First time I met her I was concerned about her age. She looked too young to be in charge of me. She was jumping up and down like a child when her father removed the cover to expose me wearing a glossy white bow across my hood. The party atmosphere gave me clues that this was a celebration of some kind, but it wasn’t a birthday party. I had learned what a birthday was the day I awoke on the assembly line. A group of men surprised the man who was fitting my dashboard with a frosted pastry that was on fire in very specific areas. They sang and toasted foamy beverages after they clocked off work. I did not see a pastry here but there were a lot of people and balloons. I was clearly the big surprise here but why? I’m just a Porsche 911, nothing extraordinary.
The girl was pleasant to look at. Naturally tan with sun kissed blonde hair that flowed down like a fastback roof-line. She looked tall thanks to her legs that looked like they were longer than my wheelbase when she wore shorts in the summer. She nicknamed me “Percy” and I discovered later on that I was her high school graduation present. I was worried at first because she was only 17 and I didn’t want to be mistreated by a novice driver. However, the neighborhood cars told me that she had an MG before me and was very confident in her driving ability. I was her next level, the advanced course in her driving career. When it came time for her to start college I was her transportation.
We lived in an upscale neighborhood outside the major city of New York. Far away from most civilization meant we had to travel on two lane roads through wooded areas. The scenic route was our daily commute every day to and from school, and I loved every second of it. She was a wonderful driver who understood my handicap. Having my engine swinging out from the rear axle meant I was dangerous if a driver took me around a corner too quickly. I had a deadly habit of breaking traction and spinning out before the driver knew what hit’em. “Widow Maker” would be used to describe certain siblings later on in life when they started giving us with more power. Christine was different though, she was smart and understood this bad habit of mine. She always made sure to approach a corner at slow speed and power out at the end of the turn. I trusted her to keep us safe which allowed me to enjoy the ride and run free. Even in winter she never gave me an opportunity to misbehave. I loved that she loved me and saw me as her pride and joy.
Christine studied art at the university. She was extremely creative and painted a small lily flower under my hood, a signature that she used for all her artwork. My long hood meant that I could carry all her art supply with ease and not ruin the interior. Once, she took me out into the woods so she could paint me into one of her landscape portraits. She held it up for me to see when she was done, I never looked so good in oil.
When boys would come to take her out on dates she would insist on driving and taking me instead of using their obnoxiously loud and clumsy muscle cars. Lady that she was, I think Christine’s favorite pass time was scaring her dates on curvy roads. I always had fun watching them trying to remain cool and collected while gripping the dashboard with all their strength. Christine and I shared 5 wonderful years together until one day she met a man who changed everything.
He was European and had Christine under her spell. The first man ever to convince her to ride shotgun instead of driving, which left me speechless. The man drove a Fiat for crying out loud! I’m no Ferrari but I’ll be junked if I was going to lose out to tiny Fiat 500. I got so angry that I developed a misfire and had to be serviced. By her 22nd birthday she announced to the family that she was getting married and moving to Spain with him. “What about me…?” I thought.
I was left behind. Before she left she took me out for one last drive, dusted me off and covered me up in the garage. She didn’t say goodbye, but I forgave her because I knew she was just excited about her new chapter in life. Now her father was in charge of my well-being. He was a nice man, a well-known surgeon who drove a Volvo P1800 and had a wardrobe filled with cardigan sweaters. He meant well and looked after me by taking me out for a drive every now and then, but he didn’t like my rear-engine handicap. It must have been another 4 years and Christine hadn’t visited me. Soon, after Thanksgiving of '75, I was greeted by a friend of the father who looked at me the same way Christine had the first time we met. His eyes glanced over with desire as he walked closer to me. I was being sold…
This new owner was also a doctor. An older man judging by the salt and pepper hair and soft but wrinkled hands. He loved admiring me more than anything but wasn’t the strongest driver in the world. He had trouble learning my handicap and I had to strain my tires just to keep us out of death’s grip. I was with him for a few months until we were almost killed.
We were speeding on a downhill section of a curvy country road and I saw a tight right turn coming up fast. I could feel the adrenaline circulating in his hands and feet, but he wasn’t slowing down. “Brake…brake…brake you fool!” I exclaimed to myself as we rocketed towards the corner. He turned in and my rear end completely washed out and slid to the left. He tried to counter steer but in a panic he over corrected. Before I knew it my rear axle had snapped back to the right with such force that I spun around and was now running backwards off the road!
