The Truth About Cars » porsche 911 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 18 Oct 2014 16:29:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » porsche 911 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Porsche 911 Targa Goes Retro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/porsche-911-targa-goes-retro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/porsche-911-targa-goes-retro/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 16:44:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695801   Apparently, the new Porsche 911 Targa will have some kind of trick glass retractable roof. I’m just happy that the classic lines of the pre-993 Targa models have returned. Please, Porsche, let us order some classic Fuchs alloys and a “911 SC” badge for good measure.

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Apparently, the new Porsche 911 Targa will have some kind of trick glass retractable roof. I’m just happy that the classic lines of the pre-993 Targa models have returned. Please, Porsche, let us order some classic Fuchs alloys and a “911 SC” badge for good measure.

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Engineered For Magic Everyday? – Part 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/engineered-for-magic-everyday-part-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/engineered-for-magic-everyday-part-2/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498022 A few days ago I breathlessly described the highlights of old Porsche ownership – the immersive driving experience, the camaraderie among like-minded enthusiasts, and the opportunity to meet people through sharing the fun with others.  In a cliffhanger, I also hinted that there were some downsides to driving that type of car everyday… of course […]

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A few days ago I breathlessly described the highlights of old Porsche ownership – the immersive driving experience, the camaraderie among like-minded enthusiasts, and the opportunity to meet people through sharing the fun with others.  In a cliffhanger, I also hinted that there were some downsides to driving that type of car everyday… of course it’s not always halcyon days of empty roads and spirited drives.  I made that intimation for two reasons:  Sometimes the car can grate on the nerves of even its biggest apologist, whereas the remainder of the time it’s broken, with that same apologist’s wallet in peril.

Aficionados of schadenfreude, tune in now for The Lows:

On any trip of more than an hour or so, I begin to reconsider some of the performance-related modifications I’ve enacted with the intention of enhancing the driving experience.  The ridiculously loud exhaust makes it difficult to hear the primitive stereo or conduct phone calls, especially in concert with the drilled airbox and deletion of the engine sound-deadening pad.  In addition to the amplified noise, the nearly solid engine mounts transmit more vibration and harshness back to the controls, as do the short shifter and shift rod that mimic the hardware in the RennSport version of the 993, a car which was not offered for American consumption.  The suspension manages to transmit every surface imperfection to the passengers, prompting concern from companions when passing over something as innocuous as a cat’s eye.  Emerging from the car with hearing damage and pummeled kidneys isn’t necessarily desirable, I’ll assure you.  Fortunately I’ve been able to amortize the $2,000 or so outlay for these mods over many miles of grimaces.

I had an independent, air-cooled specialist wrench perform a pre-purchase inspection before I bought the car in February 2012, and he uncovered the typical niggles that are to be expected on nearly 20-year old Porsches.  Having already made up my mind to buy the car unless the PPI uncovered something severe, I bought it and assumed that the previous owner’s deferred maintenance, as well as the inevitable exciting surprises to come, would be manageable.

One of the car’s “charming” traits stems from the operation of its three oil gauges, which require constant observational vigilance.  As a consequence of the dry sump system, the oil level gauge only provides meaningful information when the car is fully warmed-up and idling for a period of time on level ground.  The first weekend I had the car I noticed that the oil gauge wasn’t responding even after performing the necessary séance, so I added a quart of Mobil 1 after overcoming heart palpitations.  Unbeknownst to me, sometime in the car’s prior life the original oil filler cap had been replaced with one that didn’t fit very well, so I failed to secure it after adding the lubricating elixir.  After a few miles it was obvious that I was going straight to the mechanic – do not pass GO, but do give up $500 to clean oil out of the intake.

Shortly thereafter I was driving to the IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in early April with my dad, when we realized that the cabin had gotten pretty stifling.  It wasn’t just our hot air – the air conditioning had given up the ghost, and it wasn’t even summer yet.  I had the unit “recharged” for a bargain $300, and I was once more able to arrive at work without my suit superglued to my back by perspiration.

Less than six months later the original clutch was on its last legs at around 94,000 miles, a trivial fact that apparently didn’t warrant a mention during the PPI.  The drivetrain layout of the car necessitates invasive surgery to perform otherwise routine maintenance, so out came the engine and the transmission to install the new clutch, pressure plate, and flywheel, as well as to remedy some “while you’re in there” items.  I chose to splurge for the lightweight assembly from the forbidden fruit basket of the RS, which facilitates easier rev-matching at the expense of even more noise, vibration, and harshness at idle and low revs.  Only two weeks and $3,500 later I was back on the road.  And it was a good thing I was back on the road, since I needed to go straight to the tire shop.  The previous owner had favored cheap tires that howled and rode like hell, but I insisted on some of the finest Michelins money could buy.  For only $1,500 I had four new Pilot Super Sports and an “aggressive” alignment.

Not long after that I noticed that the air conditioning had once again shirked its duties, and I had the pleasure of paying about $600 dollars to replace the mixing flaps that control the primitive HVAC system’s operation.  I could deal with the absence of cool air during autumn and winter, but the mixing flaps had failed in a position that forced hotter than ambient air from the engine into the cabin, even with all vents closed off, so that had to be rectified posthaste.

At age 23 I thought I’d outgrown Christmas surprises, but I walked outside my parents’ house one morning during that hazy gloaming between Christmas and New Year’s to discover a flat rear tire, courtesy of some roadside debris.  I had to get two new rear tires right away in order to participate in the NYE 993 mountain run.  It must have been a Christmas miracle, as they only cost me $750.  The mountain run itself was not without calamity, as we passed over a few relatively high altitude “gaps” (Appalachian-speak for “pass”) that Georgia’s helpful DOT had littered with gravel to alleviate freezing, and nearly all of our Porsches managed to pick up paint and windshield chips.  Apparently they call that “patina.”

The next month I was headed back to Atlanta after completing a solo loop of some mountain roads.  I returned to my car after pumping some gas, but when I turned the key … nothing.  I had a broken drive belt, but felt fortunate to be less than a mile away from one of the two Atlanta-area Porsche dealers, so I called the service department.  It was just before noon on a Saturday, but they couldn’t get around to helping me until sometime the next week.  I had the car transported to their competitor, whose service department was far more accommodating.  Only $350 later, I was once more behind the wheel of my car.

One afternoon this April I was out for a drive around Atlanta when I noticed the car’s rear end squirming quite a bit.  I stopped to check the tire pressures and noticed that I had a flat rear tire.  I called my unemployed writer friend Doug DeMuro to see about hitching a lift; he helpfully replied, “I thought I saw your car in Midtown, yeah your rear tire looked low.  Good luck!”  Cue four more Michelins and another $1,500 vaporized, as the front tires were pretty bald by that point.  That’s not the end of the tire saga – I was leaving work recently and drove through a massive pothole in my office’s entryway, which damaged a rim and forced me to purchase a new rear tire, a snip at only $950.

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To bring this tale of financial woe up to date, my car recently received new front brakes, which cost me about $1,100.  These aren’t the only expenses incurred during my ownership, as the car costs a fortune to insure, and the gas mileage is abysmal.

While my Porsche slumbered at the dealership a few miles away, I was driving a Dodge Avenger from the Enterprise fleet.  Although 993 maintenance has been somewhat, uh, spendy I swear that I will never again complain about the staggering expenses outlined above as long as I’m assured that I won’t have to sit inside a Dodge Avenger again.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Engineered for Magic Everyday? – Part 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/engineered-for-magic-everyday-part-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/engineered-for-magic-everyday-part-1/#comments Mon, 05 Aug 2013 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497989 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 […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

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.

