Has Porsche Devolved Into Another Ferrari?
What gives a car company its unique flavor? Its distinct personality? Its an intriguing question and the recent history of Porsche may give us a clue. What was one of the most unique car companies changed dramatically in recent years. Porsche went public in 2022. The way Porsche released the 911 GT3 RS is, frankly, more reminiscent of Ferrari than Porsche. Here’s what that’s a bad thing.
Porsche was once very unique
Ferrari fans would be quick to point out that the “prancing pony” is one of the most winning brands in F1 history. It builds supercars with the refusal to compromise that makes it racing famous. Ferraris start at about double the price of Porsches because they are better by most every metric. And they maintain a certain unattainable allure. Yet…
Many lifelong car enthusiasts would never swap their Porsche for a Ferrari. Porsche has historically represented something very different. Ferdinand Porsche was a pioneering engineer (he also founded VW). Porsche used a series of brilliant engineering solutions to make a 911 handle almost as well as a supercar, at half the price.
Porsche’s engineering-first philosophy is a great way to win over the average car person. Making a halo car the average person can actually buy is an even better way. You might call Porsche the “people’s” car company…if VW didn’t already have that name (in German, the “wagon” for the “folks” is Volkswagen).
Another difference is the customer service. Take it from someone who knows: Jay Leno doesn’t own any Ferraris due to ‘dominatrix’-like customer service. If you walked into a Ferrari dealership to buy a limited edition, you would get asked how well you know the dealership owner. And the dealership owner would want to know how many Ferraris you already have “invested in.”
Historically, you have been able to walk into any Porsche dealership and order up any car you want them to build.
There’s an old joke in the sports car world that Ferrari owners brag about how few miles their car has while Porsche owners brag about how many miles their car has. But that may all be about to change.
Porsche is changing
Porsche was once the plucky underdog of the sports car world, favored by the starving genius and humble handling enthusiast. But that hardly pays the bills. By 1993, Porsche’s U.S. sales were down to just 3,700 vehicles annually.
I won’t bore you with every change the company made. Suffice it to say we got the entry-level Boxer in 1996, and an SUV in 2002. Great stuff! But Porsche kept going. The company went public in September 2022. The latest supercar-level trim of the 911 is the Porsche 992 GT3 R. And if you walked into a Porsche dealership asking to buy one, you’d probably get asked, “Who do you know?”
This limited edition was sold out to collectors before it even went into production, yet Porsche still sent marketing materials to everyone who has ever expressed interest in a 911. It has been a dizzying couple years of endless 911 special edition releases. And Porsche is hitting the marketing so hard, that most of these cars are getting snapped up by collectors who are taking great pains to keep the odometers near zero. Sound familiar? Porsche is rapidly devolving into just another Ferrari.