Seriously Irreverent Musings

Category: Air Cooled 911s (page 1 of 4)

Air Cooled Porsches

It’s an Ollo-nly World

In my ongoing quest to prove to myself that I am not an agorophiac, I ventured out again for a drive in my 89 Targa this morning. I headed up PCH towards Malibu, as I like to drive by the ocean. Along the way, I randomly started thinking about daylight savings time, as tonight we fall back to regular time.

This was a really bad idea. Thinking about it, I realized for the first time that daylight savings time is a misnomer. We do not save daylight when we move our clocks forward. We actually spend more time in daylight, which left me wondering why it was not called daylight spending time. I pondered this as I drove, eventually forsaking this line of thought as it was somewhat fruitless, and I was getting hungry.

Still heading north, I decided to stop at the McDonald’s just south of the Malibu pier to get some takeout. Shockingly, I really like the coffee at McDonald’s, which given my disdain for the coffee at most restaurants is kind of odd. I am also somewhat uncomfortable going into fast food places during Covid, but I do like the coffee, so I pulled into the parking lot.

As I did, I noticed a person who has been experiencing homelessness for a long time leaning against the outside wall right next to the door. As I was parking and debating whether I could weather the germ storm I would encounter while walking by him, I noticed another person experiencing a similar amount of homelessness going in the door to McDonald’s. I am embarrassed to say that despite my feelings of pity for both of them, there was no way I was going to go into McDonald’s, despite of the quality of the coffee inside, leaving me with the issue of where to get some food.

Continuing north, I decided to pull into the parking lot of Ollo, a restaurant just south of Pepperdine. I have not been to Ollo since Covid began. I used to eat there about four times per year with my Porsche Club cronies. We would hang out in the parking lot, ogling all the other cars and then go in to eat. As there were usually about 40 of us, we took up most of the restaurant and made quite a bit of noise.

I pulled into the lot, noting with a pang of sadness the lack of familiar cars and faces. I did relish the ease of finding a parking space, though. As I sat in my car, I threw my agorophobiac tendencies to the ocean breeze and decided to actually eat at Ollo, not just get takeout. To put this in perspective, I have not actually eaten at a restaurant in over seven months.

With no small amount of trepidation, I walked in and asked for a table for one. It was empty inside, which was no surprise, and the patio, where I was going to be sitting, was not too crowded.

So I stayed and ate, a little bit lonely and all the while noting the stillness of the place and pondering why we call it daylight savings time.

Lufting Back

I really did not like this picture when I took it in May, 2019, mainly because it was too busy, too chaotic, with no central focus. I took it at Luftgekühlt 6, the premier air-cooled Porsche show in the world, which was held on the backlot of Universal Studios.

I like looking at it much more now because it speaks volumes about what we have given up. It is an uplifting view of the past, of a carefree time that I hope we see again soon.

My friend, Mark, and I took my Guards Red 89 Carrera to the event, It looked great, as it was freshly coiffed for a very public appearance.

We arrived early in the morning, along with all the other air-cooled Porsches that were going to park on the backlot.

Mark is connected with a Capital C so we were able to go to the Petersen pre-event festivities, hang out with Patrick Long, the creator of the event and world-class Porsche race car driver and unbelievably nice guy, and eat backstage with the Luft crew.

All in all it was a fantastic day. Mark and I had a great time. The backlot will never look that good again, as there were air-cooled Porsches in every nook and cranny and entire backlot streets were jammed with parked Porsches.

As we were getting ready to leave, I took one last picture of my Carrera. I thought it was a unique opportunity to capture the essence of the day, without other parked Porsches or people milling around to muck up my shot, and I doubted I would ever get a similar chance. When I looked at it when I got home, I was disappointed with it. It just did not work, and I felt it was sort of meh.

The picture just did not convey how I felt about that day. The lighting is off. My car looks dull, as its gleam is gone because it had rained a bit. After seeing so many cars and so many people crowding in a small space, my car looks lonely, sitting by itself in front of a drab New York-esque building on the backlot.

Now that we are seven months into Covid-19, my perception of the picture has changed. Now I like it for what it conveys about life for the past seven months. The loneliness of it. The isolation of it. The drabness of it.

Meh sort of works for me now.