The Highs:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Why I Like Porsches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/why-i-like-porsches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/why-i-like-porsches/#comments Sat, 03 Aug 2013 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497643 In my previous entry I recounted how I forsook other marques and at the eleventh hour turned my hymnal to 993 while shopping for my first car, but I didn’t elaborate on why I had such an interest in the ass-engined Nazi slot cars in the first place.  You might think that I was seduced […]

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In my previous entry I recounted how I forsook other marques and at the eleventh hour turned my hymnal to 993 while shopping for my first car, but I didn’t elaborate on why I had such an interest in the ass-engined Nazi slot cars in the first place.  You might think that I was seduced by how effectively the evolved Beetle enhanced my countenance the first time I caught my reflection against the glass façade of one of Atlanta’s concrete canyons, or how a previous generation of my occupational forebears made a Guards Red “Turbo-look” M491-optioned neunelfer a de rigueur part of “the look” for anyone with more than a modicum of ambition, along with slicked-back hair, Oliver Peoples glasses, and red suspenders, but you’d be mistaken – it goes a bit deeper than that.  Despite a litany of transgressions against their most faithful devotees, Porsche ensnared me from an early age.

Like so much of the content on TTAC, I have my father to thank for this affliction.  My own nascent enthusiasm for automobiles came just as my dad’s was waning; he began to focus his own efforts on antique wooden boats about two decades ago – hypothetically, The Truth About Antique Wooden Boats would be informed equally by The New Yankee Workshop and Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – but it was enough to give me my start.  Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve going to Road Atlanta with my dad, even before nicotine patch magnate Don Panoz slathered a coat of makeup on the fearsome track.

Just before the start of my very first race at Road Atlanta, Dad and I were standing on the indelible red clay that comprises Spectator Hill, which affords a full view of the iconic Esses that slice down one of the rolling hills of Hall County, Georgia.  He told me to pay attention and notice whether or not the hairs on the nape of my neck stood up once the race started, because that would mean that we would have to come back for more races.  I concentrated intently on this directive, and sure enough his intuition was correct; we heard the cars take the green flag in full cry on the other side of the hill and then saw a Porsche 962, advertising the Champagne of Beers and originally campaigned by the ill-fated Al Holbert’s racing team, lead a ragtag pack of vintage racers down the hill before snarling and popping through turn 5.  It was pretty clear to both of us that we would be coming back for more races at Road Atlanta, and it was pretty clear to me that a Porsche’s rightful position was P1.

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A few years later, the inaugural Petit Le Mans showcased Panoz’s modernization of the facilities and attracted top-tier machinery and talent that had competed just a few months earlier in the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans.  I was particularly looking forward to seeing the Porsche 911 GT1, which had finished 1-2 at La Sarthe, providing Porsche with its 16th – and still most recent – overall victory.  After an uneventful start, the race settled into an easy pace, with the pole-sitting, nouveau Hippie-liveried, gold-wheeled Porker eviscerating slower competitors as its trio of drivers – Allan McNish, Uwe Alzen, and Yannick Dalmas – opened a comfortable lead.  Nearly 15 years later I can still recall the distinctive aural signature of that über-911: A hollow flat-6 bellow with a unique timbre complemented by a brace of turbos, which made it sound like a pipe organ on full boost.

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Disaster famously struck in the 5th hour of the race.  My beloved Porsche featured a flat-bottomed floor to ensure optimal aerodynamics, but like other prototype racers of its vintage, it was susceptible to destabilizing airflow when exiting the slipstream of another car.  Dad and I happened to be standing along the undulating back straight when the 911 GT1 took flight and completed an arcing 450-degree somersault, destroying the car in the process.  My 9-year old self was devastated, and I tearfully demanded that we go home, since there was no way for Porsche to win the race and therefore no reason for us to stick around.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Dad and I have made it to most iterations of Petit Le Mans since then, save for my hiatus while away at college, with the 2011 race marking my return.  The 10 hours of racing action affords the opportunity to take periodic breaks and prowl through the various car corrals in search of interesting metal.  The Porscheplatz, as they call it, featured two examples of the final air-cooled 911 generation that stopped me dead in my tracks.  The first was a pristine, Arena Red 993 Turbo, infamous for the celerity with which it could slaughter insects, and the second was a Speed Yellow 993 RS clone so convincing that it had me fooled.  It’s strange how the mind can recall seemingly forgotten memories given the right provocation, and the sight of the burgundy Turbo took me back to a high school trip to Paris.  I remember seeing another Arena Red Turbo gliding gracefully down the Champs-Élysées, and then the next day seeing the same car parked near Centre Pompidou, the rectilinear exterior of the museum providing great juxtaposition against the organic, liquid curves of the big-bottomed bug butcher.

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I started thinking then about buying a 993.  There was a lot in its favor as an ownership proposition: Worshipped by a fervent, if endangered, breed of Porschephiles as the zenith of the old-school, air-cooled cars, it was virtually guaranteed not to depreciate.  That final air-cooled engine was a gem, especially when equipped with the torque-enhancing Varioram technology.  What’s more, the engine featured the robust, over-engineered bottom end and split crankcase from its predecessor 964, which formed the backbone of that scintillating 911 GT1’s powerplant, still etched in my eardrums and venerated to this day as the “Mezger” engine that powered over a decade of water-cooled 911 GT3s, GT2s, and Turbos.  It didn’t hurt that the 993 featured some of the most beautiful sheet metal of all 911s, with Coca-Cola bottle proportions and timeless design details.  A few months later, I had a 993 to call my own.

This year’s Petit Le Mans will take place on October 19th, and dad and I will be there, cheering once more for Porsche.  Next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will feature  Porsche’s return to the top prototype class, fighting against Audi and Toyota for the 17th overall victory. We’ll be there, too.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

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.

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Are You Listening? I Was http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/are-you-listening-i-was/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/are-you-listening-i-was/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497719 Please welcome our newest contributor, TTAC reader David Walton Like many automotive enthusiasts of my generation, my childhood was spent furtively devouring the latest missives from Brock Yates, Peter Egan, John Phillips, David E. Davis, Jr., and their countless imitators while ignoring my school lessons. I was preoccupied by some weighty existential topics, including but […]

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Please welcome our newest contributor, TTAC reader David Walton

Like many automotive enthusiasts of my generation, my childhood was spent furtively devouring the latest missives from Brock Yates, Peter Egan, John Phillips, David E. Davis, Jr., and their countless imitators while ignoring my school lessons. I was preoccupied by some weighty existential topics, including but not limited to whether or not my first Ferrari would be Rosso Corsa. This rabid devotion continued up until my 16th birthday, which roughly coincided with the realization that my parents weren’t going to buy me anything cool or fast, and that I wasn’t going to buy myself anything cool or fast anytime soon.

Fortunately it wasn’t long after that when BMW’s E92 M3 was announced, renewing my spirits during a period of enthusiast ennui. With over a decade of buff book consumption under my belt, I knew that whatever the iconoclasts in Ann Arbor proclaimed was indeed the Gospel. The Good News was this: The new M3 was the best car in the world. Ever. It trounced all comers, even the latest-and-greatest Porsche 911 Turbo and the upstart Nissan GT-R, in every comparo. I was sold, and I realized pretty quickly that I could have my very own example of the greatest car ever made once I finished college and entered the real world, provided I studied something useful. Despite the financial crisis, there were a handful of jobs remaining in my industry, and I was fortunate to secure one.

Moments after I got paid my first bonus I picked up my cell phone and called a very nice man at a high-end car dealer in one of Atlanta’s affluent Northern suburbs. Armed with the appropriate tools for test driving anything I wanted to, I let the salesman know that I was interested in a few cars they had on the lot, and that it would be convenient for me to swing by on Saturday afternoon.

