Gamechanger turned cool classic

It’s no exaggeration to say that when Porsche launched its first ever SUV – the Cayenne – in 2002 it changed everything. A company that to most people was synonymous with genre-defining sports cars had launched a five-seater, go anywhere vehicle that was as capable off-road as it was on it. Its impact on both Porsche, the brand, and the type of car that people wanted to buy is still being felt today. And today, that first generation of Cayenne has been given Porsche Classic status. The result? It’s about to be given a new and exciting lease of life. To put it simply, the Porsche Cayenne was, still is, and will continue to be a gamechanger.

Green first-generation Porsche Cayenne in the woods
Some 19 years after it first went into production the first-generation Cayenne is undergoing a whole new lease of life

The history maker

And yet Porsche could point to its past when it came to making off-road vehicles. As far back as the early 1950s, Porsche made a light military vehicle called the 597 Jagdwagen (or ‘hunting car’) in very limited numbers, while in 1978 Björn Waldegård and Kenyan Vic Preston Jnr piloted a pair of 911 SC Safari rally cars, with vastly increased ground clearance and special suspension, at the East African Safari Rally. But the Porsche Cayenne was a hugely different proposition. By the time the production run of the first-generation Cayenne came to an end in 2010, some 275,000 cars had been made – plenty of which can still be found on our roads today, making them perfect for the unique personalisation programme that Porsche Classic and its products can give to owners.

Bodywork decal from Porsche Classic on first-generation Cayenne
As well as a range of decals, further new accessories and products for the first-generation Cayenne are in the pipeline

High performance on- and off-road

“The launch of the Cayenne was very important because it was a high-volume car, and definitely the start of a new period of growth for Porsche,” says Eduard Reichert, Manager of Product and Quality Management at Porsche Classic, who is one of the people overseeing the development of the new range of products and accessories that we will see for the first-generation Porsche Cayenne. “It was our first-ever five-seat car, after which the four-seater Panamera would follow. So it created a brand-new market for Porsche. It was no longer only for those customers who loved the 911. More than anything, it was still a Porsche and so it was best in class when it comes to performance and sportiness.”

Two Porsche Cayenne E1 SUVs in a quarry setting
The new Porsche Classic Rallye (left) and Adventure decals, applied to the first-generation Porsche Cayenne

The fact that so many examples of the first-generation Cayenne remain on our roads is testament to how well built it was, a feeling that endures today for a car now into its third generation. If the Porsche Boxster, launched six years before the Cayenne went into production, helped change the company’s fortunes, then its new SUV sibling showed that it was adaptable and had a vision beyond sports cars – although that sporty Porsche DNA was clear for all to experience once they got behind the wheel. There were several other firsts achieved by the new Cayenne too, not least the start of a long-term sharing of knowledge, expertise and platforms with parent company Volkswagen AG. It would also be the first Porsche to receive a diesel engine (in 2009), although the current Cayenne no longer offers such a drivetrain. It was also the first car to be built at a new production facility in eastern Germany, at Leipzig, where the Cayenne is still made to this day. “The first generation of Cayenne wasn’t just a five-seater car, but a family car, a really sporty car and an off-road car,” says Eduard.

Classic Porsche Cayenne: the original sporty SUV

Fast forward to the present and the first-generation Porsche Cayenne is the first SUV to join the Porsche Classic family. And there are big plans for it. Porsche Classic has built two test vehicles based on the first-generation Cayenne, which act as an early peek into potential individualisation options in the years ahead. Initially, there are three decal sets available – Hunt, Adventure and Rallye – that have been designed by Style Porsche. They give, says Eduard, an indication of the approach that first-generation Cayenne owners will be able to take when it comes to their cars, which is such a strong aspect of the classic SUV market. “This car has real character,” he says. “We have seen what owners have already been doing to their vehicles, when it comes to roof tents, extra lights and all-terrain tyres, for example. We will be offering customers the chance to equip their cars in a very unique way. Individual and sporty.”

Future Porsche Classic accessories such as floor mats, luggage compartment trays, wheel sets, roof basket and mud flaps are currently being tested. And there is so much more scope besides, adds Eduard. The very nature of the Cayenne means that the possibilities are almost limitless, from lifestyle accessories to performance parts and off-road parts (it’s worth noting here that the Cayenne was also the first Porsche to receive air suspension, for example). More than anything, it’s about talking to customers, finding out what they want and giving them the chance to be incredibly creative. To express themselves. 

Close-up of man leaning in bonnet of first-generation Porsche Cayenne
The gamechanging first-generation Porsche Cayenne was designed by legendary Porsche chief designer, Harm Lagaaij

The rebirth of cool

“It is never our idea just to copy aftermarket products,” says Eduard, stressing the need for quality control and reliability in Porsche Classic products and accessories. The new decals are at the very start of this new journey for the first-ever Cayenne. For owners current and future, their cars are about to be introduced to an exciting new world.

The vehicles shown are show cars. They are for illustrative purposes only and have been modified from their series production condition and equipped with accessories, some of which do not originate from Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG and which cannot be purchased from Porsche or from the Porsche sales organization. Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG has not tested these modifications and accessories and has not approved them for use.

Time to find your Porsche passion

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