joão silva

“One day, I will own a Porsche.”

That’s one of the first memories I have from my childhood. Of course, being so young with such an ambition, my family didn’t worry too much about such a thing; to them it was an impossibly lofty notion.
I was raised in a small country town where there weren’t any Porsches around, or any other type of “quality” cars for that matter. Up until my generation, there was just one car enthusiast in the family, a grandfather, which I never met. He died young from a cancer; a tired body from too many severe car crashes in the past made him too weak to fight it. He was my childhood idol.  All my friends were motorbike enthusiasts, driving them much before they were legally allowed, so they really couldn’t comprehend my addiction. Only one, my closest friends, was a car enthusiast – he understood which is why he’s the only one I still keep in touch with.  
So how did I become a Porsche enthusiast? Well, I really don’t know that answer.

Even if I were to try to explain, there’d be no conclusive answer anyway, so what’s the point…I could care less! I’m passionate about Porsches, that’s all there is to it.

Before I even could read or write, one of the most exciting moments in my life was a Porsche passing by us in my father’s car; the sound, the image, the stance. From that point on, my father would point them out if he saw one in his rear view mirro. We only went on trips twice or three times a year and unfortunately, not all trips had a Porsche sighting.

My Porsche awareness hadn’t quite kicked before I could walk, but it so happens that I was being raised with an air-cooled VW in the family and my father was working in the Portuguese Porsche official major dealer when I was born.  

Time went by and my car addiction was getting stronger; and so was my Porsche passion. I started driving at 10 years old. I recall my best birthday gift being an outing to a “Go-Kart Track.” I also played all every car video game at the time (Outrun, Daytona, F1, etc.) and can’t forget Ayrton Senna’s first F1 victory in Estoril, Portugal, in the rain! By that point, I became a major F1 fan and member of the “Ayrton Senna – ‘God of Driving’ Church”!
I got my driver’s license as soon as I could; I studied more for that exam than I did for any university exam. There’s no way I’d fail the driving license exam. Then and for the first time in my life, I asked my father for the biggest favor I’d ever ask of him, “please give me a car, it can even a Fiat 127!” Not very good Fiat advertisement, hmmm?

One year after I had my first car, a petrol Opel Corsa 1.2 ST (Vauxhall Viva), my car history began.  Then, soon after I started driving and just when the car in perfect shape, BANG! My first car accident, another driver had missed a red light. At that moment, I understood the difference between a driver and a pilot; a driver has accidents, a pilot has crashes (dramatic loss of control!).  Unfortunately, there are more drivers on the road than planes in the sky. 

"I had no idea how to go about getting my first Porsche..."

Then I had some other random cars (mostly diesels) and started to watch “Top Gear;” that awakened every strand of car enthusiasm DNA I had; I suppose you can say I came out of “the closet”!  I began doing lots of Go-Kart races, started to buy car magazines and getting back into the “Porsche Dream.” A that point, lots of them were starting to become classic sports cars and if I saw one at a dealer, I waited until they were closed for the day and go there to see it in their lot. The realization was that I was far from achieving this dream of owning a Porsche; I had just started working and earning my first pay checks.

My professional and personal life was on the up and up, and soon I’d have a company car which was the reason I sold my own car. It was awkward, you know, being a car guy and having my “own car.” Of course, life’s momentum picks up with more responsibilities, kids, mortgage, etc. pushing that dream a bit farther out.
I had no idea how to go about getting my first Porsche, but a plan began to hatch when I had the possibility to choose whatever company car I wanted. Perfect, I’d find something somewhat suitable for the family and my need for speed. So I chose the most powerful diesel hatchback that I could find and my wife simply hated it! Too small, impossible to put the kids in the back, to fast, etc. Then the moment presented itself. We made an agreement, from then on, all my company cars will be just boring family cars leaving me to choose what I wanted for myself! Well, she’s unaware that the “boring” family car I decided on would be a Bimmer 318D which is actually a pretty good sporting car!

