My Porsche 911 story

    Porsche-911-2002Tom Cruise famously said in Risky Business, “Porsche. There is no substitute.” The perfect line after the perfect getaway from Guido the killer pimp. If you listen carefully, I think you can even hear him mutter “… even marriage.”

    Lesson to all men: once you have a 911 in your garage, never, ever, sell it. More on my Big Mistake in a moment.

    First about the fancy Porsche mailer that triggered my sad memories.

    Marketing budgets at Porsche are back. This is easily the biggest package I’ve received from them—about 8.5″ x 14″ x 3″. Over the years I’ve accumulated a collection of manuals, stories, books, posters, and all sorts of creative German knick-knacks from Ferdinand’s marketing team.

    I always hope for 911 goodies.

    Porsche-911-2004But lately the focus from Porsche has been anything but. Expansion is in the air. Cayenne. Cayman. And now, Panamera. 4 doors. A Porsche? What!? First, a SUV, now a sedan. But for me, the heart and soul will always be the 911. Okay, the Boxster, a superb roadster, we’ll call the athletic little baby brother.

    The  package prompted much guesswork and excitement: is it a model? A three dimensional origami-like engine foldout? A book? No, no, and no. Alas, what we have here is a fancy color configurator. Queue more confusion. You mean, in this day and age with Internet we need costly cardboard color chips and cutouts. Achtung!

    Well, to see for yourself check out this short video.

    Porsche Panamera Mailer Unboxing from Stark Insider on Vimeo.

    Oh, yes, about my sad story. No Porsche article would be complete without me crying in my beer.

    I was once the proud owner of a 2002 Porsche 911. Arctic Silver on Metropol Blue. I liked the classic silver and the uniqueness of the blue interior which I grew very fond of over the years. Even better, it had the ROW (rest of world) sports suspension, which was typically only available in Europe. This option turned the already superb handler into a cornering devil. If Buick is the definition of body roll, this 911 would be at the opposite end—flat, stable, confident.

    Porsche-911-2003The engine was a beauty. At 320 horsepower, the ’02 model came with slightly more than the previous year (as always the case). Not gobs by today’s standards. But I liked that the power was matched perfectly to the body. You never felt one was outdoing the other.

    The sound was—line up your favorite cliches—growling, gnarling, and intoxicating. Floor it on a 101 on-ramp, and the engine bursts to life in glorious, burbbling rumble and song. It was a sound that garnered many, many repeat performances. Ferrari fans, yes I know, the 360/430 V8s are monsters. To me, though, Porsche exudes understatement and engineering finesse. Not that I have anything against pricey Italian passion.

    At the zenith of my bachelor sports car days I had owned several luxury sports cars, much to my bank account’s dismay, including a Jaguar XKR (fickle cat, with high price tag, low quality, tremendous horsepower), and BMW (superb German engineering once again). But the 911 is the best car I’ve ever owned, by far.

    At the DMV, the car drew a crowd as the attendant looked for the engine. He popped the hood, then looked quizzically, “Hmmm, where’s the engine?” He bent over, fiddled with the tiny spare, shuffling things around until I told him it was in the rear. Wait until he tries to find the ignition I thought.

    So, about that Big Mistake then.

    Porsche-911-2008For reasons known only to inner demons of regret and maybe Tom Hanks, the prospect of marriage meant I had to unload my Bachelor past.

    Maybe I thought it was a moral cleansing. Or fresh start. Whatever the case, now I simply call it a mistake. Crazy. Even Loni tells me she loved the 911. And, amazingly, it was practical. Back seats, albeit tiny, provided decent storage with a fold-down shelf. The trunk (under the hood remember) was decent enough for zipping back a case of Cab from Napa. On the highway the efficient flat 6 delivered an impressive 25 mpg.

    I ended up selling the car to a military guy from L.A. He landed at SJC. I picked him up. He handed me a cashier’s check. And he tourqued away in about 30 minutes. In the blink of an eye my dream was over.

    The memories will live on though.

    I’ll never forget landing in Denver to pickup the shiny 911 with summer performance tires, and then finding myself smackdab in the middle of the worst Halloween snowstorm the city had ever seen. The next few days, I would enjoy open road sports car driving across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, then through Northern California back to San Jose. And no speeding tickets.

    Sun rising, just outside Reno, I hit the highway at 6am. No other cars in sight and the road is clear. The 911 purrs. Then I hit it. Everything else is a blur.

    Porsche. There really is no substitute.