Flat Six Musings

As the percentage of Covid infected among us continues to drop, I have started to re-engage the outside world. A couple of weeks ago, I was worried that I was beginning to become an agoraphiac, as I had not driven my babies in quite some time. I wrote about it and received a nice rasher of shit from my Flat Six (AKA Porsche) cronies, telling me in no uncertain terms to get out and drive. And so I did.

Last weekend I met my friend Mark at the gas station, and then we went for a drive. It was pleasant. Nothing serious. Nothing twisty. Nothing fast. Just a nice drive up the coast. I was in my Cayman, and he was in his 911. Both of us were on our phones with each other, as being the yentas we are, we kibitzed as we drove. We did about 90 miles up and down the coast with a nice stop north of Malibu at Trancas for some coffee and muffins. It was great. It was just what the doctor, if not Eric Garcetti and Barbara Ferrer, ordered. It left me feeling less agoraphobic.

This weekend I decided to do it again. Only this time I went alone, and I drove my 89 Carrera, mainly because I wanted a more visceral experience. We are suffering through a fall Santa Ana wind condition, with daytime temperatures in the 90s and 100s. No matter, as I headed out early Saturday morning with the Targa top off and the hot, Santa Ana winds whipping through the cabin.

I was still not in the mood for a serious drive, so I did most of the same one Mark and I did last weekend, only this time I was not on the phone. Instead, I was focused on the drive, remembering what driver engagement is all about when driving a fully analog car without nannies like traction control, without power assisted anything, and without the dual-clutch automatic transmission that lurks in my Cayman. In short, my focus was on the tachometer, as I shifted my way up and down thru the gears, listening to the sound of the air-cooled flat six as it competed with the wind for my attention. There was not much else on my mind. At least initially.

At some point, driving became automatic. The wind and the engine sound became consistent background noise that soothed me but enabled me to start focusing on other things. Like the conversation I had had with my friend Nick earlier in the week.

Nick is a really smart guy. He is a young entrepreneur driven to be a success. He is also one of the most knowledgeable people I know with respect to world and economic events. We see eye to eye on almost every issue we face as Americans.

Given that we agree on so much, why do we continue to discuss the issues? The answer is simple: We are voting for different presidential candidates. So we discuss the issues to try to find the nuances that lead each of us to our distinctly different choice.

After much thought, I realized that it is not only the individual issues that drive our decisions. Instead, it is our prioritization of each of the issues and the implication of the solution to each issue that leads us to different conclusions, because ultimately it is what each of us fears the most that matters more than what we agree upon. That is why we keep discussing the issues.

The drive back was a blur, as I ruminated about Nick and life in America in 2020. Soon I was nearing the end of the drive on the coast, approaching the McClure Tunnel and the start of Interstate 10 eastbound.

It was time to shift my focus back to driving, but before I did, I though about Nick and our relationship. Nick and I respect each other. We value each other’s opinion and thoughts. We see value in our friendship despite differing political views. We will still have a relationship after all the votes are counted, whichever month that is.

I hope the same can be said for the majority of Americans.

Forgive Me Ferdinand

For the past six months, it's been a Covid life for me, just like it has for everyone else.  I have bemoaned the sameness of each day, thinking that everyday is a Monday, but it isn't.
Which brings me to the point of this post. With thanks to Robert Earl Keen, I am guilty of a Dreadful Selfish Crime, as I have let my Porches languish for months, just letting them sit in the driveway and the garage, patiently waiting to be driven. But I don't, and it saddens and frustrates me.
I realize that despite Covid I have it pretty damn good.  We are all employed and all healthy so far, but I spend so much time at home with no real interest in venturing outside, that I think I am losing my desire to do so.  I am concerned that I am turning into an agoraphobiac, at least when it comes to driving.
My main excursion each week, when I actually drive, is on early Sunday mornings when I go to the market at 6:15 AM and then to the bagel store at 6:45 AM. Pam, Kim and I also go to Shelby's to see our exalted granddaughter, Portia, each week, but it is a short distance away, and I let Pam drive to Shelby's house.
Since last November, I have put about 500 miles on my Cayman GTS and 500 miles on my 89 Carrera Targa.  I could drive them, but every time I have time on the weekend to get out and drive, which is less often than I would like, I opt not to, as I am concerned about finding an open public restroom and then frequenting it while on the drive.  Hence, my agoraphobia concerns.
Instead of driving my cars, I let them idle for about 15 to 18 minutes each week, which is not a good thing, but it is better than nothing.  Of course, with my Covid mental state, I rely on an alarm on my iPhone to remember to turn them off, instead of letting them go idling into the sunset.
I know I could, and should, drive them.  My Porsche cronies are driving theirs.  I see many of their posts on Facebook, chronicling their organized drives, days at the track, and socially distanced cars and coffee meetings.  It further saddens me that I cannot motivate myself to join them.
It's not like I am unmotivated to do other things.  I workout religiously, running outside three times a week and using my Tonal to lift weights three times a week.  Pam and I have completed several project around the house, and I have learned to make pizza and bread.  I take the trash out so often, that Pam and Kim have decided that I must have a girlfriend living in the dumpster in the alley.
But I just can't seem to leave my house to drive my cars, and I do not know how to change it.  Sooner or later, I will just have to force myself to get out and drive, but not just yet.

