German Sports Cars
He sits, with infectious enthusiasm, in his big armchair in an office engulfed by automotive memorabilia, the walls covered from floor to ceiling with photos of the many Porsches that have passed through his hands.
Thomas Schmitz, or ‘Mr RS’ as he is widely known, is a well-respected dealer in prestige Porsches, and his passion for air-cooled 911s is utterly infatuating.
While some people collect stamps, movie posters or old vinyl records for a hobby, Thomas has turned his own hobby of collecting Porsches into a business.
However, Schmitz differs slightly from your traditional hobbyist, for while the term usually refers to someone who collects things in order to build a larger collection, Thomas is more interested in selling his collection to like-minded individuals who share his passion for a prestige Porsche.
Armed with a cup of espresso during our chat in his office, Schmitz explains how his love for motor cars began at an early age: “Ever since I was a young boy, I have been interested in anything with an engine and wheels,” he says.
Back in the late Eighties, Thomas’s penchant for Harley Davidson motorbikes led him to create a small but fruitful business dealing in these iconic vehicles on two wheels. Through a fashion company he owned at the time, Schmitz would also purchase fine examples of classic cars and bikes for use in photo shoots for that business.
His affinity with motor cars in the beginning was therefore not that of a collector, but rather of an enthusiast or connoisseur of fine sports cars, in particular Porsches.
His break came at the end of 1996, when he and two friends bought a garage in Münster, dealing mostly in Porsche, but also Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and BMW M models.
A year later, Thomas sold his shares in the company, setting up another business with his brother-in-law purely specialising in Porsche and Mercedes-Benz cars.
Over the next decade, he found his biggest export market was selling Porsches to the UK, which was down to a growing interest in trackday activities. Thomas explains that the trackday culture at the time did not show the same growth in Europe because it was viewed as being elitist.
“It was the Brits who first discovered what a wonderful machine the 964 RS is and how special it is because they did more trackdays there than in any other country. The British loved the more extreme cars, and so we sold a lot of these cars to England,” he tells us.
The key to success in selling 964 RSs and the like is not only an intimate knowledge of the product, but also having a ready supply of stock to sell, as good examples never hang around for long.
So just where do you find a stash of good 964 RSs to sell? “I did a lot of trackdays myself because I also love to drive these cars, and so on the one side it was fun, while on the other side it was a very good platform for me to meet people who were interested in buying cars off me,” Thomas reveals.
So where does the affiliation to these classic Rennsport Porsches come from? It’s not just the high-quality engineering and the fact that the air-cooled 911 is largely bulletproof; it’s also about the drive, according to Thomas.
“It’s all about the pleasure, it is not that you measure your performance with a stopwatch; the parameter is how wide the smile is on your face when you get out of the car.
“If I sit in an RS, I feel right at home. It’s a bit like slipping into a very good shoe you have had for a very long time; everything is just perfect.”
Walking around the workshop-come-showroom at Thomas’s enchanting German Sports Cars business today, it isn’t just Porsches you’ll see, but a delicious selection of BMW and Ferrari exotica as well.
When asked about which he prefers, the answer is unequivocal. “I love cars, but Porsche is so special. Let’s just say Porsche is my first love.” As such, Thomas has been fastidious in his collecting of all things Porsche.
Exploring the premises is enough to transport you back to the early Nineties thanks to the period posters, photographs, scale models, racing helmets and other Porsche collectables displayed throughout.
Of course, as well as the various memorabilia, Thomas has also been hard at work collecting parts for Porsches. This helps to run the service-and-repair arm of German Sports Cars using genuine and hard-to-find parts such as genuine racing seats, wheels and mechanical components.
The market and profile of the Porsche buyer has changed over the years, and German Sports Cars has had to adapt accordingly. While the typical RS owner would previously buy a Porsche for enjoyment, for example, today they are looking for a ‘mobile investment’.
Thomas explains: “These days we try to buy 100 per cent accident-free, first paint, very low-mileage cars if possible, but they are getting harder to find. We have got much more critical about the cars we buy than we were in the late Nineties because the customers are different now.”
It is through this painstaking attention to quality that people keeps people coming back over time, because it is only by focusing on such a narrow market niche, such as RS and limited edition models, that has helped Thomas build his reputation.
“I didn’t start out as an RS specialist, but over the years we have sold more RSs than anybody else on the planet, except the Porsche factory,” Thomas adds. Today, besides 964 RSs, the company has broadened its operation to include a greater spread of rare and limited models such as the 964 and 993 versions of RS Clubsport, Cup and Turbo S, as well as the respective 3.8 RSR, Turbo 3.6 and GT2 models.
Other rare and limited edition models for sale at German Sports Cars have included a 944 Turbo Cup, 968 Turbo S and even a 959.
The big question on our lips is what is the rarest Porsche to have passed through his hands? Looking up to the ceiling for a moment to recite each car, Thomas takes a few seconds before replying, “A 2.8 RSR, but then there was a 993 GT2 race car, which was the very last 993 to leave the production line.
Owner: Thomas Josef Schmitz
Opened: 1996, but moved to current premises in 2008
Location: Telgte, Germany
Rarest 911 sold: 1999 993 GT2 race car
Most popular 911 sold: 964 RS
Most expensive 911 sold: 2.8 RSR
Interesting fact about the business: One of the most interesting sales was a 3,000km 993 GT2 to Jerry Seinfeld, owner of a vast Porsche collection
It is worth adding that just 29 examples of this rare model were made, and only seven received the factory power upgrade. As we’ve found out, purchasing any such car from Thomas guarantees a substantial degree of prestige, such is the esteem of his business and quality of the Porsches on sale.
Being known as Mr RS may well serve Thomas an injustice; after our visit to Münster, we feel a title of ‘Mr Exotic Porsche’ may be more in keeping with the depth and breadth of high-brow Zuffenhausen machinery at German Sports Cars.