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It’s truly a family affair – Onur Alpan, the Turkish Porsche collector

26.02.2024 By Richard Lindhorst
It’s truly a family affair – Onur Alpan, the Turkish Porsche collector

Istanbul’s prospering city center is not the first place where you would expect to find a large Porsche scene. Especially as Turkey is not a favorable place for Porsche drivers due to high import duties and steep taxes for cars that exceed a certain engine capacity. But Onur Alpan, better known by his Instagram name TD3ZERO, gave us an insight into the Istanbul car scene. For him, his small but carefully curated Porsche collection is not just a hobby. It’s the fulfillment of a dream that his grandfather inspired early on.

Thank you very much for your time, dear Onur! What do our readers need to know about you?

Hey Richard, thanks for having me! At 44, with an academic background in economics and a role as a corporate executive in Istanbul, I embody the blend of business acumen and automotive passion. I would consider myself as a Porsche lover and collector who enjoys traveling.

Onur Alpan driving his Porsche 912 through Istanbul
Onur Alpan loves to drive his classic Porsche through the streets of Istanbul. © Doruk Barin

Turkey isn’t the cheapest place on earth for our passion – from what I know – and not really famous for its car culture. What brought you into cars?

My father and grandfather were huge petrolheads. Even before primary school, I was already a car guy. My grandfather had a Mercedes in 1959. By coincidence, when he had his car at the dealer for periodic maintenance, a couple of managers from Mercedes’ base in Stuttgart visited the dealer in Istanbul. They asked whose car that was and found my grandfather. They congratulated him with a certificate to celebrate his 200,000th kilometer with the car. At home, I am still displaying the certificate that cemented our family’s bond with automotive excellence.

And the best thing was, that they invited him to a factory tour in Stuttgart Untertürkheim with flights and everything. Unfortunately, my grandmother’s apprehension that he might meet a German girl kept him grounded. Sadly, he refused this valuable invitation. Instead, Mercedes sent him lots of presents and customer magazines for years, which he passed on to me. That’s the reason why I got heavily involved with German cars from a very young age.

How did you end up as a Porsche collector?

Around the time I was graduating at university, my father sadly passed away. With my grandfather being the other tutor in my life, I asked for his advice before buying my first car. At the Istanbul Auto Show 2004, I fell in love with the BMW Z4 Coupé. My grandpa was a bit disappointed and didn’t want me to buy a two-seater sports car. He insisted on something more reasonable like a sedan. After long negotiations with him, my first car turned out to be a more pragmatic one – a BMW 330ci. It was the best compromise for me, as it has a delicate balance between sporty allure and practicality. 

Yet, Porsche was always in my heart. Especially from the PC-game Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. I loved that game and played it so much. That game really shows the importance of cooperation between car makers and video game developers for affecting choices. If I didn’t play the computer game that much, I might have stayed a BMW guy.

After ten years of driving a BMW, Onur Alpan made his dream come true and bought a 981 Cayman as his first Porsche. © Doruk Barin

After ten years of faithful companionship with the 330ci, it was the right time to open a new chapter – one adorned with the iconic Porsche crest. I headed out to buy a Porsche 981 Cayman. I loved the mid-engined layout. The car was so aesthetic, refined and well designed. It had just the right amount of power to drive both on highways and in the heavy Istanbul traffic. The sound, both from its atmospheric engine and sports exhaust was just fantastic. And to be fair, it was one of the most fun cars I ever had. I bought it brand new in Agate Grey with matching color 20” wheels and alcantara interior. That car really turned me into a Porsche enthusiast.

You now own a couple more Porsches… What happened next?

Two years later, in 2017, I saw a car that reminded me of a visit to the Istanbul Auto Show with my mother in the late 90s. We took a photo there, where she sat on the frunk of a Pastel Yellow Porsche 986 Boxster. Fast forward almost two decades and there is this 1998 model Pastel Yellow Porsche Boxster with a dark blue interior. The car was originally ordered by a lawyer working for Fenerbahce Football Club in Istanbul. Hence, the car had Fener’s distinctive color palette of yellow and dark blue.

Onur’s second Porsche was a 986 Boxster, previously owned by a lawyer from the Fenerbahce Istanbul football club. Hence the color scheme with Pastel Yellow paint and a dark blue interior. © Doruk Barin

It had 80,000 km on the clock and was in pristine condition. With that photo in mind and the will to buy a modern classic, I just couldn’t resist. The open top driving experience, when you drive along the Bosporus is something else. You know, Porsches aren’t an extremely common sight in Turkey. So, sometimes people even asked me if it’s a new car, because the condition was so good and the design so timeless.

In 2018, I came across another elegant and charming car. I was looking for a classic and at this famous dealer around the block, I saw a gorgeous Slate Grey 1969 Porsche 912. By coincidence, I found out that a friend of mine knew the dealer. I asked her to introduce me to him. It turned out that this beautiful 912 with its red interior was completely restored and owned by a Turkish collector. Originally, it was a US car. I happily bought it and have enjoyed it since then.

