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Taking a Sanity Drive in a 400,000 Mile Porsche

After being cooped up in the house for weeks I finally needed to get out for a sanity drive. Though I’m realizing there isn’t much sanity to be had when you drive a 400k mile, 34 year old Porsche.

Illustration for article titled Taking a Sanity Drive in a 400,000 Mile Porsche
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I’m one of the many “non-essential” workers that hasn’t traveled much since California put the Covid-19 stay-at-home order in place. In the last seven weeks I’ve only driven twice, both times to go to the supermarket. Such infrequent driving feels incredibly strange considering I own 11 cars. Before you get too excited, most of those cars are terrible and a drain on my sanity. Including this 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo. But more on that in a bit.

The California stay-at-home order has been effective in discouraging people from leaving home—traffic is noticeably light. It also seems to have been effective in slowing the trend of new Covid-19 cases in California. I’m happy to stay at home to help minimize the spread of this virus, but there are only so many times I can take the same walk around my neighborhood before I start to go a bit stir crazy.

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It had gotten to the point where I just needed to go for a drive. On a back road. Somewhere. Anywhere. While there is nothing legally keeping Californians from driving, the stay-at-home order certainly generates extreme social pressure to drive only for essential activities. However, many have pointed out that it is quite easy to maintain social distance if you’re alone in your car.

Illustration for article titled Taking a Sanity Drive in a 400,000 Mile Porsche
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For me, it was also somewhat of a moral or ethical question, as I’ve spent the last couple years making YouTube videos about driving cars to unique locations. My question was twofold: should I drive during a pandemic, and should I film myself driving during a pandemic? I don’t exactly want to promote non-essential driving, especially if it amounted to even one person taking social distancing less seriously.

I figured I’d ask some of my friends on Twitter to find out how their driving habits have changed since the “lockdown” started.

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It’s quite clear that most of the 219 people polled are still only driving for “essential” activities. Though, a good deal of those that responded are taking drives just to clear their head or pass the time. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this idea.

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Certainly, fewer cars on the road mean fewer chances for crashes that could tie up medical resources. And traveling long distances may require gas and food stops, making it more difficult to practice social distancing. However, even on the outskirts of the Los Angeles metro area of 13 million people, there are still plenty of places to drive where I won’t see another soul for quite a long time.

After struggling with this Coronadriving question for a couple weeks, I finally decided to straddle the line. I’ll go for an “essential” drive to the supermarket, but I’ll take the long way. The long way through a few beautiful canyon roads with sweeping vistas. A good place to avoid people, and a great place to clear my head before I forage for toilet paper. The plan was to avoid driving like a complete idiot, and avoid putting myself or others at risk. Basically, the same as what I was doing pre-Covid.

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However, choosing a 400,000 mile, 34-year old Porsche 944 Turbo as my social distancing chariot may not be the best way to maintain sanity.

The gods have good taste in cars.
The gods have good taste in cars.
Photo: Ethan Tufts (Hello Road)
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Yes, you read that correctly. This old Porsche has nearly a half million miles on the clock. And it’s not exactly the most reliable car in my fleet. It leaks a staggering amount of power steering fluid. Last year the radiator sprung a huge leak. And just a couple months back, the parking brake mechanism decided to explode and exit through the brake rotor. Good times.

Even with the thought that this ultra-high-mileage 944 could suffer another catastrophic failure at any minute, it was still my social distancing chariot of choice. This vehicle has more miles than any car I’ve ever owned, but the 2.5L turbocharged engine just keeps on providing heaps of power. The wonderful chassis continues to serve up incredible balance, making it a joy to drive, even at low speeds.

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Perhaps this temperamental old 944 Turbo isn’t helping my sanity after all. But I just don’t care. Taking it on a windy back road always puts a huge smile on my face.

If you have a few minutes to spare, feel free to check out my most recent video with my 944 Turbo.

How have your driving habits changed during the Covid-19 lockdown? Do you go on “non-essential” drives? How many of you take a long drive to clear your head or decompress?

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Anyone else have high-mileage cars that just won’t quit? Let me know! Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

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