Classic cars in the best hands:
The thick photo album on the passenger seat is a very special logbook that accompanies Sawasdi Horrungruang through the streets of Thailand. A birthday present from his daughter, the book lists an astonishing 145 classic cars—and they’re all his. “Yes, I’m a collector,” concedes the businessman with a smile as he slides into his favorite: a red 356 A Cabriolet. Behind the wheel, he casually offers up another fact about himself: “I also collect extraordinary watches.” It’s always a question of style. And a question of appropriate movement, for timepieces as well as historic automobiles.
Horrungruang’s cars, after all, are no exhibition pieces posing gracefully in air-conditioned museums. He still drives them regularly through the streets of Bangkok. Early in the morning, for example, he likes to drive one of his convertibles across the pulsating metropolis of eight million inhabitants to his office. Today, however, he’s glad to take a detour to the
He’s known as Thailand’s steel king, but Horrungruang is an entrepreneurial polymath, with business interests ranging from agriculture, real estate, and infrastructure to the energy sector. His versatility is reflected not least in his exceptional pool of vehicles. He is especially taken with models from the 1950s and 1960s—for Horrungruang the “golden age.”
The desk in his office is made from a car radiator from that time, and his 356 Cabriolet is a 1958 vintage. “I’ve never bought a new car,” says Horrungruang as we drive. “No new car can give me that special feeling I get from driving a classic car.” But classic cars require both special care and expert maintenance, particularly when exposed to the occasionally extreme climatic conditions of Southeast Asia. The
That kind of expertise and experience does not go unnoticed. So it’s no surprise that the
To fulfill the requirements of the hard-won certification, the
“Eight of our workshop technicians have already attained the highest-level certification as ‘Zertifizierter
Because the maintenance of older cars involves special requirements, those tasks are generally taken on by Gold-certified technicians. To optimize restoration work, long-term plans for the
One of the requisite features of any certified
Because the original state is a decisive criterion for classic cars, the
Next door in the body shop, another of Sawasdi Horrungruang’s 356s is on the blocks and waiting for its wheels. The 1955 model is in the final stages of restoration. Just finding the right steering wheel took two years. Everything in the car is original—with one exception: Rohwer points to the air-conditioning compressor under the hood. “A special production for Mr. Horrungruang. We had to find a solution to keep the compressor from choking off the engine when idling.” So, while the driver gets air-conditioning, the car itself has to withstand the sweltering heat of Bangkok without modern extras.
With its average annual temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, Bangkok is regarded as one of the hottest cities in the world. Its traffic jams and sometimes flooded streets can make things even more arduous. “But a
Text and photos by Tony Watts
Mr. Frenkel, what’s the idea behind the
We’re expanding the existing expertise in classic cars at
And is the range of services the same worldwide?
Yes, whether it’s the supply of some 52,000 original parts, technical literature, maintenance and repair, or the restoration of a vehicle. Our specific qualification and certification measures for workshop and service technicians guarantee the same level of quality worldwide.
By the end of 2014, we had already certified seven Classic Partners, four in Germany and one each in France, Hungary, and Thailand. In early 2015, ten more will be added, including in the United States, South America, and Asia. The services are around the world in equal measure. An overview of all partners can be found at www.porsche.com/classic