When the Porsche 919 Hybrid made its U.S. public debut today at the Ault Park Concours d'Elegance in Cincinnati, onlookers were treated to a series of challenges as the car was unloaded and positioned in the display area. Someone commented that driving at Le Mans for 24 hours is easier than moving this car a few hundred feet.
Duesenbergs, Packards, exotics and other cars are driven or winched on and off the transports, but that was not the case with this authentic display model of the World Endurance Championship contender that will race at Le Mans next weekend. In this situation, Porsche chose to secure the car to a custom-built metal pallet that calls for handlers from the local dealership to use a fork lift for loading and unloading.
After a suspenseful half-hour of trial and error, the car was finally on American soil... almost. When the fork lift operator went to slide his forks into the cutouts on the side of the platform, it was discovered that the forks were not the proper width and could not be adjusted. Maybe the platform was based on using a metric fork lift, if such a thing exists?
The decision was to push the unit on its attached casters. Although the task required some elbow grease for directional control, the mission was accomplished.
The metal platform contained aluminum ramps to permit rolling the car on the dollies already under the chassis. German engineering genius!
When the car wouldn't budge, handlers took out the instruction manual that accompanied the car. (No, it was not in the glove box alongside the Kleenex.) Instructions referred to brakes which could not be located. Note that Porsche misspelled transportation as "trasportation." A bad omen, no doubt.
One last look and a few grunts, but no progress.
NEWS ALERT (Monday, June 9): The #20 racing version of the Porsche 919 Hybrid was successfully unloaded from its transporter at Le Mans, France, in preparation for this week's race. As seen below, there is no metal platform restricting its contact with the pavement. (photo by Eric Gilbert)