story by leo dijkstra (the dutch shark)
photos by jim doerr
But, back to the question of group identity and future flüssig content. Our discussion resulted in some pure Porsche poetry that I just had to share with you. Why? Because we laughed with recognition of ourselves in a mirror. And, because it shows the passion of this water-cooled clan; that we will never be preached to by the acolytes of the Book of Porsche, Chapter 9, verse 11. This is flüssig!
So, get to the point you say! What is this common water-cooled identity? Three exchanges caught my eye when they popped up:
a taste for the finer things in life!
There are also other shared, more mechanical, outside interests among our water-cooled family. Watches seems to be one of them. Van has produced a number of magazines to sell a well-known Swedish brand of automatic watch to the Chinese. Known to be on the safe side, this brand did its market research (in contrast to what you’re reading now). A lifestyle magazine is what resulted. Indeed, expensive watches was one subject selected, but also pretty pictures of driving through sunny Napa Valley and expensive hand bags... WHAT?... (scratching sound of a needle taken off a vinyl record goes here). Nah… Not for flüssig, nor its crowd...
But the watch thing kept popping up. As Shawn Stanford put it, "I'm not averse to stuff that isn't specifically car-related. I'm interested in all sorts of stuff, and I never know where my next interest is going to show up. It was an issue of Make magazine that spurred me to get into mechanical watches."
If there was to be a flüssig piece on watches, according to Shawn, "It should reflect our cars: well-designed, well-engineered, reasonably priced, and built for use. Not that crazy-ass high-end Swiss stuff that cost more than my car. An inexpensive, rugged Seiko that, for the cost of a dinner out, can be customized and made mine."
(Shawn, as much as I like to read about modifying cars, you have got me mesmerised now. Why would you modify a Seiko or any other watch? Speed it up? Stroke it? Put a Porkensioner on it? Please tell us!)
He continues to make a clear point that it is not about showing off with the finer things in life, but about the link with the owner's personality. "That's the kind of shit I'm talking about. Not Christophorus (I've never read it, but the name just sounds like it's got a stick up its ass). I don't want to read about your yacht. But, show me an article where you spent the winter building a plywood boat in your garage (and then towed to the coast with your P-Car)? I'm all ears!"
Shawn's statements above maybe typify the water-cooled gear heads even better: personalizing what you love, and doing it yourself! Which brings us to our second crowd identifier.
concours cars that run like clockwork?
As Derek McCallister recalls, "Don't get me wrong, I love making a car look good, but I'll never feel bad for driving the piss out of my cars. There was a fun video on 60 minutes years and years ago about Lamborghini cars. I recall one of the best quotes: ‘Not a jewel to be stroked and admired, it's a tool to be used...’ Anyone can buy a shiny new car. But being a gearhead is a bit more than that."
There is something in this crowd about making the best of everything. Derek continues:
"Anyone can get from A to B in any car. But what's at A? Why are you going to B? Why choose the car you chose to do it? Do you appreciate the engineering of the cars? Why? Did some hot babe pick you up in a 928 and ever since then you've decided it's all you want to drive? How did your emotional attachment come to be? Maybe you drive a 944 because it's obscure and different and you wouldn't be caught dead driving around in a Hyundai Accent like everyone else.
“Maybe you purposely drive your Porsche in the snow, in front of the houses of concours nuts, just to watch them grind their teeth, and do cookies out in the street, and watch them cringe as you drive around every day in a car that hasn't been washed in a week. The horror!
“What the hell kind of fun is it to go buy a shiny new Porsche, come home, polish it, park it in the garage, and then come into the house and watch re-runs of Matlock? BUT WHAT'S THIS? The garage is dusty!? Tomorrow, you'd better wake up, quick detail it again, and make sure to only drive it a few miles. You wouldn't want to get the underside dirty; it'd surely devalue the car!
“Perhaps you find it just as important to be passionate about how you get from place to place, instead of it just being a machine with four wheels. ‘Life is short, make it interesting’, seems to be the mindset here."
It is not long before he returns our first flüssig discussion to the theme.
"If I had a glass of scotch for every ‘Porsche scene’ concours nut I ran into who cares more about polishing the cars they don't drive, I'd be a raging drunk. I sure enjoyed my 911. If it's one interesting thing I've found, it's that I have greatly enjoyed a lot of the gearheads that I've met in the 924/944/928/914 crowd."
That brings us to our third and last theme.
And Matt was definitely sober when putting this down on paper. He does not drink even moderately as because of his profession, and to reserve all his energy to spare on, you've, guessed it, family. He says that abstinence may be not the norm here. But perhaps it is this paradox that defines the true water-cooled gear head: being the norm here is to not fit the mold...
But let us hear Jim put it into context in his own words:
"I've attended a lot of 928 events through the years, and I believe I've come to understand the common groove that attracts and keeps us together. The car, obviously, but deeper than that is we are all cut from similar cloth.
“Let’s start off with the basics: We like to get our hands dirty. For this we reach for some Pabst Blue Ribbon, or maybe the Champagne of Beers... the High Life, baby! Not bottles, but cans, man. As much as we love a large bowl of Clos Du Bois Cab, it's not the first choice when it comes time to spend time in the garage making our cars our bitch. Can't find a good tranny mechanic? No worries... I'm gonna pull that bitch out and do it myself!
“We're working men. We work hard, wrench hard, and drive hard. When we meet up with our boys and crack a brew, we talk about what it's like to be in the fucking trenches. And we can all relate. We talk about what a bitch it is to rebuild a Behr radiator. And we're proud of it, too; because there is no way we could or would spend $1500 on a new one. No effing way!
“We love our families. We talk about our women. We talk about our boys who work with us in the garage. We're proud to share that the oldest boy's been wrenching on his beat-up 325iS. He's almost got the bastard running! We tell stories about how we hide parts receipts and even car purchases from our wives... because they just don't get it. We know how many kids you have... their ages, and might even remember your best dog's name.
“We are family. And we act just like family does. We're honest and tell it like it is. And if you're in the shit, and need some help pulling an engine or whatever, we're there - just like family does. Closest thing to blood without the blood. But we got 20W-50 coursing through our veins instead. Not bourbon, but black gold, baby... Pennsylvania blend!
“This is what I believe flüssig is all about. It's about that liquid goo that binds us together. We're cut from the same cloth. And it just so happens our Porsches have brought us together."
You may not fit the profile he describes, nor even agree on all accounts with what he says, but that's just it: you know you fit this crowd, just because you are you!
Family it is.