Full fathom five my 944 lies;
Of its wheels are spider nests made;
Those glass E-codes that were its eyes;
Nothing of it that doth fade.
Hard to believe it was more than four years ago that I rolled my 944 into a friend’s barn with the intent of perhaps uncovering it in a decade or so. Times change, plans change, people piss off their soon-to-be-ex-wives and lose the barn storage they had given to their friends. It would come out today or be sold at auction, but how do you tow a Porsche across a farmer’s field too wet for a tow truck?
Annoyingly, at some point in the past, someone had decided to check it out. Maybe to see if it was worth stealing. I like to think that they broke into the barn, saw the real Fuchs wheels half-exposed, and figured they were just a hotwire away from owning a ’77 Turbo Carrera, when… BAM! IT’S A 944! SUCK ON THAT, LOW-AMBITION THIEVES!
The headlamps were up and the clutch pedal was sunk into the floor. There’s a lesson here. In 2006, this car ran like a top. I’d just put $2600 into a clutch job from Steinel’s in Cleveland and I had another $2000 worth of new parts on it. My wife frequently counted up the total spent on the car aloud in front of friends. “He paid $5500 for it because it was ‘perfect’. Then he spent another $5000 on it. Apparently it’s now worth $4500.” Yes, I heard a lot about that.
To quiet her complaints, and show her the mighty power of this particular, no-sunroof, free-spinning-engine example, I took her and the car to 944Fest at Nelson Ledges, where I proceeded to stuff it up the ass of every “instructor-driven” 944 Turbo on the track. I was so pleased with myself I lost concentration, forgot this particular 944 had no ABS, and spun it off the end of the back straight. It clip-clopped all the way home. Kind of like riding a tractor across a broken field. One hundred and sixty-three miles on flat-spotted tires. Halfway home, the A/C cut out. “Do you think you’ll want to replace these tires?” she asked. “And maybe fix this air conditioning? Because another alternative we have, right now, and this alternative would be cheaper, you know, that alternative would be to abandon this piece of garbage by the side of the road.” I bought new tires for the super-cheap price of $750 total and spent a month entering the bedroom at night after I was absolutely certain she was asleep.
Then a friend of mine, whom some long-time TTAC readers may remember as “Rodney the Ford Salesman”, asked to borrow the 944 to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Well, that’s not strictly true. He asked to borrow my brand-new, $81,350 Volkswagen Phaeton. I countered with the 944. He suggested borrowing my other Phaeton, which had only rung the register for $68,900. I countered with a bus ticket. He took the 944. Along the way, he killed the clutch slave cylinder, broke the headlamp motors, and somehow put three dings in the doors.
“How many of your grandparents,” I inquired as I pushed the 944 onto a trailer for its trip to the barn, “are still alive? I just want to know, so that I can make sure I arrange appropriate transportation.”
That was then, this is now. The tow-truck operator arrived and explained some things to me.
#1. His tow truck weighs 16,000 pounds.
#2. A long trip over a soft, plowed field would be necessary to retrieve the car.
#3. The above two points are non-compatible.
In the end, we did the only sensible thing. I hooked a chain up to my Town Car and dragged the 944 out of the barn, through the bushes which had somehow grown up around the barn in the past four years, and across the field. I was very pleased with myself. I took a moment to snag a picture.
Right when I snapped the photo, the Town Car got stuck in the mud.
Luckily, we were close enough to the edge of the field that we could disconnect the chain, let the Townie rock its way out, and use the winch to bring the 944 onto the flatbed. $150 later, it was sitting in my driveway, giving me quite the forlorn look with it’s popped-up headlamps.
Vodka McBigbra arrived a few hours later. “I thought, when you said you weren’t buying any more guitars, that, you know, that also kind of meant you weren’t BUYING MORE PORSCHES either.”
“No, dear, I already owned this car.”
“Are there any more secret cars out there? No, don’t tell me. It looks cute. And since you already own it, I guess that means you don’t have to spend any money.” Vodka and my ex-wife don’t speak. Sometimes, this presents problems. Other times, it is a situation which brings me considerable satisfaction.
The 944 has relatively few needs, if you use the Dai-Ichi power plant as a standard of comparison. A new slave cylinder. Probably a drain of the gas tank, flush of the brakes, new timing belt (not trivial in a 944), a new water pump, a solid detail job, whatever else has gone wrong. I won’t worry about the air conditioning, the interior fan, or any cosmetics. This is two thousand dollars, tops. Maybe twenty-five hundred. Alternately, I could take delivery of a 2011 Porsche GT3. The first month’s payment would also be about two thousand dollars, but the GT3 wouldn’t give me the thrill that comes from not knowing if one will actually arrive at one’s destination on any given day.
To be fair, the 944 is really a better way to get around than a 911 GT3. To begin with, it’s possible to use full throttle pretty much all the time, everywhere. This includes all the times in Ohio when it rains. The 944 is honest. It weighs 2600 pounds. You can see out of it. Nearly twenty years after the last of its kind left a showroom, it has shed all the nasty little social stigmata of Porsche ownership. There are no blinking lights on the dashboard informing you that the car is wiping your ass and saving you from putting it backwards into that Jersey barrier. It’s just you and the car. Good times.
I sat out on my step tonight and looked at the 944. Dirty, battered, in need of some serious and expensive help. Still, I can’t wait to drive it. I don’t know why I waited this long.