I arrived at the dealer at the appointed time, and the fun portion of the day began after the customary – and reciprocal – sizing up. First up – a Lotus Elise. As a hardcore car guy I knew this was among the ultimate indulgences, one of the purest hits of adrenaline on sale. Plus, I had seen a gangly guy about my age driving an orange one around my neighborhood – probably with an obnoxious vanity plate – so I knew it could be daily driven by someone with no wife or kids. Or friends. The salesman had to give me a tutorial on the appropriate protocol for Elise ingress and egress, both of which demand care lest you place your body weight on the wide sills. To enter, you straddle the sill and then carefully lower your frame into the bucket seat, mindful not to hit your head or place too much weight on the windshield. After my companion and I had finished pouring ourselves into the insectile car, I steeled myself for the mellifluous bark of the pur sang Toyota engine. But there was a problem – dead battery! This was a minor inconvenience, as the dealer happened to have another Elise parked next to the first car. Exiting the car requires carefully reversing the hokey-pokey routine, but I knew the drill for reentry so clambering into the second Elise was more efficient, only taking about 45 minutes. I once more prepared myself for the dulcet tones of the erstwhile econobox motivator. But there was a problem – another dead battery! After this I decided to take that “Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious” joke rather, uh, seriously and abandoned the fantasy of owning a John Player Special.

The main event was next – a BMW M3, complete with 8 cylinders, 414hp, and 3 pedals. I was quite nervous on the momentous occasion – driving the finest car in the world and all that – but I managed to guide the car onto the road without incident, despite the soft, imprecise clutch (“very sporty,” the salesman helpfully assured me) and the notchy shifter (presumably adding an extra quotient of sportiness). I was impressed with the high-revving engine’s power delivery, particularly near redline, as well as the reasonably supple ride given the elevated envelope of adhesion. Plus, the carbon fiber roof and 19 inch wheels looked menacing, and I felt confident that both representatives of the constabulary and assorted haters would dig the Melbourne Red paintwork. Although I had been “sold” years beforehand, I was really sold now.

I met my parents at a nearby Barnes & Noble the next day and recounted the impressive quality control improvements at Hethel, as well as my plan to apply some skillful negotiation tricks I had learned on the job to ensure a rock-bottom price on the M3. Meanwhile I was browsing for my monthly digest of Anglo Porsche magazines, the type with overwrought prose and stunning pictures of bearded driving gods dab of oppo’ing between picturesque, unpronounceable villages in deserted Wales. My father was busy recounting his own fascinating “Big Money Wasted” ownership experience from two decades ago – which I completely ignored – while my mother asked an innocent yet penetrating question: “Why are you buying a BMW if you’re reading all of these Porsche magazines?”

Well, it was a bit complicated. I had been considering an older 911 as a dark-horse first car candidate for a while, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to rely on one as my only vehicle and still arrive to work every day. I decided to table Bavaria’s finest and began hunting for a 993 911, the final generation of the air-cooled Porsches to leave the factory. I quite swiftly found a Guards Red example that I liked in Texas, but I wanted to drive one before making that type of long-distance commitment, so I arranged a test drive for the next weekend of the only 993 for sale in metro Atlanta.

The Porsche was under the stewardship of a peculiar broker whose showroom was in his palatial, marble-tiled basement in a gated community. Although obviously well north of 40, he was dressed like a True Religion mannequin and chose to accentuate his overall ensemble with frosted tips and a two-tone Rolex Daytona. He made it quite clear to me that he typically only sold Ferraris and other exotic cars, he had at least two dozen signed photographs of him rubbing elbows with the likes of Elton John and Tyler Perry, and his day’s planned itinerary was organized around purchasing more designer jeans with rhinestones embellished on the pockets and laconically texting his “associates,” so I was quite thankful that he was able to pencil me in. Despite the uneasy feeling that I had walked into a Bret Easton Ellis novel, the test drive commenced in short order.

Initial impressions from the cockpit were wonderful: The seats were slim, yet supportive and comfortable. The slender A-pillars afforded a widescreen view out the windshield. The dials were gorgeous and legible, more akin to the dial and sub-dials of a mechanical timepiece than a prosaic gauge cluster. The doors were heavy and provided a substantial “click” when closing, belying the 16 years and 86,000 miles the car had endured. The pedals were byzantine, floor-mounted, and very heavy, especially the clutch. The steering wheel was close at hand and also quite heavy. After ceremonially placing the ignition key on the left side of the steering column – an ever-present reminder of 16, count ’em, overall victories at Le Mans – I fired up the flat-6 and reveled in the plume of smoke that fogged up the basement and perfumed the air. The car was quite low on gas, so I drove it a mile or so to the nearest gas station, thrilled by the tractable engine, inimitable air-cooled music emanating from the engine room, and the mechanical interaction and overall solidity of build quality that pervaded the entire experience. As the broker paid for the gas, I made up my mind to buy the car.

We took a more circuitous route back to the broker’s homestead, so I got the chance to exercise the car a bit more once the massive oil tank and fat tires had warmed up. Despite the sensory overload at the time, I can recall vividly the immense satisfaction at a few perfect heel-toe downshifts, the ineffable clarity of the narrative telegraphed through the writhing steering wheel, the thrum of the magnesium cooling fan echoing off of nearby structures while the exhausts roared like the ancestral dinosaurs whose liquefied remains we had fed to the 911 moments before.

I had a PPI performed and then took it home the next week. I’m glad I was listening.

 

 

993

 

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.

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“Shut Up And Drive”, Urges Porsche 991 GT3 Engineer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/shut-up-and-drive-urges-porsche-991-gt3-engineer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/shut-up-and-drive-urges-porsche-991-gt3-engineer/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 19:42:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494663 I have not had the opportunity to drive the newest iteration of Porsche’s 911 GT3. I probably won’t until somebody I know buys one. But I have driven the 991 Carrera S with the 7-speed manual transmission, and plainly put, it’s a crappy gearbox, the polar opposite of the enjoyable unit in the 997. The […]

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I have not had the opportunity to drive the newest iteration of Porsche’s 911 GT3. I probably won’t until somebody I know buys one. But I have driven the 991 Carrera S with the 7-speed manual transmission, and plainly put, it’s a crappy gearbox, the polar opposite of the enjoyable unit in the 997. The shifter feels balky and soft, the clutch is heavy and feels oversprung. It is the furthest thing from enjoyable. Purist tendencies be damned, I would get a PDK 911 in a heartbeat rather than dealing with the awkward, artificial stick shift. Apparently I’m not alone.

Canadian outlet AutoFocus spoke to Andreas Preuninger, the man in charge of the 911 GT3 since day one.  Addressing the inevitable complains about the GT3’s switch to PDK-only, Preuninger politely proclaims what many of us are thinking; the people doing the complaining are never going to drive, much less own one.

Q: Here’s the question you’re getting a lot: Why PDK only and no manual transmission?

A: The PDK that is so discussed so much—‘Why! How can you do this! Holy Manual and skip it overboard’—I say it’s a shut up and drive. 

It’s a crucial period now, people complain, forming strong opinions about something they can’t judge because they didn’t have any opportunity to drive it and judge it realistically. But that will pass as soon as the first journalists come back with their feedback—and I know exactly what this feedback is going to be like. 

I experience it too often. With every new RS: ‘Oh no! This colour scheme; Oh no! These decals; How can they do this; Blah blah bloop.’ And everybody bought it nevertheless and is happy.

