Porsche and TAG Heuer pay tribute to the Carrera Panamericana
Remembering the most epic 5-day race through Mexico
Based on the 718 Cayman GT4 RS, two exceptional cars have been made in collaboration with Porsche Latin America. The car with racing number 154 is celebrating its premiere this weekend at Rennsport Reunion 7, the big fan meet-up at the Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca in California. 70 years ago, two customer teams, each with a Porsche 550 Coupé, took part in the spectacular Carrera Panamericana. And 60 years ago, Jack Heuer presented a chronograph wristwatch specifically for racing drivers, called TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph. As an homage, he named it after the legendary Mexican road race. This double anniversary and their close connection to the Carrera legend are being celebrated by the two companies with a special “Sonderwunsch” project.
Long time partners
Porsche and TAG Heuer have been partners for many years, dating back to a long-term partnership in motorsports, followed by several collaborative watch launches and now resulting in the development of an exclusive car project. The ‘TAG Heuer x Porsche – Legends of Panamericana’ Sonderwunsch project was inspired by the 550 Coupé in which two customer teams raced in the Carrera Panamericana in 1953. It is based on the 718 Cayman GT4 RS. As an uncompromising car that impresses with its lightweight construction, exceptionally agile chassis tuning and sophisticated aerodynamics, the design of the highest-performing series Cayman is similar to that of the legendary racing car. The Sonderwunsch car with racing number 154 will début this weekend at Rennsport Reunion 7, where it goes on display in the ‘TAG Heuer Heritage Experience’ exhibition.
Patrick Dempsey, racing driver, US actor and brand ambassador for TAG Heuer as well as Porsche Design, will not only be in attendance for the premiere at Rennsport Reunion 7; in the middle of October, he will be driving this new sports car in the first and second stages of this year’s Carrera Panamericana. The second car, with racing number 152, will also be presented there. This 718 Cayman GT4 RS, which differs only slightly from the first car, is to be auctioned in early 2024 for a good cause.
The two sports cars were constructed in the Porsche Sonderwunsch workshop in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen with the assistance of Style Porsche, the company archive, Porsche Latin America and of in partnership with TAG Heuer. The Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur experts enhance unique sports cars with a combination of skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail. As part of its Co-Creation strategy, Porsche is thus reinterpreting its legendary Sonderwunsch program from the late 1970s, which will enable it to design one-off cars requested by customers.
Statements on TAG Heuer x Porsche – Legends of PanamericanA
“We are delighted to be presenting one of our pair of Sonderwunsch one-off cars as a highlight of this year’s Rennsport Reunion. Both cars incorporate design characteristics of the legendary Porsche 550 Coupé. At the same time, the project demonstrates once again what the Sonderwunsch program of Porsche AG is capable of,” explains Alexander Fabig, Vice President of Individualization and Classic at Porsche AG.
“With TAG Heuer and Porsche, the Carrera Panamericana brought together two brands that have so much in common: innovation, a passion for racing, and making dreams come true. We want to celebrate our partnership with this pair of one-off cars. It’s also a gift to our many enthusiastic customers in Latin America,” says Robert Ader, Head of Marketing at Porsche AG.
“Porsche Latin America is celebrating the legendary Porsche participation in La Carrera Panamericana between 1952-1954, with the creation of these two special vehicles. This year we are proud not only to have created an homage to the starting number 152 who won in its class at the Carrera Panamericana in 1953 but also to reenact the team race with the vehicle starting number 154. In support of our Corporate Social Responsibility programs, the number 152 will be auctioned as well for noble purposes in Mexico” expressed Tobias Eninger, CEO of Porsche Latin America.
TAG Heuer x Porsche stands for two companies (strategic partnership) and a joint project to celebrate this year’s anniversary (60 years of the Carrera chronograph), according to TAG Heuer’s CMO George Ciz: “This is truly an exciting moment for TAG Heuer. This new collaboration with Porsche represents the peak of our shared dedication to precision and performance. It’s a fusion of our racing heritage and a celebration of the spirit of motorsport. And it is the next logical step of our partnership. These cars are a testament to what’s possible when two iconic brands come together to create something truly exceptional. So it was only logical for this occasion to pay homage to the “Carrera” by designing a very special feature of the car: the TAG Heuer stopwatch module in the center console.”
“The Carrera Panamericana has a very special status, as for a long time it was seen as the toughest race in the world. I’m privileged to be following the path of Porsche’s early motorsport successes and TAG Heuer’s legendary Carrera, and to be at the starting line of the prestigious race this year,” says Patrick Dempsey, US actor, racing driver, and brand ambassador for TAG Heuer and Porsche Design. Dempsey is an enthusiastic Porsche driver and has his own racing team.
Many design elements that reference the Carrera Panamericana
A number of design elements of the Sonderwunsch project reference the long-term connection that the two companies have to the Carrera Panamericana race. Racing numbers 152 and 154, respectively are painted onto the doors and roofs of the cars. Photos of the Porsche 550 Coupé that competed in the legendary race provided designer Grant Larson from Style Porsche with a template for designing the racing numbers. They are recessed in negative lettering and bordered by a yellow racing number substrate.
The two cars are painted in Le Mans Silver Metallic. Many of the other exterior components are in the same color, including the window angles, the panels of the various air intakes at the front and the sides, as well as all the carbon-weave finish parts. The special paint was created in a successful collaboration between Porsche France, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the experts at Porsche AG. On the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this paint was developed especially for the ‘911 Carrera GTS Le Mans Centenaire Edition’ and is also being used in the 718 GT4 RS project. The paint references the exterior color of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (356 SL Coupé, 1951). In 1953, two Porsche 550 cars started in Le Mans for the first time, taking the first two places in the 1.5-litre class.
