Feature: Porsche celebrates 70 years in Australia with a unique model and a great legacy

feature:-porsche-celebrates-70-years-in-australia-with-a-unique-model-and-a-great-legacy

James Ward

The 2021 Porsche 911 GT3 70 Years Porsche Australia Edition is as aptly named as any special edition model dare be, as behind that rather convoluted moniker is a celebration of a brand that has been so much more than a prestige badge for our unique market.

The car, developed as a three-part collaboration between Porsche Australia, Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur and the Style Porsche design team, takes the latest 992 911 GT3 Touring and blends it with one of the original Porsche 356 cars imported into Australia in 1951.

Uniquely painted in metallic Fish Silver Grey (although buyers can specify something else) and offered with either a seven-speed PDK or six-speed manual transmission, only 25 examples of the special 911 will make their way to Australia. Each is priced from $494,300 before on-road costs.



There are of course other special badges and notations on the car that, along with custom leather and Madraskaro fabric interior, set it apart from a regular 375kW/470Nm 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six powered GT3 Touring, but it’s the stories and history behind that seventy years which make the car a special and valuable checkpoint on the German brand’s involvement in Australia.

Wind the clock back to November 1951 and, following just one year behind Porsche cars going on sale in the USA, Australia not only became the brand’s second export market but also the home to the first production right-hand drive cars.

A pair of 356s, a burgundy Coupe and Fish Silver Cabriolet were brought to Melbourne as the world’s only (at that time) factory-built right-hook Porsches.



The story actually started a few months prior when Melbourne pump distributor, Norman Hamilton, was in Austria to see some new high-pressure mining equipment for the Snowy Hydro Project which had commenced in 1949.

Hamilton had a chance meeting with a Porsche test driver and his 356. Smitten with the car, Hamilton visited the factory, met Ferry Porsche, and secured the distribution rights for both Australia and New Zealand.

And the rest, as they say, is history.



It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, as, despite the public interest and motorsport success of the 356, Hamilton was initially only able to bring in five cars every two years.

This steadily increased with the two 356s from 1951, another in 1952 and again in ’53, growing to five in 1954 and then 15 in 1955. By 1959 the number totalled 84 cars, three tractors and a number of aircraft and industrial engines.

In 1960, Norman’s son Alan turned 18 and was brought into the family business. He established a service department in Melbourne and began a competitive motorsports career that would take him and Porsche Australia further than he could possibly imagine.



What started with a local 356 coupe and then Speedster, stepped up to a 904/8 Bergspyder race car that was acquired by Hamilton from the factory in Germany. He used it to win the 1966 Australian Hillclimb Championship, then again in 1971 in a Porsche 906.

In 1968, Hamilton imported a 911 TR to compete in the Australian Touring Car Championship and in his inaugural year came third due to a final-lap puncture. The following year Hamilton and his 911 came within one-point of the overall Championship title.



Stepping to the 1970s, with the 911 now sold alongside the mid-engine 914 and 356-powered 912, Alan took the reins from his father to steer Porsche Australia into a new era of growth.

The Hamiltons Porsche showroom was established in South Yarra, and in 1974 the brand sold 190 cars. For context, that’s the same volume of cars (194) that Ferrari sold in Australia last year.

Motorsport success continued, with a 911 taking the Australian Sports Car Championship for six consecutive years between 1976 and 1981, and the turbocharged 935 winning the GT series in 1982 and ’83.

It wasn’t just Alan Hamilton either. South Australian Formula One racing driver Vern Schuppan won the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hour in a Porsche 956 and, while racing for Porsche in Japan formed a relationship that would in 1992, see him produce a limited number (six were built, five remain) of road-going Porsche 962 Le Mans race cars, called the Schuppan 962CR.

By 1985, Porsche sales were approximately 660 cars per year, with the front-engine 924, 944 and 928 now sold next to the 911 and 930 Turbo.

Things took a stumble when the stock market crashed in 1989, with Porsche AG in Germany taking factory control of Porsche Australia from the Hamilton family in 1992.



While the growth was slow during the 964 and 993 years of the early 1990s, the 986 Boxster’s arrival in 1996, and Cayenne SUV in 2002 opened the Porsche door to a whole new group of buyers, and the brand has never looked back.

Today, halfway through 2022, Porsche has reported 3162 vehicle deliveries, with the Macan SUV leading the way (1585), ahead of the Cayenne (778), 911 (338) and all-electric Taycan (307).

Such is the brand’s strength of heritage over the past 70 years, that those two original right-hand-drive 1951 365s still reside here, along with a handful of other rare and classic models produced over the years.

Our photographs of the 992 GT3 70 Years Porsche Australia Edition are bookended by an Australian delivered 1972 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight (now valued at over $2m) and a 964 RS, itself a rare bird and one of less than 20 supplied new under Hamilton’s stewardship.

Three icons of the first 70 years of Porsche in Australia. What a fun ride it has been!

James Ward

James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.

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