So the project to achieve my dream started; money was being saved, I was waiting to move into a house with parking, I kept an eye on Porsche prices, etc.  I had a plan!

Unfortunately, some setbacks happened and the plan was being delayed. Then one day I found out I had a fairly series health issue that made me see things in a different perspective, so I couldn’t wait anymore and had to do it! 
My target was an 80’s 911 SC. The problem was all the delays and hesitations created a major bad timing issue, prices started to rise much more the budget I had alloted, so I set my sights on a 2000’s Boxster. Thing is, I’m not a cabrio or modern car guy; I finally found out where my heart belonged – Classic Sport Cars! I had to make the heartbreaking decision of owning my first Porsche on hold. I simply couldn´t wait until I was an old man, I had to have a nice petrol classic sport car while the time was right.

So now I focused on any classic sports car with engine in the front (>150hp), petrol, rear wheel drive, manual and coupe. Also I was enthusiastic about the concept of doing some renovation work, I had a “hands on approach” with my first cars, so that wouldn’t be a big deal or deal breaker. I also needed an intense hobby to help cope with the stress of work but could be easily fit into my family/home life.

During my searches, I couldn’t choose any car because of this or that, to be honest, because it wasn’t a Porsche. Soon some 924s and 944s started to appear, and not being a Porsche expert, I didn’t know much about them let alone see one on the roads…but they could possibly be on my budget range. So, I started looking for information about them, reviews, major issues, maintenance costs, etc. I began falling in love with 944s. The look, the great handling, the high build quality; plus, it was an underdog!

The perfect storm was forming!       
Looking at the first few cars, I quickly understood that the majority were either badly maintained or rarely, if ever. So I decided to look for a cheap one and the money saved on the outright purchase would fund the restoration process.

I found one that looked mechanically reasonable, straight, no rust and no paint work needed but it required lots of things fixed especially with an unknown history that may as well be none. I thought it was perfect! It was the underdog of all underdogs.

Looking back, I can see how lucky I was especially with all of the emotions involved with such an endeavor; I had missed many crucial things, but it could’ve been much worse.

I had my parents taking care of my kids and once I got home with my brand new-old Porsche 944, I told them I had a surprise! Immediately my father exclaimed – “You bought a Porsche!”

I never shared anything about my plans with him, how in the hell did he know?! He was one the few that really believed in that little kid’s dream.
I used it for 1 or 2 months to test everything and then I started on all the work it needed; a year and a half and it’s still a work in progress.

It was easy to find information and parts worldwide but locally, here in Portugal, there wasn’t any. Then I went deeply into the Portuguese Porsche forums to find plenty of 944 “experts” that quickly helped me.

It was for that reason that I started a Facebook 944 fan club that has grown to a 924,928,944 and 968 club gathering all Porsche transaxles and Portuguese enthusiasts.

We have more than 250 members and it’s turned out to be very cool group. We’ve already helped lots of people, shared some amazing things and personal anecdotes, met some very interesting people and made some great new friends.     

Then, just 6 months into being a 944 owner, I made a huge mistake that cost me a considerable setback - a crash (yes, I’m pilot). I couldn’t buy new tires and was still running on the old ones that came with the car which had almost 10 years on them! One day in the rain, a huge power slide followed by a “wrong side of the road moment,” ended in a crash; my wife was the co-pilot that day. To top things off, I was wearing a pair of spandex running pants Imagine getting out of the car in those things…very uncool. And yes, we are still married…in case you were wondering.     
All I had quickly learned and the new friends I had made was the secret to handling this setback. Two months afterwards it was on the road again ready to do our first ever track day.

Now I just have two guidelines! One, I will never sell this 944, it’s really a very good car; not many cars can handle like it does. And two; now that the urge of owning a Porsche has subsided, I can take my time in getting a 911. I have already made the some measurements in the garage and a list of other Porsches to buy afterwards, Cayenne Turbo, Cayman and 928 (manual), why not?   

Sorry for the long story but cramming 37 years’ worth of passion in just a few words is hard and once I start talking about Porsches, it’s impossible to stop…but I must.
 


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