What an exciting Le Mans trip to France, and Porsche tour in Stuttgart Germany! My deepest gratitude to Larry Schmidt. Add in a transpacific trip, a few Koalas, a cerebrovascular accident, and an unsexy deep sea diver…and…well that’s a lot of adventure.
Who could blame you (or MikeJim) for complaining how weak it feels returning to my pathetic narrative about my 911?
Insipid, perhaps. But true and pure. My story. OUR story.
We left off with my attention being drawn to a bright red 356 SC…and me miffed at not being “special” enough get a loaner Porsche. I was determined to show Buddha the true excellence of my driving skills. Once enlightened, he would offer me a Porsche! When I swung by the shop to pick up the Pig I asked.
Buddha was away, but co-owner Yanni was in. “So, I heard that you sometimes give Porsches as loaners. Could I get one?” Yanni, being the consummate salesman, saw his opening.
“Maybe. I do have a Porsche I can sell you.”
“Ah no! That’s my retirement plan!” I laughed.
Yanni persisted, “We could just take a test drive …”
My brain exploded. Yes! A test drive! I knew this was my chance! Upon seeing me drive….voila! I’d qualify for a hottie the next time my beloved Pig was in the shop! I wouldn’t buy it…but I’d drive a Porsche!
That sunny, cool October Sunday, we met at the shop. It was quiet. Yanni stood grinning like a little boy with Chuckles, dangling the keys. “Ready?” It’s a little embarrassing to write the next part. No, I did not pee from excitement. So I guess it could be worse.
What an indelible and definitive moment in my life. The sensory flood of my first 911 experience. My hand slowly reached the door. The handle felt stiff, and analog. Had to squeeze hard. Olfactory cortex frenzied, I inhaled the delicious intoxicating scent of old leather. Rich. Oiled. Carefully, I lowered deep into the bucket seats and spotted the perforated leather headliner.
Waves of memories of growing up with old Volkswagens, mingled with this moment as I touched the rubber of those old gasket seals. I peeked at Yanni. Could he tell I was baffled by the door knob array? Where was the door opener? Which is the door lock or window control? My mind reeled with pure irrational joy as I feasted my hungry eyes on the long throw stick shift, the central tachometer, and that old Blaupunkt.
He looked over, I held my breath, he turned the key. It erupted. A throaty growl, menacing and comforting. The revving sound of the rear air-cooled engine was nothing like I had ever experienced…I reacted viscerally. Heart pounding, the entire back skin of my body awakened to the engine’s insistent throb.
All my life, I’d grown accustomed to doing things to cars. But in that moment, I felt the car do something to me.
Yanni floored the pedal. I gulped down air. He screeched slow behind a lumbering minivan. I gripped the door handle. He pulled left to pass, gunning hard. I heard the hair on my head scrunch as I was thrown back on the headrest. I giggled uncontrollably. Heart pounding, I knew it then. I wanted this car. It had to be mine!
We stopped to exchange drivers. Sweating and overheated, I removed my sweatshirt before taking the wheel. Incredulous and tentative, my right hand reached for the key. It wasn’t there. “Ferry designed it on the left for the LeMans start,” my textbook brain scolded. “What if I destroy the car?” I thought. “Don’t you chicken out now” my brain snarled. It started. A decade’s interval since last driving a manual, but it felt effortless. Like laughing! Or breathing! It was home.
Senses ablaze, mind alert, a desperate corner in my heart ached for more contact with this divine Teutonic piece of engineering. I drove fast. Needing to drink my fill before it ended. And end it did. Pulling into the service road on the way back, my attention turned to traffic. My stick-shift skills gave way: it stalled. Sheepishly, I restarted the engine and pulled into the lot. “You did good,” Yanni said, getting out of the car. I can’t remember what came next.
Here’s where you think “What a loser. Who would go crazy over an old slowmobile?” Fair point.
But that night, I could not sleep.