Porsche: Too much of a good thing?

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The deifying of Porsche has left Jethro Bovingdon with a worrying affliction – Porsche fatigue.

I think I get it. After years of letters proclaiming bias, of meeting people full of hate and bile, of hearing strange ‘Beetle’ jokes and being absolutely baffled as to how and why people could be so negative about a car that seems to encapsulate everything they proclaim to love about driving, something in me has changed. I’m sick of Porsche.

Maybe it’s circumstance. I’ve spent way too much time in California of late and here lies the centre of the Cult of Porsche. People scrabble over the bones of dead relatives to reach the head of the queue to buy a ropey G-series. Restoration shops occupy every corner, bursting with air-cooled 911s being painted beige to show just how cool their owners really are. There are Cars & Coffee events at every hipster café on the West Coast, where people congratulate each other for being discerning, erudite and wise. They are almost exclusively filled with old 911s or new ones in ever more bizarre ‘PTS’ colours. Many have roof rails carrying wooden skis. Because that’s the only way to look even more of a twat. It’s enough to put you off Porsche forever.

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Open social media and it’s the same pattern multiplied by many millions. Porsches of all the colours of the rainbow with leather-trimmed air vents are held up for us to worship. Every other day there seems to be another display or festival or museum opened exclusively to remind us – in case we’d forgotten – that Porsche is God in four-wheeled form.

Even worse, everything else is cast as the Devil. Dare to post a picture or video of a car that could be broadly compared with a Porsche, any Porsche, and you’ll be drowned by the onslaught of comments: ‘Why would you bother when you could buy a 911?’ cry the army of disciples. I imagine them sitting in their bedrooms – houndstooth carpet, Pasha wallpaper, whirring fans everywhere and dozens of burning effigies of Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini – ready to pounce should anyone, anywhere, say something positive about a car that isn’t a Porsche.

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That said, Porsche fatigue is almost as bad as the peculiar religion that pours scorn on anything that isn’t rear-engined, for it too begins to erode logic and surface an irrational inner rage. For me it came to a head with the coverage for the new 992 GT3. Now, I love GT3s, so I knew things were getting out of control. However, try as I might, I couldn’t quite let pass the incredulity that Porsche had – gasp – fitted double-wishbone front suspension to a 911. It was as if Jesus himself had blessed Porsche with a revolutionary new suspension system, hitherto unseen, full of wonder and mystical powers that would only serve to reinforce Porsche’s holiness to the faithful congregation.

I said as much on Twitter and although a few chirped up in agreement they were quickly shouted down. One or two even pondered why I’d say such a thing. ‘If it’s so unremarkable why don’t any of the rivals use it?’ they said. ‘Erm. They do. All of them,’ I replied. But no. This COULD NOT BE TRUE AS PORSCHE ARE THE BEST AND THEREFORE YOU MUST BE LYING. I assume this was followed by sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming lalalalalalalalala until the bad person saying true things that could be hurtful went away. Imagine that? Being so invested in the Porsche cult that it’s impossible to accept that double wishbones weren’t invented in 2021 for the 992 GT3. You can only conclude that Porsche has won the internet. Porsche and Pornhub. This is how humanity will be judged.

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It must be even more maddening for rival car makers. McLaren released images of the new Artura within a day of the 992 GT3 being revealed. It’s packed with tech, has a fascinating new 120deg V6 linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch ’box with integrated electric motor, a brand new carbonfibre chassis and so much lightweighting that the hybrid system is almost entirely negated. The reaction? ‘Meh. More of the same.’ Now, I happen to agree that the Artura needed to look like an entirely new generation rather than a facelifted 570S, but the very next day a car that literally is more of the same melted the internet due to a 10bhp bump, a new shade of blue and an outlandish new suspension system first seen on a Citroën in the 1930s.

It’s not Porsche’s fault that people have become so blindly devoted. They’re just doing what they do. Tirelessly developing the 911 so it stays fresh. It is the foundation of the company’s past success and future prosperity. It’s also pretty bloody marvellous. I can’t really be sick of Porsche. Not for long, anyway. It’s the zealots who are creating a Scientology-style mania around the cars. Luckily, there is a very easy way to cut through the noise and rediscover the love: close Instagram and go for a drive in a 911. They really are fantastic. Even the ones with MacPherson struts.

Jethro Bovingdon

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