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How Lunch With a Stranger Led Me To Write "111 Porsche Stories"

by Wilfried Müller, Author, 111 Porsche Stories That You Should Know

Good things happen in Italian restaurants ... especially in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Swabia, Germany. This is the place where Porsche builds the famed 911 and runs the fabulous Porsche Museum. I had spent the day in the museum’s historic archive researching for my work as a motoring writer and then popped over to the Ristorante “Franca e Franco” for dinner. It is the early autumn of 2015.

At a table across the room sits a guy, a business traveler like me, alone. And because food tastes better with a good chat, we start to talk. Soon we find a great topic: Cologne, the town where I was born and lived most of my life. Rüdiger, that’s his name, works in Cologne. And what a coincidence: I write books, and he is the head of the nonfictional division at “Emons”, a big German publishing company, based in Cologne.

Rüdiger asks what books I write. “Well”, I say, “I write about Porsche mainly, about the people: visionaries some of them, great designers, engineers, brave race drivers, and about their sports and race cars that made history. Rüdiger wants to hear more, so I tell him some Porsche stories.

In 1973 the oil producing countries closed the tap. Big crisis for the automotive industry. And what does Porsche do? They present the 911 Turbo – the fastest, most expensive, thirstiest Porsche so far. And the car is a resounding success. The very first 911 Turbo, by the way, was earmarked for Louise Piëch, the grand lady of the other owner’s family besides the Porsches. Its windscreen was not tinted, because Frau Piëch was an avid painter who loved to drive through the Austrian mountains, stop here and there and paint in the driver’s seat.

Or did you know they built a harmless looking Porsche 914 with an 8-cylinder race engine for old Ferry Porsche? Or that crazy 16-cylinder motor for the 917 racer to beat the American race teams on their own soil?

I tell Rüdiger about this daredevil driver who shot through the kink on the long straight of the Le Mans circuit at 236 mph in a Porsche 917 because the engineer had told him it would be ok. And the 1977 Daytona 24 Hours, when the lightning fast Porsche 935 unfortunately wiped off the driver’s door on a wall, and a fan donated his 911-door as a replacement. Because the Porsche had also left a rear light at the wall, the mechanics duct taped a flashlight, which they’d colored with red lipstick, to the Porsche. And then the 935 hit the wall again ... Stories, stories and more stories.

Rüdiger listens, thinks, and suggests,, “Write a book for us. 111 Porsche Stories.”

Some weeks later the work begins. In the late autumn of 2016 the first edition of 111 Porsche Stories That You Should Know is published and sells out the first printing within weeks in German and in English.

(Photos courtesy of Porsche Historical Archives)

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