In our digitized and therefore ever accellerating time, the importance of permanence has changed as well. So often, change and transformation are the order of the day. Rarely does one have the opportunity to talk to people who commit themselves to a professional passion over many years. People who completely indulge in an activity and become an expert through years of experience. When one talks to Ande Votteler (59) about Porsche, it is no casual conversation. Instead the conversation has depth, fed by 27 years of experience. No rhetoric, no empty words. When Ande Votteler speaks, you listen. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Ande and to not only listen, but also ask questions.
You have been interested in Porsche for almost your entire working life. How did this happen and how did it all start?
Well, I’ve always been a tech-freak, even as a kid. That has never changed. During my apprenticeship and technical studies, I began restoring old vehicles and building-up rally vehicles in which I participated in regional events. Just before I turned 30, after several years of self-organized adventure travel through Africa, I decided to go into business for myself in the vehicle restoration field..
Just before I turned 30, after several years of self-organized adventure travel through Africa, I decided to go into business for myself in the vehicle restoration field..
As part of a movie story about motorcycle travel in the US, I got to know the good substance of the vehicles from the sunny states of the US and began to import and restore good vehicles. At first, there were different makes from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. After getting my hands on the first Porsche, a 356A Cabriolet, I was fascinated by Porsche’s impressive quality and outstanding technology and from then on I concentrated almost exclusively on this brand. A friend who had been trained at a well-known restoration company, joined me and we were able to work effectively through a sensible division of labor. When purchasing vehicles, I almost always chose pristine originals, so that we achieved excellent results, were able to develop a good name early on and accumulate a wealth of knowledge about originality. The initial interest in restoring vehicles was directed by my passion for originality, and I started to search for original Porsche vehicles in good to excellent condition, to collect them or sell them to enthusiastic collectors.
You own some examples yourself and like to drive them often. Which is your favorite Porsche?
This question cannot be answered that easily. I am in two minds about that. As a collector, I like the icons such as the 356A Speedster, 356A Carrera, 911 Carrera RS, 964 , etc., in their original condition. As a sports driver, I prefer a 356A in the light GT version with a powerful engine for winding country roads, or an optimized 911 SC for the race track.
As a Porsche enthusiast, one immediately feels like one has arrived in heaven as soon as one steps into your exhibition halls. How did you find this dream-like location, and how long did you search for it?
I am not a strategist. I only live my enthusiasm and try to remain true to my principles as far as style and ambience are concerned. The choice of premises was a mixture of coincidence and my enthusiasm for old industrial buildings. But I’m sure that the special charisma of the hall is largely determined by the specific features of the vehicles.
The name “Ande Votteler” has an excellnt reputation. How hard did you have to work to achieve this?
Anyone who has successfully built a company is familiar with hard work and diligence. As a technician without commercial training I could never create a success-oriented planning or strategy, but my straightforwardness, my expertise and gut feeling almost always caused me to make the right decisions. My goal was never the successful business, but always the satisfied customer. And the latter is essential for a good reputation. In my opinion, success is not profit, but a happy customer. My work has caused countless friendships that mean more to me than wealth.
My work has caused countless friendships that mean more to me than wealth. Ande Votteler
You are more-or-less a one-man show. How do you manage your professional life, and how do you feel about the new media such as facebook and the smartphone?
“One-man-show” is not quite correct. I work with a network of excellent and well-known professionals who share all my basic principles and quality standards. This works just great. The fact that I have no business partners or employees is due to the fact that on the one hand I do not feel able to run a company with several employees without neglecting the essential tasks. On the other hand, my customers see me as a specialist and competent contact person and like to to deal with me personally. Consequently, I cannot take care of every concern, but that’s not necessary either.
As far as the “new media” is concerned, I’m not completely outdated on the way and of course work on the Internet and smartphone, but have no ambitions to present myself on platforms such as Facebook. All communication platforms of this kind require regular care and attention. I cannot spare the time and it would be counterproductive to neglect them.
Opinions differ on the “restoration” of old Porsche vehicles. The term is now used very broadly and in many senses. What is your definition?
I am convinced that the term restoration cannot be clearly defined. If a vehicle requires a full restoration, the definition is simple: overhauling of all components to factory delivery standards, replacement of non-reprocessed components with original or maximally faithful reproductions. In the case of original vehicles that are worth preserving, the definition is difficult because of the different interpretations of the term “acceptable patina”. Personally, I basically go for maximum originality. To preserve something in its original state is an art. Making something new is always possible.
To preserve something in its original state is an art. Making something new is always possible. Ande Votteler
What does your typical customer currently look like? We don’t mean optically, but his profile.
Since I am not yet present on platforms on the Internet, my customers come to me almost exclusively on recommendation. In this respect, no clear customer profile can be drawn. But what they all have in common is the expectation that they will receive perfect advise and service. Whether the prospective buyer wants a collector’s vehicle or a high-quality runabout car makes no difference. Often, it is a person who has previously bought a vehicle from me and wants to buy another vehicle or replace the purchased vehicle with another one.
The car you want to sell is not currently found on the Internet. Why mot?
All vehicles offered by me are selected, mostly in original condition and thus in their own way often unique. EA presentation on the Internet would increase the number of viewers and therefore the chance of a sale, but if no buyer can be found within a short period of time, the vehicles are “spoilt” by being too well-known, and selling them becomes more difficult. Another reason is that an original vehicle in a more or less patinated condition, according to the classification of assessors, is more likely between 2 and 4 than in condition 1, but usually has a much higher value than restored condition 1. The large majority of the public will not be able to understand this, so my reputation would suffer. And last but not least: many clients do not want all and sundry to know that they have bought a vehicle and how much they paid for it.
In your opinion, how has the business changed over the last 5-10 years? How do you assess the current market situation? Some speak of a bubble. Do you also see it that way?
The steadily increasing popularity over many years and the resulting linear increase in value suddenly skyrocketed 5 to 6 years ago, leading to a massive increase in prices and low availability. As a result, even moderate and bad vehicles were pushed upward. Since about two years ago, the market has calmed down again, which caused a decline in value, at least for the less good vehicles. Likewise, speculation models have become cheaper again. Rare models and excellent vehicles, as well as original vehicles, nevertheless are still stable in value or continue to show signs of an upward trend.
However, rare models and excellent vehicles, as well as original vehicles, are still stable in value or continue to show signs of an upward trend. Ande Votteler
Is the classic car a threatened species?
In the short and medium term I do not believe that. Of course, there are critical factors such as generational change and limitations of use by lawmakers. But the enthusiasm of younger people for old vehicles is still high and the proportion of vintage cars and classics in the total volume of traffic is so small that I think there is any reason for such fears right now. Should the use of historic vehicles be significantly restricted worldwide, I see a reduced interest in the long term, at least in the area of “runabout” cars. I do not expect that to be the case, though, as the mileage of historic vehicles is progressively decreasing, so that legislative restrictions do not appear to be required. Collectors’ vehicles, such as pristine originals and rare models, are not affected by any possible use anyway, and will always have “artwork status” regardless of general market developments.
A person inexperienced in terms of classic cars, may want to buy an old Porsche with hard-earned money. What would be your most important advice under these circumstances?
Choose the best model or vehicle you can get for your money. And buy either with the support of a professional or buy from a reputable professional.
Thank you for the interview!
Picture Credit: © Markus Klimesch/Elferspot Media GmbH
Text: Markus Klimesch