About 3 months ago, I realized that my SLK32 AMG probably had to go. I’d had it for around 6 problem-free years, but the honeymoon was over, and I wanted something more like a “driver’s car”. Plus, Mercedes likes to charge insane amounts of money for silly things like interior trim, and to be fair, though the engine in that car is a gem, the interior really isn’t. It wasn’t going to be a “lifetime” car for me.
I knew the safe choice was some kind of new econobox. Low payments, good warranty, something to get me from point A to point B while slowly sucking out my soul with its vague steering, flat-lining torque curve, and constantly-hunting slushbox. I mean, really, what need did I have for 360 horsepower? When I suggested something like a base Golf or a Honda Fit, my wife just laughed at me.
“You’ll hate it.” I really really would. I really love my wife.
The wife and I are thinking of starting a family, and I needed something with 4 seats, something responsible and reliable, something that wouldn’t all of a sudden implode an ECU and need 2500 to replace, or wouldn’t cost 300 bucks for basic interior plastics. Something preferably fairly mechanical that I could wrench on myself. I toyed with the idea of a ‘69 Mustang or a C3 of a similar vintage. Though some of the prices were outrageous, a few could be had
for a reasonable amount of money in fairly good shape, but in the end, the poor steering and brakes and suspension would have been miserable for my commute. I also considered an E92 M3, but in the end, I didn’t want a car that was an impenetrable black box for someone with my limited DIY abilities and tools.
I settled eventually on a 911SC or a 3.2 Carrera. I mean, 4 seats, generally reliable, bulletproof engine, highly DIY-able; probably not an “investment” like a 401k, but it also won’t depreciate like a rock as soon as I buy it. This was a totally reasonable and responsible resolution to my problem. Right?
Luckily South Florida is some kind of regional Porsche Mecca, and several specialty shops had options within my price range. I ignored a few options near Ft. Lauderdale with a laughable number of miles for anywhere between 40 and 50 grand, the 1987 or later options with the hydraulic G50 transmission usually raised the price ten grand without giving you much else, and honestly, I wasn’t going to track the car, so I settled on 3 options:
- A lovely little 1980 SC coupe in Guards Red with a tartan interior
- An oddly appealing Burgundy ‘85
- A Guard’s Red ‘86 with tan interior
On the surface, the SC made the most sense financially, though it had more miles, but both the 3.2s had lower miles and had significant upgrades due to their generation. I settled on the red and tan because of course I did.
There was only one final hurdle.
You see, I was raised a certain way, and cars really weren’t a concern with my family. My dad buys Accords cash in base trim and drives them into the ground. The concept of enjoyment on a drive is alien, irresponsible, and maybe a trifle irreligious.
I agonized about whether it was the right thing to do, and about whether or not anyone ever really NEEDS a Porsche (yes!). I knew asking my parents for advice would be useless, so I turned towards my father in law, a hard working man that also has an affinity for cars (he’s had 2 Porsches and an original E30 M3).
He also hemmed and hawed, noting that it probably wasn’t the most practical choice, but also noting that life was short. We hung up without having made a decision. My wife just said, “do what makes you happy”, which sounds like great advice for making bad decisions.
The next bit sounds melodramatic because it is.
That evening I took the dog for a walk in the rain. I took him down from the top floor to the yard by the a short set of cement steps which were slick with the rain. My heel slipped and I nearly fell backwards on my head. I turned around and stared at the stairs, imagining a hundred scenarios where I died, or lost my vision, or broke my back or my leg, or suffered some kind of brain damage. Ever since I had discovered I loved cars at around 11 years old, this was an experience I’d want, for however long it lasted. Or maybe I was just convincing myself of something I already wanted to do.
Life is short.
I realize that doesn’t justify....anything really, and that there are choices you don’t make even though life is short, but for me, this was the right one for now.
Let me tell you, it’s one HELL of a ride.