What this also leaves out is a stark fact that many do not like to admit. Just because it’s a manual gearbox does not automatically (no pun intended) make it superior to the two-pedal option. There are cars where the automatic is the better choice. Mazda’s Skyactiv cars spring to mind. I fear that Porsche is next on that list.

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50 Jahre 911 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/50-jahre-911/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/50-jahre-911/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 15:30:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490798 The swan song of the 996 Porsche 911 was the “40 Jahre 911“, designed to commemorate the car’s 40th anniversary. Although it was a rear-drive, naturally aspirated Carrera, it shared the widebody look of the all-wheel drive and turbo cars, and inspired legions of badge concious buyers to check the option box the the “911” […]

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The swan song of the 996 Porsche 911 was the “40 Jahre 911“, designed to commemorate the car’s 40th anniversary. Although it was a rear-drive, naturally aspirated Carrera, it shared the widebody look of the all-wheel drive and turbo cars, and inspired legions of badge concious buyers to check the option box the the “911” badge, rather than suffer the indignity of having “Carrera” without an accompanying “S”.

Now that the 911 is 50 years old, Porsche is introducing…you guessed it, the 50 Jahre 911, officially dubbed the “Porsche 911 50 Years Edition.” It follows the same rear-drive-that-looks-like-a-C4 formula, and there are retro touches abound. An old-school 911 badge, faux-Fuchs wheels and tartan seat fabric have all been deployed. Sadly, manual steering was decided to be too retro.

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Porsche 991 Targa Going Back To The Air Cooled Era http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/porsche-991-targa-going-back-to-the-air-cooled-era/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/porsche-991-targa-going-back-to-the-air-cooled-era/#comments Fri, 31 May 2013 16:44:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490239 Before the 993 Targa came along with its fancy sliding glass roof, Porsche 911 Targas had real lift-out tops, just like the best 1990’s Japanese sports cars did (no doubt emulating what was perceived to be a suave alternative to a real ragtop). It looks like the 991 Targa will be returning to those roots. Spy shots […]

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Before the 993 Targa came along with its fancy sliding glass roof, Porsche 911 Targas had real lift-out tops, just like the best 1990’s Japanese sports cars did (no doubt emulating what was perceived to be a suave alternative to a real ragtop). It looks like the 991 Targa will be returning to those roots.

Spy shots over at Autocar seem to indicate a lift-out roof for the next Targa, and the classic looking B-pillar is another giveaway. Hopefully, we’ll be able to order Fuchs wheels and an industrial-sized can of aerosol hairspray to keep things authentic. Bring your own car-phone.  The Targa is said to debut at the Los Angeles auto show in November, alongside the Porsche Macan SUV.

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Bloomberg Recommends Reliable Used Porsches Using Picture Of Famously Unreliable Used Porsches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/bloomberg-recommends-reliable-used-porsches-using-picture-of-famously-unreliable-used-porsches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/bloomberg-recommends-reliable-used-porsches-using-picture-of-famously-unreliable-used-porsches/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 19:27:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487845 Are you ready to have the value of your car double while you own it? From $25,000 to $50,000 and beyond? And are you ready to experience this appreciation for an incremental maintenance cost of between $2,400 and $5,000 a year? Then Bloomberg has a car for you. Just make you read the article instead […]

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What's the diff? Picture courtesy Pelican Parts

Are you ready to have the value of your car double while you own it? From $25,000 to $50,000 and beyond? And are you ready to experience this appreciation for an incremental maintenance cost of between $2,400 and $5,000 a year?

Then Bloomberg has a car for you. Just make you read the article instead of staring at the pretty pictures.

In yesterday’s Loot Blog, Bloomberg’s James Tarmy makes the case for owning a 1984-1989 Porsche Carrera 3.2. He discusses ownership, insurance, and repair costs for these evergreen air-coolers… those costs being New York running costs, of course. It’s unlikely to cost you $1100 a year to insure an ’84 911 in, say, central Ohio. Ask me how I know. Best of all, the cars are scheduled to double in value any day now:

Appreciation. A late-’80s Porsche should roughly double in value as you drive it, says Tashjian. “A generation is just now retiring and has a lot of disposable income,” he says… Bloomberg car reviewer Jason Harper seconds Tashjian’s assessment. “You’re basically driving the car for free,” he says merrily. “Everyone and their cousin wants an old 911, including me. But one of the great things is that they really are a workaday sports car.”

Some sellers are of the opinion that the value explosion has already happened. It’s true that the prices of these cars are creeping up. There are a lot of them out there — it was the best-selling Porsche in the company’s history in the pre-Playskool-Krap-Kayenne-era — but there were also a lot of ’57 Chevies out there and people are willing to pay good money for those.

I’ll offer a little advice beyond what the Bloomberg people give: What you want is a 1987, 1988 or 1989 Carrera coupe with the G50 transmission and plenty of options. So-called Turbo-Looks are big as well, but they’ve already appreciated. 1984-1986 examples are worth less because of their unpopular transmissions. Targas are worth less. Cabriolets are worth much less. Don’t ever buy a droptop Porsche thinking you’re going to make money unless it was originally driven to the dealership by Max Hoffmann. As Bruce Anderson always says, buy the newest example in the best condition you can afford.

The difficulty with the appreciation curve people are predicting for the Carrera 3.2 is simple: almost everyone who would like to have a 1984-1989 Carrera 3.2 would probably rather have a 1995-1998 Porsche Carrera 3.6. Sure, you’ll come across the occasional fellow who demands rubber bumpers or can’t stand a six-speed transmission, but in general the “993” is a superset of the 911, containing all virtues of the earlier car plus a few new ones. So the value for a solid 1989 Carrera 3.2 G50 will always be capped at one dollar less than a 1995 993 Carrera in identical condition. Simple as that. Come back in twenty years and tell me if I’m wrong.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the 1990-1994 gap in the above discussion. That’s because those years are given over to the brilliant but star-crossed 964 Carrera. These cars suffer from a variety of issues: crumbling flywheels, missing head gaskets (by design; Porsche figured their machining was so precise a gasket was unnecessary), crappy automatic transmissions, and in the Carrera 4 model, a hideously complex all-wheel-drive system lifted from the 959 supercar with all the fragility and high parts that entails. The 1995-1998 Carrera 4 uses a much simpler front and center differential pair that also works considerably better. The 1989 Carrera 4 in particular is probably the least reliable modern air-cooled Porsche.

But since it debuted in 1989 and was sold at the same time as the 1989 Carrera 3.2 rear-wheel-drive model, it’s theoretically a “1984-1989 Porsche Carrera”. Which must be why the Bloomberg story leads with a picture of two 1989 C4s rolling lustily down a road. The photo was taken a long time ago. We know this because there aren’t two 964 C4s in that kind of condition in geographic proximity anywhere in the world. There may not even be one.

So follow Bloomberg’s advice if you must. Just don’t look at the picture, okay?

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End Of An Era: Porsche Debuts PDK Only 911 Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/end-of-an-era-porsche-debuts-pdk-only-911-turbo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/end-of-an-era-porsche-debuts-pdk-only-911-turbo/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 14:58:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487249 In exchange for the loss of the third pedal, we now get two variants of the Porsche 911 Turbo. A standard car with a 3.8L 520 horsepower flat-six and a Turbo S with 560 horsepower. Rear-wheel steering is also in place, much like the GT3, while active front and rear spoilers will give d-bags twice the aerodynamics […]

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In exchange for the loss of the third pedal, we now get two variants of the Porsche 911 Turbo. A standard car with a 3.8L 520 horsepower flat-six and a Turbo S with 560 horsepower. Rear-wheel steering is also in place, much like the GT3, while active front and rear spoilers will give d-bags twice the aerodynamics to manually deploy while stuck in traffic.

