Porsche owners, enthusiasts, drivers, and anoraks of all stripes are gathered on the Monterey Peninsula this week for Rennsport Reunion 7. The focus of the event is obviously the racing heritage of perhaps the most storied racing brand of them all. Still, Porsche isn’t missing an opportunity to do some good old-fashioned marketing to this passionate assemblage, as well.
Case in point is the Porsche Sonderwunsch experience that’s been set up trackside here at Laguna Seca, beckoning Rennsport patrons to step out of the racing noise and bustle and into a world of dream fulfillment.
Sonderwunsch, German for "special request," is not a new program for the automaker – it has been around since 1978. If you can recall cars like last year's 911 Sally Special or Classic Club Coupe, you’re familiar with the work. Nearly any Porsche (and especially 911 models) are massively customizable right from the factory, and options for further individualization are nearly limitless.
But speaking with Alexander Fabig, Porsche Vice President of Individualization and Classic, here at Rennsport, gave me new insight into the process, cost, and experience for customers who want their car to be truly one of a kind.
The Sky Could Be The Limit
Having your Taycan painted in the color of your high school basketball team’s jersey, or your Cayenne outfitted with leather that perfectly matches your favorite watch strap is a flex. But Fabig made it clear that Sonderwunsch allows customers to dream big. "Imagine," he suggests, "that a customer requests a Panamera with a convertible top."
At that level of individual adventurousness, the customer essentially gets access to an in-house team at Porsche. For these special projects, buyers work with not only a kind of customer concierge to manage and organize, but a dedicated designer and engineer, as well.
Many customers, even those based in the US, travel to Zuffenhausen for in-person consultations, to see, touch, and feel materials and get a 360-degree sense of the vehicle they’re helping to create.
Fabig says that these customers tend to fall into one of two buckets: those with fully formed ideas that really only need to be honed by the Porsche project team, and folks who have a kind of "big idea" but without any of the details resolved.
In the invented Panamera cabriolet example, for instance, engineers would need to work out not only how the roof mechanism could operate within the bounds of safe road use, but also look and feel correct to the starry eyed buyer.
Money Plus Time And Patience
According to Fabig, there is no special list or secret prequalifications – other than a very deep bank account – needed to order a one-off Porsche. But you will have to have an appreciation for delayed gratification. The Sonderwunsch team is currently working on about nine concurrent projects and is presently staffed to accept roughly three new commissions per year.
The goal, says Fabig, is to increase that capacity to roughly ten projects a year, in an effort to curtail the current eight-year waitlist. That’s not eight years to get your car, by the way, it's eight years to get your dream project started. The build itself can take several years, as well.
"Imagine," he suggests, "that a customer requests a Panamera with a convertible top."
The cost of a one-off car is almost entirely determined by the customer’s vision, says Fabig. A higher level of complexity and detail will no doubt raise the "sticker price" with the quickness of a 911 going from 0 to 60. At a basic level, customers should expect the fee to start at roughly $100,000, in addition to the price of the vehicle they’re starting with.
It seems you don’t have to be one of the 77 buyers of the freshly launched 911 GT3 R Rennsport to figure out a way to spend a million bucks on your next Porsche.
Where To Start?
Unsurprisingly, Fabig confirmed that Sonderwunsch customers are primarily building 911 models. But Porsche did put an individualized Taycan in the display here at Rennsport 7, and apparently that model is getting quite a lot of action on this front as well.
Access to extreme customization isn’t limited to factory-fresh new cars, either. Any Porsche owner can bring their existing cars in for updates that seem to range from quality-of-life upgrades to fully restomodded efforts. In fact, Fabig told me, many US owners of Porsche Carrera GT models have been keen to update their supercars.
The process is essentially like configuring a new build – choosing paint, upholstery, and any number of options – but executing it on your existing car. I’m not sure I’d sacrifice the hard-earned patina and period correctness of my GT for this adventure, but I think it’s incredibly cool that the option exists.
The conversation with Fabig was fascinating, and his energy for his work was palpable. Why not? Very few of us get to actually build, own, or drive the literal cars of our dreams – being a part of making that happen, even if for a few customers every year, seems like a great gig if you can get it.