Joy Ride

I spent some time this afternoon joyriding. Thanks to Covid-19 I didn’t even have to head out to the twisties on the backroads to have fun. Instead, I just cruised out Olympic to the 405 North.

It has been weeks since I had my 89 911 G-Body Targa on the road. I have been letting it idle for about 10 – 15 minutes each week just to keep it breathing. But today I just had to get out and drive. Nothing fancy. Nothing serious. Nothing far. Just took it out to drive.

With gas cheap, even in CA it is in the low $3 per gallon range, this was a great way to stay socially distant. Just me, the wind, and the howl of my naturally aspirated, air-cooled flat six. Even though I did not go far, once the oil warmed up, I made sure I revved the hell out of it, coming close to redlining it a couple of times.

I love the feel of driving that car. Manual steering. Manual brakes. Manual transmission. Complete driver engagement, requiring more than enough focus to forget about Covid-19 for awhile.

With few cars on the road, it doesn’t get a whole lot better. I have a feeling I will be doing this again real soon.

Lufting Great

Apparently the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend is a great day for a car show. Who knew. Patrick Long. That’s who.

Luftgekühlt 6, the sixth installment of the uber successful air-cooled Porsche show franchise, was held on the back lot at Universal Studios on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend. It was not only great. It was a smash. Frankly, I thought Luft 5, which was held at Ganahl Lumber in Torrance, was an amazing event. I thought it would be tough to beat. I was wrong. Not a little wrong, but totally and completely wrong. Luft 6 was simply spectacular.

Leading up to the event, I was a little iffy about the whole thing. I just wasn’t feeling it. I have been to Lufts 1,4, and 5, and I have loved them all. But for some reason I was a little nonplussed about Luft 6. Maybe it was because I have been working too hard and traveling too much. Maybe it was because I have seen so many of the cars so many times. Maybe it was because I was not sure my 89 G-Body Carrera would be parked in the back lot. Whatever the reason, by the time we entered Gate 4 to get into the back lot, that old Luft feeling was back. Back in a big way.

A couple of weeks before the event, I got in touch with Marc, my high school friend and fellow Porsche enthusiast, who lives in Las Vegas, and asked him if he was going to Luft. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if I could tag along. He once again said, “Yes.” Marc is pretty well connected in the motor sports world, so I knew we would have full access to to all aspects of the event. That pumped me up a tad, but I still was not really feeling it.

Friday night Marc and I went to the pre-Luft event at the Petersen Automotive Museum and hung out with all the car folks. We were treated to a vault tour, which was led by Pete Stout of 000 fame. Pete is a self-proclaimed “Porsche Nerd.” He knows a lot about the history of the marque, ranging from street to track. We had a great time, but I was still not feeling it the way I had in the past.

On Saturday, I drove my Guards Red 1989 Carrera Targa to pick Marc up at the hotel, and then we drove to Gate 4, which is all the way around to the back side of the studio.

On the way, a couple of other air-cooled Porsches caught up with us. The waving started and the smiles were contagious. We took Barham down the hill and pulled into the left turn lane for Gate 4. While there, we were treated to the view of a line of air-cooled Porsches heading north on Barham that were lined up waiting to turn right into the lot. We made the left and got in line for entry. At that point, I was back. I was ready to have a great time.

We went thru the gate, were staged to be led to our designated spaces, and proceeded to drive thru the lot. As we passed each stop sign, my excitement grew. At the last stop sign, we were greeted by Pat Long, completely at ease, directing traffic, playing his role of host and master of ceremonies.

