I hold the Stuttgart sports car in very, very high regard. But what if I just don’t want one?
The obvious answer is that then I must be ignorant. But then again: as regular readers will know, when it finally got serious for me I chose a 1978 Alpine Renault A310 GT over, say, a 1978 Porsche 911 SC. It was never really a competition, but anyway: in my world you can’t say there is much ignorance about that choice. Unless you are an ignorant person yourself, obviously.
Although I barely drove my Alpine in 2019, I am looking forward to enjoy another season in it again in 2020: It really is good, actually.
So, in a way, you could say I have already taken a stand. Regarding the era of Porsches which I consider “real” Porsches, at least.
The thing is that this was back in 2017 and the world does not stand still, does it? Since then I have experienced many people in my circle of friends and acquaintances who have converted to Porsche – from all sorts of marques, by the way. But it is actually only the few of them who have switched to the early models, the “real” Porsches I referred to earlier. Instead I have seen an increasing number of switches from a real classic up to modernities such as the Porsche 996 (1997-2004) and even the 997 (2004 -2012).
Maybe it isn’t that surprising as I have heard several knowledgeable people call that last 911 one of the world’s best sports cars. Full stop. That is such a definite statement – “the world’s best”. Big words.
Even if this was ever to be true they will not become classics for that reason (although the time is approaching with the 996 as the oldest ones are now 22 years old), and on that point I have made up my mind too: I am all for the classics, their aesthetics, quality and all.
But still you have to think about this when a friend gives you a lift in a 996. Or hear other friends telling about their trips in the Italian Alps in a 997 (and a Spyder – you know who you are!) and so on. They’d happily talk about their amazing cars and what great driver’s cars they are. And how fast. Admittedly it is sort of frightening to think that even the oldest and least powerful 996 musters 300 horsepower and will do 280 km/h flat out – and that the weakest 997 increases that power to 325 horsepower and will do 285 km/h. Some months ago I drove the even older model 993, but this was a factory tuned Turbo with over 400 horsepower and probably approaching a top speed of 300 km/h.
But you have to think, don’t you? When seemingly all your friends within a very short time decide to defect into what I consider to be newer Porsches (and which I, by the way, have a hard time distinguishing from each other – although I don’t dare tell them) there must be something going on. The obvious answer is, of course, that the newer Porsches are not only better cars but also much faster than the older ones. But in fact I don’t think it is the performance per se that wins them over at all. Rather it seems that the newer Porsches aren’t associated with the (perceived) hassle of driving a real classic car: the need to fettle, the poor reliability, suffering poor comfort (“What: No air conditioning? How can you live without it? !!?”) and for that matter, rust. I think they simply want to avoid that kind of thing and therefore chose a newer Porsche over a real classic car.
Now, the big question I ask myself is: Would I like that too? Hmm.
The fact is that I know better: 1) Driving a classic is not as bad as many people think and 2) there are other benefits that outweigh the disadvantages. But then again: You have to think, don’t you? Being more or less surrounded by a lot of newer Porsches and Porschephiles every day, I have actually been playing with the idea for a while. “What if?”.
Well indeed what if? After much speculating I have finally come to the conclusion that these newer Porsches are simply the too obvious choice. There is of course a huge lot I like about them and even more about them that I respect. But they are in their entirety simply too competent, too modern, too functional – and every time I compare them to the good old (and slower and sometimes even more expensive 911’s) stuff, they end up being just too good. My conclusion is that I just can’t live with a pseudo-classic youngtimer-Porsche. At least not right now.
But then again: Something you have to dream about in the future. Like, for example, the weekend where my good friend Peter and I took another turn resurrecting my 1956 Volvo 445. And he talked about the virtues of his 997. I really thought long and hard about this as clearly he had switched to the 997 to try it. In principle I’d like that too – but then again, not really.
To make a long and complicated and not entirely logical storyline short, the process bizarrely drove me to consider something completely different – and then again not that different: For the first time ever I seriously considered an American car. In some paradoxical way it makes sense that it is a Corvette, I think. Now where can I try one?