I have been a backpacker for many years and recently did a 110 mile stretch. I love camping. Being in the wilderness and enjoying a more intimate relationship with nature is my jam, but I am also lazy. Extremely lazy. It was after this hike that I decided to give car camping a go. In this way I could still enjoy the outdoors and go on small day hikes, but not have to carry everything, and even bring small luxuries- like a pillow or frying pan.
I started transitioning into this set up, initially, by taking my fully-packed backpack and just throwing it in my ultra reliable 01’ Lexus IS300. I'd then pick up my girlfriend and head up to Yosemite. It was every bit as good as I hoped it to be, yet there was still something visceral missing. It seemed that everything related to the car was boringly automated. Disconnected. Enter my Porsche. For reasons that elude my parents and everyone except my loving girlfriend and one buddy (who made a similar decision), I traded in the Lexus for a '70 Porsche 914. It was the best automotive decision I have made. Turned out to be a good car camping decision, too.
My buddy and I have been car camping in the local San Bernardino mountains often, typically on short backpacking trips. We were familiar enough with the area that if we had any car trouble, we would know who to call and could get towed to either the local shop or home. He also started taking his ‘86 Vanagon (that he started driving instead of his 01’ TDI Golf) to some spots and mentioned one in particular to me: the Barton Flats camp area. It required a scenic mountainous drive and the place was well paved, so the 3” of ground clearance on my 914 would work. Check and check.
Next was deciding what to pack, and how much I could bring. I was still rebounding from the painful minimalism that is long distance backpacking, so I wanted to bring everything I could possibly need, and the couple of bricks. Just because I could. Initially, I was mildly skeptical of my success, as the 914 is a TINY car from the 70s with only 2 seats.
When new, it WAS advertised as the “space Porsche”. Time to test that statement.
How much crap could it possibly hold? Turns out it can hold exactly one-metric-crap-ton. With some Tetris skills put to use, I was able to fit:
- A 3 person tent
- A queen sized mattress
- A Sleeping bag to match
- Giant 10 gallon pot for chili
- Soft sided cooler full of chili ingredients
- 12 pack of terrible beer
- Necessary extra booze
- Hatchet for more firewood
- 2 camping chairs
- 2 hammocks
- 2 pillows
- 2 packed bags with 3 changes of clothes AND PJs
- 2 down jackets
- 2 pairs of hiking boots
- 2 pairs of sandals
- 2 Kindles
I had to take the spare tire out, but I needed to bring 4 pairs of shoes for this 2 night trip. I did not, however, take out the fire extinguisher. That baby third wheels on every date I go on.
All in all, the drive was gorgeous. My 914 started right up and performed without any issue at all. It blasted up the long windy roads, even passing a few slower motorists. It really lived up to the “Mountain Porsche” ad.
I was really surprised by the reception I got too, which ranged from “You came here in that?!?” to “You fit all in that in there?” These comments really rolled in when my buddy pulled up and parked right next to it in his Vanagon.
But my favorite was a husband and wife bantering over it.
Wife -”That looks dangerous”
W -“That’s a young person’s car”
W -“What is it? A VW?”
H -“That's a Porsche 914”
W -“How do you know that?”
H -“I had one”
It was a magnificent experience, camp was set up quickly and everything was unpacked. Brought way more than I needed, which was the goal. Except we forgot the stove. Plenty of fuel. No stove.
It was a cold morning the day I left, as evidence by the frost on the table. I was somewhat apprehensive about the Porsche starting, but nope. It fired right up.
As a bonus, on the way down my dad saw the 914 roar down the twisty roads while volunteering with the Forestry Service. Later on that day he finally admitted it looked fun. Take that!
I have since moved across the country and had to leave the old girl in California, but plans are in the works to bring it out here and keep exploring.