Sunday, 4 March 2012

German Obstinacy

My experience of Porsche is when they got something wrong they really got it wrong and would never admit it. This was both on the engineering and marketing sides. The rarely admitted or listened to outsiders and my experience over the years had proved this to me.
In my early Porsche 911 days at CMA Maltin Engineering, Porsche put large iron weights in the front bumpers of the first Porsche 911 models to keep the front end on the ground, when in fact the problem was the short wheelbase and rear suspension design. In 1969 they solved this with the longer wheelbase model but for several years would not admit this failing.
Again when the Porsche 917 racecar kept losing it’s cooling fans, they could not solve the problem and Chris Maltin finally re-designed the fan and housing on David Piper’s private Porsche 917 and the factory adopted this design along with the short tail version.
At our joint Importer meeting and during one of the Porsche AG presentation sessions, I suggested we promote Porsche models on their safety. Ed Peter, the Export Manager of Porsche AG, told us all this was totally unethical and this was just not possible. However, we had all been around Weissach R&D centre and the Porsche factory and safety was a major selling point for me, but no one saw this opportunity inside Porsche AG in those days nor would they listen to my suggestions.
Another minor but important issue we all raised; was the door handle on the Porsche 924 was straight off a VW. Trevor Hudson from New Zealand also raised the point that Porsche themselves were comparing the Porsche 924 with the Datsun Z and Mazda RX7, but both of these had rear remote tailgate catches and the Porsche 924 had nothing. Ed Peter and his staff argued it was not a VW door handle, but we all knew it was half of the Importers were also VW Audi dealers and the handle even had a VW part number. His excuse for the lack of rear remote latch was it cost too much to install, and therefore they would not be able to sell the car in the USA, which was utter rubbish. Trevor Hudson of Giltrap Motors told us he had been thinking of adding these electronic catch to their cars in New Zealand and he offered Porsche the rights to buy his retrofit kit, which went down like a lead brick! At the next Importer meeting, Trevor actually bought a real tailgate electronic kit along and gave it to the management of Porsche, Ludwigsburg.
The following model year, Porsche added an electronic rear catch release as standard on the 924 models, so I guess we achieved some measure of success, but the VW door handle remained.

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