Edinburgh – The real romance only sank in once I was behind the wheel. Although I’m not sure if the feeling was romance, or just that I was petrified of sliding an irreplaceable car into the shrubbery alongside a rain-soaked Scottish B-road.
A day earlier Porsche had put its one millionth 911 on display in front of media at Edinburgh Castle. Dramatic doesn’t begin to describe the ceremony (see video below story). They rolled the thing out under moody overcast skies, through the castle gates, between a pair of flaming cauldrons, behind an army of bagpipers and into line with a fleet of chronologically arranged 911 brethren – including some rare examples from Porsche’s museum. It was like a scene from Braveheart, except with a lot more sports-cars and photo-snapping journalists.
But I wasn’t really feeling it. It’s just a regular 331kW Carrera S after all. The one millionth car to come off the 911’s Zuffenhausen assembly line since the first 1963 isn’t very special by Porsche standards. Instead of celebrating the occasion with a Turbo S, or a GT3, or some other super high-performance variant bedecked with wings and roll cages and carbon fibre, the people in charge of the project opted for a relatively Plain Jane model.
But with good reason.
The millionth car is designed to mimic the first Porsche 911 owned by Ferry Porsche in 1964, with an Irish Green paint job, silver mirrors and window trim, white houndstooth seat upholstery, and wooden interior accents including the steering wheel’s rim. Great idea in concept, not so much in practice. To be brutally honest this combination is quite naff when applied to a 2017 model. I was far more excited to drive the museum cars, which Porsche bravely offered up for tests alongside the special one-off.
And drive them I did
From a petrol-smelly 1967 Targa, to a hugely desirable lightweight 1985 Clubsport, to a floaty but boosty 1991 964 Turbo, I was immersed in rear-mounted flat-six Porsche history. I also sampled an insistently firm 996 GT3, a stripped-down plastic-windowed 997 GT3 RS, last year’s instant classic, the 911R, and a soon-to-be-launched 991.2 GT3 with a manual gearbox (see next week’s paper) before some passenger hot laps in a Carrera Supercup race car. It was 911 overload.
And then came my chance in the millionth car. The one and only. The irreplaceable. And it was pouring rain. I had around 100km of twisty Scottish passes, lined on either side with soggy fields of frolicking sheep and unforgiving hedgerows, with the odd Neolithic stone wall thrown in for good measure. I should have soaked up the special experience, but instead I was focussed on keeping the left-hand drive vehicle in its left-hand lane.
It was only 10 days prior to this event that the folks at Porsche Exclusive were putting the finishing touches to the millionth machine, and it was hard not to notice the smell of fresh paint in the cabin. Perhaps it was just the fumes, but I did begin to feel a bit fairytaily with the whole thing. Here I was roaming the lowlands in a car bound for an afterlife in Porsche’s Stuttgart museum, and I’d forever own some of the clicks on the odometer. Mine, out of interest, were between 773 and 829 miles.
Porsche Exclusive, by the way, is the bespoke end of the factory where you can have your car customised to your heart’s content. Just like most high-end brands, Porsche will cater to your wildest desires (for a cost of course), and if you want a pink spray job with green leather, so be it. Hopefully no one will.
Exclusive was responsible for the millionth treatment, and aside from the aforementioned retro touches also added some unique “911 nr. 1000000” plaques on the B-pillars, stuck some gold badges on the rear lid, applied an original Porsche crest to the steering wheel, and made a matching Irish Green key fob. But it didn’t stop there. The digital instrument cluster display also throws up a special “1000000” animated graphic, and the gauge numbers illuminate in shimmering green.
Technically, all of this possible if you wanted to create your own Millionth 911 via Porsche Exclusive, but you might be forced into numerically correct badges. The Zuffenhausen factory has probably made another few hundred units by now. Also, you’d need to share a specific taste with 1960s Ferry Porsche, and that taste is a bit naff, er, outdated today.
* The millionth 911 wrapped up its Scottish tour last week, and will head to Germany for some obligatory Nurburgring laps before jetting off to the Pebble Beach Concours in August. It’ll also do some rounds in China before landing at its permanent home in Porsche’s Stuttgart Museum.
Follow Jesse Adams on Twitter: @PoorBoyLtd