CLAS­SIC WHEELS

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“A PORSCHE PRESS FUNC­TION IS A TWO-DAY, HIGH-SPEED DRIVE PRO­GRAM ON ROADS WHICH SHOW OFF THE CARS’ MO­TOR­ING STYLE TO THE VERY BEST AD­VAN­TAGE.” NO WONDER AN IN­VITE TO A PORSCHE EVENT WAS, “THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER IN­VI­TA­TION IN MO­TOR­ING JOUR­NAL­ISM”, AS MY IN­TRO­DUC­TION TO PORSCHE FEAST, MAY 1986, EX­PLAINS IN THE FIRST PARA­GRAPH.

In 1984, when I re­mained banned by Porsche after stri­dent crit­i­cism of the early 924 and a 1978 911 SC, Phil Scott con­tributed ‘The Stuttgart Squadron’ for the March is­sue. Two years later, the for­mat for Porsche’s ’86 model re­lease re­mained un­changed: a two-day blat on Vic­to­ria’s best roads in a se­lec­tion of the lat­est mod­els, all now tuned to run on un­leaded fuel: 944, 944 Turbo, 928S (in man­ual and, the pre­ferred, au­to­matic forms), and 911 Car­rera.

Re-read­ing my story, it’s ob­vi­ous my favourite was the 944 Turbo: “…a real sports car: nim­ble, stun­ningly quick and yet with lev­els of true re­fine­ment that sur­passes the big­ger 928 model. It is surely the first Porsche that can chal­lenge the im­mor­tal 911 in driver ap­peal, though there will still be those who find the Turbo so well bal­anced, so mar­vel­lously pre­cise and with a poise that the 911 can never hope to ap­proach. Less ex­cit­ing than the rear-en­gine model, [but] that it is a bet­ter car in any ob­jec­tive judge­ment is clear.”

I came away from driv­ing the Porsches, “de­lighted that one com­pany can pro­duce three cars with such dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics…[each] to­tally ded­i­cated to driv­ing. It is sim­ply that the means of achiev­ing this end are so very dif­fer­ent.”

As for the 911, the sub­ject of much pre­vi­ous crit­i­cism, I wrote, “…the 911 re­mains im­mune to ob­jec­tive judge­ment and there seems no rea­son to doubt Alan Hamil­ton when he says he be­lieves it will still be in the Porsche range, in one form or another, in 10 years’ time.”

Thirty-two years later, with the 911 sell­ing in record num­bers, it would seem there is no such thing as an ex­piry date for Porsche’s iconic sports car.

“Climb in be­hind the wheel and you will wonder if you’re not sit­ting in some kind of mu­seum in a time warp which has taken you back at least 20 years.” Strange how per­cep­tions change. The nar­row­ness of the cabin and the star­tling close­ness of the near ver­ti­cal wind­screen are two of the things (along with the glo­ri­ous, rip­ping rise and fall of the en­gine note) I miss most when­ever I drive a mod­ern, so much big­ger and more Gt-ish, 911. What I don’t miss are the off­set ped­als that protruded from the floor and the over-cen­tre feel of the clutch that made driv­ing in heavy traf­fic so awk­ward.

No­body would dare plan such a press launch on Vic­to­rian roads in 2018.

“THE 944 TURBO IS SO WELL BAL­ANCED, SO MAR­VEL­LOUSLY PRE­CISE AND WITH A POISE THAT THE 911 CAN NEVER HOPE TO AP­PROACH”

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