Some places feel magical, other places carry great historical significance, yet other places seem to hold the promise of a future. If you have ever been fortunate enough to see the Ingram family’s Porsche collection, you will realize that all those elements come into play: it is a magical place that carries historical significance with a promise of a magnificent future ahead.
Bob Ingram and his wife, Jeanie, embarked on their collection in the late 1990s, amassing a collection of 80 exquisite Porsche models that greatly represent a captivating cross-section of the marque’s cars for the past seven decades. The Ingram couple from Durham, North Carolina, share their Porsche passion with their sons, Rory and Cam.
Touring the collection is like a trip back in time. The extensive breadth of the collection spans from one of the early Coupés that came from Gmünd, Austria, to the latest masterpieces from Zuffenhausen like the 991 generation Porsche 911 Speedster.
Bob Ingram, who is 78 years old shares, with enthusiasm, how he always takes into consideration the cars’ former owners, especially for the older models in his collection.
“It is in that spirit that we want to preserve the cars for the future. There is no other company in the world that can draw on such a loyal fan base,” he says.
Cam, his son adds:
“The most exciting thing is the stories behind the cars. Through our collection, we become part of contemporary history, of the cars and the people,”
The Ingrams desire their collection to be a living entity, manifesting itself in two ways.
First and foremost is that the cars in their collection are regularly driven, be at club meetings, racing events, or just on weekend family outings.
Almost all the cars in their collection are registered for the road, even the racing cars like the Porsche 906 Carrera 6 from the 1960s, except for one: the exclusive new edition of the Porsche 935. There were only 77 of the examples produced, and the 935 can only drive the car during training sessions on private racetracks or at club sports events.
The second critical aspect of the Ingram collection is that it serves as a setting for charity functions. The Ingrams not only love to cultivate their passion personally but also share it with others.
Origin of the Ingram Collection
Upon driving one of his many Porsche cars, Bob Ingram regularly feels like he is back in 1971, when he first was provided the opportunity to ride in a Porsche 911 S of an acquaintance.
“When it started, a symphony of mechanical sounds began. I was completely nervous; I stalled the engine at first, but the feeling of the space, the smell, and the sound were unlike anything else.”
At the end of the day, he said to his wife, “One day I’ll drive a Porsche.”
It would take some time before the dream blossomed into a reality. The young family had more pressing matters to attend to. Ingram grew up in what he described as “humble circumstances” in the small city of Charleston.
His first working experience was at the corner shop beside the schoolhouse that his single mother managed.
“I saved it all up to buy the coolest ride in town when I finally got my licence”
He had always been a “car guy” who would venture to the Indianapolis and Sebring races and run the occasional drag race against his friends.
After completing his studies, Ingram worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative- a job that would get him to the highest positions in the industry. He became the CEO of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies globally, and the position brought with it the demands of a top executive post.
“It was a wild time but sticking together as a family has always been the most important thing,”
Although officially retired, Ingram did not progress into retirement, still actively involved as an investment firm partner. Without his day job, however, he finally had time to dedicate towards his passion: Porsche. It started with a dark blue 964-generation Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, which a 993-generation Carrera Coupé soon joined in Amethyst Metallic. By the late 1990s, a 993 Turbo S Coupé was added.
Not everything has been smooth sailing for the Ingrams, though. In April 2019, a gas pipe exploded in front of the warehouse where they kept a large part of the collection. Two people tragically died, the building beside it was destroyed completely, and the Ingrams’ hall roof collapsed, bringing devastation to half of the precious cars below.
“It was the saddest day of our lives. Our thoughts are still with the people who were hurt and the families who lost loved ones.”
Rebuilding After Tragedy
The first clean-up operations revealed the ugly truth: four cars seemed so devastatingly damaged that it appeared they were unrecoverable, including the extremely rare Porsche 356 B Carrera GTL Abarth.
It was the timing additionally, however, that contributed further to the Ingrams woes. The Abarth was scheduled to participate in the world-famous, invitation-only Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance competition, which was barely four months away.
Standing in front of the fire-damaged vehicle, he looked at his son, Cam, and said, “Can we get this done in time?”
“And I had to admit to him that I didn’t know,” Cam Ingram shared. “That was hard on all of us.”
Ingram and his team almost lived inside the workshop for the next few weeks as they spent grueling 16-hour days in their quest to rebuild the car from scratch.
“We were lucky that despite its extensive racing history, it never had any serious damage from accidents or anything like that. The aluminum body was still in excellent condition, as was the chassis. It’s only because it didn’t have the damage typical of racing cars its age that we were able to accomplish in four months what would otherwise take years,”
The 365 B Carrera GTL Abarth Journey to Pebble Beach
The team was able to successfully complete the repairs just in time for it to make a gallant appearance at Pebble Beach.
One of the important lessons Bob taught Cam was to ask himself the question, “What are my goals and what am I willing to do for them?” For them, the goal was clear: the preservation of the collection – for the family, for the future, and for the love of Porsche.
All their valiant work was rewarded at the Concours d’Elegance as they were rewared with a class win for the perfectly restored 356 B Carrera GTL Abarth.
Cam Ingram recalled the almost surreal moment as he drove the winning car with his father across the Pebble Beach grass to receive the trophy.