Digging my rear tires into the soft dirt was the only thing that saved us from bear hugging a tree just 5 feet from us. I stalled out to make sure he couldn’t do any more damage, but I felt his death grip on my steering wheel. He never drove me again after that and I was soon sold again to another middle aged man. While I was being transported to New York City I kept thinking about Christine, wondering how she was doing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel some resentment towards her for leaving me without saying goodbye, but I understood that she was moving on to better things - I hoped.
Tom, the Racer
I spent the next 6 years in the big apple with this new owner. I was no longer a daily driver I was now a weekend warrior for a Wall-Street businessman. I had my own space in a parking garage and within the first month I was taken to a repair shop that specialized in Porsche automobiles like myself. I enjoyed my time there swapping owner stories with my 356 and 911 siblings while I was being fitted with a roll cage, given decals, upgraded suspension and a rebuilt engine. This new owner was named Tom and he was a driving enthusiast who enjoyed weekend track days. His job allowed him many luxuries which meant I was given the best performance parts money could buy and installed by mechanical craftsmen. When I was finished I felt like a incredible. Light, tough, and anxious to run all day until I ran out of gas.
Not since Christine had I’d been driven with such precision. Tom was a wildman with a really aggressive driving style. There was rarely a moment where I wasn’t running flat out or sliding all four wheels through a corner. Fast and loose was the game plan and we could zig-zag through a crowd of other racers like they were standing still. Tom could have gone pro, he was that good. Naturally, our flirting with disaster driving style meant we didn’t make many friends on the track. I collected dings and scratches through paint swaps and “friendly” run-ins with other racers. I didn’t mind, it made me feel tough!
I loved taking on V8 powered cars. Fighting to keep up with them on the straightaway until we reached a turn. I could out brake them and swing past in a four wheel drift as Tom’s feet danced across the pedals keeping me out of trouble. I was racking up miles but they all came with a lap time. I was never used on the streets of New York under Tom’s ownership.
By the start of the 80’s I was starting to feel a little worn out and Tom was out growing me. His skill had surpassed my performance and he wanted to upgrade. That meant I was going to be passed down to yet another owner. “I’m just an ageing racer now. Won’t be long before I’m parted it out or sold for scrap.” I thought. Different people came to visit me to as potential buyers but I looked rough to the untrained eye. My original paint had long lost its shine and I was covered in battle scars from my racing career. I still had some life left in me but I feared nobody would see past my rough exterior to notice.
Emilio, the Collector
It took a special kind of person to see the potential still left in me, and his name was Emilio. He inspected me carefully from taillight to headlight; not showing any expression on his face. When he was done he dusted off his hands and reached out to shake Tom’s, “I’ll take it.” Was all he said. From New York I was moved to California on a flatbed trailer. It was nice seeing the country but I would have liked to have seen it under my own power. When I arrived at his warehouse I was in for a shock. Emilio was a collector.
The warehouse was full of German cars! Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, and more Porsches than a certified dealership, all of them vintage. Before I could meet my new roommates I was taken to another section of the warehouse where I saw more cars in various degrees of restoration. Over the next year I was taken completely apart, until I was just a shell. There Emilio’s team discovered that I had some damage on the right side from a large shunt during a race. As well as slight body rot from driving in the snow with Christine. I had no idea.
When they removed my hood and turned it over they noticed the lily flower Christine had painted all those years ago. Even I had forgotten it was still there after Tom failed to notice it. It was faded but you could still see the brush strokes of white paint. It was brought to Emilio’s attention and he just smiled, “Leave it the way it is. That flower belongs to the car.” He said. Emilio kept some of my engine and suspension that Tom had installed to give me an edge over a factory original.
Emilio enjoyed his cars, from what the others told me. Each one had been purchased personally by him and given a personal touch to make it his. Little details as a way of branding us as with his mark. I liked Emilio for his passion for details when it came to looking after us. He had a team of 4 mechanics on staff just to make sure we were never dirty, and up to date on our fluids. There were a lot of us so I didn’t get used much. I was lucky if I saw any drive time during a 6 month period, but his team always turned my engine over once a week. When Emilio did drive me he was very careful. No racing, no aggressive maneuvers while under his control. Instead, he enjoyed the ride. Every gear change was done with patience and every turn was supervised with great care as to not upset the soundtrack of nature with the noise of squealing tires. It reminded me a lot of how Christine’s father used to operate me. No rush, just fun.