 

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Does The Porsche 911 Have Any Competitors? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/does-the-porsche-911-have-any-competitors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/does-the-porsche-911-have-any-competitors/#comments Tue, 23 Apr 2013 17:10:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485977 I used to work for Porsche. You already know this because I mention it in most of my stories, hopeful that you will go tell your friends “TTAC has a guy who used to work for Porsche!” to which they will reply: “Used to? Road & Track has fifty people who still do.” Just kidding. […]

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I used to work for Porsche. You already know this because I mention it in most of my stories, hopeful that you will go tell your friends “TTAC has a guy who used to work for Porsche!” to which they will reply: “Used to? Road & Track has fifty people who still do.”

Just kidding. The cars get good reviews because they’re damn good. I know this because when I worked at Porsche I had several 911 company cars, and the ones I didn’t crash drove tremendously. This sentiment was not echoed by my rear seat passengers, who often said things like: “This is really cramped!” or “You want to give this up to be a blogger?”

When I worked there, I had two main questions on my mind at all times. Traditionally popular in the morning, the first one was: “Can I get away with a two-hour lunch today?” But when I got back from lunch around 2:30, the rest of the day was spent pondering the second one: “What the hell competes with the 911?”

A Brief History of 911

To help answer this question, let’s take a walk down 911 memory lane. Some of you are saying: “Yes! Porsche!” whereas others have already tuned out and are thinking: “I hope Steve Lang writes something today.”

For those in the second category (which includes my mother), I’ll be brief. Here’s a basic rundown of the 911. It came out in 1963 as a rear-engined sports car back when there was no such thing as a rear-engined sports car because that would be stupid. In other words, it was exactly like today.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Porsche did things to make it even cooler. This included the “whale tail” spoiler, the Fuchs wheels (rhymes with “Lukes,” which I learned the hard way), and a turbocharged model that was famous for killing like OJ Simpson, and in a similarly violent manner.

But at some point between 1989 and 2013, Porsche ruined it, which can be confirmed by any purist who owns a 30-year-old 944 with fading paint. Unfortunately, purists can’t agree on exactly when this happened. Some will say the 1990 debut of Tiptronic. Others, the 1999 arrival of the water-cooled 996 with its ugly headlights. Further nominees include the 2003 Cayenne (which isn’t even really related to the 911) and the all-new GT3 which now comes solely with PDK.

Regardless of your view on when it happened, the simple fact is that the 911 is no longer the sports car it once was. Instead, it now lives in a blended world of sports car and grand tourer. So what exactly competes with it?

Potential Candidates

When I ask people this question, I get various answers, all said with tremendous confidence. I will now debunk each of them, using my favorite argument style: the one where I list things and describe why they’re right or wrong. These arguments are typically very solid in that they often stand, enshrined in perfection, until the very first comment.

Mercedes SL-Class: On paper, the SL-Class seems like a perfect competitor in the “overpriced grand tourer” segment. Similar performance numbers. Similar pricing. Similar old male buyers who cruise below the speed limit while looking around to see if anyone’s noticing them. But in practice, the SL’s vague steering and squishy ride means it doesn’t come close.

BMW 6-Series: The 6-Series is the reigning king of the “overpriced grand tourer” segment. It would be the perfect competitor, except for the fact that it weighs as much as a medium-sized Sheraton Gateway.

Chevrolet Corvette: The Corvette is actually a reasonable match in a lot of ways – and with every new iteration of the ‘Vette, driving experience is increasingly one of them. But the $50k Corvette isn’t cross-shopped with the 911, which costs $90k, or $2.4 million with options.

Nissan GT-R: The GT-R should be the ultimate 911 competitor. It costs as much as a Carrera S, but it has the performance of a Turbo. I’ve driven a GT-R, and it’s just as balanced as any Porsche, or Ferrari. It does have “soul.” But … it’s a Nissan. And no one grew up with posters of Nissans on their bedroom walls. Say what you will, but at $100k, brand value plays a role in your car decision.

In other words: the 911, a car that is largely responsible for making Porsche the most profitable automaker in the world, plays in a segment without competition.

Or Does It?

After much post-lunch deliberation, I’ve concluded that the 911 has just two competitors: the Boxster and the Cayman.

That’s right: Porsche’s own “baby” sports cars are the only legitimate challengers to the 911’s sports car throne. On paper, the numbers seem to agree. Acceleration times are similar. Horsepower isn’t that far off, and power-to-weight is even closer. The mid-engine Boxster and Cayman have physics on their side. And most importantly, they’re a whole Corvette cheaper than a reasonably optioned 911.

But my argument falls apart when paper turns to practice for one major reason: image. The 911 may be twice the price, but its owners justify the cost because it’s twice the cool. That may be. But for people who don’t mind the “poor man’s Porsche” jokes, save some money and go buy yourself a Boxster. And for God’s sake: do it before Porsche ruins it.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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Well, That’s What Happens When You Start Making Automatic-Transmission 911 Turbos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/well-thats-what-happens-when-you-start-making-automatic-transmission-911-turbos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/well-thats-what-happens-when-you-start-making-automatic-transmission-911-turbos/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471298 When Tom Cruise and the Porsche 928 were taking their star turn together in Risky Business, the star had to be taught how to use a clutch pedal for the driving shots. This is faintly ironic because the 928 was the original iconic automatic-transmission Porsche, designed to use a slushbox from the jump by Ernst […]

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When Tom Cruise and the Porsche 928 were taking their star turn together in Risky Business, the star had to be taught how to use a clutch pedal for the driving shots. This is faintly ironic because the 928 was the original iconic automatic-transmission Porsche, designed to use a slushbox from the jump by Ernst Fuhrmann and intended to be a continent-cruiser grand-touring car instead of a wobbly-nosed air-cooled icon.

In the years since now and then, Porsche’s been a little short on star power; when the celebrity name most commonly associated with your brand is “Jerry Seinfeld”, there’s some work to be done. Roc Nation, the management company which methodically soaks every possible dime out of represents R&B superstar Rihanna, did their part to reverse the trend this week.

 

“Turbo on dat a$$,All I see is signs, all I see is dolla $ign$.” That’s what the lady said about her new ride. We don’t actually know it’s a PDK, but that’s probably a safe guess. In our brief time driving a similar car we were massively impressed by both the power delivery of the tuned-up turbomotor and the seamless shove provided by the PDK. Miss Rihanna will no doubt feel the same way, right up until the point she hits a telephone pole harder than (insert completely uncalled-for joke about “Breezy” here).

All jokes aside, this gift is kind of a big deal and it’s nice to see. Porsche needs some star credibility and the 911 itself could benefit from association with people other than disaffected 41-year-old suburban jerks. With any luck, the car will appear at a few red-carpet benefits. A word of caution to the new owner, however; don’t wear a skirt getting out of the thing. Or, if you do, let me know when and where.

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QOTD: Cocaine Cowboys, Pick Your Money Pit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/qotd-cocaine-cowboys-pick-your-money-pit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/qotd-cocaine-cowboys-pick-your-money-pit/#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 15:57:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469841 Bring A Trailer rarely disappoints, but today is an exceptionally fruitful day. Not one, but three delightfully kitschy relics of the Reagan era are on sale, offering something for a broad spectrum of tastes, whether you like new wave, metal or the burgeoning urban genre known as “hip-hop”. Option 1: The Callaway Corvette – This baby […]

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Bring A Trailer rarely disappoints, but today is an exceptionally fruitful day. Not one, but three delightfully kitschy relics of the Reagan era are on sale, offering something for a broad spectrum of tastes, whether you like new wave, metal or the burgeoning urban genre known as “hip-hop”.

