Porsche – Engineering for Excellence by Tony Dron
Does the world need another Porsche book? Probably not; what it needs is a definitive guide on what each model is like to drive. So, take a long stride forward, Tony Dron – a skilled racing driver and motoring journalist for 40 years, who has driven over 1000 Porsche cars.
I learnt a lot about the idiosyncratic, and superbly engineered, cars from Stuttgart from this 190-odd page book. The same could be said about the author, and I learnt a little more about his successful career that - from just a Porsche perspective - saw much success at Le Mans (works 924 Carrera GT Prototype driver in 1980, finishing 12th overall), as well as many top-level results elsewhere.
His abilities behind the wheel of the British importer’s 911s and 928s in the 80s and 90s are well known – yes, he is a top-flight racing driver, but he really does know his Porsches and how they behave on the road.
From a non-owner’s (or, even more important, a prospective owner’s) perspective, the book is a gem. Each model has its devotees and the dedicated Porsche enthusiast will brook no criticism of his or her favourite car. Dron – ever the impartial motoring scribe – examines each solely on its merits, and what he, and the rest of the serious motoring press, thought of it at the time.
The humble 924 is addressed in detail, with the Turbo compared favourably with an MGB, while the yuppies’ favourites – rubber-bumper 911Ss, SCs and Carreras – “really were first-class road cars”. That surprised me, as did Dron’s less-than-enthusiastic view of the early 964-model 911s: “I am sorry to say those 964s weren’t my sort of motor cars at all; not at first, anyway.”
Owning any of the company’s cars right up to the ‘big-bumper’ 911s was to be part of a rather exclusive club, one in which the joining fee was high, as was annual membership. The 356 in all its variations with, at most, 95-or-so horsepower was a proper driver’s machine. It was a genuine sports car that demanded much from the driver, as did so many later 911s, right up to the water-cooled cars with their much-developed (and safer in a non-expert’s hands) handling.
You get the impression that the author’s fervent enthusiasm for the marque gradually evolves from a knowing admiration of the purest driving pleasure gained from the early cars, safe in the knowledge that his innate driving talent could get the best out of them, to the utmost respect for the supremely well-thought-out engineering of current production.
356, 911, 914, 914/6, 924, 928, 944, 968, 959, Boxster, Cayman and even the ultra-rare, homologation special, GT1 are all included. Each model has a detailed technical specification, too, with production numbers, contemporary UK prices and performance figures – all very handy.
Thinking of buying a classic Porsche? Maybe as an extra car for a collection that includes a Ferrari or Aston?
This is the book for you – it’s £19.99 well spent.
The book (Hardback, 270 x 210mm, 160 pages, 150 colour illustrations. ISBN: 9781859608821) is available by mail order direct from the publishers HERE at £19.99 plus carriage.
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Tony Dron
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