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» driving is freedom. «

The Frauscher shipyard in Austria has been building boats to meet the highest requirements for 87 years. During a shipyard visit, Managing Director Stefan Frauscher explains what constitutes a real Aquarian, and why the new Touareg is his perfect vehicle.

Text Jochen Förster
Photos Bernhard Huber
Film Dirk Soldner

At first, the cast iron bandsaw to the left of the executive office is barely noticeable, yet it tells us more about the nature and development of Frauscher than a thousand boats could.

 

Grandfather Engelbert purchased the bandsaw long ago when founding the company in Vienna back in 1927. When the city was occupied in the Second World War, Engelbert buried the saw as a precaution deep in the soil of the Vienna forest. Once the situation had calmed down somewhat a few months later, he dug it up again, intact, and took it to Lake Traunsee to build a small shipyard by the lake. There, the black bandsaw carried out its service until 2011. Now it has pride of place on the executive floor of the state-of-the-art shipyard near Ohlsdorf, which was developed in cooperation with Porsche Consulting.

The success story of the Upper Austrian Frauscher shipyard is one of quality and passion. The Frauschers from Lake Traunsee are considered to be special requirement specialists even among the handful of European boat manufacturers who cater to the high end of the market. All of their boats are hand-made commissioned works and their customers include illustrious personalities from business, politics, and society. But above all, the family itself epitomises the passion of boating with its body and soul, and this serves only to turn a good boat builder into an exceptional one.

The cast iron saw from 1927 is a reminder that boat building at Lake Traunsee means more than pure craftsmanship.

It’s a typical work day in autumn. Some 40 employees are working on approximately 20 boat hulls in the 12-metre-high and 3,000-square-metre hangar that was built two years ago. This is where panels are screwed together, seams laminated, and cables connected. Most of the employees are carpenters by trade. They fit parts together and everyone here could in principle also build each boat by themselves. Regional craftsmen exclusively do the preliminary work. “We get the teak wood and stainless steel applications from the neighbouring village and the fibre glass components from South Tyrol,” explains Stefan Frauscher, who manages the company together with his brother Michael and his cousin Andrea. Only the diesel engines are sourced from further afield, from the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg. The Frauscher shipyard is a genuine manufactory; everything here is assembled by hand. By the best people. Using the best components. Which explains the quality.

 

Stefan Frauscher’s zodiac sign may be Libra, but by nature he is a true Aquarian. Since he got his sailing licence at six, hardly a day goes by without seeing him out on the water. His father Hans became World Champion in the H-Boat Class. Stefan achieved this in 2002. He lost a fingertip the year before when a Frauscher boat slid out of its support and fell on his hands while watering in winter. “It’s not all that bad,” he says today. “Things like that can happen.”

» We get the teak wood and stainless steel applications from the neighbouring village. «

Stefan Frauscher

 

At Frauscher, each part of the boat is processed and assembled by hand.

The 48-year-old has been running the family business together with Michael and Andrea since 1998. The annual budget currently stands at around £7.5 million, and two years ago, the Frauscher shipyard opened a branch in Mallorca. Stefan Frauscher is passionate about sailing – the majority of the 80 or so boats sold every year are motorboats, many of which have an electric motor.

The Touareg and trailer near Gmunden with Lake Traunsee and Traunstein in the background.

But not this 858 Fantom, which awaits us at the Gmunden jetty around noon. Stefan Frauscher gets the 430-hp motorboat ready to go. He is very hands-on and you can tell this is all in a day's work for him. Motorboating is easy, but with the 858 Fantom it’s also very, very effective. I floored the accelerator and within a few seconds we are racing, no - flying, at over 60mph across the surface of the lake. The engine sounds full and energetic, the TRIM function raises the nose a little bit more out of the water, which increases the feeling of flight and saves fuel. The clouds disperse, revealing the contours of the sensational alpine panorama. “I have two great loves,” says Stefan Frauscher, father of two daughters. “My family. And boating. Whether on the lake or at sea – when I am behind the wheel, everyday life just gets blown away. Driving is freedom for me.”

Lake Traunsee

Up to 191 metres deep, Lake Traunsee is Austria's deepest lake. It’s in the Salzkammergut region, 46 miles east of Salzburg. South-west lies the Höllengebirge range with the Feuerkogel mountain and the Langbathseen mountain lakes, while south-east is the Tote Gebirge mountain range and the Offensee. At a length of twelve kilometres and breadth of three, the lake covers an area of 24.4 square kilometres.

Next to the design workmanship, special features of the Frauscher boat include the coalescence of sportiness and classicality. Teak wood elements complement each other with dynamic contours and modern materials. “We appeal to customers who enjoy life to the full,” says Frauscher. He roughly describes the Sinus Milieu as successful, middle-aged people. The price of his new models starts at £34,000 (€40,000) for electric boats or £63,000 (€80,000) for motorboats and, depending on equipment, up to £313,000 (€400,000).

 

Stefan Frauscher delivers his customisations himself, if possible. He also regularly takes them to trade fairs all over Europe, and has just returned from Saint-Tropez and Düsseldorf. For many years he drove a Phaeton, but the Touareg has been his workhorse of choice for one year now. “I value the flexible all-wheel drive because even with a trailer load weighing several tons I am able to climb every mountain in steep terrain,” Frauscher says. “And not least because the Touareg also cuts a fine figure without a trailer. Sporty, powerful, reliable. These are attributes I really appreciate. And the new Touareg exudes a touch more elegance than its predecessor.”

 

» I have two great loves. My family. And boating. «

Stefan Frauscher

 

It is now afternoon as we set off on a test drive with the new Touareg. We have chosen steep terrain and put a Frauscher 858 Fantom on the trailer to provide more demanding test conditions. The weather turns to an Indian summer, the car and driver get acquainted straight away. The new Touareg is a refinement of its predecessor with a fresh design, numerous equipment highlights, and improved engines. In the interior of our Touareg, the Nappa leather seats in corn silk beige and the “Ebony” classy wood décor immediately catch our eye.
The 250 kW of the V8 TDI engine masters the way up to the Lainaubrücke almost playfully. Having reached the top, the magnificent alpine panorama opens up again with a view of Lake Traunsee, Traunstein and the Feuerkogel mountain. We get out. Stefan Frauscher says: “A boat, a car, the water, and the mountains. What more does anyone need?”

The Touareg in numbers.

Engine: 3.0 ltr SCR BMT 204 PS V6 TDI

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic gearbox

Fuel consumption: Fuel consumption in mpg/ltr per 100km: 37.2 (7.6) (urban), 47.1 (6.0) (Extra urban), 42.8 (6.6) (Combined)
CO₂ emissions in g/km: 173
Acceleration (from 0 to 100): 8.7 seconds
Peak speed: 128 mph
Kerb weight: 2880 kg
Dimensions: Length: 4,801 mm; Width: 1,940 mm; Height: 1,923 mm

Luggage compartment: 580 - 1,642 l

Standard selection highlights (V6 TDI):
Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering lamps and LED daytime driving lights (standard on R-line only)

 

Additional engine variants: 3.0 V6 TDI BMT SCR 262PS 4MOTION;
3.0 V6 TDI BMT SCR 262PS 4XMOTION

» The new Touareg exudes a touch more elegance. «

Stefan Frauscher