In the heart of the Free State, a collector has developed a love for one of Stuttgart's finest...

It did not take long for the bug to bite Bloemfontein resident Douw Raimondo. And, when it did, it bit hard. After a brief flirtation with a Boxster almost a decade ago, he swapped this baby Porsche for a 997-model 911 Carrera S and, in doing so, took the first step to what would become a 20-vehicle-strong 911 collection.

Stuttgart’s iconic sportscar isn’t the only Porsche variant that Douw and his business partner, Waldo, own, though; they count 24 cars in their collection.

“After I bought the Carrera S, I started reading up on the history of the 911 and the development of these cars over the years. This led to my next purchase – and my first classic – which was a 930 Turbo.”

Douw then made a grave mistake … he sold it.

“I bought the car for R500 000, spent around R50 000 to make it pristine and then sold it for R950 000. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I shouldn’t have let it go and wanted it back. I had to pay a healthy premium to return it to the collection. Of all the cars we have in the collection, this 930 is my favourite. It is an 1989 model, which means it is the final year of production with the updated G50 transmission.”

Douw’s cars are parked in two different locations. In total, the collection spans four decades of one of the world’s best-known sportscars. It includes such highlights as a fully restored, four-cylinder 912, a few impact-bumper Carrera 3,2s, as well as a 997 GT2 and the latest 991 GT3 RS. Adding interest is a 924 Turbo and a 944 racecar.

“We drive them all and make it a priority to swap cars as often as possible. But I don’t think we drive them often enough. Both of us have businesses to run, but this is our passion.”

The 964 RS America grabs my attention and Douw explains its story: “It is the only original model of its kind in South Africa and, because the car was obviously destined for the USA, I even had to wait a while for its COA (certificate of authenticity), which was sent from America.”

As the number of cars in the collection grew, Douw and his partner began acquiring a larger number of older cars, many of which needed some degree of restoration. This work is done by specialists in the Free State, Tim Abbot in Gauteng and at official Porsche Centres.

“The minimum we ever had to spend on a car was R50 000, although this can easily increase to R200 000.”

It’s very obvious that each car is outstandingly clean and has been thoroughly detailed.

“That is thanks to my son, Luigi,” says Douw. “He also has a passion for these cars and enjoys detailing them and keeping them spotlessly clean.

“I’m not a boffin, but over the years I’ve learnt what to look out for, to ask the right questions, to analyse a car on its history, and to know what work would need to be done. Every day, you learn more in this hobby.”

I’ve yet to meet a collector who has immersed himself so quickly in the business of collecting cars. Douw shows no signs of slowing down, and his passion and interest will undoubtedly see this beautiful collection of Porsches grow even further.

The collector

Apart from maintaining his collection, Douw Raimondo keeps busy by jumping out of airplanes and training foreign soldiers to do the same. Unsurprisingly, given his military background, the Porsche collection is managed with a similar level of precision and accuracy; in his office every car is itemised on a blackboard with its VIN, service date and mileage. In a cupboard, there’s also a row of neat folders containing each car’s documents and history.