Engineered for Magic Everyday? – Part 1

David Walton
by David Walton

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.

engineered for magic everyday part 1

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.

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  • AMC_CJ AMC_CJ on Aug 05, 2013

    I once drove a BMW Z4 coupe. I thought it was going to be something special, something neat..... I was really that impressed, especially with the interior which seemed pretty dull and cheap. I'm pretty picky on my car interiors. The car didn't do it for me, granted, it was just the base Inline-6, and a automatic, but at the end of the drive, I just didn't feel it. Then a few years later, and this is really going to piss some people off I'm sure, but I'm telling the truth here, I test drove an absolute base model 2012 V6 Mustang, fell in love, and bought it. Could not tell you a $20,000 difference between the two cars. The BMW is a bit smaller, maybe a bit more sport feeling as such, but I didn't like how I fit in it anyways, and I'm not a large person, up or across. Driven a few other German cars, but they're too old to hold much relevance. I'd like to drive a Porsche, give one a spin, maybe one day, but I just don't see the worth in them, and that Ford is something I can work on, and keep going for a long time.

  • Traveller09 Traveller09 on Aug 07, 2013

    As someone who owns a very low mileage 95 993 that I have had for close to 10 years now I really connected with your article. It is exactly how I feel when I plan a special day just to take it for a drive over the mountains or the smile it puts on my face when I am at work and I know when I leave I get to drive her. When I discover a fun stretch of road I make a mental note so I can bring back the 911 to drive it on. All of the other cars mentioned here are great cars, I have driven many of them, but unless you have owned an air cooled Porsche you will never understand. It is not about the spreadsheet comparison of stats and cost, it is about the pure joy it brings you to drive one. I know it is a mechanical object but it is one of the few cars I have ever driven that has a soul to it. I don’t drive it to look cool, in fact I don’t like standing out, but it is pretty cool when you take it for a drive and you get thumbs ups from little boys and 40+ year old men because they get it. Great article, I will be curious to read your part II because mine has been trouble free.

  • FreedMike I don't know why this dash shocks anyone - the whole "touchscreen uber alles" thing is pure Tesla.
  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.