Guest blog – why people don’t get the 911

A guest blog from car photographer Neill Watson:

Some people look at me in a very strange manner when 911’s are mentioned. There’s actually a very large slice of people out there who just don’t ‘get it’. I know good drivers, experienced people, who’ve driven Porsche 911’s and just don’t like them, can’t see what all the fuss is about, “engine’s in the wrong bloody place, prefer my Ferrari any day…”I sympathise and try and explain, recalling my own first 911 experience.

Way back in 1991, in my previous life, I was a sales manager at a Toyota dealership and took a 911 Super Sport as a trade-in against, of all things, a Landcruiser. I delivered the Toyota in January on a horrid wet day, sleet and rain outside, but still looking forward to my first ever shot in the Nautic blue car with the wide arches and teatray wing.

I jumped into the 911 thinking, “This’ll be good…” Fumble with the seats, find a decent position that will do for now but still felt odd and managed to get past that old style Porsche immobiliser after a couple of tries. Fire it into life and by now, the windscreen is well and truly fogged up. Heater and demist… Erm…

The dash layout looks like someone just threw switches at the panel and where they stuck they stayed. Found a switch under the dash, that’ll be it. Wrong answer as the electric sunroof opens, letting all the rain in. Not funny. Close it up and keep fumbling with the sliders and find the rotary fan heater speed thingy between the seats before giving up and using the back of my hand and trundling off through the industrial estate and onto the main road. The steering feels light, but the bloody three spoke wheel won’t stop moving in my hands. Holding it more firmly just seems to make it worse. Sodding thing, stop it.. We hit standing water and it makes a dive for the road edge as the kerbside wheel aquaplanes. And it’s fogging up again. This is shit. Where’s the 911 magic? What about that great handling and traction. I complete my drive, happy just to get back.

The following day dawns to bright sunshine and I have to deliver the Porsche to the trader who’d underwritten the deal. And as I drive down my favourite A Road to York, a strange thing happens. I seem to find it much easier and less alien today. The steering isn’t fighting me, I’m relaxing my shoulders and now I find that actually, it’s just chatting away, telling me what’s happening at the front tyres in a way I’d never felt before, not even in my favourite Mk1 MR2. A lovely set of my favourite fast bends gets me driving the car harder and harder through the corners, in slow, fast out, slingshotting out and down the straights, the corners of my mouth turning ever upwards until I arrive with a big grin. Now I get it….

I’ve often heard that you need to drive a 911 more than once and that the first time you just don’t ‘get it’. Once you’ve developed the 911 feel, though, it never leaves you. Even after a year between drives, it only takes me a few hundred metres for that smile to come back. I don’t own a 911 right now but I won’t rest until I own another.


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