As I reflect back on my mechanical career, the job that really had great substance was my years working for Porsche Cars North America here in Reno, Nevada, the year, 1984. Although the few years I spent working for this Iconic and prestigious automobile manufacture, was a lifelong privilege. The one thing I learned from the German Porsche Mechanics and is still with me today, is you never say Porsch, it is “PORSCHE”!
Porsche introduced their first vehicle to North America in 1950 when Porsche leases space in the Reutter body factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany a Stuttgart suburb. Reutter builds bodies for the 356 and production reaches 369 for the year. Sportscar enthusiasts take notice of the lightweight, quick-handling 356. In New York, importer Max Hoffman places the first North American order for Porsches. The very next year, 1951 Ferdinand Porsche dies and the horsepower for the 356 jump 60. This began a love for the Porsche within America so much so that in 1984 Porsche opened Porsche Cars North America in two locations with Headquarters in Reno, Nevada. Prior to this change, the American Porsche Dealers would receive their orders directly from Stuttgart, Germany but inventory was limited and by opening their own PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) Centers, inventory within America increased. This allowed for the influx of the mid priced Porsches 924 and the 944.
The Porsche market increased and production of all models which included, 911, 924, 944 and the 928 was accelerating. This facility was state of the art when built and housed the PDI Center, complete and well equipped mechanical shop, Dynamometer, alignment rack, body shop and paint booth in one portion of the facility. Porsche also built a fully stocked warehouse of Porsche and Volkswagen parts for West Coast Distribution adjacent to the PDI portion. My first days of employment as a Mechanic for PCNA was memorable and one of my duties was to literally grab a tooth brush and clean the cracks between the entire brick floor that was installed in the Mechanical and Body shop area. As a mechanic, normally you were required to supply your own tools necessary to do the work, but not for Porsche. They supplied it all. I only needed to arrive on my first day with a lunch box. As for the special tools needed to work on this type of automobile was also supplied and there was a room fully stocked with all necessary special tools that would be needed to perform many of the repairs. Porsche wasted no expense.
Since these vehicles were produced in Stuttgart, they would then be shipped to America via Ship, destination the Bay Area, only to then be shipped to Reno, Nevada by transport carrier for this PDI center to perform the Pre Delivery Inspection. You probably think that since these vehicles were shipped right from the factory with some 5 miles on them, they arrived flawless. Not so. Let me explain. It wasn’t due to factory issues, but transportation ones. These vehicles would be loaded onto a ship and sail across the ocean only to arrive in America a few months later. Off loaded and then loaded onto a transport carrier and headed up to Reno. I was always amazed as to what we encountered once the Porsches arrived in Reno. Parts would be missing, mold and mildew in the interior and body damage occurred while in transport either by ship or carrier. Porsche was aware prior to building these 2 facilities here in America of what might transpire and prepared for it by staffing their locations to handle these repairs.
The very early days of employment with PCNA, several of the engineers and mechanics from Porsche in Germany, arrived here in Reno, Nevada to train all of us to their standards. This in itself was a wonderful experience. The pride these men had in their product was contagious. I listened as they explained the process and the end result to include how repairs would be performed and to insure that when you were completed with the repair, your foot print of work looked as if it came right off the production line.
The PDI process begins with the vehicle arriving by carrier, then placed in the staging area. All vehicles that arrived were covered with layers of Cosmoline to protect the paint from the salty seas and help eliminate rust from developing. The vehicle entered the wash area where the Cosmoline would be removed and then travel to the next station where inspectors would check for paint or body flaws, interior and exterior cleaned and wiped down to include the glass. The flaw would be noted, then advance to the battery station, where a new battery was installed. It then moved forward to the undercarriage station over a pit and a inspector checked the undercarriage for any damage or missing items, leak, etc. Once that was complete, the vehicle was then tested on the Dynamometer, which I was one of two techs trained to operate, to examine the shifting, turbo boost, horsepower and make sure other components are functional. If there were flaws or mechanical needs, the vehicle would be stagged in order for a technician to perform the necessary repairs, or for the body shop to perform any cosmetic repairs.
Unfortunately Porsche Cars North America Headquarters left Reno, Nevada on March 10, 1998 and headed to Atlanta where it currently resides. Porsches pride to produce a superior product was felt at all levels and the talent of many provided me knowledge I could not have received in any other job. I place it as Priceless. I now have a rare opportunity after all these years to write for a company who specializes in Porsche 911 racing engines and various parts, the company, EBS Racing. I once again find myself honored to use my talents that I have acquired over the years and I thank those men who stepped up and allowed me the opportunity to consume their knowledge. I still keep in touch with many who I was pleased to have known and worked with at PCNA to this day.
I must express my gratitude to a man who offered me the opportunity to work for PCNA and saw great potential in my ability. He was always positive and supportive allowing me to grow into an industry mostly dominated by males. Thank You!
Dave Martin began his career with Porsche Cars North America in 1984 in Reno, Nevada, as Pre-delivery Manager and has since occupied several key management roles in vehicle sales as well as parts and service. Dave rose to serve as Regional Manager covering the mid-west and then southern California until his promotion to Manager of Vehicle Distribution and Logistics. In 1999, Dave assumed the position of General Manager of Service until a major restructuring in 2003, when he was offered the opportunity to supervise all AfterSales operations in North America as Vice President, AfterSales.