Twenty-Footer

One man's view on the delights of owning an entirely ordinary older 911.

November 4, 2011

Also from Issue 197

  • 2011 911 GT3 RS 4.0
  • Michael Mauer on the 991
  • 1950 356 cabriolet
  • Falken's change of pace
  • 1994 911 RS America
  • 1978 928: A lovely old shed
  • Project 914 3.6 — Part 18.5
  • Slave and master cylinder
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We have all read about them, dreamed about them. A forgotten sports car, tucked under a tarp in a dilapidated barn somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Some limited-production something complete with a sad story, obtained for a pittance and then meticulously restored beyond showroom condition. A sports car too valuable to drive sportingly.

This is not one of those stories.

This is more an ode to the ordinary…a musing over the mundane. My Porsche, a 1984 Carrera Targa, is one of nearly 17,500 built during that model run. A surprise gift from my wife Camilla for my 61st birthday, the car has suffered the ravages of time, weather, poor driving, multiple ownership, quirky modification, and inconsistent maintenance.

So, you may ask, why write about this vehicle and, more to the point, why read about it? Simple, really. Benchwarmers outnumber superstars. Ten-minute milers outnumber four-minute milers. There are far more beaters than barn finds. For the silent majority, this one’s for you.

My 911 is a tribute to the brand. Despite the mistreatment she has endured, the ole girl starts, stops, does not drip or leak, and makes that glorious air-cooled wail at 6500 rpm. I smile when I drive her.

It was not always that way. Our relationship required an incubation period. It was not love at first sight. In fact, what I first saw was that big dent on the left front fender, the chips, the dings, and the sundry blemishes. The weird red piping on the re­upholstered seats, the red-painted brake calipers peeking through oxidized alloys, and the cellulite on once shapely hips.

She did not like to start. She did not like to run. She bounced, she jiggled, and she inexplicably pulled left or right when stopping. Downshifting displeased her. With a shift pattern exploring the entire region of her interior, “crisp” wasn’t in her vocabulary. This Targa presented a challenge.

My first challenge was what to do. Not wishing to appear ungrateful, I graciously accepted my birthday gift, profusely professing adoration for my wife and for my “new” Porsche. What else could I do?

Hoping to find rays of sunshine in this rather murky first encounter, I revisited the Targa, examining her more carefully. Un­for­tunately, what I found was dark and stormy. The door-mounted mirrors had been “updated” to include sequential turn indicators reminiscent of a 1967 Mercury Cougar. The black exterior had been re­painted. Poorly repainted: thicker here than there, an occasional surface shimmy reflecting shoddy prep. Likely, she was painted in someone’s garage. Or driveway. Rustoleum was obviously not the brand of choice, because rust bubbled below the left headlight like pimples raging on the nose of a pubescent junior high school student.

Misguided intention pockmarked the interior. A fancy aftermarket radio-MP3 player adorned the dash. Speakers of various sizes punctuated each door panel. A dark, ominous-looking grill/speaker contrivance was prominently centered upon and embedded within the modified rear deck. That deck, incidentally, had shaken loose from its attachments, apparently from increased wattage emanating from a large amplifier in the trunk.

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