Producing this documentary has taken me on an unexpectedly pleasant journey, winding through many different places and meeting interesting people. Through my travels I realized this was not just any old classic vehicle. It had a huge influence on motor racing and really helped put Porsche on the map as a race car builder. But it had something more ... it stole people's hearts. So about a year after reading the article which inspired me to work on this documentary, I tracked down one of the brothers of our buried local Spyder, an odd 13 000km up north. I simply had to go...
When I finally fixed my eyes on this beautifully crafted motor vehicle, it felt as though a thousand butterflies were competing for space in my stomach! After doing months of research and interviewing people who actually owned and raced a 550, the moment was bigger than I anticipated ... To see this aluminum super car of yesteryear in the 'flesh' is not easy to describe.
This 1957 Porsche 550A Spyder is proudly owned by 'Porsche Cars Great Britain' and kept in perfect condition at the Silverstone Race Track. There are very few of these still around, and it was a great privilege to be able to finally touch an original. This classic Porsche, which did not draw a lot of attention compared to the new Porsches on the showroom floor, was probably worth more than all the new models combined. It has so much character! I was allowed to take pictures from every imaginable angle and inspect all the nooks and crannies of this classic oldie. They unfortunately would not allow me to drive it ;-) but there was a surprise for me later...
After spending a really long time with the Spyder, a specially prepared Porsche Boxter was waiting for me outside and she was all mine for the day! Thanks to the Porsche Driving Experience team from Silverstone who really made the day special. I took the brand new Boxter out for a long drive through the green countryside's twisty back roads, passing a few formula one driver's residences. A few tractors also had to be passed and the Boxter's acceleration speed met my ALL expectations :)
What a well balanced sports car, with comfort and sport settings changing the vehicle's suspension from a sedan-like car to a very sporty race-like car at the flick of a button. Porsche specifically chose the manual Boxter for my driving day, as this was the closest modern day Porsche to the classic 550A Spyder with the mid-engined layout and open top.
Eventually, the curvy farm roads made way for the most amazing 5 course meal at the Porsche Center. What a treat!
After the fantastic lunch an instructor was assigned to me for the rest of the day to give me a few lessons on the track in the Boxter. This was new to me. I only did some karting at school, years ago, but no real racing on an actual track. The adrenaline made me sweat so much the windows fogged up and I had to switch on the aircon in the middle of the english winter! But what great fun. That thing just sticks to the road like you would not believe.
After a few laps and a lot of aircon, it was time to do the Kickplate. This was a flat metal plate with a lot of grip connected to a sensor which picked up the exact time when your vehicle's rear wheels was on top of it. The plate then mechanically shifted very fast either left or right while you are driving over it to attempt to spin the car around. The area was prepared as an ice road, so wet and slippery does not even begin to describe it. The trick is to keep the car straight and not slow down (no lifting!), correcting the steering as fast as possible in the RIGHT (or left) direction... easier said than done. Eventually I managed to save the vehicle every time, even after we switched off all the driver assist buttons, but in the beginning it was chaos :)
After the "Kick Plate" it was time for the 'Ice Hill', another slippery slope with two fountains of fast flowing water. I had to S my way up the hill trying to miss most of the water and get the vehicle to the top. Easy with all the driver assist functions switched on, not so easy with them turned off. But with a good instructor, I got there... eventually.
This was a day on another level. Right up there. Another BIG thank you to the guys and girls at the 'Porsche Experience Centre Silverstone'.
I stayed another 2 weeks in the UK to do an in depth course at the highly acclaimed 'National Film and Television School' in Beaconsfield, on documentary shooting and directing. Two award winning filmmakers ( Colin Spector and Zillah Bowes ) really put me through my paces. All in all a great learning experience making me a better filmmaker, storyteller and artist.
Here are a few more pics to drool over...feast yer eyes lads and gals!