Old age isn’t often kind to a car. Its fate can be languishing unloved on a used car lot, or worse yet, squashed or dismembered at a junk yard—carrion for parts pickers. But for the second straight year Porsche Cars North America’s Porsche Classic unit is throwing down the gauntlet to the German automaker’s dealers to bring an aging model back to life.
The company announced Wednesday the return of the Porsche Classic Restoration Challenge. It’s a combination competition hosted by the Porsche Classic sub-brand that not only involves restoring a classic Porsche from the 1950’s to the 2000’s but promoting the car and brand through various marketing techniques including social media.
Porsche Classic was established in 2019 and carries a parts catalog of more than 60,000 parts to which technicians at competing dealerships will have access, according to Jonathan Sieber, Manager Porsche Classic with Porsche Cars North America.
“We want to use the ability to communicate what Porsche is able to do and is committed to, through the utilization of our classic parts catalog and then what can our dealership personnel do with that catalog mated with your car,” Sieber told Forbes.com. “The Classic sub-brand exists to keep those vehicles on the road. We want them to be driven. We want them to be experienced.”
Porsche Ontario in Ontario, Calif. won the inaugural challenge last year by breathing new life into a 1989 911 Targa G-Model which general manager Mark Marchant described as “in kind of rough shape.”
The dealership’s technicians basically stripped the car bare then put it back together again, updating virtually every element and even giving it a new personality.
“We wanted to do our version of an RS Targa. Porsche never made an RS Targa. We did our own rendition,” said Marchant.
That rendition included a new interior, rebuilt engine, RS door handles, special paint job and a deep dip into the Porsche Classic parts bin.
“Part of the challenge is you use Porsche classic parts,” said Marchant. “Porsche has a classic radio with Bluetooth and navigation. We even put a cell phone charger in the original slot that goes in front of the gear shift.”
In all, Marchant estimates the dealership spent from $40,000 to $50,000 on parts while much of the labor was provided by technicians who gave up “a lot of personal time, lost weekends.”
Of course, all that time and effort and expense wasn’t just for fun or to win a trophy. Open only since August, 2020, Porsche Ontario was fighting for attention during a challenging time. The effort paid off.
“We opened in the middle of the pandemic. It was something that could get people together, excitement and get our name on the map,” explained Marchant. “The car grew so much excitement around the store. We used it for a lot of marketing. It brings new people into brand. I’m actually selling vehicles here that fall into the classic realm.”
That’s why Porsche Ontario is back for this year’s competition working on a 1993 Porsche 911 RS America Type 964.
Building showroom traffic and sales is just one motive for dealers getting involved in the competition.
“This is a great proving ground for young technicians and creating more of a youth movement giving them opportunities,” said Sieber.
The Porsche Classic Restoration Challenge runs through July and starts with three regional events where a finalist is chosen to represent that part of the country in the final where the ultimate winner is announced in September. The competition is judged by a panel of experts from Porsche Cars North America.
The company expects more than 60 dealers enter this year’s competition up from “almost 40” last year thanks, in large part, to its popularity and exposure on social media. Sieber recalls one person who saw one of the entrants in the 2021 challenge in the process of being restored and traveled more than 2,000 miles to buy it, declaring “I need that car.”
This year’s competition can be followed on social media at #porscherestorationchallenge22.
For three-year old Porsche Classic its own victory will be keeping the brand’s heritage alive by providing the parts and expertise that will give classic Porsche models new life.
“We have the opportunity to share the vision to reconnect the history to the next generation owner,” said Sieber. “It’s an honor for my team to be able to be kind of the stewards of that.”