We parked, and just started taking it all in. From the outset, we new this Luft was going to be special. The area was huge, with enough different nooks and crannies that were visually disconnected to make it feel like many smaller shows instead of one large one. It also helped disperse the crowd, which was huge, as the event was sold out.

The cars were amazing. It did not matter that I had seen many of them before. I had never seen them is this environment. It made them feel fresh.

The cars showed off the air-cooled culture, ranging from 356s to race cars, from stock to outlaw, from road to off-road. There was something new around every corner.

Some were out on the main streets. Others were lurking on the side streets. All were pretty amazing.

We spent all day at the show, hanging out with some of the crew for lunch and then friends throughout the day. By the time we left, it had rained a bit, and most people had left, which gave me a chance to take a shot of my Carrera sitting all by itself on the backstreets of New York. How kült was that?

Cinco de Drivo

A great drivo and a little drinko.  A perfecto way to celebrate the May 5, 1862 Battle of Puebla!!!!  Ironically, it’s celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico.  Yes, in the United States it’s better known as Cinco de Mayo.  Yes, my PCA buddies and I went for a drivo.  Yes, we then met in Santa Monica at El Cholo for some food and drinko—all before noon.  But, hey, at least we drove first, and it was five o’clock somewhere.

It’s been several weeks since I had my 89 Carrera on the twisties.  And it’s been many weeks since I had it out on one of my favorite roads, Mulholland Highway.  My drought ended this morning when I met my PCA Los Angeles buddies for a spirited drive along Mulholland and then a beautiful cruise down Pacific Coast Highway before stopping at El Cholo for brunch, either liquid or solid or both.

I have been too busy to drive for fun lately.  Pam and I were away.  Then I had to go to Luftgekühlt—yeah, I know, poor, poor pitiful me—which was tons of fun to be at but the drive was on freeways, not twisties.  Then I had other stuff to do.  Then I began to work on a project that requires lots of commute time, which I do in my Cayman.  But not today.  Today, it was drive time.  Today, it was 89 time.  Today, it was Malibu time.  And I smiled all morning.

This was a pretty simple drive.  We met at Gelson’s in Woodland Hills on Mulholland Highway.  We drove on Mulholland.  We drove on PCH.  I left before the group, hoping to get to a decent place to stop and take some pictures of the rest as they raced by.  Unfortunately, my plan fell apart.  Before I found a suitable spot from which to shoot, the lead group, let by my buddy David, was on my rear bumper.  David was leading a group that I can hang with when I am in my Cayman.  When I am in my 89, I don’t even try.  After I found a spot to pull over and let them by, I thought I would have a few minutes to find another spot from which to shoot before the next group on the road caught me.  I was wrong.  The gap between the groups, which was supposed to be at least five minutes, was about 20 seconds.  I could hear them coming up behind me while I could still hear the the lead group screaming away from me.  At that point I knew pictures were not in the cards.  I just inserted myself into the middle of the next group and focused on driving, which was really nice.

I had the oldest car out there today.  It has the fewest driving aids.  And the fewest horses.  But it is lighter and nimbler than the newer models so I can still keep up on shorter radius turns, which are prevalent on Mulholland.  I was maintaining contact with the group, but tenuously.  Suddenly, I reeled them back in.  I figured they came up on a group of bicyclists.  I was shocked when we finished the penultimate turn running up the Snake and saw a Model T lumbering around the last turn.  Unbelievable.  Only in LA.

The group crossed Kanan Dume and headed out towards Decker Canyon then dropped down to PCH.  My tolerance for Decker is just a little more than my tolerance for Yerba Buena, which is also in Malibu and which I call Yerba No Bueno,  So I bailed on the group and headed down Kanan to PCH feeling relaxed, refreshed, happy and windblown, as my Targa top was off. The ride down PCH was great.  The sun felt good.  The wind felt good.  Most importantly, the ocean smelled good.

We all met up at El Cholo and had a great time eating, drinking, swapping wildest turn, I mean biggest fish, stories and celebrating the Battle of Puebla.

Lufting Good

Time flies.  Things change.  Cars come and go.  Classic cars remain classic.  Luft grows.  At least for now.

Luftgekühlt, the epic air-cooled Porsche show, has reached staggering proportions.  This year’s installment was last weekend.  From my perspective, it was way better than last year’s event, and I loved last year’s event.   This was the fifth Luft.  I have been to three of them.  I have had cars in two of them.  I am one of the lucky ones.

