In a land before my time there was PORSCHE. And everything PORSCHE was good. Lightweight… Aerodynamic … High performing… race winning, and of course, engineering excellence. I shouldn’t be surprised for my love of all things PORSCHE (well, I can’t say I appreciate some of Butzi’s Porsche Design creations, at least he made up for it with the 904 and 911 designs ?). It’s hereditary. My father is a Porsche man. His first was a 1955 Speedster bought during his college days. While that car came and went, its grip remained tight. In 1970 he bought new (and still has) a 914/6. A few years later, while my mom was looking for a 914 2.0 to use as her daily driver, a young Racer at her side, the force grew more strongly. A salesman told her to “come back with her husband and we’ll talk some more”. Perhaps proving a point (the salesman implying that there was no way he’d sell a Porsche to a woman), perhaps realizing the impracticality of another 914 in a household with 3 young boys, a 1974 911 S was bought, the keys handed to my mom, and away we went! Just two years later, another 1955 pre-A Speedster was added to the stable.
With all these lovely cars came great memories: My dad picking me up from school,
on rare occasion, in the Speedster. Autumn afternoon rides in the 914/6; trips
to the store in the 911; trips to Newburg (Orangeburg) for the Zone 1 Concours
in the Speedster; Autocrosses at Rutgers in the 911 and 914/6. Of course, all
of this should have a point. The point is I never had a chance to not appreciate
these cars. My folks were extremely active in NNJR PCA. We went to two national
parades (Aspen ’78 where we garnered “Family of the Year”
honors and D.C in ’79). My dad was a region president and my mom the region
newsletter editor for several years. We went to every event, rain or shine,
for as long as I can remember.
Of course, three young boys couldn’t drive on the track. We were relegated
to “track rat” status. We spent our time on motorcycles (Honda 50’s,
XR- 80’s, XL-100’s, and 125’s and YZ 80’s, 125’s
.. you get the idea) traversing the large infield expanses at places like Watkins
Glen, Pocono and Lime Rock. We were also forced into “concours”
duty… something about our tiny little hands being able to reach into the
places only a judge would look…, wheel changers, gas jug haulers and other
Age 16, the driving age in MD at the time, was terribly good for me. My brother’s 914 (a certain Tangerine 1970 1.7 many of you have seen) was resting safely in the back yard. My brother was away at college and, needing more practical transport (he went to school in upstate NY where the snow started in October and melted in May), the 914 was put aside. What a great first car! After a trip to Mechanicsburg (now Hershey) swap meet, a pair of new SS heat exchangers, 6x14 4-bolt Minilite wheels and new rocker panels were acquired and installed on the 914. Sure I should have been looking for replacement rubber seals, but, those can only be appreciated in the wet, and, well, how often would it rain anyway!
Finally age 18 rolled around and it was time to join the local PCA region. With a family move from NJ to MD, “Potomac Region” became my home region. I attended my first track event in the spring of 1990. Of course, your thinking, what did he drive? The 914? Well, no… my brother and I swapped cars for reasons not so clear, and the Tangerine 914 was not available. The Speedster? No way. I only drove it twice in my life, and the first time was 1994. The second in 1997, right before its sale ?. The 914/6? A good choice for a first timer but, no. It hadn’t been tracked in a while and I think my dad thought it best I not “learn the hard way” in his car. Perhaps my mom’s 928S? No thank you, automatics and the track just don’t go together. That’s right. The 911. And not a stock one either. A trip to Mosport several years earlier had resulted in the need for a rebuild. My only memory of my first event, Summit Point, was when I lifted coming out of “wagon bend” (a fast left with an off camber, somewhat “blind” exit) and lifted… D’oh! Nothing happened to the car, but I remember my instructor saying “add gas… add gas… add gas… add gas…” about 10 times before I could convince my right foot to actually “add gas”. A great first event that would lead to a summer full of track and autocross events.
The college years saw a diminished PCA experience (no time, no money). Not
long after graduation the 914 was resurrected and became my car again for several
years. In 1995 the car was in much the same condition as it had been in 1987
– i.e. still a 1.7. I autocrossed the car that year and over the next
winter the first of several upgrades occurred. Out went the 1.7 and a “new”
2.1 liter was assembled and installed by Powertech. A strong motor indeed! (Well,
it’s all relative. When you start with 80hp and add 50% … It sure
felt strong!) I spent many an autocross harassing “Jupe” in the
old 2.7 liter “Pesky”. 1996 was also a re-introduction to track
driving. It was here that it became apparent that stock 914/4 brakes were not
so good. Despite running high temp fluid and better brake pads, I just abused
those little guys into oblivion. 1999 was the next year of major upgrades. The
motor stayed the same, but the car was converted to 911 front suspension and
’84-’89 Carrera brakes all around. A roll cage was added for stiffness.
It was also around this time that I became an NNJR and NER region instructor.
While continuing to visit Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Pocono and Summit Point,
I was able to expand my track horizons with trips to New Hampshire, Mt. Tremblant
and VIR. Great tracks and great experiences. I recommend them to everyone!
While enjoying the 914, it was easy to realize that to keep up with the “really big” boys (egad.. where did those cup cars come from), more changes would have to be made. I figured I should save my money and put a 3.2 in the 914 or look for a 911. At the same time, a familiar 1978 911SC came on the market. Since some of my earliest memories were 911 related, I went for it. It was painful to sell the 914 (the car was in the family since 1982) but I found a good home for it (and reserved right of first refusal should the current owner wish to sell it). I drove up to New Hampshire in January to look (well, buy) the car. There she was, nestled in the barn, next to a 356! After a few minutes on a battery tender, she started right up. The sport exhaust echoing off the snow lined driveway. A short test drive with my brother (always bring someone along for these things… you can get a little too emotionally charged to be objective) and the deal was sealed. Such power and comfort! We loaded up my other car with the “spares” - another set of wheels, the original decklid, exhaust, center console, A/C parts and assorted other pieces. The trip home was exciting but uneventful.
The 911 has seen a few changes during its current ownership. The car was purchased with an un-balanced brake system (944T calipers on the front, stock SC calipers on the rear) that needed immediate attention. In the name of comfort (I drive the car to all the events) a new stereo was installed. After a string of high oil temps, winter 2002 saw the addition of a front mounted oil cooler. The next project involves the suspension, as it seems to be all original. I was able to garner a 3rd in class (M03) at the Zone autocross in 2001 (behind a 964 RSR and club race 911) so, even “stock” these cars are pretty good. After that? I don’t know. Maybe a 3.6 to keep up with “MuffinMan”; maybe another 911 altogether. Regardless, I look forward to my next Porsche journey. Stay tuned!