Clas­sic Wheels Porsche on ex­penses? Sure

HIS PHO­TOG­RA­PHY FEA­TURES IN STATE AND NA­TIONAL GAL­LERIES, BUT AUSSIE JEFF CARTER WAS ALSO A TA­LENTED WRITER WHO PENNED COM­PELLING FEA­TURES FOR WHEELS ABOUT THE PORSCHES HE LOVED TO STEER ... AF­TER IM­PORT­ING THEM ON THE CHEAP.

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - PETER ROBIN­SON’S

JEFF Carter is one of Aus­tralia’s great pho­tog­ra­phers, with his work fea­tur­ing in the Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia as well as in state gal­leries and mu­se­ums. But Carter was bet­ter known to Wheels read­ers for his love of Porsches. His first, the fi­nal 356C im­ported to Aus­tralia, was bought on ex­penses from Na­tional Geo­graphic mag­a­zine, for whom he wrote at the time. But his mas­ters ob­jected to pay­ing for a “hard item” and he never wrote for them again.

He did buy more Porsches, though: when its tyres were worn, the 356C was re­placed by a 912 – the four-cylin­der 911 – fol­lowed by a 911E. Carter worked out that if you bought a 911 on tourist de­liv­ery in Ger­many and stayed with the car for 15 months, you could im­port it and by­pass the 45 per­cent duty, near-halv­ing the cost of the Porsche. In 1976, 1977 and 1978, he wrote six sto­ries on his Car­rera 3.0-litre for Wheels, help­ing to cover his 15-month hol­i­day. Read­ers loved them, though Jeff’s ef­forts al­ways put a large hole in the mag­a­zine’s bud­get. The bloke knew his worth: the ter­rific, won­der­fully read­able words were al­ways ac­com­pa­nied by great pho­tographs, which he in­sisted be re­turned each is­sue.

This highly en­ter­tain­ing tale con­cern­ing Carter’s four Porsches, pub­lished in De­cem­ber 1978, acted as a favourable se­quel to my highly crit­i­cal drive story on the 911SC 3.0 (em­bar­rass­ingly now, I wrote that the 911, “be­longs to an­other era so let’s put it out to pas­ture.”) We’d agreed to a word count, but Carter couldn’t help him­self and, as al­ways, sup­plied an ex­tra 1250 or so words. Of course we paid up and ran them all: cut­ting his words was not some­thing an edi­tor did lightly with­out in­cur­ring his con­sid­er­able wrath. Be­sides, his com­pelling nar­ra­tive made it all but im­pos­si­ble.

Jeff quickly dis­cov­ered that Porsche de­pre­ci­a­tion was min­i­mal, that they were re­mark­ably re­li­able as they were su­perbly built, and they cost lit­tle more to run that his Hold­ens or Land Rovers. They also taught him about driv­ing and, es­pe­cially the 356C, wis­chen­ing, a Ger­man ski­ing term for ‘slip side­ways’, or, in car-talk, over­steer.

He ex­plained: “All you had to do was se­lect a gear that left you with plenty of re­serve ac­cel­er­a­tion and then go into the cho­sen cor­ner much too fast. Quite small but rapid saw­ing mo­tions of the steer­ing wheel and firm ac­cel­er­a­tion con­trolled the re­sul­tant slide. The worst thing you could do was to ease off on the loud pedal. Any hes­i­ta­tion with the right foot causes the car to swap ends or spin, even if you backed off only by the thick­ness of your socks.”

De­spite the pub­lic­ity Carter pro­vided Porsche, he was at pains to ex­plain that he never re­ceived, “any form of con­sid­er­a­tion” from the dealer or the fac­tory. Once, he claimed that Hamil­ton’s threat­ened le­gal ac­tion over what it be­lieved were defam­a­tory re­marks about one of the Porsches.

“My praise for the mar­que is in­spired solely by my ad­mi­ra­tion for the cars,” Carter wrote. “No slings have ever come my way, only ar­rows.”

CARTER KNEW HIS WORTH: THE TER­RIFIC, WON­DER­FULLY READ­ABLE WORDS WERE AL­WAYS AC­COM­PA­NIED BY GREAT PHO­TOGRAPHS, WHICH HE IN­SISTED BE RE­TURNED EACH IS­SUE

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