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    • I like the body roll in my Buick – it makes for a comfortable trip on any highway with gentle turns.
      And a big trunk and 30 + mpg. That said, I would like to try a Cayman which seems like good value.
      Wish I could have driven your 911.

      • Somehow I thought I'd hear from you about Buick. I should have used Lincoln, instead right? Agree the Caymans are great, fits in Porsche lineage. Still I find the Cayenne and now Panamera odd models. But I understand the need for profits too!

      • Somehow I thought I'd hear from you about Buick. I should have used Lincoln, instead right? Agree the Caymans are great, fits in Porsche lineage. Still I find the Cayenne and now Panamera odd models. But I understand the need for profits too!

    • I like the body roll in my Buick – it makes for a comfortable trip on any highway with gentle turns.
      And a big trunk and 30 + mpg. That said, I would like to try a Cayman which seems like good value.
      Wish I could have driven your 911.

      • Somehow I thought I'd hear from you about Buick. I should have used Lincoln, instead right? Agree the Caymans are great, fits in Porsche lineage. Still I find the Cayenne and now Panamera odd models. But I understand the need for profits too!

    • MARK

      I know exactly how you feel, I traded in my 2002 911 Turbo for a 2008 Cayenne, great practical performing SUV but an SUV nonetheless..I couldn't do it anymore, I traded it back after 2 years for a 2007 911s with 19 inch Carrera Sport wheels…it is such a sweet ride I am getting cavities..You are absolutely right..Never ever sell your 911 unless it is to get another one!!!!

      • Like the sounds of those wheels Mark. Mine had 18". The 19 inchers + revised body style and headlights plus sporty hips must look awesome.

      • Like the sounds of those wheels Mark. Mine had 18". The 19 inchers + revised body style and headlights plus sporty hips must look awesome.

    • MARK

      I know exactly how you feel, I traded in my 2002 911 Turbo for a 2008 Cayenne, great practical performing SUV but an SUV nonetheless..I couldn't do it anymore, I traded it back after 2 years for a 2007 911s with 19 inch Carrera Sport wheels…it is such a sweet ride I am getting cavities..You are absolutely right..Never ever sell your 911 unless it is to get another one!!!!

      • Like the sounds of those wheels Mark. Mine had 18". The 19 inchers + revised body style and headlights plus sporty hips must look awesome.

    • BajaBarry

      A long time ago, when I was young and living in New York, I had a 356A Cabriolet. Had to get rid of it after skidding in snow into another car on my way to school. When I married Pat I had an '87 Corvette, but I didn't get rid of it until forced to by the bad economic situation in the early 90's.

      • I've done my fair share of skidding in the snow too, up in Canada. Plenty of broken bits to remember, some still hanging in the garage as mementos.

        Hope you at least have some photos of your 356A and '87 vette still around!

      • I've done my fair share of skidding in the snow too, up in Canada. Plenty of broken bits to remember, some still hanging in the garage as mementos.

        Hope you at least have some photos of your 356A and '87 vette still around!

    • BajaBarry

      A long time ago, when I was young and living in New York, I had a 356A Cabriolet. Had to get rid of it after skidding in snow into another car on my way to school. When I married Pat I had an '87 Corvette, but I didn't get rid of it until forced to by the bad economic situation in the early 90's.

      • I've done my fair share of skidding in the snow too, up in Canada. Plenty of broken bits to remember, some still hanging in the garage as mementos.

        Hope you at least have some photos of your 356A and '87 vette still around!

    • John P.

      Talk about the body roll of a Buick or Cayenne. I drive the original 71 V.W. Bus. It will go from 0 to 60 in about 60 sec. As the saying goes it is not destination, its the journey!

    • John P.

      Talk about the body roll of a Buick or Cayenne. I drive the original 71 V.W. Bus. It will go from 0 to 60 in about 60 sec. As the saying goes it is not destination, its the journey!

      • A classic… makes the automotive landscape that much more interesting. Kind of like my old 1973 AMC Gremlin. I should write about that one some time too!

      • A classic… makes the automotive landscape that much more interesting. Kind of like my old 1973 AMC Gremlin. I should write about that one some time too!

    • John P.

      Talk about the body roll of a Buick or Cayenne. I drive the original 71 V.W. Bus. It will go from 0 to 60 in about 60 sec. As the saying goes it is not destination, its the journey!

      • A classic… makes the automotive landscape that much more interesting. Kind of like my old 1973 AMC Gremlin. I should write about that one some time too!