Tonight I saw a photo of the Porsche Cayman for the first time. It’s ostensibly a fixed-roof version of the Boxster, but to my eye it’s far more attractive. It’s reminiscent of the older 911’s and borrows nicely from the 959. If I were in the market for a fixed-roof, two-seater sports car, it would be at the top of my list.
Of course, it will be a long time before I’m in the market for a two-seater and, given my preference for open-top motoring, I’ll probably always opt for a retractable-roof model. Then there’s the fact that it’s a Porsche.
This isn’t about the stereotype of people who drive Porsches; I have a number of good friends who are current or former Porsche owners. It’s more about my continuing discomfort with the Porsche family.
Mine is not an isolated view. Many Jews of a certain generation will still not consider purchasing a German car; my father, who served in Asia during World War II, was among them. It took him many years and a couple of notorious Plymouth lemons before he even felt comfortable buying Japanese cars in the 80’s. He knew his position wasn’t entirely rational: U.S. auto manufacturers did business with the Axis powers as long as it was politically defensible, and Henry Ford was a notorious anti-Semite (which caused many Jews to boycott Ford products for decades). Ironically, after he died and my mother had to replace the last car they bought together, she purchased a Volkswagen.
So it falls to me. I own a BMW, so my moral compass is certainly not where my father’s was. It has been a sixty years since VE Day and virtually anyone in a position of prominence in the Nazi military-industrial complex has ceased to be an influence in German industry. Germany as a whole has made extraordinary efforts to face up to the ugly aspects of its past. I purchase products and services from other companies that were culpable in the war effort. And I’m far from a serious scholar on the topic. Yet I can’t quite get past the fact that the Porsche family patriarchs seemed just a bit more eager than others to sidle up to Hitler.