Jeffrey Docherty seems almost lost for words. It is the New Zealander’s first visit to Thailand, and he has just met someone he’s been following on Instagram for years – a connection made possible by a shared passion for Porsche.
It’s his passion for Porsche and design – and the serendipity of social media – that sees the US-based Creative Director in Bangkok attending Das Treffen (‘the meeting’) for the first time.
The annual gathering for Porsche enthusiasts in Thailand, which is back for the fourth year, is the brainchild of Sihabutr ‘Tenn’ Xoomsai. After being appointed Executive Editor of GT Porsche Thailand magazine, Tenn decided that getting Thailand’s Porsche enthusiasts together would help foster the community.
Das Treffen sees more than 400 Porsche sports cars on display, and anyone who shows up in a Porsche gets to park in the exhibition area. “If you drive a Porsche, you just come in, you are part of the show, and you become part of the family,” says Tenn.
And Das Treffen is undoubtedly a family event – there may be track-ready race cars on display, but there are also family-friendly Cayenne SUVs, and even a pet dog taking in the scene from the window of a Cayman.
Korn Thongtour, an affable architect, has brought his wife and twin six-year-olds in his 1969 911E, one of a collection of exotic vehicles that inhabit a glass-walled garage in his Bangkok home. Despite the language barrier, Korn and Jeffrey have shared a bond over their love for Porsche and design through social media for years, and now in person at last.
Passion for Design
This passion was arguably inevitable given Jeffrey’s upbringing. “I grew up in a household where my father was a mechanic, and his dad was a mechanic. It was destined that I would also inherit this love for the automobile,” he says. “With my dad taking me to racing events, classic car shows, and rallies, we shared an interest that would become my love.”
“When I first set eyes on a car, what interests me the most are the lines and the styling.” Jeffrey Docherty
While it was the mechanics of a car that interested his father, for Jeffrey it is different: “When I first set eyes on a car, what interests me the most are the lines and the styling.”
After being brought up in Twizel, New Zealand – a town so small “if you blink you’ll miss it” – and studying in Christchurch, cars were always in Jeffrey’s blood. But after moving to Melbourne, Australia, and subsequently New York, where he worked for the New York Times and several fashion magazines, he found himself “at a time of my life where I was absent of owning or driving a car.”
After accepting a job at Nike – where he now works as a Senior Creative Director – in Portland Oregon, and moving into a house with a garage, he set about redressing those lost years.
“I have a 1963 Karmann Ghia, and as I started going to early Volkswagen car shows I started to notice the early Porsche models – there’d always be a 914 or 356 showing up – and I found those were catching my eye and starting to interest me more and more.”
This led to the purchase and restoration of a 911 SC, which led him into the Porsche community in Oregon. “You think you are going in to get the motor rebuilt or something and it turns into a friendship,” he says.
In those four years of ownership, away from work, Jeffery started sketching cars and creating artwork based on the history of Porsche, and sharing this work online. Porsche Asia Pacific had been following his work, and invited him to create the graphics and artwork for this fourth edition of Das Treffen.
“I was at a pretty fortunate situation with the power of the internet and social media connecting communities globally, and in particular the Porsche community,” he says. “The cars are really vibrant, bold pieces of art, why can’t we surround them and complement them with art?”
“All the artwork is basically putting a mirror in front of all the cars that are already there and putting it through a slightly different and more artistic lens. But the colours that we chose are all based on iconic Porsche colours, and those true Porsche community folks and enthusiasts will know that too. It’ll feel credible, it’ll feel authentic, and it really delivers Porsche back to the Porsche community.”
And the Porsche community seemed to lap up the art, queuing to take photographs with it in person and with their cars.
The soul of Porsche, strongly present at Das Treffen, was further electrified with the preview of another piece of Porsche art in the form of the fully-electric Taycan Turbo sports car. This is the first time the Taycan has been seen in Bangkok, and it seems to be a crowd-pleaser for both die-hard enthusiasts as well as the younger ones in attendance.
And between the passion of local enthusiasts and visitors flying in from the Middle East, Europe and Japan, it seems sure that Das Treffen is set to grow.
“What I’ll go back and tell Porsche enthusiasts in the US is that Das Treffen is phenomenal, you’ve got to get down there,” says Jeffrey. “Honestly my phone is already buzzing non-stop because I’m posting pictures, and people are saying ‘where are you? That’s not the US.’ And when I say Thailand that’s the last thing they can imagine. It is awesome.”