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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

Ever Seen a Grown Man Cry?

GERMANY | Friday, 15 June 2007 | Views [2851] | Comments [1]

If the operators of the Porsche factory tours have never seen a full grown American man (a term I use loosely) cry (which, given their line of work its doubtful the haven't) then they did this day.  Actually, let's call it what it was:  Like a small child who's just watched his once flushed goldfish swim back to glory, I wept.  I wept like a confused 14 year old boy at a Justin Timberlake concert.  I think I've made my point here.

But why, you ask, did Jake weep like he just found out someone had plundered his prized collection of NKOTB paraphanelia (for those of you that know what NKOTB is, shame on you)?  Becaues I had just been given permission to join a guided tour of Porsche's Stuttgart assembly and manufacturing facilities.  This may sound easy, but in fact it typically requires any of the following four conditions:  a reservation three months prior to your arrival, membership in an official Porsche club, retrieval that day of your custom-made car, or an act of God.  While the vast majority of people on our tour fell into the third category, apparently God was on my side that day, for an act of divine intervention allowed me to join, and join I did...and Gen tagged along, mopping up my drool.


Througout the two and a half hour tour, the guide takes the group through all the engine, interior, and drivetrain assembly factories located on campus.  Among the more notable things we were privy to witness was the marriage of the drivetrain and body, the assembly of the fully customizable dashboards and seats, and full assembly of all the engines Porsche produces.  We even watched a young assembly line worker drop a fly wheel off a 911 Turbo engine mid assembly.  And all the while I asked questions.  Every inquisitive statement that manifested itself in my tiny one-track mind came spilling out of my mouth with no sign of my mental filter.  In fact, I was astonished that more people weren't asking more questions!  But whatever that lacked, I surely made up for.

The most amazing thing we witnessed was the engine assembly line.  It sufices to say that any car that falls into the "exotic" or "super" category needs delicate care and attention during assembly.  Porsche provides this to the utmost degree.  Each of the 150 cars the factory produces each day receives the absolute in hand assemblage.  The interior is assembled by factory workers on a line that moves at 1 meter per minute, slow enough to guarantee that each worker does his job efficiently, but also carefully and masterfully.  In addtion, we learned at the engine assembly line that each engine is hand assembled from the best parts by only one person!!!  This means that if you're reading this in front of a computer and your Porsche is tucked safely away in your garage, your car's engine was put together by a single man (there are no women on the Porsche assembly lines).  And in no more than 2.5 hours from nothing to complete engine!  And even now, some engine assemblists still sign their engines before they're placed into the cars.  Also, when the cars are painted, the last two coats applied to the body are done by hand, and not infrequently do the painters sign their cars behind the right rear tail-light, so when I get home, you better lock up my tools, Pop, cuz I'm going signature searching.

One more interesting part about the factory is that while the cars are all handmade (with the exception of the winsheilds which are installed by a really cool, more-precise-than-humanly-possible machine), parts are delivered to work stations by automated, robots with visual recognition software programmed to follow lines of black electrical tape from delivery to delivery.

Along with a visit to the factory, there is a small Porshce museum that includes some iconic cars as well as champion cars.  Though photographs are allowed in the museum, they are strictly forbidden during the tour, so you won't find any here.

For lack of a better descriptor...

It was awesome.

Tags: planes trains & automobiles




Yo Jake, very cool trip. If up for another car factory, next time in Modena, Italy, try the Maserati tour. A visual link to the trident:

http://www.maserati.com/jsp/introSottosezione.jsp?menuKey=m70&category=%2Fmaserati%2Fcompany%[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@&BV_EngineID=ccccaddlkfjlihlcefeceegdgimdfml.0

Best of luck to you both! Regards...Saw

  Steven (BW's father) Weisman Aug 20, 2007 1:09 PM

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