911 icon: Andreas Preuninger
We’re in Finland, and the choice for dinner is reindeer or salmon. Andreas Preuninger is quick to opt for salmon. He’s had his fill of reindeer, having worked previously for Porsche’s Driving School before he reached his current position as head of GT cars. “I was a sporting instructor at the sport driving school when I came to Porsche because I had the time then on the weekends. I wasn’t married so I could go and instruct. The first time I was over in Finland it was for three weeks, and generally minus 36 degrees. There were waves of people coming in, coming out, every other day there were new people. The program repeated, the dishes were always the same – a choice between salmon and reindeer. Maybe I was a little bit overfed on reindeer.”
‘The next head of GT cars might be the man who’s just spent the day pulling my car repeatedly out of the snow banks then?’ I quip. Preuninger laughs, saying: “Absolutely. I did it – I really would like to do it again – it gave me a lot of contacts, I met interesting people, I made friendships that built up. It’s always absolutely vital for me to talk to customers, to know their opinion, to get their feedback. To be able to get the next product spot on.”
He hasn’t got the time for instructing, but he’s never so busy not to speak to enthusiasts, chatting to Porsche Experience customers later in the evening. The GT department has never been busier. Working alongside motorsport boss Frank Walliser, Preuninger admits the dynamic between him and Walliser is one that clicks, admitting: “We appreciate each other. He’s completely different than I am. He’s an analytic guy, he always wants to have mathematical data that he can analyse and I’m more like the person that does things out of his stomach.” He adds: “I don’t say that’s negative. It’s very, very important, especially if you can combine the two.”
That pairing has been hugely successful, the results speaking for themselves. Porsche struggles to keep up with the demand for the cars from its GT division, while the shelves continue to creak under the weight of all those winners’ trophies.
We’ve spent the day in Finland talking about Preuninger’s latest project, the GT3 RS. The conversation this evening isn’t about that. We’ve met many times now and, as ever, Preuninger is always at his most illuminating when he’s off topic, letting the conversation stray away from business and towards his life outside work.
After hearing some traditional Finnish music while we eat we’re not talking tailpipes, but bagpipes, the instrument of choice in my home country. Big Country come up, Preuninger quickly turning the conversation to AC/DC, in particular the Bon Scott era. “I’ve always liked AC/DC, since I was 12 years old, I grew up with this band.” Even so, it’s Status Quo that he admits to being the biggest fan of, counting himself as lucky that his position in Porsche meant that he got to meet one of his heroes, Rick Parfitt. They were great friends, Rick loving his cars, Andreas his band’s music. “I’m a freak for rock music,” he says, that passion for music having been passed from father to son.
Preuninger the father is revealed as we talk music and life, Andreas clearly a hugely dedicated family man. His inner engineer is apparent too, as he admits: “I collect guitars and build guitars and amplifiers, I have a whole room full of amplifiers and guitars. I jam along with my son, who is ten years old. He’s been playing since he was four.”
To read the full, candid interview with Andreas Preuninger, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 164 in shops now or click here to get it delivered to your door.