Option 1: The Callaway Corvette – This baby did not age well. The teal paint and “ribbed for her pleasure” body cladding evoke the worst possible Corvette stereotypes; impotence, pattern baldness, substance abuse. The 345 horsepower figure isn’t anything to write home about in an era where a Lincon MKWhatever Ecoboost would leave it for dead at a stop light. But like those impossibly high-cut bikinis, it’s still appealing in a strangely retro way.

Recommended soundtrack: The Scorpions – Rock You Like A Hurricane

Option 2: The AMGrey Market Mercedes – if you’ve ever fantasized about yourself and Lorenzo rollin in a Benzo, this one’s for you. The monochromatic red aesthetic looks Straight Outta Compton’ by way of Stuttgart, and there’s room for yourself plus some additional honeys. You can even have a couple sit on the rear deck as you slowly cruise down the main drag, puffing on a Philly Blunt. This 500SL makes today’s AMG cars seem like commoditized simulacra intended for the spouses of developing world plutocrats. Oh, wait a minute…

Recommended sountrack: Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full

Option 3: The RUF 911 – this car kills novice drivers. ‘Nuff said. This is about as far removed from a Cayenne as one can get. I’ll take it.

Recommended soundtrack: The stereo was removed by RUF to shave 1.3 kilograms off the curb weight

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Capsule Review: 1976 Porsche 911S 2.7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-1976-porsche-911s-2-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-1976-porsche-911s-2-7/#comments Mon, 26 Nov 2012 15:12:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467889 The 2.7-liter 911S was so problematic that I named it as one of Porsche’s Deadly Sins a couple years ago. Its engine failed with monotonous regularity, often between the expiration of the 12,000-mile warranty and the 50,000-mile mark on the odometer. The 1974 models usually lived a bit longer because they didn’t have thermal reactors, […]

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The 2.7-liter 911S was so problematic that I named it as one of Porsche’s Deadly Sins a couple years ago. Its engine failed with monotonous regularity, often between the expiration of the 12,000-mile warranty and the 50,000-mile mark on the odometer. The 1974 models usually lived a bit longer because they didn’t have thermal reactors, and the 1977 models had improved Dilavar head studs, but none of the “S” cars were reliable in any modern, or even contemporaneous, sense of the world. In the thirty-five years since the model was replaced with the “Super Carrera” three-liter, however, the aftermarket has managed to address the core issues and build reliable replacement engines for these otherwise charming classic coupes.

As the snow started to fall in Central Ohio this past weekend, I fired up my own aircooled 911 and took it downtown to meet a restored example of its ancestors.

Picture courtesy the author.

The “Coke-bottle” shape often associated with the aircooled 911 has become so pervasive in the popular imagination that it’s both a shock and a pleasure when I pull up to meet the owner of this car in downtown Columbus, Ohio and see that it not only has smooth flanks, it doesn’t even have a passenger-side mirror! This is the shape of the body as Butzi Himself imagined it. Even if you don’t like the impact bumpers which adorned Nine Elevens from 1974 to 1989, you have to admit that they’ve become as much a part of the classic shape as the original chrome bolt-ons were. Although the car’s previous owner made the decision to “update” the car from its original chrome trim when he restored it, this is still very much the street-going, no-pretenses Porsche. Narrow fenders cover narrow tires mounted on narrow Fuchs alloys. No ducktail, no sneering front airdam, no Turbo-Look. None of that. There’s simply no aggression to the car. It looks like what it is: a faster, more sophisticated descendant of the Type 1.

A modern Porsche, jam-packed from stem to stern with self-conscious tributes to the Almighty Racing Brand DNA Of Our Brand, looks ridiculous next to this simple, elegant statement of civilized sporting intent. Even my 993 looks cartoonish and distended in its presence, playing the role of the buffed-out, tatted-up, bald-by-choice Jason Bonham while its ancestor channels the powerful but artless Bonzo who hammered out “When The Levee Breaks” at the bottom of an English mansion’s stairs. There was an era, apparently, when the men of Stuttgart didn’t have to slather Heritage and Prestige and Upscaleness all over the cars with a fifty-five-gallon drum.

It’s soon apparent why that was so. The driver’s door latch clicks open with the precision of a Sig P210’s hammer mechanism and I take my seat. Immediately I’m surrounded by the noise, the insistent Beetle-blat waterless thrum, resonating in the space between my lungs and vibrating the upright windscreen, tingling the control surfaces. The clutch is featherlight but all three pedals feel wrong somehow. My feet don’t quite fit under the dashboard. I realize that Porsche must have worked a little bit of magic between 1976 and 1995 to fix the ergonomics a bit. Most likely they just shortened the radius of the pedal arms.

The old “915” gearbox has a reputation somewhere between legendary and infamous among PCA types but in fact it’s quite easy to use. The throws are long compared to any modern car but never did I slot the wrong gear. Once I rather lazily tried to toss it from fourth to sixth, as I do in my 993, and was rewarded with a brief bite of synchromesh. There’s no lockout for reverse, unless you count the lockout that the car’s designers expected you to maintain in your disciplined mind. I’m fairly positive that most people could easily commute in this; sure, there’s no power steering but you don’t really miss it.

Picture courtesy the author.

From the light I roll away in first to spare the clutch but then full-throttle to the top of third, watching my own 911 recede in the mirror as this car’s owner shakes his head at my behavior. Of course the sound is lovely, although it never manages to equal the big-bore snarl of the later cars. There’s about 170 horsepower to push slightly under 2,500 pounds. I imagine it would run fairly evenly with a Scion FR-S at least through the eighth-mile. Not surprisingly, the old Porsche corkscrews a bit down the road under full power, sniffing out the crown in the downtown six-lane with unerring precision and requiring a touch of correction across the steering’s dead spot at center.

It’s a time-honored tradition at car magazines to announce that THIS YEAR’S 911 IS VERY EASY TO DRIVE BUT LAST YEAR’S WAS DEATH ON THE HOOF. It’s even being done with the 991, which we are assured has none of the quirks of the 997, which had none of the quirks of the 996, and so on unto the seventh generation. Well, this car has the quirks. The torsion-bar suspension reacts to the road in all the ways that the 993’s fiendishly complicated Weissach axle doesn’t. Of course there’s no stability control. There’s no ABS. In a quick 90-degree turn I’m easily able to get the tail to step out at the blinding speed of about 30mph. The one concession to safety was done seven years prior in 1969 when the wheelbase was extended two inches to prevent the worst sorts of mayhem. It probably caused the original car’s engineers actual physical pain in their hearts to make a concession like that to the no-talent-drivin’ Iguanadon-esque proto-yuppies who paid between fourteen and seventeen thousand dollars for 1976 Porsches. Remember, that kind of money would get you literally twice the car in those days from the domestic dealers. For half the money, you could have gotten a Corvette with almost fifty more horsepower and more rubber on the road. The more things change, and so on.

Picture courtesy the author.

Let’s review the salient features of the interior. There are five gauges. Three of them convey vital information about the pressure, temperature, and level of the oil supply. Don’t forget to look at them. This isn’t a Camry. Something could go wrong. To the driver’s right, we have the shift lever, which goes right into a rubber boot on the floor. Want a console? Get a Cutlass Salon. A pair of levers where the stereo probably should have been placed controls a random array of flaps throughout the car to create a new and completely undesired change in cabin temperature with every fresh manipulation. Or they might be connected to nothing at all. It’s hard to tell. In later cars, this worthless arrangement was replaced by an automatic climate control which didn’t work any better but which offered a higher possibility of failure. I don’t know if the climate control in my 993 works as intended and I’ve never been able to find anyone who knows how it’s supposed to work anyway. A series of circular indentations on the passenger side of the dash indicates to that passenger that you couldn’t afford all the options. This was so effective at humiliating buyers into spending more money that it continued all the way to the very last 993 Turbo S Weissach Sonderwunsch Otto von Bismarck Sturmvogel Fighter-Bomber Edition, which still had one empty spot for an option yet to be conceived.