One very important thing for me is though, that I don’t buy the cars as an investment. To me, it’s all about relishing every moment behind the wheel.

Onur Alpan

Do you feel like people around you see classic cars differently?

Oh, yes. Definitely! A lot of people think of you as a rich and big headed unsympathetic person, when you drive around in a modern sports car. That completely turns if you’re in a classic car. The ownership experience is something entirely different. You get so many thumbs up and honest questions about it, if you drive the Porsche 912. Classic cars evoke admiration and curiosity, unlike modern cars, fostering genuine connections.

You can buy every brand new car if you have enough money, but not a classic car. For owning a classic car you need to dedicate time to find your car, sometimes you have to convince the owner to sell it to you; although you may have enough budget. That is why a classic car’s worth can not rely solely on its market value. Also, you really need to love that car to enjoy classic car ownership. Otherwise, you won’t find happiness in it.

Your collection has taken another twist after that. What does it look like now?

In 2021 I decided to make a considerable change in my collection. I sold the Cayman and the Boxster to get my hands on a 997.2 Turbo. I thought of it as a perfect match with my 912. Both are in grey color with a contrasting interior. The Turbo may not be red on the inside but also a matching color – Terracotta. If both are parked next to each other, it looks like the same car with 40 years between. To me, it somewhat shows the bond between grandfather and grandson. And on top of that, the Turbo – at least to me – is not just any 911. It is the epitome of automotive excellence, representing a lineage steeped in performance and prestige. 

Whereas I had three cars before, I then only had two. To be honest, I missed a naturally aspirated flat-six engine. Hence, I recently bought another iconic and visually striking Porsche. I’ve found a 2003 Porsche 996 Carrera 4S. It was one of the lowest mileage 996 C4S in Turkey with 50,000 km. To many, it’s the ugly duckling, but to me, it is one of the most beautiful Porsches ever produced. It’s the only stand-out 911 in history with the differently shaped headlights. 

Nowadays, 993s are so valuable as being the last air-cooled 911. I am sure that in the same manner 996s will at some point be desirable, as they are the first water-cooled 911 and therefore just as important to Porsche’s history. Moreover, they are even more important for me because I drove these cars for years on the computer. 996s have influenced my car taste a lot. Here I am today, having been able to buy my childhood dream car. 

Nowadays, 993s are so valuable as being the last air-cooled 911. I am sure that in the same manner 996s will at some point be desirable, as they are the first water-cooled 911 and therefore just as important to Porsche’s history.

Onur Alpan

How is the car scene and specifically the Porsche culture in Turkey?

Despite the challenges, it’s busier than you might think. Porsche Club Istanbul thrives with more than 500 members, fostering a vibrant community. We do regular Sunday brunches and even do trips to countries like Greece or the French Riviera with Porsche Club Istanbul. Our club is very active and does a lot for its members. Additionally, there are lots of unofficial clubs. We founded a WhatsApp group chat with more than 130 like-minded people for example. We’re organizing road trips and gatherings with this group as well.

In line with this, the car scene itself is pretty friendly here. I started photographing my cars just for myself. I was asked by a couple of friends why I didn’t share them on Instagram. To be honest, I thought it was too much showing off for me. But they insisted that I should do so. After I finally committed, social media quickly helped me meet so many nice people through it. Thanks to some connections through Instagram, I was even able to visit Porsche’s 75-year anniversary party in Stuttgart in 2023.

What trips do you want to do in your Porsches in the future? And the last question: If money was no object, what would be your dream Porsche?

There is a very specific trip in my bucket list. I am planning to drive the “Romantic Street” in Germany with my 997 Turbo. This 460 km route has a very scenic road through Bavaria with more than 30 small towns on it. After shipping my car to Trieste, I want to visit Slovenia, Austria and then Germany. Along the way, I want to take as many photos of the car as possible. Hence, this will be a great memory for me. I rented lots of cars during my past trips abroad. However, doing such a journey in your own car sounds exciting.

You know, Porsche has often been mocked for being so conservative. But why change a good design if it’s not necessary? The 911 is so timeless that Porsche simply doesn’t need to change much. That’s the reason, my choice would be a Singer if money was no object. They are the only company that takes the old design further, without making it look “not original”. A Singer looks just perfect, not modified. If it’s supercars, I’d choose a Carrera GT. It’s a modern era car but still raw and analogue. I love the 918 for what an amazing thing it is, but for me it’s too modern. 

Onur, it was a pleasure meeting and talking to you!

Pleasure was all mine, thank you!

Meet our contributor

Richard Lindhorst is our chief-editor and lives in Northern Germany. He thinks about cars and bikes almost 24/7. If you’ve got a story for him, or just want to get in touch, feel free to contact him on his Instagram (@rchrdlndhrst).

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