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Pennsylvania Kicks ass

In message <52a0d7d2.34bbcae9@aol.com> STEADI RIC writes:

> >Or where the Pforzheim Autobahn joins the Munich-Stuttgart Autobahn south of
> >Stuttgart and dumps 50 km/h 40 tonne trucks into the outside lane?  Ever
> >wonder
> >where Porsche and Daimler-Benz test their brakes?  There's a similar
> >junction
> >where the M40 meets the M42 in the UK, too.
> Actually I know for a fact that Porsche test their brakes at their
> Weissach test facility...............  I shot some IBM commercials once
> during a test......

That junction is about ten miles from Weissach.  In fact, most brake
testing is done on dynamometers these days - the Autobahns are more
crowded than they were, and the stretches that Porsche used to use
(actually the three-lane section _north_ of Weissach towards Heilbronn)
are now limited to 120km/h.  The Weissach vehicles are distinguishable
by their special registrations - 'BB-PW nnnn' - 'BB' for Baden-Baden,
'PW' for 'Porsche Weissach'.  They're also rarely the kind of thing you
expect - a lot of Porsche testing used to be done by mounting the
engines centrally in minivans.  It was an eerie experience, being
overtaken by a VW microbus with a BB-PW registration and blacked-out
windows doing 200+km/h.

Porsche Weissach were customers of mine in 1979/82 - I had a works
pass ('Befristeter Ausweis') that got me into both Zuffenhausen and
Weissach.  At the time, I had a Passat with an I5 engine (one of the
first) and Hr. Dr. Stumpf arranged for me to take a ride around the
track in what was then known as the Passat "tetra".  This was when
they were starting to get heavily into marketing 'Porsche Design' in
sunglasses, etc.

One of the standing jokes in Zuffenhausen was that Porsche did _no_
testing at Weissach - they just drove the cars up there from the 
factory and knew all they needed to know by the time they got there. 
The famous .GIF of the early red ur-quattro sliding sideways on 
light-coloured gravel was taken in the parking area two bends down 
from Weissach.

VW got as far as making the badges for the "tetra" - I actually saw
one at Autohaus Gotta in Dietzenbach on a preview car.  By the time
it was launched, they'd renamed it the "synchro".  I wonder how much
a "tetra" badge would be worth today.  I seriously considered buying
about ten "tetras" at the time, but they decided against making any
(at first) in the hatchback form.  Because of the way German company
car insurance worked at the time, insuring a full station wagon as
distinct from a hatchback was hideously expensive - so it was a
non-starter, and ten engineers wound up with ordinary FWD Passats
instead of the "tetras" we'd been promising them for months.

The only thing I never got near (and the thing they were _real_
twitchy about) was the racing development - the 917, et al.  That
was something they guarded like the crown jewels.

 Phil Payne
 Phone: +44 385302803  Fax: +44 1536723021