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A visit to Zuffenhausen...

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Old 04-16-2013, 07:45 PM
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A visit to Zuffenhausen...

Just arrived in today to Stuttgart and took the S6 to Zuffenhausen. Staying at the Hotel Neuwirtshaus, just a few blocks away from the factory. Had dinner tonight with Jürgen Barth tonight at his home in Sachsenheim! An informal affair as he cooked dinner for the two of us! Great stories - both about his dad (Edgar) and about his own distinguished career! Coming back to the hotel tonight, the Porsche factory and Museum at night has a magic & color all its own! To be continued...

Saludos,
Eduardo
 
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:14 AM
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This is going to be a fun trip and look forward to reading this thread. Thank you for sharing Eduardo
 
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:32 AM
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Awesome! Dinner with Mr. Barth must have been fantastic.
 
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:48 AM
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Keep the photos coming.. this will be good.
 
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:22 PM
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1) 10 AM - Factory Tour at Porsche Zuffenhausen. Cameras are not allowed. In fact they were 'collected' and 'stored' prior to the start of our tour! This is about my 15th visit to Zuffenhausen. First one was in 1981 during a PCA Treffen (first photo...when I had black hair!). I also did a European Delivery on a 944 in 1982 and a 944 Turbo around 1985! Everytime I traveled to Europe I managed to drop by Zuffenhausen for a visit! That is how I met Jurgen Barth in the 1980's - while picking up 'special parts' at Frau Bauer 'in-house' emporium at Werk 1! These were the days we could take cameras inside the factory and photograph at will! Weissach was open to group tours and we were taken on 'hot laps' by factory drivers! Not any more. Weissach is now closed to any visitors while construction takes place...I was last there in 1996...but some think it will never be re-opened to the public! The rest of the attached photos were taken after the tour was completed and from 'outside' the factory fences!

My last Zuffenhausen visit was in 2007 and some of the changes at the factory are dramatic. Of course, the Museum is now finished! The Porsche dealership across the street is open for 'business' (Porsche bought our Hahn years ago, which was the Stuttgart dealership we used to deal with prior to that at their various Stuttgart locations - never in Zuffenhausen). Engine construction is done at a new building! The gate near the 'European Delivery' area has been moved to embark more territory for the factory grounds. More parts are being sourced by vendors via 'just in time' deliveries. Porsche Zuffenhausen is literally an assembly plant - the vendors are the 'manufacturers' of the actual parts that go into the cars! Had the 'pleasure' of seeing a metallic dark blue Boxster assembled with a 'guards red' rear bumper...then pulled off the line to 'correct' the mistake. Never seen that happened. They felt it was better to do this than to disrupt the line...so they put the wrong rear on and then took it off the line to wait for the right part to show up. Why that wasn't picked up earlier by part tracking computers and Quality Control is a mystery to me...and to the tour guide too!

From memory (but remember Alzheimer has set in): Two shifts working at Zuffenhausen at present. Early one starts around 6 am and the other around 2 pm. Around 196 cars being built daily at present. Total time of a 991 in production is around 5/6 days from start to finish. Currently some of the Boxsters are still being built at Zuffenhausen. Maybe up to one third? Caymans and rest of Boxsters are built at the old Karmann plant in Osnabruck. All gasoline engines destined for every Porsche is built in Zuffenhausen (except hybrids or diesels, I think). Road testing a Porsche a thing of the past - although I saw a few 991's drive by on nearby public streets still with protection (hard clear plastic on panels or white plastic wrap), but not the front 'bra' type of olden years! Have no idea why these were being driven in the street...perhaps trouble-shooting!

Today's tours couldn't see the 'mating' of power train to body chassis because two prototypes were in the production lines and were considered 'off limit' to our eyes! 991 gt3? Who knows. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary when we looked in the general direction of that section of the assembly plant!

Total tour time - 2 hours.

More of my activities today later in the week when I have more time! Need the sleep right now!

Saludos,
Eduardo
 
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:11 PM
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Eduardo - Another epic journey! When I grow up, I'd like to be you...
 
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Old 04-19-2013, 07:27 AM
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Wednesday April 17th in the Afternoon!

Wednesday in Afternoon (April 17th)

This afternoon I received a very special tour of the Historical Archives at Porsche by the person in charge Dieter Landenberger (Leiter Historisches Archiv). This collection is the most complete Porsche-related in the world! It includes the papers from Ferdinand Porsche's original design office in the 1930's, the war years, post-war Porsche company and to the present! All of these documents used to be kept in warehouse space in the factory. Dieter has been made responsible to collect it in one place, organize the material, carefully documented it & then place it in easy-to-access format. The rooms (where the historical papers are kept) have special air-composition to prevent deterioration of paper, etc. All state-of-the-art archival conditions and specially designed movable shelf storage spaces!

This is where automotive writers researching Porsche cars and history 'camp-out', sometimes for months! The research area have desk where folks can examine the data in the archive. This room has an impressive view of the museum lobby - so it is a very open & naturally well lighted space that makes research an enjoyable experience too! You can see that room on the upper right hand corner of first photo! Some of the items in storage are valuable trophies and memorabilia. The wooden tool you see in photo #5 is what Ferdinand Alexander Porsche used to shape the actual clay model of his 901 design!

While I was there I met two Canadians working on the in-depth history of all Abarth Carreras (approx. 20!). They also happened to be at Jürgen Barth's home at Sachsenheim when I arrived there on Tuesday night for dinner! Jürgen also has an unbelievable collection of Porsche history at his home. He has written several books (see link below) and is working on the complete history of each 550 Spyder produced by Porsche's in the 1950's!

