“Putting Porsche in the Pink.” That was the headline on a New York Times story published on January 20, 1996, detailing the German marque’s effort to turn around its finances and reinvent the way it had built cars for more than 40 years. As the newspaper pointed out, the company that produced must-have products for the upwardly mobile during the cartoonishly decadent ’80s—in 1986, North American sales exceeded 30,000 units—had reached its last gasp. Antiquated, inefficient manufacturing processes collided head-on with an economic recession and a misjudged, aging product range to result in just 3,713 sales in the same region in 1993. Threatened with bankruptcy, Porsche had to change.
As the 968 and 928—the latter originally and inconceivably meant to replace the 911—disappeared from showrooms for good, there was a vacuum of new products as the company set about its transition. Yet even before the 993-series 911 arrived in early 1994 to barely keep the lights on, then-new CEO Wendelin Wiedeking called in automotive engineers and manufacturing gurus from Japan, who promptly turned Porsche production on its flywheel. “Just in time” manufacturing practices replaced an antiquated process whereby factory shelves were stacked with surplus parts. Gone were the inefficient manufacturing complexities that long qualified as—perhaps even defined—German “precision.”
1996 might have been the year Porsche’s self-cast lifeline became apparent to contemporary observers with a keen eye for business practices. But what occurred three years earlier, smack in front of the brand’s customers and enthusiasts, became a foundational pillar of today’s strong and healthy Porsche. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.