Cars

"11erSucht": Love, Passion – and Tartan Plaid

Marcus and Nora Lehmkuhl have turned their shared passion, the Porsche 911, into their profession. But it's more appropriate to call it a calling, or even an addiction, as they themselves say. We wanted to know more about it and how the excessive use of tartan plaid came into play in the Ruhr region.

  • Interview
    Marko Knab
  • Fotos
    11erSucht
Marcus and Nora, let's start with the most important question: Can it be a coincidence that our hearts and the ignition key of a Porsche are both on the left side?

Marcus: Of course, it's not a coincidence. Driving a Porsche – and by that, we specifically mean an air-cooled 911 – is a matter of the heart. It doesn't always have to be a Le Mans start, but the heart beats in a healthy rhythm during a Porsche drive.

Nora: And every heart needs a passion to beat for.

Your passion is called "11ersucht." What exactly is it?

M: It's the healthiest addiction in the world that we've fallen prey to! (laughs)

N: That's one way to put it. We wanted to do something we're truly passionate about, preferably together. Porsche 911s were simply what occupied us the most in our free time, aside from the kids. But even the kids are infected. Actually, it's Marcus's fault because he infected me when I was fifteen years old. Back then, I didn't have a driver's license, but riding in the 964 Speedster was already cool. I secretly made my first driving attempts in a black 964 Cabrio.

How did your obsession with 911s come about?

N: It started with a few pictures Marcus drew and accessories for Porsche fans that didn't exist anywhere else. He always had very specific ideas about how things should look. It began with just the pictures, then came keychains, pillows, shirts, and fire extinguishers in Porsche colors.

M: Exactly. More than twenty years ago, I bought rolls of fabric with red and green tartan patterns from my Porsche dealer at the factory. I had been thinking for a long time about doing something with them, and in 2018, I started drawing pictures with the fabric as a mat under the project name "11erSucht." Nora kept telling me that we should turn my – or rather, our – passion into a profession to improve my sometimes strained work mood sustainably. So we founded a company and from then on, we pursued our hobby professionally. Of course, it couldn't just be about accessories; we had to bring the real object of desire on board – our own vehicles. So we brainstormed and then built the first 11erCONSTRUCTION 993. That means we restore the vehicles, improve some details, and reinterpret Porsche's design elements in our own way. This results in a car that has its very own character.

N: With good planning, we can complete such a car in about six months. The customer ends up with not just a restored car but a individually designed masterpiece in new car quality. And, thanks to Marcus's leasing experience, we can also offer these vehicles for commercial leasing or hire purchase.

What makes the 911 and its community so special for you?

N: What's great about the average Porsche driver is that there's no such thing. There are so many different people involved, from retirees to race car drivers. Completely crazy, really cool types, and a few squares. But they all share the same obsession with this car. I think it's because of the shape and the fact that a 911 often reflects the owner's personality. It's almost like a dog that looks like its owner and vice versa. 

Nobody chooses a air-cooled 911 as their preferred mode of transportation because it's an average car. Even if you drive the car every day and use it like any normal vehicle, you don't do it because it's so comfortable or because it's great for transporting water crates. No, you drive the car because it's cool, and the fun factor outweighs the comfort. That's at least how I see it.

I'd always prefer to drive an old car instead of a modern SUV. Of course, it's not as comfortable for the kids, and you sweat a bit in the summer. Nevertheless, our girls prefer to ride with me in one of the vintage cars and sometimes refuse to get into a modern rental car when one of our vehicles needs to go to the shop. It's no joke; it actually happened. I had to spend ten minutes convincing the child and swearing that it's only temporary.

M: The 911 is and will always be the perfect sports car for me, and fortunately, this affection is also reflected in the drivers. It's always fun to meet new people.

What is your idea of a perfect 911?

N: One that fits the driver, both inside and out. Ideally, the vehicle should match the person's character and not feel like a disguise. Like a good outfit or favorite shoes. Or like the handbag that goes with everything. Although it depends on the attitude with which one wears these things. You can see this with Magnus Walker, for example: a pristine-looking car wouldn't suit him. A Porsche for Magnus Walker has to be wild. On the other hand, the 993 we designed fits Marcus perfectly. It would look like him as a car. I'd be a 911 in safari style. When I walk into the garage in the morning and see my car, I want to get in with joy, at least have a smile on my face. A 911 is not just a car; it's more of an attitude. An attitude towards life in general.

