Why I Drive

[An essay from Posse member Jim (Busta Rib) on the joys of driving a Porsche 911.]

I love to drive. There’s something special about pointing my car down a winding open road, windows down, and the breeze fluttering past my ears on a balmy summer day. To maintain the purity of moments like these, my stereo is turned off, with only the sweet mechanical song of an air-cooled engine encouraging me on with each stab of my right foot, or downshift before a turn.

BMW may have the rights to the tagline “The ultimate driving machine,” but in spirit and singular purpose of design and provenance, it is truly owned by Porsche’s 911. For five decades, the 911 has symbolized the epitome of a sports coupe, particularly the air-cooled generations (1964-1998).

This is evident in its racing heritage, unorthodox flat-six rear-engined layout (for better traction and a lower center of gravity), sleek profile to cheat the wind, and light-weight architecture to maximize handling and responsiveness. Even the ignition switch is on the left-side of the steering wheel for faster starts, a legacy of Porsche’s racing history when drivers would sprint to their cars at the beginning of races. Efficient, those Germans.

Iconic Porsche poster idolized by every boy (and some men) in the 80s

My love affair with the 911 began in the 80s with the iconic poster showing three equally tantalizing, sensual, and curvy silhouettes: a nude woman, a bottle of wine, and the 911. I suspect every teenager had this poster tacked to his bedroom wall, right next to Christie Brinkley and Kiss. The fantasy eventually became reality and I currently drive a 1977 911S ratrod. At one point it was actually my daily driver. Yes, that is whack, as the kids would say.

Some might question my decision to own a 40-year-old sports car that it is as functional as a plastic grocery bag with holes in the bottom. And compared to modern standards, the NVH of an air-cooled 911 is on the verge of unacceptable. The suspension creaks like an old man, the HVAC system is antiquated and ineffective, faint odors of oil and gasoline constantly permeate the cabin, it is as loud as an 80s neon t-shirt, and the ride as firm as Jillian Michaels‘ ass. Euphemistically, this is known as a visceral driving experience.

Yet, driving a 911 is truly sublime. Despite my attempts to sugarcoat the comfort factor of an air-cooled 911 (or lack thereof), it is a remarkable machine for driving without purpose; simply for the pure enjoyment of taking the long way home. It is a driver’s car; a precision instrument for carving up the road first and foremost, and not necessarily a mode of transport or an appliance to get you from A to B.

It’s difficult to describe the wonderful feeling of driving such a great machine. At the risk of being crass, I suspect you would want to smoke a cigarette after a vigorous and satisfying session with a 911 (if you smoked, that is). It’s that good.

First, there is the ballet of movements that, when synchronized properly, is poetic in nature and yields incredibly smooth and fluid travel down the road. Accelerate, clutch, brake, rev match, shift, lean, turn, accelerate. The level of difficulty increases with speed and decreasing turn angles, but when you get it right, it is incredibly rewarding as well as challenging. I could dance like this all day long.

And then there are the other sensations: the adrenaline rush, the performance exhaust as it voices its throaty approval on a well-timed downshift, and the mechanical whirring of the boxer engine emanating from just behind the cockpit, constantly coaxing you for more after every turn and straightaway. As our friends from England would say, it’s absolutely brilliant. Yes, it is.

One 911 + an open road = driving bliss

A business associate that I respect writes a blog under his nom du plume of HRNasty, providing observations about all things human resources. In one post, Nasty addressed the notion of hiring candidates with passion for their job, calling this desirable trait “fire.”

Besides being relevant for screening and hiring candidates, Nasty offered up some compelling insight for life in general. Whether it is for your work, a hobby, or some other aspect of your life, passion is the litmus test and determinant for actually living versus simply existing, fulfillment over emptiness, feeling love rather than nothing at all. At its core, passion is our raison d’être.

When driven by passion, your pursuits seem effortless, more productive, more enjoyable. Without it, life simply feels burdensome. And perhaps a little boring. As HR Nasty says, if you are not passionate about your job, at least have passion for something. Anything. Wise man.

Driving an air-cooled 911 is my passion. It reminds me that I am alive, and it is the straw that stirs my soul. It is what makes a simple trip to the grocery store enjoyable, or storming down a back-country road exhilarating.

Regardless if you drive a 911 or not, I hope you can find your passion. And remember to get out and drive!

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2 thoughts on “Why I Drive

  1. Jim – you definitely captured the physical & emotional experience of driving these old cars!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Iain (’81 930)

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