Celebrating 70 Years of Porsche in Australia
Few in the Australian motor industry have a longer and more fascinating local history than Porsche, which celebrates 70 years in this country in 2021. It was early spring in 1951 when Melbourne entrepreneur Norman Hamilton imported the first two Porsches into Australia. A Maroon 356 Coupe and a Fish Silver Blue 356 Cabriolet, which marked a special day in the history of Porsche. In those early days, under the prevailing import quota system, fewer than two Porsches were allowed to be sold a year until 1954. Since then Australia’s passion for Porsches has grown, along with the thousands of Porsche vehicles finding new Australian homes each year. Almost 4,000 Porsches of all models are expected to be delivered in Australia in 2021, thanks in part to an unbroken presence for the past 70 years that is amongst the longest and most enduring in the entire Australian automobile industry. Coming just three years after the worldwide events that in 2018 marked the 70th Anniversary of the Porsche sports car, the 70th Anniversary of Porsche in Australia is being celebrated in 2021 with equal enthusiasm.
Porsche’s motorsport debut in Australia came on Australia Day in January 1952 at the unsealed Hurstbridge Hill Climb in outer northeast Melbourne, when experienced Hill Climb competitor Ken Wylie completed two smooth runs in the Maroon Coupé. In late 1952, both Porsches were driven to South Australia for a promotional tour, where prominent South Australian pastoralist Ron Angas purchased the Cabriolet. This car is still on the road in Australia today. Two Australian Hill Climb titles, a total of eight sports car and GT championships with 911 derivatives throughout the 1960s,’70s and ‘80s, plus a record number of Targa-style tarmac rally victories, cemented Porsche’s racing credentials. Today, the Porsche Australian Carrera Cup since 2003 has established the one-make event as the major support category of both the Australian V8 Supercars category and the Australian F1 Grand Prix. It has also produced world class drivers that have gone on to race for Porsche internationally. A testament to the international Porsche Motorsport Pyramid.
Rise of the Dealerships.
Back in the early days, the Porsche ‘showroom’ was the kerb in Collins Street, Melbourne, below an office in the Salvation Army building on the eight floor. In August 1953, Norman Hamilton entered the Maroon Coupé in the epic REDeX Reliability Trial, completing the car-breaking 10,400km course and causing Australians to take notice of the small German sports cars. The following year in 1954, Norman Hamilton entered a formal agreement with Porsche A.G. to become the Australian and New Zealand distributor. As the import ‘drought’ broke, more cars arrived and dealerships were established in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
Australia has also played an important part in the pre-production testing of several new Porsche models, including the front-engine Cayenne and Panamera. With the impending arrival of the new Cayenne SUV, Porsche reminded Australians of it’s long-standing four wheel drive credentials, that began with victory by a Type 953 911 Coupé in 1984. This involved driving a Carrera 4 Coupé across the Simpson Desert in 1999, while the next year a new all-wheel-drive 911 Turbo Coupé was driven to the tip of the Cape York Peninsula – the first time a sports car had ever made these iconic off-road adventures. Porsche also reprised its early Australian Porsche history in 2009, by sending two of the new four door Panamera Grand Tourer models 19,767 kilometres ‘Right Round, Down Under’, reminiscent of the first 356 Coupé’s pioneering 10,400km REDeX Trial adventure in 1953. Because of the Australian market’s longstanding relationship with the factory and its flair for marketing innovation, many unique Porsches have found their way to the Antipodes over the years.These included not only the first two right hand drive 356 models, but the next Type 550 Spyder built after the fated car owned by the late Hollywood actor, James Dean; the three 911s built to contest the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon; the show prototype of the first production 911 Turbo; the first front-engined 924 to compete in a major rally; the world’s only right hand drive 944 Turbo Cup, the world’s only right hand drive type 964 911 RSR 3.8 and a unique type 996 911 Aboriginal Art Car.
