The mid-week long read: the car with a million clicks

1y ago


Meet Bill MacEachern and his 911. Bill’s been driving his 930 911 since 1976. This isn’t just for the weekends, though. Bill drives it almost every day: this is a million-kilometre Porsche.

Specifically, around 1,165,937km or 725,000 miles. It’s an unfathomable distance to most, equivalent to going to the moon and back, and then to the moon again, or, a more down-to-earth comparison, 6,196 laps of London’s M25 ring road.

“I grew up with American muscle cars,” says MacEachern, a slim Scots Canadian from Toronto, Canada. “In my younger days I had an Oldsmobile 4-4-2. It was fine for drive-ins and stoplight drags but handled like a milk truck,” he says, laughing. His first test drive of a Porsche came in 1970, a red 911 T. “I couldn’t believe how agile, well constructed, and poised the car was. And comfortable, too, despite the compact dimensions and impressive performance.”

MacEachern was enraptured by the experience, and promptly bought a silver 911 as a company car for his rapidly growing carpet-cleaning business.

“In 1972 I saw a Porsche 917/10 for the first time at a Can-Am race. Turbocharging was the new way to go – it seemed like rocket science at the time,” recalls MacEachern.

A few years later Porsche offered the 911-based 930 Turbo for sale in Canada, and MacEachern decided he just had to have one. The dealer initially tried to dissuade him. He told him the 930 was dauntingly powerful, and asked whether he might be happier with another model. MacEachern wasn’t having any of it. He was in love, and that 930 Turbo would be his.

1973 | The energy crisis | 0 miles

Petrol is in short supply in 1973. There are queues at service stations, and some people are contemplating smaller cars. MacEachern doesn’t, though, and in autumn 1975 he places his order for a 911 Turbo in deep Midnight Blue with a cork leather interior, a driver’s sport seat, and a limited-slip differential. There might never be another chance, he thinks, to buy a genuine, ultra-high-performance sports car. Well, why not.

1976 | Dusty delivery | 14 miles

The car is flown in from Germany in May, 1976. Its serial number marks it as the 350th 930 to roll off the production line. Through a chain-link fence at the airport, MacEachern spots his Porsche for the first time, and … oh. “It looked like the wrong colour.” Devastated, he fears there’s been a mistake with the order. “The car was just covered with a layer of dust.” When the traces of the long journey are washed away, he starts to drive. And continues to do so to this day.

True love | 2,679 miles

Bill MacEachern marries his sweetheart Lyse. Racing fever | 3880 miles “My first major road trip took me across Ontario and Quebec to a Trans-Am race in Trois Rivières,” recalls MacEachern. It turns out to be a fantastic weekend for a diehard Porsche enthusiast. George Follmer wins in a Porsche 934, followed by Al Holbert in the same model. They’re good ambassadors for MacEachern to encounter: in 1986, Follmer takes third in a Joest Racing Porsche 956 at the 24 Horus of Le Mans, while in 1983 Holbert wins the endurance race in a 956, and again in 1986 and 1987 in a 962C alongside Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stuck. MacEachern is fascinated. After the trip he seeks out numerous racetracks in North America. Over the following decades he and his Porsche cover hundreds of thousands of miles on journeys to places like Sebring and West Palm Beach in Florida, Road Atlanta in Georgia, and Lime Rock Park and Watkins Glen in New England. MacEachern goes on extended cross-continent jaunts to the fabled Monterey Historic Automobile Races in California no fewer than five times.

1978 | The next generation | 8,575 miles

MacEachern’s son Craig joins the family’s carpet-cleaning business – today he’s the junior CEO. This same year Bill’s second son, Brian, heads off in a Porsche 935 with Canadian racing driver Ludwig Heimrath to Mexico City, where Heimrath enters and wins a race. Brian is bitten by the racing bug. The passion lives on in the next generation.

1981 | Family ties | 55,125 miles

“My son Brian entered his first race in 1981 and never looked back,” says the proud father. He also makes a long-term decision: his beloved 911 Turbo will remain in his family’s possession after he passes away.

2006 | Improvisation | 398,492 miles

Not everything goes smoothly. Like the time a fan pulley breaks while travelling south through Oregon, on the west coast of America, on another trip to Monterey. “There was no way to get a replacement part fast enough,” says MacEachern. “But I managed to find a shop that could weld it.” He made it to the races on time.

2009 | The accident | 528,165 miles

An SUV turns right from the centre lane and hits the now quite venerable Porsche. The impact puts a dent in the wing, and damages an axle shaft and a suspension arm. While MacEachern and the red-faced SUV driver examine the bruised vintage car, a flatbed trailer with a Volkswagen logo rumbles past. “Who’s that?” asks MacEachern. “Oh, that’s Eric. He owns a Volkswagen shop in town,” is the response. Solution found, the 911 is at the shop and back in shape in time for MacEachern to drive straight to Monterey as planned for the races. It was a 30-hour journey.

2012 | Celebration | 1,000,000 kilometres (621,327 miles)

“The car clicked over its millionth kilometre on the way to the famous swap meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania,” says MacEachern. “And we had a little celebration with champagne toasts when I got back to Toronto.”

2017 | Outlook | 725,000 miles

The odometer on the 911 Turbo currently shows around 725,000 miles – possibly more now, because the number keeps going up. MacEachern continues to drive his beloved car nearly every day. He can’t imagine any modern supercar he’d prefer. “The 930 was just such an amazing watershed machine. Porsche Turbos have set new standards of excellence as both racing machines and high-performance road machines. And they’re still a one-of-a-kind thrill to own and drive today.”