­i­pates that vis­i­tors will ʻ…come from all over France, and even from Switzer­land and Bel­gium to see the show­room.ʼ En­dear­ingly, he seems slightly in­cred­u­lous that itʼs all taken off to such an ex­tent: ʻEven though they said that they like it, be­cause there are a few cars in show­cases. From my point of view, I thought they could be frus­trated be­cause the space is too small, so I said we should make some­thing big­ger, and weʼve tried to make it the big­gest show­room that can be found any­where in the world with only ded­i­cated Porsche items and mem­o­ra­bilia.ʼ

Thereʼs a syn­ergy with Porsche as well. ʻWe are still a small com­pany, but there is no equiv­a­lent in the mar­ket­place, and even Porsche does­nʼt have the same space with so many items on dis­play and avail­able to or­der on-line. Only the Mu­seum shop at Zuf­fen­hausen, which is very nice and very spa­cious, but they have fewer items.

ʻSo, there is noth­ing to com­pare with us, and it is good that we have a very good re­la­tion­ship with Porsche. We are very pleased with this col­lab­o­ra­tion, of course, and they try to help us, which is kind of them be­cause they could also try to stop us. But they are shrewd, and nice enough to let us de­velop this busi­ness, and at the same time we have the op­por­tu­nity to sell other items cre­ated by other man­u­fac­tur­ers like Ni­co­las Hun­ziker and so on.

Thereʼs a neat twist to the tale: not only does Ber­trand sell Porsche mem­o­ra­bilia, he also owns a Porsche: in pride of place amongst the air-cooled cars is an orange 912. Itʼs his per­sonal toy, its restora­tion com­pleted just in time for the grand open­ing.

Itʼs been a long time com­ing: ʻI found it on ebay nine years ago in Lon­don, and a friend checked it for me and said it looked OK, and so I bought it for £7000, which was a good price then. There were some parts miss­ing but the guy found them, and it was run­ning, so I drove it to the ferry at Dover. But ar­riv­ing in Calais, a friend came with a trailer to pick it up be­cause I did­nʼt feel con­fi­dent about cross­ing the whole of France with it.

ʻThe orig­i­nal colour was Ba­hama Yel­low, and when I bought it, it was red, but my favourite colour is tan­ger­ine, so I de­cided I will make it tan­ger­ine. So, a friend and I dis­man­tled the car and an­other friend painted it, but af­ter it was fin­ished I left it in my garage and did­nʼt touch it. And then two weeks ago I said letʼs make it ready for the open­ing, and here we are.ʼ In­deed, an apt tran­si­tion from one Porsche con­struc­tion kit – to whole a shelf-full. CP

Above: The 917-in­spired chairs have proved to be a big hit with cus­tomers. And at €250 each, they wonʼt break the bank…

Below left: Ber­trand with his freshly-fin­ished 912, which he orig­i­nally found for sale in Lon­don nine years ago

Below right: Every­where you look, there are sur­prises, like a head­lamp thatʼs now a Mar­tini-in­spired clock…

Above right: Ber­trand Vienʼs busi­ness started small and has grown – and grown. A ma­jor on-line pres­ence brings in a world mar­ket

Above: Posters form a big part of the col­lec­tion, and are a pop­u­lar line

Below left to right: Gulf liv­ery is pop­u­lar, for rather ob­vi­ous rea­sons. How about this liv­er­ied desk lamp? And if watches are your thing, then Se­lec­tion RS has a large range, in­clud­ing orig­i­nal Porsche items. Cloth­ing? Thereʼs a mas­sive range to...

Above: Some of the mod­els will look fa­mil­iar to reg­u­lar read­ers of Clas­sic Porsche…

Below left and right: What­ever your par­tic­u­lar favourite is, Ber­trand is sure to have a model of a fa­mous Porsche race car for you, be it a 550 coupé or a Gulf 917

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