As a 12 year old one of my interests was Amateur Radio (Ham). Growing up in a middle class Cincinnati neighborhood provided a variety of people from which to glean, one of which was a young engineer that was just enrolling in some local classes through the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League). While taking classes together he became a mentor and a friend. One day I happened to notice an old white car in his garage that looked a bit like a Volkswagen Beetle. He told me, through a kind of childish / proud grin, that this was a 1956 Porsche 356. As a 12 year old in 1971 I had no idea what a Porsche was and a car older than me was just “ancient.” He went on to tell me that when the car came out of the factory it was faster than any Beetle of its day – considering that a ’71 Vette could do 0-60 in under 7 seconds and a ’71 Beetle could do 0-60, eventually, I didn’t get overly excited about his “prize.” However, and isn’t there always a however, his enthusiasm over this little “beetle killer” energized an interest in me that led to plenty of reading over the next few years.
Fast forward 6 years – I’m 18 and excited to purchase my first car. While a 914 was my dream I had to vie for a “cousin.” I purchased the last 1977 Volkswagen Beetle sedan in Cincinnati. (As a side bar I do kick myself for ever, ever letting that one go) She was a great vehicle and even my dad – a hard core Mopar man at the time – found it fun to drive. I remember the day that he and another foreman, at the machine shop where we worked, took her into the shop for an inspection. After 2 hours of “nit picking” and every effort to tear apart this “German,” she was pronounced flawless. Now, here’s that next “however”; I remember the day that I happened by the local MG dealership – anyone remember those – and there she sat, a bright shinny Orange and Black 914. Two seats, removable top! Oh, the sound! My dream and all that was necessary was the simple trade of my shinny Beetle and the signing of some papers. Wow a Porsche on VW payments – too good to be true?
Over the next several months a love and a bond was born, bred and reared, not just for a car, but a marque. I can still feel the rush of the first trip around the hairpins 20 MPH faster than any other car could handle. On another occasion, I remember the lump in my throat as I realized that the speedometer really shouldn’t be bouncing off of the peg on the right side of the gauge. And, of course, the evening when 4 girls needed a ride home after church one Sunday, yes 4. That car took a friend and me off to college; both trunks loaded, a luggage rack on the back and “stuff” behind the seats and on the passenger floorboard. The first fuel stop led to yet another moment of awe – exactly 400 miles of travel and exactly 12 gallons of fuel. Soon after, our bond took an awful turn. Entering the parking lot at college I heard a loud “pop” from the rear of the vehicle. That’s when I learned two valuable lessons, 1) what a swing arm is and rust’s effect on it and 2) the value of a pre purchase inspection.
Long story short I sold that car and for the next 25 years enjoyed the pleasures of German engineering in the Volkswagen family; Beetles, Jettas; Sciroccos, even Vanagons. All great cars, including my current 1999 New Beetle – Gidget! The Porsche attraction, however, can never be put aside. A little more than a year ago I happened by a 1983, Guards Red 944 for sale in a local shopping center parking lot. We had been talking about a second car and this one had been the previous owner’s “baby.” While not pristine she was certainly well maintained. Being the ultimate cheapskate I had to negotiate on the asking price. After about 6 weeks; we were finally able to strike a deal. The style, handling and reliability are all Porsche! She’s a great “daily driver!”
Now the search is on for my ideal 911 . . .