911 GT3 70 Years Porsche Australia Edition.
70 Years of Porsche history in Australia. 7 decades of sportiness, performance and emotional design. The new limited edition 911 GT3 70 Years Porsche Australia Edition is based on the new 911 GT3 with Touring Package. A model that encapsulates the perfect balance between raw power and the timeless silhouette of a Porsche. A perfect way to celebrate this extraordinary anniversary.
Key milestones from 1951 to present
1951 - The first two Porsches arrived in Australia in the spring. A Maroon 356 Coupé and a Fish Silver Blue 356 Cabriolet.
1951 – A Porsche won its class on its debut at Le Mans 24 Hour race.
1952 – The first competition appearance of a Porsche in Australia was at the dusty Hurstbridge Hil Climb in outer northeast Melbourne, when experienced Hill Climb competitor Ken Wylie completed two smooth runs in the Maroon Coupé, both within striking distance of class honors.
1953 – In August, Norman Hamilton entered the first Coupé in an event which captured the imagination of a nation – The first ‘round Australia’’ RedeX Tial.
1954 – Hamilton entered a formal agreement with Dr Ing. H.c.F. Porsche A.G to become the Australian and New Zealand concessionaire and the Porsche ‘drought’ broke. Five of the new 356 models arrived and were immediately bought by the emerging national network of Porsche Dealers.
1954 – The first Porsche office in Melbourne was in Southern Cross Chambers at 315 Collins Street, sharing the eight floor with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence charity organisation. With no room for a showroom, the cars were usually parked on the side of the road.
1956 – A year after arriving in Australia, the sleek Spyder won the Ardmore Handicap sportscar support race to the New Zealand Grand Prix, with Great British racing driver Stirling Moss passing 26 cars off the back mark to claim the chequered flag.
1961 – The Porsche Club of Australia and New Zealand was officially formed with Norman Hamiltons support.
1970 - Porsche achieved the first overall victory at Le Mans on 14 June 1970, with the 580 hp 917 KH sports car.
1970 – For the first time, Porsche’s were now imported for stock and not just customer order.
1974 – The launch of the restyled 911 model range brought an immediate increase in popularity, with sales surging past 100 vehicles a year.
1980 – Porsche’s domination of sports car racing in the 1970’s was replicated by its domination of the of the new GT category in the early 1980’s. Alan Jones had pole position alongside Colin Bond in the 1980 Australian GT Championship and Porsche finished one-two on their debut at Winton in Central Victoria. The 953 went on to win every single race that year.
1984 – The world Sports Car Championship held in Melbourne will be remembered for what happened both on and off Sandown Park Circuit. The team recorded a one-two-three result and claimed the World sports car title.
1986 – German adventurer Gerhard Platner, drove 10,000km around Australia in a 944 Turbo on his way to a Guinness World Record for circumnavigating the world and crossing 5 continents in less than 30 days.
1990 - The early 1990’s were bleak times for the Australian motor industry as the recession hit home. However, in 1992 Porsche Cars Australia became a fully owned subsidiary of Porsche AG.
1997 - The new Type 986 Boxster joined the Australian Porsche range in early 1997, with 356 enthusiast Phillip Schudmak taking delivery of his silver car at 12.01 am on January 25th at Hamiltons in Melbourne to become the first Australian Boxster owner.
1998 – The 50th Anniversary of the Porsche Marque was celebrated around the world, but nowhere more enthusiastically than Australian Porsche owners. A three day Porsche rally through central Victoria, special cars parade, cocktail parties and drive events.
2000 - The opportunity to tour some of Australia's most scenic and enjoyable roads, with regular pit stops for fine food and wine, was a proposition that attracted 170 Porsche owners to Tasmania in the first week of November, 2000, for the Porsche Targa Tour.
2000 - Any car that followed the 911 RS CS customer-racing-Porsche had to be very good and the many Porsche enthusiasts who queued for the right to own a 911 GT3 weren't disappointed. Jim Richards took a 'hat-trick' in 2000, winning the Grand Prix Rally, Targa Tasmania and the inaugural Nations Cup production supercar series, a feat he repeated in 2001.