How do you achieve this in your recently opened workshop?

N: By getting to know the person who wants the car first. We look at what makes them tick, what their wishes are, how they plan to use the car. Ideally, of course, as a vehicle. I mean that literally, in the sense of "for driving" and not just for display. It's like keeping a racehorse locked up in a stable. The 911 needs to be on the road.

M: Originality is certainly an important aspect. To create extravagant customer requests and unique pieces, we bend the concept of originality a bit and deviate from the factory standard, using paint from different model years or offering alternatives for fabric and leather.

"Ideally, the vehicle should match the person's character and not feel like a disguise. Like a good outfit or favorite shoes."
Nora Lehmkuhl
Not too long ago, you introduced your own vehicle, as you mentioned earlier. Can you give us a brief "walkaround"? It's a 993, but there's surely more to tell ...

N: Marcus does this best. He brought his vision to life, and I just helped and nodded! (laughs)

M:  This 993 originally came in "Grand Prix White" from the factory. I chose "Firn White" because, personally, this shade is the most beautiful Porsche white. All the parts of the vehicle, including the 993 Turbo wheel, are original Porsche components and materials. For example, even the Turbo-Felge. My inspiration for all of this was the first Porsche Turbo owned by Mrs. Piëch, with the Porsche lettering in tartan plaid, matching the interior. Our slightly modernized version is fixed under clear coat.

In the interior, we replaced all possible plastic parts with real leather to make the inside match the outside. Since we use so much leather, it was also important for us to incorporate classic Porsche fabrics. However, the sports exhaust system is our own development, and the sound can be customized by the customer. The vehicle's engine produces around 320 horsepower, and we're currently testing a compressor variant with a coupe.

What also stands out is your use of tartan plaid, which seems as integral to Porsche as the boxer engine itself. How did that come about?

M: In the 1970s, I spent almost all my car rides on the back seats of my father's 911s. They were usually upholstered in red or green tartan plaid. It was during this phase that my love for these cars developed. Even though I frequently got sick – the smell of oil and the vibrations on the jump seat aren't as natural for all children as they are for ours. (laughs) But the pattern itself left a lasting impression on my childhood memories, and I associate it with feelings of happiness and fun. My father was always a very skilled driver, and we have many wonderful memories that are connected to the 911s and their tartan patterns.

What ideas and future plans do you have?

M: Currently, we're developing a Safari variant based on the 911 G. The introduction of the 911 Dakar inspired us to continue exploring this concept in the air-cooled segment. And in the future, we simply want to continue sharing our passion and put many air-cooled 911s on the road.

N: The Safari is going to be amazing. I'm almost more excited about it than the next 993.

"In the 1970s, I spent almost all my car rides on the back seats of my father's 911s. They were usually upholstered in red or green tartan plaid. It was during this phase that my love for these cars developed."
Marcus Lehmkuhl
Apart from the restorations you offer, how else does your "Elfersucht" (911 addiction) manifest itself? Road trips, events, or something else?

N: Every year, we host an event where only air-cooled 911s and Transaxle models are allowed to participate. We drive part of the route "guided," then take a break, and later continue following a roadbook until dinner. In addition, there are a few quiz questions for other "addicts." A little competitiveness is always present. So far, the Transaxle models haven't found their way to us, but they are certainly welcome.

1/3

M: We also have another event planned: a drive-in cinema. It was born out of love for the 1980 film "Car Napping," in which a car developed by Rainer Buchmann plays a leading role. Buchmann and his tuning vehicles have always been a big deal to me; I used to look at his yard in Frankfurt and be amazed. And interestingly, the famous rainbow-targa from the film actually lives in our neighborhood. It all came together naturally.

How did this year's edition of the road trip go?

N: It was filled with beautiful 911s and a diverse group of people – it's always fascinating to see how a car brings people together. So, it was a great mix for a day filled with the smell of gasoline. Looking back, we're particularly proud of the route. In the end, we put together a pretty cool circuit that showcased how beautiful the Ruhr region is, especially when you're looking out the window of a 911!

M: Of course, there was also delicious food and a special surprise: we visited one of the most beautiful Porsche restoration workshops. Personally, I enjoy the gasoline stories shared during our events in the group. It always brings new inspiration.

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