words and photos by scott ferrier
So we traveled from Paris, where we had our family home, to a Porsche dealer in Dortmund to test drive a 968.
It took ages for me to take delivery of the car - it was winter and the car needed some paintwork attended to but I was patient. It seemed like eternity, but many months later my wife finally picked the car up in Dortmund and drove the 470 kilometers trip down to Paris complaining that the car wasn't quite right and it was too bloody slow. Things were already off to a rocky start.
When I arrived from work that night, I was as excited as a schoolboy and I just couldn't wait to try the car. The giddiness quickly wore off when I took it for a spin...the thing sounded like a meat grinder.
So the next morning, I had it flat bedded to the local dealer who drove the pants off the car before opening the bonnet and finding out that the steam cleaning done by the dealer prior to taking delivery wreaked havoc on the ignition wiring effectively killing the spark on a few of the cylinders.
When this got sorted out, however, the car ran fantastically for about a month or so giving me the opportunity to take it for its inaugural run at 150 mph...it proved to be its last—I hit a patch of diesel fuel just outside of Frankfurt airport and spun the car into the armco. My first relationship with front engined Porsches came to an abrupt end.
It was a 944 - a step down from the 968 but more affordable if I were to ever have an accident again. The car was an '89 in Dove blue...this was the rare 2.7 model. It had the Porsche script seats, no air-conditioning; the most basic spec. It didn't even have ABS, which was standard on most cars by this time.
We spent 3 happy years together belting along French B roads. I took it on a trip to Le Mans Classic, used it to commute between Paris and Cologne where I worked for Ford, it was truly a good time. I also had a great relationship with a local Porsche Specialist in my area who looked after the car. I was really happy with life.
Then I was offered a chance to work in our Australian studio, so I had to sell up—bringing a LHD car in Melbourne with no air-con just wasn't the right decision, so I left it with the specialist for him to sell on my behalf as he had done for numerous clients.
I never heard from him again...my 944 had gone.
Apparently, the guy who bought it had never driven it, so the car was in really good condition. He was a multi-millionaire and I remember haggling over the price of the car for an amount that would'nt even be enough to pay the insurance on his latest purchase - a brand new Lamborghini. Anyway, the deal was done and I became a very nervous owner of a 928.
Now, the fact that it was only running on 5 cylinders escaped my attention and it was only when it started stuttering on a drive that I decided to have the thing looked at.
"The camshaft snapped pushing valves into pistons causing all sorts of other carnage..."
The camshaft snapped pushing valves into pistons causing all sorts of other carnage...that mechanic decided he had given up working on Porsches and left town. I was left with a knackered car facing a large bill.
"My dad will sort that out" he said.
"He works on 356's but knows 928s."
Well, the car sat in Dad's garage for 6 months before a friend with a 928 introduced me to his mechanic who had the car running within 4 weeks.
It wasn't cheap but it wasn't over the top either and the car never ever had an issue during my 5 years of ownership.
The Porsche club of Victoria also smiled on the water cooled cars. I loved every minute spent in my 928, but I missed the telepathy of the 944 - and the manual gearbox.
I lasted 3 days before finding a black '87 for sale in a local ad. I went to see the car which wouldn't start on top of having some rust issues, so I asked a local Porsche specialist to look the car over...turned out he was selling his track prepared '89 944. I had to buy it, but it was gold, which was not my favourite color, with a blue interior...not the best combination but it had the brakes, tyres, wheels, and suspension from the Turbo S.
I took the car for a test drive and immediately fell in love with the tightness of the steering , the amazing brakes and thought to hell with the lack of power this was a great basis for a track car...especially as there were no back seats, roof lining, door panels. And the aftermarket glass fibre bumpers didn't look too bad, did they?
Yes, they sure did. Not only did I want it all back to stock, I wanted the cam belt changed too.
The only thing holding me back now was passing the Michigan driving test before I could get insurance and then register the car in my name...WTF!!! All was good in the end though, especially once the snow had cleared. Two months later, I passed my test and finally got back on the road in a front engined Porsche.
It's one of those good from far but far from good cars, a project, shall we say. So far I have battered it from home to work and back for the past four months, it's Detroit, Michigan, you know? So there are no curves...it's all on a grid so having one of the best handling cars is of little consequence never mind how the potholes that can swallow trucks spoil the experience somewhat. But i gotta say, every single time I drive it, I have a smile on my face.
What other $5000 car will do that for you ?
I am looking forward to doing some driver education days here with the Porsche club and getting some track days under my belt. And although a 997 will join it in the garage at some point in the near future, there will always be a front engined Porsche in my garage.