Over the last few years I’ve got to know Porsche a lot better than at any time since I started in this business in the late 1980s.
I’ve been on a few launches and interviewed a number of their bosses over the years, but three interviews at Frankfurt provided rare insight into the corporate mind of a company that fascinates so many enthusiasts, not only for the fabulous cars it produces, but the manner in which it executes.
First off was August Achleitner, whose official title is Leiter Baureihe 911 or, to you and me, vice president 911 product line. Achleitner has been ‘Mr 911’ ever since I can remember – I think I first interviewed him around the launch of the 996.
He is quite reserved, very professional, wears a neat, but not flashy suit, and is clearly a man well in charge of his brief. He could write a terrific book about the recent history of the 911.
Of course like so many brilliant car industry engineers he is fluent in English, not just ‘a coffee please’ holiday-English, but full-on technical English.
We Brit hacks take it for granted that overseas engineers and designers can field questions in fluent technical English, but we shouldn’t.