The British Porsche community is as diverse as it is far-reaching, with differing spheres of enthusiast breathing life into the marque at all levels, and one of the most exciting new faces on the air-cooled scene is Frank Cassidy. A familiar figure to many members, his unique take on all things Porsche has already made him something of a celebrity.
Frank is the man behind Boxengasse (the German word for ‘the pits’), a facility just south of Bicester that has been evolving rapidly in recent years with the aim of offering an unrivalled one-stop destination for Porsche professionals, customers and fans. Imagine Bicester Heritage on a smaller scale and with an exclusive focus on Porsche and you’re on the right track. This means commercial premises, events and merchandise, all there to service the thriving classic and contemporary Porsche industry while providing a space to celebrate the marque and unite its disparate aficionados.
With a background in the wholesale distribution of homeware, Frank freely admits that setting up Boxengasse was a leap of faith that he was driven towards after spending several years modifying 964s of his own. “I’ve been a Porsche enthusiast for as long as I can really remember,” he says. “Owning your own cars, you meet a lot of people in the community and a lot of industry professionals and I wanted to bring them all together in one place. The idea for Boxengasse came about because of that. I think of it as merely a house and it’s the people who make it a home.”
Boxengasse is, in many ways, an extension of Frank’s own wider interests, many of which are reflected in contemporary air-cooled VW and Porsche spheres around the world. “Everyone is interested in more than just one thing,” Frank continues, “and I think our demographic have similar interests, be that watches, music, clothes or design. So I wanted to make sure that we’re empowered by Porsche but not restricted by it. I think Porsche is probably the most progressive automotive brand out there and it’s important that we reflect that and do the same kind of thing.”
Frank’s journey into the world of Porsche began, as so many have, with a Beetle. In this case, it was a 1957 oval-windowed example that he steadily improved. Having increased its value sufficiently, he was able to sell it on and put some of the proceeds towards an unloved early 964. “It was never a good 964,” Frank admits. “It was cheap, partly because they were all cheap at the time, but also because it leaked so much oil that you couldn’t see out of the rear window. I’d travel around with five-litre bottles of oil behind the seats, blowing blue smoke and topping up the oil wherever I stopped. It was a basket case.”
Frank was clearly committed, however, and built up a group of similar 964 devotees who drove and modified their high-mileage examples, even taking them on the European road trips where he would form a life-long love of alpine driving.
Too expensive to fix when the engine blew for good, Frank finally sold his first 964 and eventually replaced it with another, the car he would nickname ‘Black Betty’. Still in his ownership today, it has been off the road for seven years undergoing its third and most dramatic phase of modifications that have seen its engine bored out to 3.8-litres and a bespoke supercharger fitted. This unique powertrain will eventually be mated to a 993-derived six-speed gearbox with an uprated limited slip differential, all carefully considered to create the ultimate alpine touring car.
The end result will also be a fitting homage to the multiple UK Porsche specialists with whom Frank has worked to make the car possible and a mirror of Boxengasse itself, where, as its founder observes, the Porsche community comes together to make something even better than the sum of its parts.
Much like its big brother up the road at Bicester Heritage, Boxengasse feels like it has arrived at just the right moment, when the classic Porsche industry is in full flower against a wider automotive landscape that’s witnessing an explosion in both heritage and self-expression through events and specialist businesses.
Frank’s site, opened in 2019, has already hosted four major events and leased its first finished premises to Autofarm, arguably the best-known independent Porsche specialist in the UK. He has since completed two spectacular new buildings for which tenants have already been selected and the long-term plan is to increase the number of annual events and supplement these with monthly ‘cars and coffee’ meets while offering the site as a venue for hire.
But, for the time being, Frank’s focus is fully on the fifth staging of ‘Megaphonics’. Held on the second Sunday in August, Megaphonics 2023 will see 28 trade stands supported by live music, food stalls and a dizzying array of air-cooled Porsche displays, including a significant contribution from Porsche Classic. The event is open to everyone, however, and will feature paddock parking for both air- and water-cooled Porsches as well as a separate area for non-Porsche visitors.
“At its heart, it’s a reunion of friends,” Frank explains. “The goal of Megaphonics has always been to bring people together and I’m trying to be that unifying force. We have the UK’s leading Porsche specialists coming to the event alongside enthusiasts and collectors, displaying cars but also just having fun. The cars are almost secondary. It really is about the people, coming back together to catch up on the journeys they’ve all been on and the cars they’ve broken and fixed.”
That’s a familiar theme for Frank, who makes a point of collecting cars that he feels at liberty to modify and drive. While his garage does include a perfect ’72 2.4 S and an equally special 930 LE, the majority of his cars are, in his own words, mongrels. They’re often extensively modified by previous owners as well as himself and have been driven far and hard. There are ST and RSR replicas alongside a 356 Outlaw, extraordinary 964 and 993 Turbo evolutions and even a long-wheelbase 912 with a 3.0-litre MFI engine that has just completed a 3,000-mile tour through the Alps.
“What really gets under my skin isn’t rarity or low mileage,” says Frank. “What I love is the stuff I can drive to the moon and back and modify to best represent what driving means to me. At the risk of going all philosophical, when the curtains finally close, all that you’re left with are your memories. And I don’t want mine to be of a car gathering dust in a corner.”