It’s best to just ignore that stuff and drive the car. Here, at last, is the cure for texting while driving. The millions of deaths which occur every year due to the iPhone’s ability to stream the Kim K/Ray-J video in 4G could all be avoided, every last one of them, if the government issued everyone a Seventies 911 and made sure they always left the house five minutes later than they’d wanted to. It would help if it could be made to rain as well. Full attention on the road. Guaranteed. Nothing could go wrong, because in the era before texting and driving the highways of the American continent were a virtual paradise where children could chase errant soccer balls right onto the Chicago freeways at rush hour knowing that alert, aware drivers were standing ready to execute precise avoidance maneuvers with no advance warning whatsoever.

We can’t have those salad days of safe motoring back. But you could take delivery of this freshly resto-modded 1976 911S tomorrow. It’s for sale. I give it my official Seal Of Approval. (WARNING: Seal of Approval in no way indicates that the car will start, run, appreciate in value, help you pull tail on the street, or even fail to explode at the least convenient moment possible. Attempting to print out the Seal of Approval and apply it to a vehicle may result in injury.) I’d buy it myself, except for one little thing: my 911. You see, my 911 does everything this 911 does. Plus it has working A/C (kinda). Plus it has an Alpine Bio-Lite sound system. Plus it has 255-width rear tires and the power to break ‘em loose. Plus the spoiler goes up and down with the press of a button. It’s cool like that. If you want something else that’s not totally something else, however, this 911 is cool, too, and it’s… um… uh… hate to say it in 2012…

Authentic.

Yeah. That’s it. No, it’s not an “authentic” restoration. But it’s the real deal: an air-cooled Porsche blowing a symphony of frenzied joy through the vented decklid. It’s no longer a Deadly Sin: it’s a holy terror.

IMG_1327 (Medium) Picture courtesy the author. Picture courtesy the author. IMG_1348 (Medium) IMG_1351 (Medium) IMG_1355 (Medium) Picture courtesy the author. IMG_1367 (Medium) Picture courtesy the author. IMG_1372 (Medium) Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Turn Down Your Volume And Watch This Porsche Off-Roading Video http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/turn-down-your-volume-and-watch-this-porsche-off-roading-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/turn-down-your-volume-and-watch-this-porsche-off-roading-video/#comments Thu, 30 Aug 2012 19:58:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458325 Lost in all the hysteria which surrounds the VW Type 1 and its descendants is the fact that Dr. Porsche chose a rear-engined car at least partly for reasons of traction and mobility. The roads of post-Great War Europe weren’t all butter-smooth Autobahnen, you see. Porsche’s marketing machine would have you believe that you need […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Lost in all the hysteria which surrounds the VW Type 1 and its descendants is the fact that Dr. Porsche chose a rear-engined car at least partly for reasons of traction and mobility. The roads of post-Great War Europe weren’t all butter-smooth Autobahnen, you see.

Porsche’s marketing machine would have you believe that you need to buy a Cayenne to drive over a speedbump, but as you can see in this video, a 1983 911SC with some chunky tires can do the business. Check it out… but turn down the volume on your computer, the soundtrack is by “DISTURBD” or “STAIND” or some other group of no-talent djent-whackers.

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Move Over Maybach Music, It’s Brand P’s Time To Shine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/move-over-maybach-music-its-brand-ps-time-to-shine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/move-over-maybach-music-its-brand-ps-time-to-shine/#comments Thu, 09 Aug 2012 15:40:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456073 Rick Ross, the gastric bypass candidate best known for songs like “Maybach Music” and “Aston Martin Music”, has debuted another video for his latest album “God Forgives, I Don’t” – simply called “911”. After downloading the album last week, I scanned through the track list, and feared that the song title had some relation to […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Rick Ross, the gastric bypass candidate best known for songs like “Maybach Music” and “Aston Martin Music”, has debuted another video for his latest album “God Forgives, I Don’t” – simply called “911”.

After downloading the album last week, I scanned through the track list, and feared that the song title had some relation to September 11th, and that Ross would use it as a metaphor for crushing his rivals in the drug game (even though Ross was a prison guard before becoming a rapper).

Not so. The song is about the ubiquitous Porsche 911, which never really caught on with rappers until the start of this decade. The video doesn’t quite look like an exercise in product placement. The production values suggest a low-budget shoot with a Canon 5D MK II, and it’s hard to imagine Porsche wanting, or needing, to tie themselves up with someone like Ricky Rozay.

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Four Hundred And Thirty The Hard Way: Porsche Introduces The 991 Powerkit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/four-hundred-and-thirty-the-hard-way-porsche-introduces-the-991-powerkit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/four-hundred-and-thirty-the-hard-way-porsche-introduces-the-991-powerkit/#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2012 01:23:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450419 Does the new 991 need more power? After all, in addition to the inevitable (and mandatory) color-mag fellatio you’d expect, it’s already impressed Brendan McAleer at a Porsche-operated press event and squeaked out a narrow victory over a Mustang GT in an impromptu challenge at Summit Point’s Shenandoah course. In the days when Porsche was […]

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Does the new 991 need more power? After all, in addition to the inevitable (and mandatory) color-mag fellatio you’d expect, it’s already impressed Brendan McAleer at a Porsche-operated press event and squeaked out a narrow victory over a Mustang GT in an impromptu challenge at Summit Point’s Shenandoah course.

In the days when Porsche was a manufacturer of sports cars, rather than a purveyor of two-ton plasti-metallic pig-mobiles doing the occasional sporting car for purposes of brand enhancement, its policy of continuous improvement meant that each year’s 911 was better than the last. Nowadays, however, the company sets out its marketing objectives and molds the product to suit.

Witness: the new 991 Powerkit.

The Powerkit, which has yet to receive the usual (and strangely evocative) X50 or X51 designation, bumps the 911 Carrera S from 400 to 430 horsepower courtesy of different cylinder heads and cams, a redesigned intake, some additional cooling, and an ECU tune, plus Sport Chrono. There’s probably under a thousand dollars’ worth of genuine cost involved in the Powerkit. Anybody who thinks the Powerkit will cost the customer a thousand bucks, or even three times that, probably just got done sucking twelve lungfuls’ worth of smoke out of a five-foot-tall homemade bong which was nicknamed “I, Claudius” by that one guy in the third-floor loft who is theoretically a member of the fraternity but nobody remembers seeing him pledge.

Once upon a time, Porsche would have put the Powerkit on all 2013 Carrera S cars and been done with it. No longer. Now it’s another monstrously profitable rung in the prestige ladder. Buyers looking to spend $150,000 on a normally-aspirated 911 without resorting to the time-honored expedient of doing seatbelts dyed to sample will no doubt welcome the extra opportunity to impress the sheik next door.

Porsche also announced an Aerokit, which will cost $5,990 or thereabouts plus about four grand for even more wings. It’s shown above. Supposedly, the rear decklid pays tribute to the ’73 Carrera RS, and it does, the same way that a picture of Justin Bieber holding a Strat could be said to be a tribute to Jimi Hendrix.

The 400-horsepower 991 is already cutting high eleven-second quarter-mile times in private hands, and this Powerkit certainly won’t hurt. The question is: do you want to be the guy stupid enough to pay near-Turbo money for a loaded 991 Carrera S Powerkit when the 991 Turbo is almost here?