Luftgekühlt has risen from obscure roots to become THE air-cooled Porsche event of the year, every year.  Porsche aficionados flock to it as if it were Mecca.  This year was no exception, though I have to admit that the anticipation of the event and getting to the event may have been a tad more enjoyable than the event itself.

Pat Long and Howie Idelson, Luft’s founders, are freakin geniuses.  Though if you asked them, I am not sure even they could have dreamed what would transpire since the first Luft at Deus Ex Machina in Venice four short years ago.  I was at Luft 1.  I thought it was epic then.  I still do.  Even Pam, who has

never been to Luft, thinks it was epic, but that had more to do with Patrick Dempsey being there than the 911s.  But Luft 1 was a backyard party compared to the stadium show they held this year.  Luft has tapped into

the mother lode of passion residing in air-cooled Porsche enthusiasts—enthusiasts that will put up with, or secretly get off on, the underground, industrial, forbidden fruit, cult-like kind of vibe its organizers have  fostered since Luft 1.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am one of the enthusiasts who have caught the Luft bug, and I do not want to be cured.

Over time the number of cars at Luft has grown, but the cars have remained essentially the same.  Initially, I went to see the cars.  Now I go more for the chance to take pictures and see  people.  I see more than enough cars all year.  Seeing one more car, even one I drool over, has become increasingly less interesting.  Of course, I love to take pictures of them, especially in the locations in which Luft is held.  Talking to the people who own them, learning why they have or have not modified them, listening to what they do with them has become way more interesting to me.  Luft provides me with opportunities to shoot and talk—in spades.

This year the location was spectacular.  The lumber yard was huge, encompassing 17 acres.  Cars adorned the outside aisles, inside aisles, and open spaces.  What was nice was that they were spread out and that, despite the throngs in attendance, it did not feel too crowded, unless you wanted a t-shirt or food.  In those cases, the lines were as epic as the show.

My pilgrimage to Luft started Saturday afternoon, the day before the event.  My Guards Red 89 911 Carrera Targa needed cleaning.  After cleaning it, I put it back into the garage, which is located at the back of our lot.  As I was leaving the house around 6 am Sunday morning, this meant that I would be moving a couple of cars out of the driveway, opening and closing the garage and backing the 911 all the way down to the street at the butt crack of dawn on a weekend morning.  Not the best way to ingratiate myself with the rest of my family or my neighbors, but there was no way I was exposing my clean 911 to the elements the night before Luft.

My entry time to get my 89 parked started at 7:00 am.  I planned to be early.  I was not alone.  The drive to the show, which was in Torrance and about 20 miles from where I live in West LA, was epic in its own right.  My first inclination that the ride was about to get very interesting happened a few miles down the 405.  I was cruising at a sedate 80 and minding my own business when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a 911 coming from behind at warp speed.  It was going so quickly as it passed me that my 911 was buffeted from side to side.  It went by so fast I could not tell if it was an Outlaw or a Singer.  Either way, it was heavily modified.  About two minutes later, the first of a large pack of 911s caught up with me.  My sedate ride was over.  I hopped on the back of the air-cooled train and drove with them the rest of the way to Torrance.

Getting everyone sorted and parked before the show started went pretty smoothly, though I did see at least one 911 stall and refuse to restart.  It was pushed into the show lot.  Frankly, the time time before the show started at 9 am was great.  Cars were being staged, but the place was empty.  It felt great.  I really had nothing to do, so I got a coffee and just sat back and reveled in the spectacle that was being played out.  Eventually I got motivated to buy a t-shirt, which I am wearing as I write this.  Then I went over to the 000 table. I have been a Pete Stout fan since he was the editor of Panorama, the Porsche Club monthly magazine.  A year or so ago he founded 000, a high end, high quality, coffee table magazine dedicated to all things Porsche.  I had been flirting with subscribing to it for a while, and after taking to Pete, I decided to take the plunge.

A bit later, my friend Marc, who had come from Las Vegas to see the show, arrived.  Marc is a Porsche guy and very well connected in the automotive community.  We were friends in high school, lost touch and then got reconnected based on our common interest in Porsches.  I spent the next several hours with Marc and his buddy, Kris.  We looked at all the cars on display, of course paying particular attention to green cars, which were Kris’ favorites, and my 89, as it was my favorite.  We saw some amazing cars, from Outlaw 356s to Singers, with all sorts of modified and stock 911s in between.  I took a bunch of pictures, playing with my aperture setting to get some special effects of some very special cars.

