Porsche Parade 2015 was the first national-level Porsche event I had attended since Rennsport Reunion IV at Leguna Seca in 2011. It was pretty amazing how much had changed for the brand in that interim.
At Rennsport, the North American Porsche faithful beheld the 991 for the first time. The most lust-worthy item at dealerships was still a 997—the Speedster. The newest Cayennes and Caymans were merely midcycle refreshes of the types’ originals, and the Panamera was a toddler, just two years old. The 918 Spyder was still in its concept phase, with production yet to begin.
Fast forward to Parade, and it is almost as if we are looking at an entirely new manufacturer’s catalog. 991s are everywhere in all forms, including Turbo S and Targa 4S. The Macan, not even a blip on the radar back in Monterey, is the hottest-selling Porsche in the land. 918 production is complete, and the crown jewels of the contemporary new-Porsche show are, in ascending order, the 981 Boxster and Cayman (especially in GTS form), the new Boxster Spyder, and the glorious new Cayman GT4—the Cayman the enthusiasts have cried out for since day one.
Of course, while it is a wonderful showcase for all things new, Parade is very much a celebration of what has come before. Right next to the GT4 in the main hospitality room sat a 1973 Carrera RS 2.7, its ducktail agleam in deep, gorgeous, original-spec Viper Green. Outside on Saturday I snapped a great picture of a 356 Speedster flanked by the stunning West Baden Springs Resort Hotel. And just before leaving on Sunday, I stumbled upon a unicorn-rare 928 GTS, also saddling up for its trip home.
Reflecting on what’s new and what’s classic served to highlight for me the key difference between Porsche now and Porsche back-when. I often daydream about a Porsche showroom in 1995, when every car was low and sleek, and the three-pedal configuration was the norm instead of the exception. The 968 was the ultimate iteration of the front-engine, rear-drive four-cylinder 924/944/968 line, and it still looks new today. The 928 was singing its glorious V8 swan song in winged 5.4-liter GTS trim. And the 993 Turbo had just arrived, sporting the first all-wheel-drive system seen on a forced-induction Porsche not called the 959. Every single car in that showroom was a worthy engineering accomplishment, and all remain sought after to this day.
Now the Porsche showroom is massively different. You’ll find one Macan there—just one—that the dealership won’t sell because it must be kept on hand in order to momentarily slake consumers’ lust. Outside are many colors and varieties of formerly-top-selling Cayenne, from the now-base Diesel to the GTS to the Turbo. Plenty of Panameras in varying trims are scattered about for the four-door-sedan (but-different) crowd. Of course there remains a sprinkling of 911s, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an enthusiast-targeted single-clutch Carrera coupe or a (PDK-only, argh) GT3RS. The Boxsters and Caymans sit off to one side, attracting longing stares from passerby but few real buyers. And there are no Cayman GT4s on the lot—those are limited-production and completely sold out.
I once read in a Porsche publication somewhere that around two-thirds of all Porsches ever built remain on the road today. As Porsche builds these larger, tech-laden cars, I think that percentage is going to go down, and that’s what’s truly being lost here.
One cannot argue with the numbers—any Cayenne Turbo, even a first-gen one, would beat that RS 2.7 around any track with a straightaway on it, let alone the Nurburgring. But there’s a reason that Cayennes have and will continue to depreciate to nearly nothing, while an RS 2.7 is worth, well, just look.
No matter how special a Macan is, a 911 will always be more special. No one will throw a tarp over a Macan and keep it in a garage for decades at a time, intending to someday restore it to like-new condition and relive its glory days. There will be no historic Macan racing in 2060. Instead, like any other consumer product, once its lifecycle is complete, it will be destroyed.
This the appeal of a Porsche-crazed enthusiast, not the reasoned logic of a CEO, of course. Porsche was not a healthy company in 1995—it is thriving today, and that’s a good thing. But something needs to keep the soul of the brand intact. It won’t be a Macan drawing the crowd in the hospitality room at Parade 2060—but Porsche must ensure that something does.
Build more of those sold-out GT4s.