Driving a Porsche 911 can be an exhilarating experience. The speed, the power, the handling, etc. A driver feels like King/Queen of the world as they push the envelope on the sound barrier. Suddenly, the $130,000 chariot burst into flames. Then the phrase Porsche being the “hottest” car on the market takes on a whole new meaning. On Thursday, Porsche issued a recall of their vaunted 911-GT3 model amid a probe that the engine can catch on fire. Two vehicles have actually went up into flames leaving both just a shell of their former glorious selves.
The risk is so real that Porsche is asking owners of the GT3 model to stop driving them and dealerships to stop selling them. The specific issue that causes the oil in the engine to catch fire has yet to be determined. Engineers at Porsche’s Stuttgart based facilities are going over the remains of the two cars that caught fire. One is from an owner in Switzerland. The other was purchased in Italy. Whatever the problem is, it affects 785 GT3 cars for the 2014 model year. Out of the 785 models produced, 408 of them are in the United States. No other 911 models are affected. The Volkswagen-owned carmaker expects to wrap up their investigation by the end of the week. After that, Porsche must begin the work to get the 911-GT3 back in the good graces of buyers and put the fire probe behind them.
Porsche as a company is synonymous with style and power. However, the 911 series has a history all its own. Making its debut in 1964, the 911 became an icon of cool. In the 70s it was all about performance, then morphing into a beacon of sophistication in the 80s. It re-established itself as a beast of raw power and athleticism in the 90s. So with over forty years of standard bearing excellence, the thought would be that Porsche would be primed to go into the new millennium on a high note, ready to continue to be the hands down dream of all that is right with Germany car engineering. Well, that would be the wrong thought.
Porsche’s reputation took a dip when the 911 and Boxster models between the years of 2001 to 2005 were plagued with shaft bearing problems. Porsche denied any issues. American owners banded together to sue the company. Finally, owning up to the issue, Porsche fixed each and every one of the affected cars.
Eventually the lawsuit disappeared but in a real sense, so did the aura of invincibility for the Porsche 911. The company was able to get some of that lost reputation back, but this latest problem is not helping. It is like a favorite uncle or even a father, who is believed to be the strongest, biggest, most macho man ever. The pride felt when that person comes around is amazing. That is until you discover that your hero is just another human.
It’ll be interesting to see how Porsche makes this ordeal right. Not only do they have to take care of the 785 owners of the 911-GT3, they have to save face and project that old school mojo that they wore for generations. No matter what, Porsche does not want to pick up the latest auto magazine a year from now to see the headline, “Porsche 911 too hot to handle Amid Fire Probe.”
Editorial by Tony Bowers