Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Back In The Saddle Again" ©

People who have 'spare' Porsches (meaning that they bought another one and can't drive two at once) tend to be generous with them, in my experience. Also, Porsche owners who are especially pleased with their particular model want to share their pleasure, and since I am Porscheless at this moment, I've been driving a variety of Porsche cars that have been offered to me by their owners to try, on occasion. They feel, with decent conviction, that I would be happy driving a marvelous car, and that I don't want to be left out in the cold, so to speak. The idea is that they are also offering a seductive temptation to me to get back into one of these cars, but they are just plain big-hearted at the same time. I love this. Therefore, I continue to honestly fail to make any solid decision about a different Porsche, or any Porsche, or any other car, or no car. As a toy, I mean.

I've said, elsewhere on this blog, that the future of automobiles is electric, and that hydrocarbon fuels will momentarily vanish - unless certain lunatics start WWIII, making all bets void. However, this isn't the future, this is now, and mainly Porsche cars still run on gas. I think things through too much, and always have done so. It's a character flaw, because life is too short to ponder things endlessly while I descend into the infirmities of age. At least I occasionally make some good decisions, but excess time gets lost in the bargain, which makes them bad decisions due to that vanished, irretrievably lost time. So, do I want another hobby car, or not?

A few people wouldn't call a Porsche a hobby car, thinking that this concept diminishes the sanctity of 'one of the world's greatest cars'. Greatest at what?, I'm tempted to ask. A Porsche sports car is a very narrow focus device, after all. Yes, some people drive them to work at their office every day - even though the office is at an easily walkable distance from home (true in one case that I learned of the other day), but I don't think that this purpose is what Porsche AG has in mind. 'Sport' is the operative idea in this car's identity. Okay, that's fine, but how many Porsche owners engage in actual sport with their cars? What percentage compete with them on the track (a vanishingly small number), or in time/distance rallies, autocross, or other 'tests of speed'? Hardly any. Instead, too many speed illegally, and dangerously, on public roads. Others crawl up and down Main Street, making as much noise as possible, etc., yelling 'look at me!'  In other words, in one sense the majority are poseurs, sorry to say. I didn't compete on track with my 911, either.

Porsche cars have a certain look to them, and many models are truly seductively designed, without the clichés seen on almost all other cars. Maybe that's enough. Buy what you think is the most beautifully designed car, drive it as you will and let others bash them on the track in order to keep up the performance image. It's your money, so who am I to judge? At last, though, do I 'need' another one?

Two days after I sold my 911 I called PCA to ask if I could remain in the club (as an affiliate member, or something), since I have met a good number of really nice people that I now count as friends, and I want to continue to participate in the club. "When does your membership expire?" I was asked by the PCA office. "In March I think," I said. "Just renew it," I was told. Apparently once in, always in, so I'm legit as an ex-Porsche owner. That's economical. [Note: An officer of the club logically must own a Porsche - unless, oddly, the Region's bylaws don't require this.] [Another note: I have become an official Associate member of PCA.]

So, I've been attending various PCA events, often in borrowed Porsches. I might do that this coming weekend - but I'm still thinking it over; see what I mean? Anyway, the following is a recount of the most recent activity that I attended in a Porsche that was on loan to me. I drove the blue Boxster seen above; it worked perfectly and was fun, and I drove it while its owners drove their new Cayman. Good deal - I tried to respectfully exercise it as I drove, in order to keep everything ship-shape and humming. I never thought that I was a roadster type of guy, but I could live with this, perhaps. 

Part Two:  Running on Borrowed Time

The event recounted here took place in a location where we have been before. Link: An Out Of the Ordinary "Barn Find", so I won't go into great detail about it now, even though it is always fun to visit the place. It was at the home/workshop of an internationally prominent restorer of ancient classic automobiles (not the modern Porsches known to us, as they are too new), and he restores wooden speedboats, also. The collection inside his shop is a jaw-dropper, and each visit there is something 'new' to be seen. By prominent, I mean Amelia Island, Pebble Beach, that sort of thing.

Packhard. One of the best, ever.

Type 19 'Bugatti'. ©2015 New England Auto Auctions
At the moment he is working on restoring one of the earliest cars designed by Ettore Bugatti. In 1912 Bugatti designed a small car that was then built by Peugeot, the Type 19 Bébé, of which a handful remain in the world, even though it was Peugeot's most popular car at the time. Bébé is a good name for the car, as it is minuscule, but fascinating. The two speed transmission is the size of a can of soup, and, being a 1913 car, it has rear brakes only, which appear to be external contracting bands on 'rotors' that are about 1" (2.5cm) wide. Why stop when you are having fun? The two people who would occupy that car had to be absolutely tiny, even by 1913 standards. Since 3,095 Type 19s were produced between 1913 and 1916, its popularity caused it to become known as Europe's Model T. 

Bébé's bare bones. The red arrow, upper left, points to the body of the car.

Much later, it's coming along nicely. Photo borrowed from gmtpca.org (I'm a member)

The canister, left of center, is the two speed transmission.
With 10 horsepower available, the Bébé was able to reach 40kph (+/- 25mph) if the road was good, which mostly they weren't then. Actually, the car's engineering and construction were advanced at the time and offered very good value for the franc. The Bébé was killed off in WWI.


This PCA event involved a tour of nine antique covered bridges sprinkled along some delightfully entertaining New England roads, plus the normal Pot-Luck lunch, and at one location there were three bridges in a row, one after another. I took pictures with one hand above the windshield, as I steered, shifted gears, and ate a sandwich with the other.

Speed limit 25 mph. Perfect for a Type 19.

Riding as a guest in a Porsche is not unknown in this PCA region. I've had passengers in my Porsche when their cars were not on the road for greasy reasons, and others are often generous in offering rides to cover similar circumstances. Then, there are the cars that I have driven, too; kindly made available by openhanded region members. If you belong to this club, you've got a Porsche at hand, always. Simple as that.

A good turnout. This was about one-third of the show.

However, attending Porsche events sans-Porsche just feels odd to me. People have been generous in lending me their cars, but I feel like a moocher to drive a lent car, multiple times. Something needs to be done.

Then there was this in my garage the other day . . .

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