story and photos by michael o'donnell
I’m from the Houston area, and am currently a mechanical engineering student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. My first Porsche was a 993 turbo, which I bought when I was 9 years old.
It was my first remote control car as far as I can remember, and it led me to catch the bug. I bought my 1983 944 several months ago, and love it to death. As I type this, I’m smearing grime and oil all over my keyboard because I just walked in from working under it between classes. If anyone is driving through, let me know and we can grab a bite or something.
I bought my 944 from Joel Harding (he goes by jharding on the forum) and it was a great experience. However, Joel was in New Hampshire, which meant a 2,000 mile drive home with my new purchase. As excited as I was to break it in, I was concerned that something might go wrong on the car. Sure enough, the DME relay quit not even an hour after I bought the car. Of course, my dumb ass didn’t think bringing a spare relay would be worthwhile since it would be $40 wasted if I didn’t buy the car. Well, I had to spend over $200 having my new girlfriend towed off the highway and made whole at a Euro shop.
About five hours into the trip, I hit NYC rush hour traffic. Apparently my GPS app had rerouted me, which I was not very happy at all about. I didn’t mention that at the time, I had no idea how to drive a manual - I stalled almost every other time I tried getting it into first. Stop and go traffic in NYC rush hour, during a heat wave. Within half an hour, my temperature gauge was almost pegged. With an hour, I was pulled over in some backwater alley smashing my head against a wall and cursing the water-cooler gods because my cooling system was very much dead. One week and $800 later, I was up and running. I made it back to Texas with very little drama, and have had only minor issues since.
That, my fellow coolantheads, is the tale of the Trans-america 944 drive, conducted by the worst-case-scenario owner.
a little about michael...
I'm 20, a student at Baylor University in Waco. My car is a 1983 944, guards red, semi-daily. It's the only car I own. I bought it this past July from Joel Harding (jharding on Rennlist) for $3400. I chose a 944 because I've been a Porsche fan since I was 8 or 9, and I remember the 944 being the best handling car in Need For Speed Porsche Unleashed. (Well, it's a joke but it's actually true.) I test drove a few and after a year or so of careful research, I flew to New Hampshire to buy my car. The drive home is its own story in itself....
The 944 isn't my first car. I learned to drive on the old family minivan, and up until a few months ago, the Honda Odyssey was my main form of transportation. Quite an upgrade, huh?