The building blocks that define the foundation of human existence can sometimes be linked to specific events; moments in time. The significance of these events can shape who we are, and even the direction we choose to take when reaching the critical intersections in life.
I’ve been a motor-head for so long that it’s hard for me to remember how my obsession for Porsche began. The smell of metal, rubber, wax and Naugahyde has always stirred my soul. Maybe it’s just me, but the growl of a normally aspirated flat six motor through performance plumbing is its own musical genre.
Rooting for the underdog in a world of massive V8 power when gas was measured in quarter miles rather than miles per gallon, I was particularly drawn to the small-block pony cars of the sixties and seventies that roamed my neighborhood while I was cutting lawns and tossing Frisbees. But with thoughtful probing, I think I can trace the origin of my obsession to a summer morning when my father’s boss arrived at our modest suburban home to give my dad a lift to work in his new 1972 Porsche 911 Targa. Pulling slowly up the driveway, I froze as he approached, and my mouth dropped open.
The brilliantly orange and black machine stopped inches from me. A silver-haired driver with mirrored sunglasses glanced up as he waited impatiently in the cockpit; the idling engine keeping time with the nodding of my head. This car moved me.
Envious of the man behind the wheel, but at once grateful to be within a breath of such a marvel of brilliant design, I leaned back for fear of stumbling into my own illusion. I was thirteen and the meaning of life had just been revealed to me, as obvious as the Porsche crest on the elegant slope of the hood.
My father appeared awkwardly at the front door, disrupting this personal and profound event. Wearing an old-school raincoat and fedora while clutching his briefcase and newspaper, he managed to the passenger side and dipped his head to greet his boss. I winced when the buttons on his coat chinked on the surface of the door as it opened.
He looked up and glanced at the lawnmower behind me with a reminder to cut the grass before it got too hot. I suppose he realized my mind was elsewhere, because he paused and then asked me the question he always did when I wasn’t paying attention, “Well, what do you think?”
As I said, I was thirteen… I returned to the reality of the morning heat, and facing the unpleasant certainty of a rusted lawnmower I muttered back over my shoulder, “I think you need to apply yourself more at work.”
Fast-forwarding more than forty years and twenty-five cars later, I have been the proud owner of a 2009 midnight blue Porsche Cayman 987, and more recently a white 2016 Macan S. I joined the Riesentöter region of the Porsche Club of America and attend as many activities as I can.
Ironically, the English translation of Riesentöter is “giant killer”, as Porsche will forever measure itself against more powerful rivals. Three inches shy of six feet, I’ve always been appreciative of finesse over force, and I admit to getting some satisfaction when Porsche triumphs against their oversized, under-engineered adversaries.
It might sound a bit over-dramatic, but now that I look back on that summer morning, I appreciate that this event profoundly shaped my unique perspective on cars, Porsche and life itself. I might otherwise be driving a Shelby GT350R, or a Corvette Stingray – fine hardware indeed, but nothing close to the bond I now share with this German brand.
There are many of you who can convey a similar incident that shaped a passion for the car you now own, or perhaps the one you have yet to acquire. You may know exactly what I’m talking about (or like me), it might have been so long ago you didn’t remember the details until you saw the same car (or rather its likeness) in the parking lot of a local Starbucks.
And someday you’ll be reminded why the site of a Ferrari 250 GTO makes your pulse race. Why you whip your head around when a Lamborghini Twin-Cam V12 thunders to life, or you catch the chirp of rubber on asphalt when a 440 Challenger grabs second gear. And then you’ll recall the moment that sparked your own obsession; your Defining Moment.