Amazon.ca: Jurgen Barth: Books

Dieter Landenberger is also an accomplished author (photo #3). He has an upcoming book on 356 Carrera engines and cars which he has co-produced with Steve Heinrichs. Here is a sample of his other books:

Amazon.com: Dieter Landenberger: Books

I met Dieter last year at the PCA Porsche Parade in Salt Lake City. He was the only Porsche representative (of the many in attendance) that gave a talk to the participants. His 'lectures' are extremely interesting and very well attended! Dieter is a history buff - there is a studded winter tire from a Pre-A 356 in the corner of his office and a poster of a 356 competing in the famed Monte Carlo Rallye! I am indebted to Dieter for taking the time to be such a gracious host!

This concludes my activities for Wednesday day at Zuffenhausen. But that was not the end of this memorable day at Porsche. More on my next post!

Saludos,
Eduardo
Volkach, Bavaria
 
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Old 04-21-2013, 01:25 PM
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Lunch on Wednesday, April 17th!

Mid day on Wednesday, April 17th!

This was a busy day for me! In between the morning factory tour and the Historical Archives tour in the afternoon, I took the S6 train from the Porscheplatz back to Stuttgart Center City to have lunch. It was the warmest day I have ever spent in Germany! Temperatures were abnormally high, the sun was out and the people of Stuttgart were enjoying a glorious spring day!

To get to my restaurant, I walked from the main train station along the pedestrian street (Königstraße) that leads to the Schlossplatz. The latter is named that because of the beautiful baroque castle (das Neue Schloss of the royal Württembergs) that dominates the plaza at the City Center! On a trivia side note, I am a bit familiar with this location, although at the other end of the platz & right in front of the 'Neue Schloss'! Back in the fall of 1982, I attended the first ever 'Porsche Parade' held in Stuttgart. It was an event of European Porsche clubs trying to imitate the PCA Parade held in the US since 1956! The most dramatic part of that weekend was the 'parade' of Porsche cars in attendance driving past the 'welcoming committee' at the Neue Schloss, which consisted of Ferry Porsche, CEO Peter Schutz and Sales Manager Lars Schmidt! I got there early, and by sheer luck, was able to stand right next to them, warmly dressed with a ski parka over my sport jacket & tie! A few months later, I had my 15 seconds of fame appearing on the Feb 1983 (#163) edition of Christophorus right next to these dignitaries! A panoramic shot of this event at the Neue Schloss was also on the magazine's cover, although Ferry, Peter, Lars and me can only be seen in the back! It was at this Parade that I also got a chance to meet Manfred Rommel, the only son of the German general of 'Desert Fox' fame, who was then the honorable mayor of Stuttgart!

I had a delightful lunch at Ochs'n Willi. This is a well known local's restaurant that features traditional Swabian food! It is just past the Schlossplatz and to the right! I strongly recommend it on your visit to Stuttgart if you like age-old Swabian specialties! Ochs'n Willi

Saludos,
Eduardo
Back in Zuffenhausen
 
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:53 PM
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Back of Werk II

I am currently on a 10 days 'Guys Only Tour' of European auto factories and museums. I was a Zuffenhausen last week and returned again today. However, I don't have access to internet all the time while I am on this trip. So I will post bits here and there to give you a full picture of my 'Visit to Zuffenhausen' !

Wednesday, April 17th
After I returned from lunch in Stuttgart Center City on Wednesday, I had time to do a complete walk tour of the periphery of the Porsche facilities at Zuffenhausen. This is a tradition now with me and I do it every time I visit to visually capture the changes that have taken place over the years. When I first visited Zuffenhausen in 1981, the place actually resembled the photos we have all seen of the original Reutter Carosserie-Werke from the 356 days in the 1950's and 1960's. It was very compact but there were a lot of open spaces - compared to now! I have always found the area around the Werks II factory rather interesting.

Photo 1 is the back corner of the Werks II on Schweiberdinger Strasse at the south. Photo 2 is the northern edge of Werks II at the north on Adestrasse. The area west of this boundary has a train tracks and then the Usedomstrasse residential neighborhood! On this particular day's walk, I got lucky! As I took a photo from the street that showed the giant factory in the background, a home owner engaged me in conversation! It turned out she had lived in this house since 1959. She took me to the backyard and let me take other photos. I could throw a baseball and it would land inside Porsche's property in Zuffenhausen without any problems! Their backyard is that close to Werks II !

The history of this neighborhood was explained to me by this lady. It was all 'agricultural' back in the post-war years. In the early 1950s, her parents bought the lot as a planting garden, something often seen around towns and cities all over Germany. They were able to build a small brick shed where they could rest & cook a luncheon while working the garden. This shed is still there! In the late 1950's, the land owners petition the town to allow them to build homes. This idea was approved and her parents built the current two story structure. Her parents have passed, but she still lives here with her husband.

Not all neighbors are happy with Porsche in this neighborhood. In the past, they often complained about noises coming from the factory. That was mostly from high-rev test drives of the new cars in the rear parking lot before the closest buildings you see in the photo were constructed around 1984 at Werks II. She says relations are much better now. Each year Porsche hosts a picnic inside the plant for the residents of her neighborhood. It is a good-will gesture that is appreciated with these folks. However, Porsche has an office called something like 'Environment' (she told me) where the residents can still file complaints should any arise!

Rarely in America does an automotive factory is situated this close to a residential neighborhood. The lady who owns the house told me she was very glad the railroad line just behind her house prevented Porsche from expanding directly into her area! They have no plans to move elsewhere and were quite adamant about staying put and not be pushed around by the 'manufacturing giant' literally next door! This is their home...in the shadow of Porsche since 1959!

Saludos,
Eduardo
 
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Last edited by z356; 04-24-2013 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:25 PM
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Thanks for the fantastic write up! Great trip. As a future R8 owner, be sure to write up your trip to Neckarsulm!
 

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