Written by Matt Stone / Photography by Kristina Cilia
Big single marque events and shows are growing ever more popular, especially when it comes to Porsche. Huge all-Porsche celebrations really began in earnest two decades back when Porsche Cars North America, Porsche Motorsport and the mother ship in Stuttgart, teamed up to present the original Rennsport Reunion at Lime Rock Raceway in 2001, dedicated primarily to Porsche Racing, teams, drivers, and cars. Since then, the Luftgekuhlt (Air Cooled) all-Porsche events have earned worldwide attendance and reputations.
Then an all-German event called Legends of the Autobahn began brewing for the big annual Monterey/California Car Week, and considering the hundreds of Porsches that wanted to participate, plus many more hundreds of Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars and enthusiasts who wanted in, it was clear that the crowds would be somewhat overwhelming. Porsche Club of America (PCA) stepped in to take over the Porsche aspect of this notion, creating the all-Porsche Werks (pronounced Verks) Reunion. This made perfect sense, and the initial events were smashes.
Of course, like most good things involving large gatherings of otherwise happy people, CO-19 smashed Werks into the ether for 2020. Ever since its beginning in 2014, the event had been held at a lovely Salinas area country club that had poor access and marginal parking; as the club and Werks management group considered its plans for a 2021 return, the decision was made to move to a larger, easier to access location, which was found at the Bayonet Blackhorse country club in nearby Seaside.
This spacious, rambling property was already home to another major Monterey Car Week event called Concorso Italiano, focused obviously on only Italian cars, bikes, and style. In as much as the infrastructure for large automotive events at Blackhorse was already established, Werks announced a move there for ’21. And it was a great decision.
The property exhibits rolling elevation changes that make it visually interesting, without being an arduous climb or overly hilly. Plus, the access was infinitely better and easier, with plenty of great parking extant.
The 700 or so vehicle entrant spots sold out upon announcement, although spectator attendance wasn’t in any way limited, and admission was free, so best of all worlds there. Monterey County’s Covid mandates allowed for no mask wearing required for outdoor events, although a personal option if desired, something everyone seemed happy with. Michelin signed on as the title sponsor, a bound-to-be-lucky Friday the 13th date was established, and it was all systems go.
There was no profiling here: any Porsches, of all year, model, and stripe were welcome, from the oldest Pre-A 356s, to brand new Taycans and SUV models. All for in, and in for all.
And in an equally egalitarian move, there were PCA Concours judged classes and categories for all of the above, including “Sport Purpose” categories for hot rods, race car tributes, tuners, Bajas, et al.
Star cars? Too many to name. You’d of course expect every 911 variant, and you’d be right. Ditto 356s. 914s? Plenty. 924s and 928s too. Turbos, new and old? Got ‘em. The only thing we didn’t see was a Porsche tractor.
One particular Porsche that always had a crowd around it, and likely appeared on Instagram a million times that day, was an uber barnfind that drew spectator flies like a mountain of honey: the epicenter of all the interest was a 1957 Porsche 356A Carrera Coupe. Its silver paint was faded and chalky; rust spots blossomed on many panels. The interior was worn and aged, yet somehow tidy. In spite of all the age spots, it was a whole and complete running, driving car. It had spent decades in a New York lockup, and at one point was separated from its original engine. It was successfully exhumed just a few years ago, reunited with its fully overhauled numbers-matching 4-cam Carrera engine, and mechanically recommissioned so as to be road worthy.
Would this car have attracted as much attention had it been a standard 1500cc pushrod powered model? Perhaps, but not likely – the real buzzword here is Carrera, as in the massively complex, high-winding, powerful double overhead cam, roller-bearing crankshafted flat four, that made its reputation on the world’s racetrack, and gave us a model name – Carrera—that carries on today in the current production lineup. Everyone stopped and paid attention to this most amazing car, but once they discovered it was a Carrera, the interest was turned up to 11. Or 12. Or perhaps 27.
It should not surprise anyone that the same dusty, rusty little 356 went on to win first place in the Postwar Preservation Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance two days later. The car’s provenance is growing by the minute. And Southern California’s Chuck House was hero of the day for bringing and sharing it.
Beyond that, the show was somewhat of a Catalogue Raissonne of Porsche, particularly 911 and 912 models, from very early ’65 and ’66 two-liter six-cylinder examples, to the latest available 992s, in nearly every color you could name. Great pack of 914s too, now that the little mid-engined, VW joint-venture machine has finally caught the eye and value of car collectors (Porsche and otherwise) more are being rescued and restored, especially as the replacement parts supply continues to grow.
In spite of full class judging for cars wishing to participate, the event’s schedule only allowed for 1st in class winners to drive up and collect their trophies. Here’s the list:
First-Place Award Winners — Judged Car
(Class / Car / Owner)
1949-65 356 / 1951 356 coupe split-window / Steven Berggren
1965-73 911 & 912 / 1969 912 / Richard Shelton
1974-89 911 & 912 / 1975 911 Carrera / Stan Fiorentino
1990-98 964 & 993 / 1995 911 Carrera / Andy Kappler
1999-2010 996 & 997 / 2011 911 Carrera GTS / Raymond Ramirez
2011-present 991 & 992 / 2016 911 Turbo S / Rick Gelhart
1970-76 914 & 914-6 / 1971 914-6 / Michael Hartmann
The field was also dotted with a variety of great vendor booths, from parts, service, and restorations purveyors, to car museums to wineries. Lots to see, lots to do, lots to buy if you felt so inclined. Since there’s no gate fee, and no ticket process, it’s difficult to estimate the attending crowd, but one number we heard mentioned consistently was 10-12,000 people, not at all difficult to believe or understand. And food? How’s this for a great idea; instead of contracting the country club for what assuredly would have been high priced hamburger plates, the organizers set up a Food Truck Corral, with everything from Tacos to coffee-and-pastry to you name it. Very popular, easy, and no hassle solution to an often tough problem for large events.
Assuming all is right again with the world next August, it appears the Werks Reunion has found a great long term home, the right event formula, and a bright future. We’ll be there.