I have come to respect the Porsche 911. Words such as: reliable, venerable, tractable and balanced were used whenever I read about it in car magazines. In those same magazines, I was also warned that from time to time, side windows served as windshields and the front and back of the car could be interchangeable if the driver wasn’t careful. The car seemed a bit of an old hat to me as a pimply pre-teen, but I was young and didn’t understand that the 911 was a benchmark, an aspiration, and a standard. Please forgive my ignorance.
As good as the Porsche was, all around me, Mazda RX-7s, Ferraris, Lotuses, Jags, and Corvettes were developing and changing. They were constantly giving me something new to see. Always a new curve, a different fascia or radical redesign. They all seemed to be vying for my short prepubescent attention span.
Not the 911. Almost every year, it remained with the same stoic shape and when they did claim that the car was “all-new”, it wasn’t anything to write home about, in my opinion. One Thursday afternoon in the early 80’s, I sat in a high school library and opened up the newest issue of Car & Driver. There, a brilliant black 911 Turbo graced the pages. This one supposedly differed from the previous iteration of Dr. Ferry’s chariot. They raved about how drivable it was compared to its predecessors. This was the article. This was the color. This was the moment where I finally got it! One thoughtful redesign and some darn good photographs took the car from archaic relic to unflappable performer. I came back to look at that issue day after day and began to realize that the car rose from tyrannical ashes to become a template for durable, usable performance.
Now, I respected the car. However, I still didn’t like it. Much the same was my respect for Sir Lawrence Olivier and The Beatles, but I would rather enjoy Robert Downey Jr. and Imagine Dragons. I understood how we got here. I just didn’t know why we stayed here.
As I timidly venture into the uncharted waters of middle-age, I am grateful that the “old car” never became the 914 or got trumped by the 928. Oh, how I threw away precious years that could have been spent acknowledging this as the definitive driver’s car (sorry, BMW 3-Series). It has stood the test of time, holding true to its heritage, yet always remaining cutting-edge even in its familiarity.
The new Porsche 911 (991), if it can be called that – in my humble opinion – is the best one yet. It serves my need for a comfortable, techy, comfortable car. Appeases me with enough exclusivity to ward off posers while still being friendly and allows me to burn up a track day and ride home and talk about it…all in the same car.
Maybe the 80’s took me from respecting the 911 to liking it. The new one may just take me from liking to owning.