A question of taste
John Boggiano on his personal taste in Porsches
For no very good reason, I found myself idly thinking the other day about the time someone in these hallowed pages expressed his personal opinion regarding the 993, which was that he really didn’t rate it very highly. Or at all, to be frank; just not his cup of tea; couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. There followed an outburst of reactive criticism from injured parties that at times was downright aggressive.
On the one hand, that was to be expected – people are often very passionate about their 911s, and the comments were, after all, in a magazine for 911 fans. On the other hand, it’s a bit odd. It’s odd because the 911 – any 911, but especially an air-cooled one – is by its very nature a car that has an intrinsically idiosyncratic appeal; 911s are not for everyone. That’s the whole point. It stands to reason that the same is going to be true of any individual model or version.
For me, that’s all part of the appeal. Like an appreciation of fine wines, music or (in my particular case) old clocks and chess, enjoying something to which others can’t relate is quite a satisfying thing. Several times, I have tried to explain to my friend Brian (Living the Legend, Cobalt Blue 964 Carrera 2) how an antique clock echoes the appeal of an old 911 – solid, quality engineering, lots of character and so on – but to him it’s just a clock, and a quartz, plastic thing from Argos does a better job. I like that; it’s as if I have my own personal source of deep pleasure that’s closed off to others.
If someone doesn’t share my penchant for 911s – or for any individual model thereof – even if they ridicule and deride it, well that’s fine by me. I can bask smugly in the knowledge that it’s their loss, that they will never know the joy of car-driver interaction at the levels that my choices provide. So don’t be too touchy about that sort of thing – after all, if the whole world shared your opinion life would be terribly dull. Imagine if every single person on the road loved and admired the same car as you, even down to the colour and the options, to the extent that they all bought one exactly the same. No thank you.
This all got me thinking about my own personal favourite 911s; something that, oddly perhaps, I haven’t done for a long time. So here’s my individual selection; some you may agree with (but not too many of you, please…), others may leave you scratching your head, but (in no particular order) these are mine – these cars live in my garage-of-the-mind, where they require no maintenance and are always clean and ready for use.
First up is a 959, in Guards Red. This remarkable tour-de-911-force was launched at roughly the same time as the Ferrari F40 and the contrast couldn’t have been more marked. Whereas the Ferrari was all about thrill-raw performance and massive speed, the 959 was a marvel of technology, ability and competence with speed aplenty too. The combination of the 911’s original shape (well, very nearly) and next-century specifications was almost too much to take in. At that time, many commentators were mumbling stuff about the 911 reaching the end of the road, becoming outdated and being left behind by the rest of the world’s sports car makers. This brilliant Porsche blasted those thoughts away like a torrent from a water cannon. An incredible car.
Up next is a 1973 Carrera 2.7 RS in white, with red graphics (of the earlier, pre-launch ‘positive’ variety, to be a bit different). Sorry to be so predictable, but there we are – this little beauty is what 911s are all about. Not just a car to admire and which will thrill you until you beg it to stop, but also one that gets under your skin and into your soul. So, so much more than just a car.
Alongside those, I’d have a state-of-the-art version to remind me how far the 911 has come. I’ll make it a new 997 GT3, then – if you want to know how the many-faceted characteristics that define a 911 can fit into the modern world then look no further. GT3s have the slam-force of a sledgehammer combined with the precision of a scalpel – what more could you ask for?
Next, I’d have a 3.2 Club Sport. I’ve always liked the way these 911s take such a workmanlike approach to being light of weight with full day-to-day usability and they have a special charm all of their own, based on that combination of driving-tool and engaging personality that you’ll find in the best 911s.
I’d also like an early 911S, red again – black and silver Fuchs wheels set against the deep red, pure form of an early 911 are unbeatable. This, the very first performance-orientated 911 is a real milestone car and a classic in the fullest sense.
Then, and perhaps surprisingly, I’d have an early Targa. They may be leaky, flawed and lacking the 911’s classic profile, but they’re distinctive and fascinating, too. Just the thing for ambling about on a nice summer day out in the sunshine.
Just room to mention the 964 Carrera RS and the general-use 964 Carrera 2 (that’s why I once again have one in real life). Oh, and the 964 Turbo S, the 993 Turbo and one of each Speedster. And while nobody’s looking, I’ll bend the ‘911’ rule and slip in a 904 too. And a 917, and…