Growing up I had a couple of Atlanta Hawks posters on the wall. One of them was Spud Webb throwing down a massive dunk during a slam dunk contest. It was my absolute favorite because Spud was “short” and I spent my recesses on the basketball court as the shortest kid, pretending to be him. The other was a picture of members of the Hawks’ starting line up circa-‘90-‘91 standing next to their exotic cars parked on the floor of The Omni. Each car was black, two Ferraris, a Mercedes, and the one that really caught my eye, a Porsche 911.
It must have been a 964 given the time frame, and I knew that one day I had to have one. Whenever my mom and I went grocery shopping, I had a routine. I headed towards the back of the store to grab a box of Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies and waited at the magazine section until my mom would show up and I could ask her to buy the issue of Road & Track I was reading.
Every now and then I’d convince my mom to buy that month’s issue of the duPont REGISTRY. While cheering for Tommy Kendall in Trans-Am or Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR, I’d tabulate lists of every car I would want to buy from the magazine and add up how much money I’d have to make to do so.1 I constantly drew up different plans for my 20-car garage that would be attached to my indoor hockey rink, making sure to measure out accurate dimensions for the builders. Sure there were Countachs, 308 GTSs, and M1s on the list, but behind it was a plethora of Porsche from 356, 924, 9682, and all varieties of 911. Turbo, Targa, 2.7, GT2, RS America, 4S, 2S, I had to have them all.
A few years ago, while my wife in her second pregnancy I rented a 996 for a weekend trip to Napa. I shouldn’t have. The 996 is the black sheep of 911s. It’s the first of the watercooled 911s, the one that ended an
era eon. Rather than being round, it’s headlights resemble a cracked egg yolk pooling on the side of a pan. You can’t go on any Porsche forum mentioning the 996 without someone mentioning failed IMS bearings within half a page.
I didn’t care because I was on an extended test drive. I had just sold my WRX Wagon and given that I barely drove it, was looking for a fun car. This particular 996 I rented had gorgeous BBS LMs and was in a beautiful blue. As we drove out of the city and down some of the slightly winding roads to Napa I forgot that I was in the ugly duckling. The beautiful tones of the flat-6 made me forget that the IMS bearings probably needed replacing and the feel made me wonder if this was what the worst possible 911 was like, what must the best be like?
Veto. She hated it. She complained about the seats. She complained about the suspension. She didn’t understand why we didn’t just drive her car. But I learned two lessons that day: never take a pregnant woman on a test drive if you want the car and yes, yes, yes I had to have a 911.
As a father of 2, I decided that a 911 was impractical at that stage of my life so I “settled” on a german sedan. In the meantime, I saw prices of aircooled 911s start their upward climb in to the stratosphere, and there are no signs of those prices coming back down. Only 1,752 examples of the 993 Carrera S were made for North America. Maybe one day I’ll know which one of those was made for me.
There’s the moment you know you want one, there’s the moment you first own one, and for the truly afflicted, there’s the decade or two that passes in between.