Emilio was my owner for decades. It was the 21st century when I found out that he was planning on moving a dozen cars over to a different location, me included. After endless hours being loaded, transported, and unloaded via truck I found myself at an event of some kind. There were cars everywhere, each one looking more pristine then the last. Cars older than me, newer than me, trucks, vans, supers, even celebrity racers were here, but why was I here? They parked me with the rest of the Porsches next to an outlaw looking 356 who was feeling bored. “This is my 3rd auction in less than 7 years”, he said. “Auction?” I thought. Turns out all these vehicles were about to have new owners by the end of the day.
“Why am I here? I’m just a 911.” I asked the 356. “Are you kidding? You’re here because these people think you are a good investment.” Investment? That was new to me. I’ve always been lead to believe that people buy cars, use them until we are worn, and then scrapped. I looked around and noticed that all these vehicles were at least 20 years old, or much older. In that moment it hit that I was 50 years old!
I was still coming to terms with my age when a little girl walked up to me. Couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. She came up to me and rested her hands on my hood. Soon after an older woman that I suspected was her mother came and picked her up in her arms. “Look mama! Red car!” the little girl said. A man came and stood next to them, the father? “It looks like the right one, but how do we know for sure?” The man said. The woman handed her daughter over to him and reached to open my hood. Carefully, she lowered her head to peek inside. She gasped and quickly lowered my hood. She was beaming with delight. As quickly as they arrived they left and vanished into the crowd of people. “Who were they?...” The 356 must have heard my inner thought because it whispered, “potential buyers” to me directly after.
Center of Attention
I was on display for hours until Emilio came back and stepped inside me. Two men got behind and started to push me over to the auction stage. I was nervous and anxious, not knowing what to expect. When I got on stage I could feel the heat coming from the lights and someone with a camera was right up in my face filming every corner of me. It was noisy, people shouting over one another. Numeric gibberish was all I could hear until someone on a loud speaker yelled, “Sold, sold, sold!” They quickly pushed me off the stage, but I managed to look up at a screen to see myself with a number on top, $136,000 US dollars. My oil dropped to the bottom of the pan in disbelief, “Who the hell would pay a fortune just for me?” I was in shock more than anything. It wasn’t until I was being transported on a different truck that it dawned on me that I was now a collectible antique.
I didn’t know where I was because I was covered with a tarp. I was being pushed into position and I could feel gravel underneath my wheels. The familiar smell of ocean water hung in the air and I could hear seagulls in the distance. I could hear footsteps all around me that seemed to be in a hurry. A child’s laugh was right next to me when I heard a woman’s voice say, “Lily, go get grandma.” The curiosity was unbearable. I wanted to meet my new owner. I wanted to meet the person willing to spend so much money just to be my owner.
From Past to Present
I was blind for a second when they removed the tarp and was greeted by a beam of sunshine. My headlights adjusted at the same time I heard a woman’s voice gasp. There standing in front of me with the couple I had seen at the auction was my Christine. Her sun kissed blonde hair had turned into the first snow of winter, and she was a much older woman now, but her reaction to seeing me hadn’t aged a day since she was 17. Christine had to fight back tears when they opened my hood and saw that her lily was still there. “We got it for you mom, happy birthday.” The woman said while grabbing on to Christine’s shoulders. I couldn’t believe that I was with her again, after so many years! Christine didn’t waste any time in climbing into the driver seat and turning the key. I was so excited that she was seeing me in pristine condition. My air-cooled engine hummed viciously as she leaned on the throttle.
Christine lived in a house on top of a hill that overlooked the ocean in Northern California. It was beautiful and her family always came to visit her on weekends. Lily, her granddaughter, loved Christine as much as I did and loved watching Christine tinker with things around the house. Christine still had her talent for driving but maturity had replaced her need for speed. I lived in a four car garage next to a Ford Bronco, and modern Porsche Cayman. The walls were filled with trophies from around the world. Christine had been a rally driver in Europe for many years and made a living doing it. I was so proud of her and felt pride knowing that I helped her achieve success by being the best car I could be.
I guess you could say I’m retired now. I can’t remember the last time I went faster than 60 mph. My days are spent looking out from the garage at the ocean. Sometimes I see Christine sitting on her porch painting the ocean while listening to the Mamas and the Papas. I love hearing their song California Dreamin’ because that’s what it feels like to me, a dream. I hope I never wake up.