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Porsche looks to aftermarket and customer feedback for special-edition model inspiration

The Singer 911 is one of the most famous modified Porsches in the world.

If you are a Porsche designer, it must be tough to find new inspiration for the seemingly never-ending special-edition models that come out.

Changing a colour or fitting different wheels just might not be special enough for models as coveted as a 911, Panamera, Macan, Boxster, Cayman or Cayenne, so where do you turn for inspiration and influence?

According to the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur Vehicles director Boris Apenbrink, you look to the aftermarket and customer feedback.

“We have real customer contact; we do the bespoke personal consultations for customers that are sent over from the Porsche centres with questions that they cannot answer locally,” he said.

“What always starts is that people grab their phone and go through their pictures and say ‘hey, this is one of my cars and I like this and I like that’.

“So, [this is] one kind of inspiration that continuously comes into our mind [and] that we get inspiration for limited-edition cars, always.

“The car behind me is also a very good example, before we came up with this idea, there were a lot of customers that said ‘please could you bring back the Fuchs rims’ or ‘could you bring back the ducktail spoiler’ or ‘could you bring back this or that from history’.

“This is continuously happening.”

Mr Apenbrink cited the illuminated door sills, a feature that is available across most of Porsche’s model range, as equipment that is inspired by the aftermarket.

“One very good example might be the illuminated door sill guards that we now have as a very popular option on all model ranges,” he said.

“The engineers laughed at us when we came up with this idea, and we say it, of course, from tuning cars in the market or from customers that had these little logs illuminated in the door sills.

“The engineers said ‘who would need an illuminated door sill guard in the 911, nobody wants it, nobody asked for it, who came up with this crazy idea’.

“We said ‘let’s try it out’ and now I can say we have more than 30 per cent take-up rate on certain models for the illuminated door sill guards, some cars even have it as a standard option nowadays.

“So, if we hadn’t had this inspiration that came obviously from customers and the aftermarket, we would never have done it at Porsche AG.”

Meanwhile, Porsche director of special projects and style, Grant Larson, told journalists at the same interview that he doesn’t take offence when customers change the look of their cars.

“I totally side with any customer to do whatever they want with their car,” he said.

“It’s human to take something and personalise it, whether it’s decorating your house or adding something to your car, so I think it’s totally normal.

“[Some customers] are really focussed on a lot more individuality, who put their own personal taste in their car to the point where, I would say as a designer reject it, but we [Porsche] never would because I always say there’s no such thing as bad taste, it’s just other tastes.

“You can’t criticise a person or a customer who are doing extravagant modifications to their Porsche because they’re just enthusiast about individualisation.

“I would never criticise, I always welcome it, I mean some things I would never do myself, but to each his own.”

However, Mr Apenbrink said there are some limits as to what Porsche will do for customers at the factory, drawing the line at superfluous or illegal modifications.

“The technical side is also important, of course this is something that we have to look into,” he said.

“Everything we do as the factory has to be in line with, of course, legal surrounds and also to have functionality.

“For example, we wouldn’t do openings into the body work or put spoilers on cars where they are not needed.

“If we have customers who ask for things that we technically are not able to do, there we would also say ‘we won’t do it’ and … if somebody else is doing it, we would not recommend to do things like that.”