Designer extraordinaire Paul Smith knows a bit about style, which is why his motoring history has included a succession of 911s.
Paul Smith readily admits he’s not a car person in the ‘petrol head’ sense, however, the allure of the Porsche 911 was just too strong for a chap who’s considered a bona fide British fashion icon, with 50 years in the business.
Now firmly established as a global brand, with stores in over 60 countries, Sir Paul had a succession of 911s in the 70s and 80s, inspired in part by his appreciation of good design - he’s also worked on unique interpretations for Land Rover and Mini.
And, having previously interviewed him on the subject, his initial encounter with the marque is one worth retelling.
Driving through the countryside, as he made his way from Nottingham to his factory in Manchester, he span out over a patch of black ice, ending up in a ditch. “All I remember was coming to rest and David Bowie playing on the radio!”
Finding a phone he called a friend who owned a garage in Nottingham. “He said that if I could get on a train back to the city ASAP there’d be a car waiting for me, allowing an appointment later that day in London to be kept.”
Little did Sir Paul know that this was to be his first Porsche experience, a burgundy 911 awaited to escort him. And having to commute to the capital on a regular basis he admits that the Porsche subsequently helped with journey times.
Now fully smitten, Mr Smith went on to own a number of 911s, along with a 356C - a spontaneous purchase for his 40th birthday.
However, it was eventually another accident that put play to his Porsche obsession. A white 911 ordered from the Nottingham dealership failed to materialise after the delivery driver wrote it off on the M1 as he headed to London.
Sir Paul took this as a sign and bowed out gracefully, having fully immersed himself in the Porsche experience.
“The early 911s were absolutely wonderful. Good design is not easy to achieve, but when you do it can feel timeless. I think that’s what the 911 represents, intelligent design that ages gracefully. If I can achieve an ounce of that in the clothes I design I’d be happy.”