I had been in Porsche purgatory for several years. This is otherwise known as being Porsche-less. The last decent Porsche I’d owned was a 1987 Porsche 944S 16 Ventiler (or 16 valve). But by now it was long gone and a litany of not so great, uninspiring cars had followed. Finally, in 2001 I was able to pull together enough hard earned scratch to buy a (new to me) Porsche.
I looked into getting a Boxster, a 944 Turbo, a 968 and even an older 911, but so far nothing had made me get out my check book and write a number on an actual signed check. All great cars, but I kind of wanted something different, something special, so I kept on searching. Then one day – looking through some just published online listings in the Dallas Morning News something caught my eye. No, not just caught my eye, it jumped right off the screen and seared itself into the very core of my deeply automotive attuned brain.
A 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera.
Let me say this one more time, just to let it sink in. A 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera.
The dream car of my youth. Hell, not just my youth, this lightning bolt of an automotive icon was still a dream car in my adult years. Holy Mother of Autobahn, a real Porsche 930, in my price range and only about fifteen minutes away. I could not drive fast enough to go see it, heart pounding, willing the lights to stay green, worried it would be snatched out from under me.
Met the owner, a very pleasant guy who was buying a new 911 Turbo and his wife would not let him have two. What?! Then he opened the garage door. And I saw it for the first time. There is sat, against a black and white checkered garage floor, a 930 Turbo Carrera. My heart skipped a beat. It may have skipped 6 beats, one for every one of its 6 horizontally opposed turbo charged cylinders. I was thunderstruck and doomed all in a 360° rotation of the crank shaft (basically a tiny fraction of a second). If the car was good and this guy says it was, then I had to have it.
I did not have to do a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI), turns out we used the same mechanic and I took the car right over to the shop and spoke with the service manager, whom I knew very well and knew to be a very straight shooter. He said simply, it was the best old Turbo they had even serviced. It needed nothing. The check book in my back pocket started calling my name, saying “write the check”, “write the check”. Whipped out the check book and pen in hand bought the car of my dreams. Hell yeah!
The car was awesome, flawless Grand Prix White paint with black leather interior. It had that low and menacing look with steel fenders flares punched out to curvaceous proportions over polished Fuchs wheels and that beautiful turbo whale tail perched above the rear engine hatch, announcing – I am special. But it also scared me pretty much every time I drove it. It had a nasty reputation, called the Widow Maker, it needed to be tamed or really, you need to learn how to drive it. The main reason? If the massive Turbo boost kicked in mid corner and you were not prepared or were expecting it, the car would swap ends. Sometime with disastrous results. Hell the US Government tried to sue Porsche over how dangerous the car was. I needed to learn how to drive this amazing car and stop obsessing over the whole swapping ends thing.
Looking through the regional Porsche Club magazine, I saw an ad for something called a DE or Drivers Education. Hmmm, high speed on-track instruction, with an instructor who most likely had done thousands upon thousands of laps, what was not to like? I signed up, paid my fee and started getting me and the car ready. Day of the event, of course I arrived early, before dawn, maybe I was a bit over anxious. I brought every tool I owned, along with jack and jack stands, air tank, chair, umbrella, a case of water, 6 changes of clothing (just kidding), pretty much the kitchen sink, or everything I could think of. I might have over packed.
My instructor was a very nice British chap. He was a national BMW champion in some such series or another and he took me and my old car under his wing for the weekend. You know, it’s funny, I have done close to one hundred events over the years but that first one is a bit of a hazy fog. Sure I remember driving the car, slowly learning how to get more out of it. Slowly learning to get over my fear and slowly learning my way around the race track – the ideal line, where to brake, turn in, hit the apex, track out and accelerate away to the next corner. But it’s been seventeen years and a lot of events in between. I know I have stated that history looks 20/20 as it recedes in the rearview mirror. But sometimes you just see the back seats too.
Obviously I liked it enough to want to keep going, the track bug had bitten me. That weekend was the start of an adventure of doing track events that is still going on seventeen years later. But not in the 930. As original as it was, it was not a track car. It was a car meant for cruising down the road at a very, very fast pace, an unbelievable exhaust note loudly shouting its turbo charged fury at the world and winning several concourse awards along the way. It was a car that elicited oohs and ahhs from everyone that saw it. It had a track career of exactly one event and since I was a newb, I did not drive it all that fast anyway. Yep, one and done. But what a great track car!
On that exhaust note…