Having detailed previously both the ultimate and proximate causes of how I ended up – by choice – with a nearly 20 year old Porsche 911 as my sole vehicle, the next logical step is to chronicle the highlights (and lowlights) of the ownership experience. If you suspect that the high-maintenance, although not particularly high-performance car would begin to fade into the background of modern life through daily use, you’d be mistaken.
I often tell my friends that it’s the only material thing I’ve ever owned that hasn’t let me down, and they often respond with incredulity. It has let me down – quite frequently and typically in expensive and embarrassing fashion – in terms of overall reliability, but I didn’t purchase it with the expectation of trouble free, appliance-like motoring. I bought it to be entertained, to be involved, to be interested, to be thrilled. I bought it to have fun, just like this Singer employee and his son.
Evidently the highs of ownership are winning, as I still have the car.
Porsche has long trod the line between exotic and pedestrian, especially in urban centers. With the expansion of the model line to include cheaper, non-911 vehicles in the past 15 years, the shield of Stuttgart is now commonplace in most areas where you can buy Starbucks. Indeed, Porsche themselves have marketed their cars as “Engineered for Magic Everyday,” selling the image that the cars are domesticated just enough so that corpulent dentists and balding accountants can drive theirs to work during the week and not be too exhausted to don pleather costumery and terrorize their gated communities on their Harley-Davidsons come the weekend. If the modern, anodyne cars are magical in the mundane, then the old ones, with more immediacy and less refinement, are only more so. After nearly 20,000 miles together, it’s still difficult to walk away from the 993 without more than a few second glances, even after my routine, 0.8 mile daily commute.
Atlanta-area car enthusiasts like to head north out of the city and go on “mountain runs” in the snaking foothills of Appalachia, and as a native son of them thar hills, I’m familiar with the roads and the police, so I’m usually game for a trip. I generally prefer to go solo on early weekend mornings when traveling between my hometown and the ATL, but I occasionally do the group thing. I have a friend who is also named David and also who also has a 993, and I invited him to accompany me on a large, 993-centric run that takes place annually on New Year’s Eve. I’m glad I had a companion, as 993 owners tend toward AARP demographics rather than Gen X or Y, like the two of us, and it would have been awkward for me otherwise when the rest of our party reminisced about when their prostates used to work during our frequent pit stops. When we weren’t stopped, the old guys were deceptively spry behind the wheel, hammering up, down, and around what became our private rollercoaster for the day. It ended up being one of my best days of 2012, with nearly 300 miles covered on deserted, two-lane roads, a polychrome passel of Porsches ripping through North Georgia, leaving only a variety of flat-6 music and hot oil in our collective wake (save for a few water-cooled interlopers). I’ll happily rearrange my schedule to make this year’s event.
While the 993-specific camaraderie is great, another annual highlight and sacred calendar fixture is the Porsche Club of America’s Peachstate Club Race at Road Atlanta in late March. The combination of unparalleled access to the facilities and the uniquely Porsche-themed entertainment result in most attendees being quite relaxed and approachable. This dynamic might also be attributable to the gender distribution I’ve observed – the Club Race is about as close as you’ll get to the grown-up version of the He-Man Woman Haters Club without donning a green jacket.
There’s also some motorsports action taking place, too. Although there’s little to be won apart from bragging rights, you don’t ascend to the rarefied socioeconomic class in which racing – and potentially crashing – a Porsche in exotic locales across the US wouldn’t place undue burden on personal finances or familial relationships without being a bit competitive. Apparently some of the entrants had been psyching themselves up too enthusiastically beforehand, as more than one heat began under a surfeit of red mist, with embarrassing crashes on the pit straight.
Unfortunately the world isn’t primarily populated with car people, much less Porsche people. Nevertheless, I make an effort to engage with anyone – automotive snob or noob – who expresses an interest in my hobby and passion. This open-minded attitude has been the genesis of several friendships founded on mutual appreciation for car culture, and it has also provided fortuitous introductions to a few guys who know a little bit about driving Porsches, although I haven’t met Jerry. Yet. I took a collegiate friend for a ride recently, and he provided a succinct assessment of the car – “it certainly makes a statement about you, about what’s important to you.” I’ll assume he means that it lets people know that I’m one of those car people, that I enjoy going to work, to Whole Foods, and to Barnes & Noble in something a little more engaging than a Honda Accord, that I enjoy driving for the sake of driving, that I’m willing to crawl out of bed before dawn to go for a spirited drive, that I’m willing to make non-trivial sacrifices elsewhere in life to enjoy the only material thing I’ve found that hasn’t let me down.
Readers who surmise that I’m a Porsche fanboi 4 lyfe should look forward to Part 2 – The Lows…
David Walton grew up in the North Georgia mountains before moving to Virginia to study Economics, Classics, and Natural Light at Washington and Lee University. Post-graduation, he returned to his home state to work in the financial services industry in Atlanta. A lifelong automotive enthusiast, particular interests include (old) Porsches and sports car racing.