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Time Machine Dilemma: It’s 1966 and You Have Enough Cash For a Porsche 911. What Do You Buy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/time-machine-dilemma-its-1966-and-you-have-enough-cash-for-a-porsche-911-what-do-you-buy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/time-machine-dilemma-its-1966-and-you-have-enough-cash-for-a-porsche-911-what-do-you-buy/#comments Wed, 16 May 2012 13:30:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444579 The Time Machine Dilemma works like this: your time machine lands on Auto Row in some past decade, and you have enough cash to buy a certain iconic car of that era. Do you buy the iconic car, or do you hoof it to some other dealership, perhaps saving enough money to buy (gold, Microsoft […]

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The Time Machine Dilemma works like this: your time machine lands on Auto Row in some past decade, and you have enough cash to buy a certain iconic car of that era. Do you buy the iconic car, or do you hoof it to some other dealership, perhaps saving enough money to buy (gold, Microsoft stock, first-edition Philip K Dick hardbacks)? We’ve done this exercise with miserable econoboxes of 1986, a broad spectrum of 1973 machinery, and today the time machine will be hurtling to an even earlier decade.
So, it’s 1966, you want something quick and sporty, the time machine is parked in the Porsche dealer’s lot, and you’ve got exactly enough authentic pre-’66 banknotes to buy one of those shiny new 911s you see in the showroom (we’re assuming a rose-colored past with no taxes or fees). That’s $6,490, which is equivalent to about 46 grand in 2012 bucks. The ’66 911 was quite a car… but take a look at that beautiful (and more powerful) ’66 Mercedes-Benz 230SL. Just $6,343 and it could be yours! And that’s just the beginning of your choices. Unfortunately, the Shelby Cobra 427 is out of your price range ($7,495), as are the Ferraris, Maseratis, Jensen Interceptors, and so on. But hey, look at what you can buy!

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider: $4,886
Austin-Healey 3000: $3,565
BMW 2000CS: $4,985
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe: $5,249*
Jaguar XK-E Coupe: $5,580
Lotus Elite Coupe: $4,995
Mercedes-Benz 230SL Coupe: $6,343
Shelby Cobra 289: $5,995**
Sunbeam Tiger: $3,425

Or you could go crazy and buy two Datsun Fairlady Sports 1600s ($2,546 each), or two Chevy Corvair Corsas ($2,519 each). You could go really crazy and get two new MGB-GTs at $3,095 apiece. Or you could buy a stripper ’66 Chevelle for $2,271 and spend $4,219 on engine, brake, and suspension modifications; it would be less sporty-looking than the 911, but who cares? So, what’s it going to be?

*The base ’66 Corvette would probably get eaten up by the 911 at any non-dragstrip venue, so this price includes the 425-horsepower L72 engine, close-ratio 4-speed transmission, limited-slip differential, heavy-duty brakes and suspension, and “off-road” exhaust, with enough money left over for an eyeball-melting paint job.

**Based on this reference.

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NAIAS: Porsche 911 Cabriolet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/naias-porsche-911-cabriolet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/naias-porsche-911-cabriolet/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2012 17:50:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424968 What you see before you will be the best-selling Porsche 911. It is sad but true: in the watercooled era, the convertible has generally outsold the coupe. For that reason alone, Porsche was eager to introduce a droptop 991. Add all-wheel-drive and a PDK transmission, and you have a sickening parody of Butzi Porsche’s original […]

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What you see before you will be the best-selling Porsche 911. It is sad but true: in the watercooled era, the convertible has generally outsold the coupe. For that reason alone, Porsche was eager to introduce a droptop 991. Add all-wheel-drive and a PDK transmission, and you have a sickening parody of Butzi Porsche’s original 901 concept a great way for high-net-worth people to get to their yoga lessons.

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“Air Crash Investigator” Peter Cheney Pins Porked Porsche On… Society http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/air-crash-investigator-peter-cheney-pins-porked-porsche-on-society/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/air-crash-investigator-peter-cheney-pins-porked-porsche-on-society/#comments Wed, 26 May 2010 21:36:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=357316 uot

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TTAC was one of the first sources to call BS on Globe and Mail journo-hack Peter Cheney’s ridiculous justification for his son’s press-car incident, but as the week went on, more and more outlets picked up on the obvious fact that Porsches don’t jump out of garages on their own. There’s this thing called a “clutch interlock switch”. Mr. Cheney likely figured that, since he doesn’t know much about cars, that the public would know even less. Oops!

The decent thing to do in these circumstances would be to simply apologize to one’s readers and then to return to the whirlwind lifestyle of far-flung press events, free $180,000 cars, and hilariously low performance standards which is synonymous with “automotive journalism”. It would have been quickly forgotten. The man who was responsible for approving Cheney’s original Porsche loaner flat-out told me, “I’ll give him another one.” Of course he will! Porsche, and everybody else in the business, is perfectly prepared to turn a blind eye to Cheney’s misdeeds past, present, and future. I was recently contacted by an anonymous Canadian source who told me that “Cheney’s kid drives press cars all the time, and everybody knows it.” So what? We’re on the gravy train now! Let’s keep it rolling!

Mr. Cheney, of course, can’t just let that happen. He’s apparently done enough “real” journalism in his life to know that there needs to be a culprit behind this incident, and he’s self-deluded enough to somehow miss the fact that his own spoiled son is to blame. As a result, we’ve been treated to another story, in which Cheney, um, finds the real killers. “Now,” he hilariously writes, “I was searching for answers, sifting through the debris like an air crash investigator.”

The accident had been a spectacular one. The car was a 2010 Porsche Turbo, one of the fastest-accelerating cars in the world. In a distance of just a few feet, it had gained enough kinetic energy to blow apart a 15-foot-wide garage door that had been reinforced with extra steel reinforcement ribs.

Yes, only a Porsche Turbo could accomplish this. If you dropped the clutch on a Toyota Yaris, it would just bounce off the door.

Under intense questioning, Cheney’s son claimed to have no knowledge of the incident. The trauma of bashing up someone else’s car and receiving a free driving school as compensation had wiped it from his PTSD-shaken mind. But this did not stop the Air Crash Investigator Of His Own Garage from determining that

Although he didn’t realize it, he had just cocked a 500-hp. weapon. There were safety mechanisms, but he had slipped past them all without realizing it.

Something’s being cocked here, I’ll tell you. A little more introspection under his swelling cherry tree finally leads Cheney to the true culprit.

As I analyzed the crash, I realized that it was about more than mechanics. It was about a generational shift… he went a click too far. The engine roared into life, filling the cinder-block garage with a sound that could be described as a cross between an enraged jungle cat and a giant vacuum cleaner.

When the cat finally breaks out of its cage, chaos ensues, as always happens when genetic experiments of this nature escape. On The Island Of Dr. Cheney, a jungle-cat/Dyson hybrid is too powerful to be controlled by anyone. Add in the fact that children of Little Lord Cheney’s generation are, like, totally not into driving stick-shifts and stuff, man… well, you know whose fault this is. It’s society’s fault.

“Some,” Cheney moans about the Globe and Mail‘s readers, “vilified me as an irresponsible parent, and a fool.” I would say that’s hitting the nail right on the head. To this, and to everybody who points out that Cheney flat-out lied in the pages of a major newspaper about Porsche’s clutch interlock, he states that,

the car did have that safety feature. But in the face of teenage over-exuberance and some bad luck, it meant nothing.

I’ll suggest that instead, it’s Mr. Cheney’s professional integrity, to say nothing of the Globe and Mail’s reputation, that “mean nothing”.

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