Pismo Beach, California is an excellent place to spend time in late summer or early fall. It’s warm during the day and a little cool at night, the beach is beautiful, there’s plenty to do, the setting is just perfect. I volunteered to help host the 912 Registry’s West Coast Rendezvous this year, and it didn’t quite go off without a hitch, but I’m certainly happy with how it turned out, especially considering I didn’t even have a 912 to drive during the event.
You see, a few weeks before the event I took my 1976 Porsche 912E into the shop for a service to make sure it was up to snuff for the Rendezvous. I got a call the next day saying that two cylinders were very low on compression (like 40 psi low) and one of them had blown the spark plug clear out of the cylinder head. More on that in a future post, but needless to say the engine was in no shape to go on a long road trip to Pismo Beach. In fact, two months later it’s still being rebuilt.
So, I borrowed a new FTR1200 from Indian Motorcycles (a review of the bike will be going up on Jalopnik.com soon) and hit the road. It wasn’t a 912, but it would be comfortable and fast enough to lead a pack of 30-ish thrumming Porsches.
The event began on a Thursday morning in September as dozens of Porsche’s ostensibly entry-level 60s car converged on a beautiful Pismo day. The intent was to use Thursday to converge and relax. We chose a point on the map with some twisty roads and headed inland. As we got further from the beach the temperature gradually rose, but none of us experienced any overheating issues. We wound our way slowly up a mountain, stopped to look out over the valley below once we reached the top, then wound our way back down.
We stopped for lunch at Mersea’s Seafood near the end of the Port San Luis Pier for a delightful meal with the sea lions orp-orping away below us.
Friday came with the promise of big adventure. The longest driving route of the week saw the group transiting out across the wide open nothingness of the central valley. We planned for a lunch stop in the sleepy town of Taft before going up and over one of the most beautiful freshly paved ribbons of asphalt I’ve ever laid eyes upon in our trek back toward the coast. After a look at the weather forecast showed triple digit temperatures, most of the group decided to stick around Pismo or head to any number of nearby wineries. An intrepid travelling party consisting of myself, the group photographer in a new Mazda Miata, and four quick 912s made the run inland. It was an excellent group, and we had a great time running in a small pack. I imagine a group of 30 might have been a little more ungainly to keep together and keep running quickly. Even for our six car troupe, traffic got in our way.
After we had completely wiped ourselves out with some of the best driving roads in the country, a local 912er offered his back yard and patio to play host to the first-annual 912 Rendezvous No-Prep Concours. He’d been marinating meats and preparing meals for the club all day, and by the time we got there the barbecue pit was roaring. Maybe it was just the fatigue of several hours of riding across 100 degree plains on a motorcycle that radiated heat in a black helmet, or maybe it was just the fact that the food was amazing, but I’d call that one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
Saturday rolled around with an even earlier start to our driving day. This time we headed south through another set of incredibly twisty switchback roads. I’ll keep the exact road names out of the public record here to protect the innocent, but I will say that if you wanted to find a fun route from Highway 166 down to Los Olivos this would be the way to do it. Once reconvened at the bottom we headed past Cachuma Lake down to the old Cold Spring Tavern which used to be on a stagecoach line from LA to SF. On the weekends they make some of the best tri tip sandwiches in the world. From there some of us headed back up the fun roads we came down, others went out to some other local wineries.
Before long it was time for the annual awards banquet, and an opportunity to say our goodbyes for a weekend well spent among enthusiasts. If you have a 912, you need to schedule a trip to 912 Rendezvous next year. It’s always a good time. Hopefully my engine will be rebuilt by then!