Just before we were done, Marc met up with Pat Long, and Kris and I tagged along with them as we went in search of Rod Emory.  After a brief conversation with with all, I said good bye and headed home.  Getting my 89 out of the show lot was fun, as several people stopped to point at my personalized license plate.

As I drove home, I was already wondering where they will hold Luft 6.  I will not complain if they go back to the same place.



Not My Mamas Sewing Machine

I was driving home after a tour of Singer Vehicle Design, and, for once, I was at a loss for words.  PCA-LA had hosted an intimate Cars and Coffee event at Singer that morning.  It was a good thing I stopped at Starbucks before I left home because I was so inspired while I was at Singer, I never even frequented the baristas.  For the most part, I just stood and gawked, though I did do a little lusting, too.  I was in awe, in awe of their cars, in awe of their processes, in awe of the vision of the their founders.

Singers are amazing automobiles.  Starting with a customer’s 964 model 911 as a donor car, Singer proceeds to rip it apart and rebuild it completely.  Singers are sort of related to my 89 G-Body 911 Carrera in the same way I am related to Lance Armstrong—we are both human, but one of us has been infused with a lot of technology.  Engine, chassis, suspension, brakes, transmission, interior are all replaced.  Weight is stripped.  Carbon fiber is used liberally on all body panels.  Even the engine compartment is partially leather lined.  With its top end 4.0 liter Ed Pink Racing Engines modified Cosworth six cylinder naturally aspirated air cooled flat six producing just under 400 horse power, the 2,700 pound Singer can leap to 60 miles per hour in about 3.3 seconds.  It is hard to imagine the three piece forged Fuchs style wheels turning that fast in that period of time.  The 964 body is all that is kept, and even that is modified.  The end result is arguably the ultimate expression of old school 911 cool reassembled with modern components and off the charts performance.

I had been feeling pretty lucky since I managed to land one of the coveted spots to attend the event.  I was like one of the kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when they learned they had a “winning ticket.”  PCA-LA events sell out, no doubt about it.  But the time it takes to sell out is usually measured in weeks or days, or, every now and then, in hours.  Unbelievably, the Singer event sold out in less than a minute, and demand for it overloaded the MotorsportReg system which handles the signups.  There was so much demand that I was surprised that no one tried to sell their spot on StubHub.

Though it ended with me in awe, my Singer adventure did not start out that way.  Instead, it started with me muttering, “Aw sh*t,”  It was mostly my own fault, though I had a little help from my friends at CalTrans.  Singer is located in the North East San Fernando Valley, about 15 miles from my house in West Los Angeles.  I have not been in the vicinity of Singer in many years, as it is located in a schlocky industrial area.  I got directions from Google on my PC, and it looked pretty easy there.  All I had to do was head north on Coldwater Canyon and turn right on San Fernando Road.  Looks can be deceiving.

I opted to drive my air cooled 89 to Singer, leaving my water cooled Cayman GTS in the driveway.  I left West LA with what I thought was plenty of time to get to Singer.  I even dawdled a bit at Starbucks before I left because I thought I would be early.  I was so wrong.

When I drive my 89, I like to act like it is 1989, and I eschew the use of Waze and Google maps on my cell phone.  Though if it were 1989, at least I would have had a period correct Thomas Guide in my car.  I don’t now.  Anyway, my  aw sh*t moments began when I got to the intersection of Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland, where CalTrans had closed Coldwater in both directions, right at the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains, leaving me with two route options—either turn right or turn left on Mulholland.  I turned right and headed over to Laurel Canyon, apparently something many drivers ahead of me had done.

Though Laurel is only about a mile of twisties east of Coldwater, it took me forever to get there.  First, I had to go the mile, which took a really long time due to the lack of speed at which the cars in front of me were moving, forcing me to grit my teeth and lug the 89 in second gear.  Second, I spent an incredible amount of time at the inordinately long light at the intersection of Mulholland and Laurel.  At that point, the only option I had was to wait, which I did while continuing to grit my teeth, knowing I was now most likely going to be late.

