Megaphonics at Boxengasse in Bicester, Oxfordshire is an annual Porsche classic car event, a celebration of a booming Porsche sub-culture and, in particular, air-cooled 911s (911s manufactured between the model’s inception in 1963 and the transition to water-cooled engines in1998).
Boxengasse is the brainchild of one Frank Cassidy who presides over his 100 acre ‘estate’ which he is modelling into the ultimate Porsche destination. But this is less a dealership in the sense that you might think and more a commune – a concentration of cool, refurbished farm and industrial buildings which now house such Porsche institutions as AutoFarm, the repair specialists, as well as being the garage to Frank’s own collection of F-body RS and RSRs, 993 hot-rods, modified 964 Carrera 4’s and 356’s. His is the ultimate man cave complete with mezzanine office overlooking his display of motors, memorabilia and ad hoc engines strewn around the place.
Modern cars this is not. Over 25,000 square feet of buildings resonate with the sound and smell of classic Porsche, a hat-tip to a buzzing sub-culture and an automotive heritage that is unrivalled by any other marque. Ferrari? Beautiful and historic as they are, Porsche’s greater price accessibility and higher production volumes mean that on a day like today when the doors to Boxengasse are flung open to fans of the brand, 500 pre-98 cars and over 2000 people descend on the place to chat, ogle and consume the best that the Stuttgart factory has produced in its mighty 70 year history.
Volume and comparative value aside, is there any other car manufacturer that makes a sports car today that is essentially the same model that it produced in 1963? And as for its racing pedigree, well that’s a whole separate blog…
If you’re a fan of the Steven Bartlett ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast you will be familiar with the first question that he often asks his celebrity interviewees – ‘What is it in your childhood that makes you the way you are today?’ I spoke to Frank Cassidy briefly today but i didn’t get to ask him that question. But I do have the answer and from a somewhat reliable and perhaps even more candid source… his mother.
No doubt having been encouraged to chip in as family members often are, Frank’s mother could be seen assisting at the ‘merch’ stand where various items of Boxengasse gear were on display for visitors to buy as souvenirs of the Porsche Mecca’s fifth anniversary this year. Without too much prompting Marie-Antoinette recounted to me how she had owned a Porsche 911 before Frank was born and how she’d shocked the local Porsche dealer in France where they lived by not asking them to buy the car from her because of the patter of Frank’s feet, but instead simply asked them to fit a car seat in the back. And again when his sibling was born subsequently.
‘When did you sell the 911?’ I asked. ‘Oh, not until Frank was about ten’ she replied. ‘But then my husband continued to own them for years when we lived in London’.
And so it doesn’t take much for you to join the dots to see why Frank Cassidy, of Boxengasse Porsche Central, is so obsessed with the 911 and has made them such a part of his life. Because they always were.