For some time now, I have been considering saving my pennies for the purchase of a well used Porsche 911. More specifically, a 911SC or Carrera of the eighties. I know, I know, air-cooled bandwagon this and hot-rod 911 trend that, I've heard it all before. I grew up around 911's until my father's taste outgrew 911's, so have had an affinity for the cars long before the likes of Walker and his ilk turned the long-nosed coupes into the latest fashion accessory.
My sights had been set on something from the west coast or southern states, that I would import back to Canada and garage through the winters. A grand prix white G50 Carrera on matching white Fuchs wheels would have been my ideal, until I recently got promoted at work...
With this promotion, came a significant bump in earnings. The reality of getting into a 911 was suddenly staring me straight in the face. The wheels were turning and my mind was in overdrive while perusing the Pelican classifieds. What would I settle for? Would I drive it home or trailer it? How much of a potential project was I willing to take on?
As I continued to ask myself questions, I found that many of my answers were actually guiding me away from buying a 911. The logical part of me started weighing in with more gravity, and the emotional part was fading in the distance. While I wanted a fun, sporting car that my wife and I could throw a couple of overnight bags into and take off to Stratford or Kingston for a weekend trip in, I wasn't sure that I was ready to nurture a relationship with a classic 911.
There comes a time when your priorities shift. I am at a point in my life where I must focus on nurturing a promising career and a happy, healthy relationship with someone very important to me. Wrenching in my spare time and traveling away for weekends with the "just in case" tool kit are not options I want to table right now. They say timing is everything, and while I will own a 911 one day, today can't be that day.
With my objectives reset, I set out in search of something that captures the essence of what I was looking for in a 911, but with the reliability and creature comforts of a modern car. Something I could use to travel to work in daily, confidently take on a long road-trip, but has some sporting intentions and is somewhat special. A manual transmission, bluetooth/device connectivity, lightly used but still within warranty were musts.
I am not a numbers whore, so horsepower figures and zero-to-sixty times really mean shit-all to me. I don't care how fast anything laps this track or that track, I couldn't give a squirt of piss about the latest 700hp Dodge or 1000hp supercar. I seek a package that is compact and usable for one person to drive to work and two people and their bags to go on an adventure. For me the driving experience is about much more than speed.
First off the list are the pony cars. I know these cars have their virtues and their fans alike, they are just too bulky for me. I know the eight's are strong motors and build quality is light years ahead of what it used to be, I can't get beyond sitting in one of these things. I have driven every iteration of the Camaro and simply can't buy into the hype. Same goes for the Challenger. My pick would have been the Mustang, of which my neighbour owns a Mustang 5.0 and a friend has a Boss - both fantastic machines with what IMO is the best sounding V8 of the bunch - but I just can't get past that feeling of heft, and for that reason, I'm out...
Next up was the BMW 335i Coupe. It felt much more compact than the pony cars and is as solid as they come, however it crossed too far into luxury/tourer territory and made me feel as though I should change into business casual attire before sitting in the drivers seat. I am straying too far from true sports cars, so time to realign my search.
Mazda Miata. Again, neighbour owns two, an early 1991 model and a more recent 2008 (?) with the folding hard-top. Now this is an ideal sports car! If only they came as a fastback or shooting-brake. And for that reason, I'm out.
Porsche Cayman. The top end of my budget is the bottom end of the Cayman market. I haven't driven a Cayman, but have driven plenty of Boxster's and there isn't much to fault about the driving experience. The Cayman has that raw sports/touring vibe I am seeking, though I would much prefer an 'S'. What of maintenance costs and reliability though? And for that reason, I'm not out but I'm still looking around.
C6 Corvette? I've driven more Vette's than I can count, from base models to ZR-1's, and only really loved the Z-06 in Centennial Edition guise. If I were to really convince myself to go the Vette route, it would have to be a wide-bodied Grand Sport or Z-06 to pique my interests, and those are beyond affordable for me. The narrow bodied base model just doesn't turn my crank. And for that reason, I'm out.
Mazda RX-8? And for that reason, I'm out.
Toyobaru? Like a physically fit tennis player with an atrocious face, I want to love these cars. I really do! I just can't... And for that reason, I'm out.
Acura NSX? Sweet Jesus would I love one of these. It's too nice to drive to an industrial park every day, and for that reason, I'm out.
Audi TT Coupe? Nah... I'm out.
The fact is that I've fallen in love with a Nissan 370Z. For some reason, it checks all the right boxes for me. It has a decent lineage back to the 240Z, and a very sexy body that has very well done cues to the original without being 'retro'.. It is front engine, rear drive. Two seats and a luggage shelf. It beats with an imperfect but very reliable Nissan VQ lump under its hood, and provides adequate power for spirited driving. Bluetooth, heated seats and a Bose sound system add just enough to keep wifey interested on long drives, but not so much as to take away from the driving experience.
To me, this might be the perfect, modern sports-tourer Especially given the money these can be snapped up on the pre-owned market for. I have lusted for these cars every time I have seen one in person, which isn't very often and explains why it has slipped from my automotive mind so many times before. I also believe that in a marketplace saturated with pony-car's and Corvette's, this rare breed will be a stronger long term buy as people begin to appreciate this car for what it is, rather than knock it for what it's not.
The 370Z is my modern 911 Carrera... For now.