2000 - When Porsche set out to build the ‘Porsche of Sports Utility Vehicles’, the Australian Outback was high on its list of demanding test environments chosen by the company's development engineers. Disguised prototypes of the new four wheel drive Porsche Cayenne soon became a familiar sight. As a result, the Cayenne– like the first right-hand drive Porsche models 50 years ago – can already call Australia 'home'.
2003 - The all-new Porsche Carrera Cup Australia made its debut in 2003, taking the place of the lapsed Australian Porsche Cup, with management now in the hands of Porsche Cars Australia and entries now limited to Porsche Motorsport-built 911 GT3 Cup cars.
2003 - To prepare for the arrival of the new front-engined Porsche Cayenne SUV in 2003, Porsche Cars Australia staged two bold off-road events in 1999 and 2000, initially driving a standard four-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4 across the remote Simpson Desert with its 1,000 parallel sand dunes.
2006 - Jim Richards and co-driver Barry Oliver cemented their reputation as ‘Targa masters’ by winning the event for the eighth time for Porsche; this time in a two-wheel drive type 997 911 GT3
2009 - The all-new Panamera four-door grand tourer was welcomed in a very ‘Australian’ way, with two new V8-powered models completing a 33-day, 19,767km lap of the Continent – ‘Right Round Down Under’. A Panamera S and Panamera Turbo were air freighted especially for the event, arriving just in time for the scheduled start from the Porsche Centre in Melbourne on September 1.
2013 - Since retiring from Formula 1 in 2013 after nine Grand Prix victories and becoming World Endurance Champion for Porsche in 2015, Australian Mark Webber has been a Porsche Ambassador, lending his considerable top-level driving expertise to the development of new Porsche models and making regular appearances at significant Porsche events in Australia.
2013 - Following the success of the annual Rennsport Porsche event in the United States, Porsche Cars Australia staged the inaugural Porsche Rennsport Australia Motor Racing Festival in 2013 at Sydney Motor Sport Park. Coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the Porsche 911, the format of the exclusive all-Porsche gathering headlined rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia.
2014- Following the arrival of the Cayenne in 2003, its smaller brother, the Macan in 2014 again changed the landscape of Australian Porsche ownership, becoming the most popular model out of the all-time record 4141 local sales in 2019 – a far cry from the ‘2.5 Porsches’ allowed by prevailing import regulations in 1954.
2018 – The arrival of Porsche in Motion. The experiential interactive roadshow like no other, bringing the history, heritage and passion of Porsche to the public at events and locations away from established Australian Porsche Centres, allowing Porsche to reach a new audience through an innovative and complete brand experience.
2018 - Sportscar Together Day was a call to arms in 2018 on the 70th Anniversary of the registration of the very first ‘Porsche’ that no enthusiast in Australia or New Zealand could ignore.
2019 - Porsche has received the MOTOR Performance Car of the Year award on 15 occasions. Twelve of them were won by a variant of the 911 and 2019 was the third time a 911 Carrera S had received the accolade.
2019 - As a unique reward for the lucky few who secured cars from the limited allocation of 911 GT2 RS models, Porsche Cars Australia invited the new owners to a special gathering at Australia’s newest International-standard racing circuit, The Bend at Tailem Bend in South Australia. 44 of these Porsches and their owners gathered in late 2019 to enjoy lavish hospitality at the Rydges Pit Lane Hotel, along with expert driver training and individual laps of the full 7.77km GT Circuit in their new cars.
2020 – A moment that young Queensland driver Matt Campbell and Porsche enthusiasts around the world will never forget. Driving one of the Porsche 911 GTS R Coupés for the factory-supported team of New Zealand’s Earl Bamber Motorsport, Campbell made two daring and successful passes in the final laps of the 2020 International GT Challenge at Bathurst to give Porsche its first outright victory in the endurance series for GT cars.
2021 – “The future is here”. Introduced as a concept in 2015, the first all-electric Porsche was known as the Mission E, and later introduced to the Australian market in February 2021 as the new Taycan – pure emotion and maximum driving pleasure.