70 years ago, two customer teams, each with a Porsche 550 Coupé, took part in the spectacular Carrera Panamericana. And 60 years ago, Jack W. Heuer presented a chronograph wristwatch specifically for racing drivers, called the Heuer Carrera Chronograph. As a 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. Based on the Porsche 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.
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 debuted at Rennsport Reunion 7, where it was 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 programme 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 programme of Porsche AG is capable of,” explains Alexander Fabig, Vice President 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 colour, 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 colour 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.
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 aluminium black anodised finish. The spokes of the steering wheel are also black. One brilliant detail is the tricoloured cross-stitching in the colours 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 stylised 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 centre console. This component was designed and made by TAG Heuer especially for the project and is not available to buy.