Porsche Pilgrimage: Day 7 – One Porsche Drive

The Porsche Cars North America headquarters in Hapeville is a car-lover's fantasy.

Bradley Brownell

Because of the way scheduling worked involving my sister's graduation, I didn't get to bring my little yellow 912E to Porsche headquarters when I visited, but instead had my little brother drop me off at the front gate. It's a minor inconvenience in an otherwise amazing day. I'd sent word ahead of time that I would be in town to one of my contacts within Porsche, and he said he'd have time to give me the nickel tour on Monday afternoon. Thank yous are due to Jeremy, David, and Andrew for taking time out of their day.

The first thing you'll see when you step off the elevators is a wide open floor plan with a pair of 919 Hybrids sitting in the middle to pull your eye. There are a few Porsche Exclusive special order cars sitting to the right, including a wildly optioned $120,000 718 Boxster S, a very nice Turbo S with an aerokit, and a grey-on-white 911R. Over around the corner was a chronological discussion of the company's history in 1:43 scale models. One particular model, a 911 Carrera 3.2, we discussed in depth because even Porsche couldn't place exactly what year it was. What do you think? Leading up the stairs is a gorgeous four-panel painting from the deft hand of Nicolas Hunziker. In the middle is a scale model of the Porsche Experience Center just outside. 

In the course of the tour, we ended up going upstairs to check out the beautifully outfitted and tremendously prepared Restaurant 356. The various materials of the seats and the table settings are inspired by 356 interiors, which is just the best. The current chef resident is from the well-known French Laundry restaurant, making the meal all the better. Make reservations at opentable.com if you'd like to eat there. 

After the restaurant, we popped down to the classic center workshops. In talking to a few of the guys down there, it was easy to tell that they were properly enthusiastic about getting these cars absolutely perfect. They were proud of the recently cadmium-plated hardware, and were happy to show off the current projects in the bays, including a 1976 930, a 911 Carrera 3.2 show car still wearing its factory-fit tires, and another nicely cared for 911 that had a recent electrical fire. 

Across the hallway from the workshop is the Porsche Heritage Center. This is something of a mini-museum where Porsche will display vintage cars, generally with a theme of sorts, on loan from customers, collections, and the Porsche museum in Germany. The day I went to visit, in the main hall there was a selection of Porsche prototypes, a trio of vintage racing cars in perfect patina, and a quartet of 911 Cup Car historic pieces. Downstairs is an awesome set of cars, highlights include the pace car from the 50th Daytona 24 hour (signed by dozens of racers), and a perfectly correct 924 Carrera GTS. 

While I do realize that OPD has been around for almost five years now, but this was my first visit to the home of PCNA. It's such a great building, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to see it while in town. Day 8 won't involve any car stuff, so I won't really bore you with it, tune in again for Day 9 in Greenville, SC.