Porsche. It’s a name that rings class, heritage, and importance to the ears of every man who hears it. I strongly believe that every man and woman who has walked the Earth remembers a time when they feel deeply in love with a Porsche of some sort. My dad told me the stories of how much he loved the classic 80s Turbos while growing up. I’ve told you all countless times my love for the 996. My mom currently has a huge love for the Panamera. Basically anyone who has ever had a glancing interest in cars has a Porsche they’ve always wanted, or at least has wanted to get their hands on one for a period of time.
For me, the chance came last week, thanks to a 2008 911 Carrera S Cabriolet which was transferred into my work. While this, by no means, was the first Porsche I’ve ever driven (see my post from a while back detailing my experience with a base 987 Cayman), this was the first 911. The mack daddy. The real enchilada. Insert other important synonyms here. And while it isn’t the 996 I promised would be the first 911 I drove, it was no doubt an exhilarating experience...and it wasn’t even a manual.
The 2008 911 was the third year of production for the 997 generation of the 911, which is, admittedly, one of my least favorite generations of 911s on aesthetic choices alone. But, besides that, the 997 was designed by Porsche to be a huge “I’m sorry” to entitled enthusiasts who were disgusted by the controversial 996. The 997 featured a whole slew of new technologies versus the old car while keeping a more old-fashioned enthusiast-driven atmosphere to the whole car.
The particular car I drove, being a Carrera S, hosted a few upgrades over the base Carrera, including a more powerful 3.8L Flat 6 (over the standard 3.6L unit) making a total of 355 bhp, lowered sport tuned suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Turbo-derived brakes, sports exhaust, and wider body arches to distinguish the models over the standard Carrera. Basically, it was a baby 911 Turbo for high end Carrera money, pretty much the ideal variant if you ask me.
I admit, however, I was somewhat disheartened by the fact that the car that I had been blessed with was actually a 911 Cabriolet. I have never been a fan of convertible Porsches. The weird hump they put into the car to help the drag coefficient always ruined the body styling, and plus there’s that whole thing about convertibles in general just being less rigid and less fun to hock than a standard coupe variant of any car. But, after doing some research (and of course after driving the car), you’ll find that Porsche actually took great lengths to actually keep the car rigid by focusing most of the early design stages into the convertible rather than the coupe. The idea was if they focus on making the convertible extra rigid, then the coupe would be even more rigid in the end. It was a bold strategy, but I think it paid off, Cotton.
Now, admittedly, the last major gripe I had with the car was the strange spec it had been ordered in back in 2008. A white 911 is one thing, it’s not exactly the color I’d go for personally, but then you see it with the body-color matching wheels and you find yourself looking at a 2008 911 with a paint scheme that would work better on a 1988 911.
The beige interior did seem to compliment the car well enough, but overall it felt a bit tacky and just strange overall. To top it all off, the roof was blue...leaving me to believe whoever ordered this car probably sneezed and just started ticking off whatever boxes his mucus landed on. I guess it’s a way to defeat undecidedness, but there’s just so much going on.
You might be thinking I’ve just spent a humongous chunk of this article just absolutely slamming this car for the most part. That’s because for the first few minutes I saw this car, that’s exactly what happened in my head. I was kind of disappointed with every strange factor that seemed to be applied to this car. But then I remembered: I get to drive it. Suddenly every previous qualm I had in my system vanished as I cranked that famous ignition to the left of the steering wheel.
Now, I admit, I did not get to drive the car very far. A short stint down a road and into our garage at work, maybe about a thirty minute drive at most. But it did give me a chance to see what the car can do on some curves and in a straight, basically everything I needed to form an opinion. And boy, what an opinion this was. The 911 is a car that’s built to be driven hard. It feels like no matter the specification, no matter the motor, no matter what color or transmission you get, you probably will have a great time in a 911, and this holds true to this car.
Even though it was only the Tiptronic transmission, I still had a blast as I poured out onto the highway. The gearbox felt like it knew exactly how to row through the gears well enough and helped fill my ears with such glorious flat 6 noises that I really couldn’t find a single reason to complain about it. Sure, a manual would definitely be better in the end, but I can’t call off the car just for this little gripe. It still works.
Cornering in a car such as this is just as brilliant as legend suggests. Everything feels fluid, athletic, and balanced. Run this car into a corner and it thanks you with the firmest and most responsive steering I have ever felt. Every single corner left me with the biggest grin and I was constantly giggling and cackling every step of the way. You know how some people enjoy likening cars to an extension of the human body? The 911 is the first car I’ve ever driven that actually fits that definition. It feels like the car is actually connected to your brain, it feels like it reacts to your every single thought and idea. The car feels like an extra appendage, something that you can’t live without.
I could go on and on by gleaming over this car, how its surprisingly very spacious inside for a guy as tall and wide as myself, how it actually was quite easy to see out of considering the rather small demeanor, and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is, the car is a natural athletic. It’s purpose is so clear and so direct. Even in the ugliest form as this one is, it still feels ready and raring for more. It is the best car that I have ever driven...and I think it’ll be a while before its ever dethroned.
I admit, I was surprised by this humble 911. It’s not a Turbo, GT2, GT3, or any other crazy limited edition, it’s not a manual, and it’s not even AWD. But even with all those personal demerits in its way, it still performed so far above expectations, that I was honestly sad when it finally sold a couple of days ago. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of the perfect sports car, it’s almost like an addiction...and I think it’s earned a firm spot on the bucket list.
Pictures courtesy of myself and Dr.-Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG, courtesy of netcarshow.com.