Once I got onto Laurel and into the Valley I should have backtracked to Coldwater because I knew Coldwater intersected with San Fernando Road.  But because I was running late, I decided to wing it and stay on Laurel.  Big mistake.  I stayed on Laurel, but soon Laurel angled west, leaving me with no idea if it intersected with San Fernando Road.  I felt uncomfortable, but I was in old school mode and I am fairly stubborn, so I opted for a trial and error approach, hopping on the 5, assuming it would have a San Fernando exit.  The absence of San Fernando Road on the list of upcoming exits disabused me of staying on it for long.  It was getting later and my stress level was soaring.  I opted to get right back off the 5, not knowing exactly where I was.  I ignored the little voice in my head which was screaming, “You schmuck, just look at your iPhone!”  Instead, I pulled into a gas station and asked for directions.

It turned out that I was just about a half mile or so from San Fernando Road, and I was really close to Singer.  I thought I was home free and would get there on time for the tour, even if I missed some of the pre-tour schmoozing.  Yet again, I was so wrong.

I made it to San Fernando Road and turned right.  That’s when I noticed the railroad tracks, tracks upon which trains still run, tracks that were not part of the Google instructions I had scanned before I left.  Singer is located in an area that is on wrong side of the tracks, figuratively.  Unfortunately, I also learned that Singer is on the wrong side of the tracks, literally.  I drove right by it because I couldn’t cross the tracks.  After a mile or so, I found a place to cross the tracks.  But by then the little access road on which Singer is located had ended.  I tried circling back behind it, and found myself in the middle of several quarries and every turn resulted in a dead end.  So I retraced my steps and went right by it again, this time going the other way.  Eventually, I found a street on which I could cross the tracks and get to Singer.

Pulling into the lot at Singer was a bit anticlimactic.  I was more than a little stressed, and apparently I was the last one to arrive.  As I parked, I muttered to myself, “I think it’s either time to use my iPhone when I drive my 89 or break down and spend the $1,000 or so to get the nav equipped, period appropriate Porsche Classic Radio.”

Singer has five locations spread out in the area, and we were at the one where final assembly was done.  The mostly nondescript place just oozed hipness.  After decompressing for a moment or two I got out and began chatting with a couple of the Singer employees.  As it looked like I had missed the first tour, I asked them, “When does the second tour start?”  Their response made me laugh.  They said, “It already did.  You will be on the third one.”

And what a tour it was.  Singer is run like a big business.  It is easy to lump them into the Custom Car Restoration business category, consisting mainly of mom and pop, one off customizers.  But that would be so wrong.  Without a doubt Singer restores cars, and it gives customers choices about what goes into those cars.  But Singer is really a low volume, semi-custom, build to order manufacturer of a product line of air cooled cars, cars with a wide range of mostly predefined options.   At the outset of the tour, our guide spoke about their process.  My ears perked up when the word configurator came out of his mouth.  Configurators are used to enable customers to communicate the options they want in a controlled manner.  I was stunned that Singer used one, but I guess if you are going to work with a customer and ask them to drop $425K to $700K on a restoration, you better have a solid way to control costs, document choices and structure communication with each customer.

The tour only got more impressive from that point on.  We were told about the entire build and assembly process, the Singer philosophy, and the way the cars have evolved since it was founded.  We saw a wide range of cars, from raw bodies to finished works in the quality assurance area.  It takes two years for the transformation of a 964 to a Singer, and I am not sure how much of that time is due to backlog.  It does not matter.  The result is magnificent, even if I do not have the words to properly describe it.


Split Porschenality

2017 was a year of recovery for me.  It didn’t start out that way.  In retrospect, I hit bottom in March when I purchased the 1974 911 Targa.  Not because it was a bad car or a bad purchase, but because it was my third car.  Not the third car I had ever bought, but the third Porsche I owned concurrently.  I did not need the car.  I simply wanted it.  I had an unquenched thirst for a reasonably early 911.  So I bought it.  After I bought it, I convinced myself that I was happy and I was done buying cars.  Well, maybe Pam or the fact that I was out of room in the garage and driveway had a lot to do with convincing me I was done buying cars.  In any event, I spent the second quarter driving the 911 and the Cayman and letting the 912 just sit in the garage, except when I pulled it out to teach my younger daughter, Kim, to drive a car with a manual transmission.