In the middle of the bonnet and on the side blades of the rear wing, the Sonderwunsch models bear the TAG Heuer logo in a slightly darker grey. This figurative word mark can also be seen through the rear window on the air filter box of the mid-engine, as well as on the wheel hub covers of the central lock rims. A Pegasus motif on the front-left wing (racing number 152) and alternatively on the rear-left wheel arch (racing number 154) reminds us that the 550 Spyder that Porsche entered in the Carrera Panamericana was one of the first racing cars with advertising from sponsors. The winged horse used to be part of the Mobil Oil logo. Porsche Tequipment is now recreating an original version of this Pegasus as a sticker for all Porsche customers.
Tricolored cross-stitching in the colors of the Mexican flag
In the interior, the Guards Red leather of the seats contrasts with the black of the dashboard and the door panel trim. The on-board interior package has an aluminum black anodized finish. The spokes of the steering wheel are also black. One brilliant detail is the tricolored cross-stitching in the colors of the Mexican flag and the TAG Heuer logo. This green, white and red stitching can be seen, for example, on the steering wheel rim and the dashboard. The ‘GT4 RS Panamericana Special’ lettering is milled into the door entry guards and has been printed on the cup-holder panel on the passenger side. The experts at Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur stitched two important elements of the Carrera Panamericana logo into the headrests of the seats: the lettering and the stylized racing driver cap. The latter also appears on the valve caps. A TAG Heuer logo is embossed on the armrest between the driver and the passenger.
A special feature of the car with racing number 154 is the TAG Heuer stopwatch module in the center console. This component was designed and made by TAG Heuer, especially for the project and is not available to buy. The left clock that displays the time has the typical Heuer Carrera Design combining elegance and performance. Line indices for the hours appear in relief of the black dial, while the minutes are indicated outside on the bezel. This mechanical three-hand clock has a power reserve of eight days. Next to the clock is a stopwatch with a scale that helps the driver to maintain the average speed often prescribed for rallies.
About the Carrera Panamericana
The Carrera Panamericana was a grueling road race of over 3,400 kilometers across Mexico. The rally was closely linked to Porsche and also TAG Heuer. In 1952, the company took part in the race for the first time with support from the factory, and in 1953, the new Type 550 sports car raced as a Spyder and a Coupé.
The spirit of the race and its arresting name inspired Jack Heuer to make the first Carrera chronograph wristwatch, which was launched in 1963. This was the first chronograph designed especially for professional racing drivers and sports car lovers. The robust, angled lugs were an expression of daring. The dials came with scales for a tachymeter, decimal minutes or a pulsometer. But Porsche had also trademarked the name. At the 1955 IAA, the sports car manufacturer presented the 356 A 1500 GS Carrera. The first 911 with the Carrera name was revealed by Porsche in 1972: the 911 Carrera RS 2.7.
Thus, Porsche and TAG Heuer have been carrying on the Carrera tradition for many years – this legendary name from the golden age of motorsport. The two companies have also been partners for many years. With the sale of Heuer to the TAG Group in the mid-1980s, the company became TAG Heuer. This was the era of the TAG Turbo engine, developed and built by Porsche and financed by TAG Heuer. This was the engine with which Niki Lauda (1984) and Alain Prost (1985 and 1986) became F1 World Champions. The McLaren TAG Porsche team also won two constructors’ titles in a row (1984 and 1985).
In 1999, the relationship intensified – thanks to the Porsche Carrera Cup and Supercup competitions, followed by the Endurance World Championship. In 2019, Porsche founded its own Formula E team with TAG Heuer as the title and timing partner. This was the start of an even stronger and further-reaching collaboration. Since 2020, the watch manufacturer has also been the title sponsor of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup virtual racing series.
About Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur
Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur and Porsche Classic enhance and restore unique sports cars with a combination of skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail. As part of its Co-Creation strategy, the sports car manufacturer is reinterpreting its legendary Sonderwunsch program from the late 1970s, enabling it to design individualized, one-off cars – co-created by the customer and professionally produced by Porsche. This range of services encompasses the areas of Factory Commissioning for individual customer color and material requests directly in production, as well as subsequent Factory Re-Commissioning and Factory One-Off after vehicle delivery to the customer. Whereas Factory Re-Commissioning is all about individual colors and materials, the Factory One-Off service is a systematic new technical development. Depending on the vehicle’s age, the technical experts of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur or Porsche Classic take care of the implementation.
About TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer, founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, is a luxury watch brand that is part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (“LVMH”), the world’s leading luxury group. Based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and with four production sites, TAG Heuer has 1,860 employees and is active in 139 countries. TAG Heuer products are available online at www.tagheuer.com for select countries and in 260 boutiques and 2,300 points of sale worldwide. Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer, heads up the company.
For 163 years, TAG Heuer has demonstrated pure avant-garde watchmaking spirit and a commitment to innovation with revolutionary technologies that have included the oscillating pinion for mechanical stopwatches in 1887, the Mikrograph in 1916, the first automatic-winding chronograph movement – Calibre 11 – in 1969, and the first luxury smartwatch in 2015. Today, the brand’s core collection consists of three iconic families designed by Jack Heuer – TAG Heuer Carrera, Monaco, and Autavia – and is rounded out with the contemporary TAG Heuer Link, Aquaracer, Formula 1, and Connected lines.
Embodying TAG Heuer’s motto, “Don’t Crack Under Pressure,” are prominent partnerships and brand ambassadors that express the brand’s passion for action and high performance.