Why is there a hole in the floor of this Porsche dealership showroom? Oh, there's a brand-new all-carbon Porsche 935 down there. You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.
What is the Wunderground?
In what was once used as underground storage for a Saturn dealership, there now exists a gorgeous mini-museum dedicated to all things Porsche. It looks exactly like Porsche Santa Clarita cut a sliver right out of Porsche's own museum in Stuttgart, transported it halfway around the world, and plopped it in the basement. It's incredible how the Wunderground has managed to capture the aesthetics of the Porsche Museum so perfectly. It's not huge, housing just over a dozen cars at any given time, but they're all incredible pieces of Porsche history in their own right.
As a part of the famed southern California Galpin dealer network, Porsche Santa Clarita is obviously going to be a top-shelf facility. This dealership is more than just a place to buy a Porsche, it's an experience that celebrates the entire brand. In addition to the Wunderground in the basement, there is a Boxenstopp restaurant upstairs modeled on one with the same name in the Porsche Museum. They grill a mean Boxster Burger.
Porsche Santa Clarita opened in mid-2020 to little fanfare. The company's planned grand opening festivities were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it's fair to say that this dealership sets a new standard for car dealerships. When was the last time you were actually interested in taking a trip to the dealer?
This whole thing came from the mind of Galpin President and COO Beau Boeckmann. The guy is a true gear head, and knows what makes enthusiasts tick. Boeckmann's father started out as a salesperson at Galpin Ford, and eventually bought out the business from Mr. Galpin in 1968. Since then, the dealership has remained in Boeckmann hands, and has long been the number one Ford dealer in the world. Under the Boeckmanns, Galpin has grown to encompass Lincoln, Mazda, Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin, Lotus, Honda and Volkswagen brands. And now there's a Porsche dealer in the family. It had to be special.
I dropped in to Santa Clarita this week while in the greater Los Angeles area to test the new Taycan Cross Turismo (more on that in another post soon). With a few hours to kill, I drove up to the dealership and was immediately impressed by the level of rarity and awesomeness in the basement mini-museum. Obviously the 935 is the current centerpiece, but the Wunderground has a constantly-rotating cast of vintage Porsches on loan from within the community, every one more impressive than the last.
This might look like it, but I promise it isn't the original Porsche 356 prototype. This mid-engine two-seater is a perfect replica of the proto-Porsche, built by the company in the 1970s as a run of 17 units used for international display purposes. Even as a lifelong Porsche fanatic, I'd never heard of this particular piece of the company's history. I wonder what happened to the other 16.
My personal favorite piece in the collection was this C Production 914-6 race car. It was successful in-period, winning four races from one season. Cars like this are inspiration for our Project Boxster Clubsport, and it was very fun to see this one in person. I can't imagine how great it would be to run this one on a racetrack.
It's hard to beat a trio of amazing 356s. That Drauz Roadster at the back is one of my favorite P-car shapes in history.
The rare and quite expensive Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Edition is icing on a totally cool collection of Porsches, and the new 991 GT2 RS shows just how far Porsche has come from a tiny little company selling four-cylinder air-cooled sports cars based loosely on Volkswagen parts.
How many times has Porsche won at Le Mans again?
Sprinkled through the museum are cases of exciting pieces of Porsche ephemera. Here, for example, you can see the original concept drawing, the printing plates, and the finished product brochure for Vasek Polak Racing. In another case I found a titanium 906 piston connecting rod. Another one housed a dozen different period-correct 917 scale models.
This place had a great range of Porsche history with a little bit of something for everyone. An ex-Brumos IMSA GTD racer sat next to a brand-new Taycan Turbo was a great juxtaposition. The learning displays are interesting, giving visitors an opportunity to learn more about Porsche's history. Everything from a wild-winged RWB 993 all the way back to an early 901 prove the line of 911 lineage is strong but extremely varied. As Porsche collections go, this one was about as eclectic as they get. I loved every minute.
If you're ever anywhere near Santa Clarita, California, you should definitely drop in to check it out.