Then I noticed that I still had a desire to purchase additional Porsches.  A strong one.  It scared me.  Not a lot, but enough.  I began to question myself.  What was I doing?  How deep did I want to get into this?  What was driving me?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had no interest in collecting more cars nor did I have an interest in modifying them or working on them, though early on I thought I did, but the reality was that I would rather work in the kitchen than in the garage, even in my newly repaired garage.  So where was this compulsion coming from?  What was causing it?  Obviously, some of it came from my DNA.

I have always had a weakness for cars.  I have always been attracted to them.  I have always looked at them with longing.  Cars have never been about basic transportation for me.  They have not always been about looks or comfort, either.  Instead, I have consistently opted for functionality and performance and to a lesser extent comfort.  For 30 years I was smitten with BMWs, mainly 3 and 5 Series coupes or sedans.  I could not walk into a showroom without feeling an irrational urge to buy a new one, though I never wanted to have more than one BMW at the same time.  Recently, I have lost that loving feeling towards them.  Porsches have taken their place, and I can walk into a BMW dealership and feel no need to buy or even sit in one.  Walking into a Porsche dealership continues to be another story.

But there was more to this than nature affecting me.  Nurture was playing a role here, too.  Most normal people would call me a Porsheholic.  And to a large extent, I guess I am.  But I do not hang around with enough normal people.  My Facebook news feed is a continuous stream of cars, cars and more cars.  Sometimes people are present.  No need to even describe my Instagram feed.  My circle of friends includes many serious car club guys.  They are car collectors and restorers.  They own way more cars than I own.  They have multiple garages to house them.  They keep many mechanics in business.  They own cars which have had more oil changes than miles driven.  They were more likely to encourage me than not.  Most thought I was simply committed to the Porsche marque not committable.  Clearly, they were affecting my judgement.  At least I was still sane enough to realize that.

Thankfully, summer arrived.  I wanted to drive the 911, but, as it did not have air conditioning, it was very tough to justify, even though I was more willing to accept sweat dripping from my brow and my shirt sticking to the seat when I drove it than I was willing to accept not driving it.  That’s when it dawned on me.  I really only cared about driving my cars.  That was why I owned them.  As I have written about before, my friend Mark helped me realize that I had no need to own more cars.  I just needed to own the right cars.  And one of the right cars for me was his 1989 Carrera Targa.  So, counterintuitively, I took my first step towards recovery by buying his 1989 Carrera …. and selling my 1969 912 and my 1974 911.

I have owned the 1989 Carrera for the past four months.  My Porscheholism has gone into remission.  I have no desire to purchase another Porsche, even a 993.  My driving needs are met completely by my Cayman GTS and my Carrera.  It is with more than a slight sense of relief that I can go to any car event and leave without longing to purchase another car, even when great ones are dangled in my path.  I can go into a Porsche showroom and leave feeling the same way.  Having said that, it is not clear if I have recovered or just replaced one illness with another.

Now that I can drive either car any time in relative comfort, I find myself having issues deciding which car to drive.  It’s not like one is more fun to drive than the other.  I love driving them both, even though the two cars represent wildly different manifestations of Porsche engineering.  One is essentially analog.  One is essentially digital.  One is air-cooled.  One is water-cooled.  One has a rear engine.  One has a mid-engine.  One has a manual transmission.  One has a dual electronic clutch transmission.  One has a few creature comforts.  One has a lot, including a seriously good air-conditioner and seat warmers, arguably one of the least functional features to have in a car in LA.  One has classic styling.  One has masculine elegance.  One represents the past.  One represents the current, though with the advent of the Cayman 718 and its turbocharged four banger, I could argue that both represent the past.  So while I no longer long to possess another Porsche, I now long for a way to choose which Porsche to drive.

This is not an issue to be taken lightly.  It has been causing me serious angst.  I have spoken to several of my car club cronies about it, as they are way more experienced with it than I am.  While they cannot help me solve my problem, at least they understand it and have helped me label it.  Apparently, I have a split Porschenality.  I am not alone, but I am definitely in the minority, as most Porsche sports car owners are either 911 centric or Boxster/Cayman centric.  Sort of like most people are either right or left brain dominant.  Only a relative handful show convergence.

As 2017 draws to a close, I have been searching for worthy resolutions for 2018.  So far I have only one on my list:  Find a way to decide which car to drive.  Somehow I doubt I will, but I will have lots of fun trying.



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