When I was young, I grew up with a father that was out of the apartment before I woke up and gone until about 8:00PM (2000 for you in Europe). So I had to wake up and get my ass ready for school. I had to walk half way across town every morning, and maybe catch a ride home with a friend (Mate) in the evening. At the age of 15, I noticed a car parked in front of the local pharmacy every morning. It was a Porsche 914. It was different. But it looked as cool as I could imagine a street car to look. So for a year I had to walk by this car which almost seem to flirt with me.
Just a quick reminder; I came from a family that was affluent only to lose it all when the matriarch of the family became an alcoholic. When Mom died, the rats abandoned ship. My siblings married or enlisted. So it was just myself and my father for about 5 years living in upper scale poverty. What sucked was I knew the difference. I can understand it all now and have gotten over the bitterness and realize that sometimes A+B = Shit happens.
But I remembered the name P-O-R-S-C-H-E and I’ve wanted a 914 most of my life. Over the years, I’ve owned an MGC (An MGB w/ a 6 cylinder engine) this was before the internet and parts were impossible to find. That alone made this car expensively impossible to keep road worthy. Now, I could email someone in Coventry U.K. and they would respond: “Sure mate, I’ve got a set of those in the back yard”.
WORKING MY WAY UP THE AUTOMOTIVE FOOD CHAIN
1968 MG-C (6 cylinder)
Owning the MG was a love hate relationship. It was the most exciting hill climbing car I have ever owned. I LOVED that. On the other hand, it broke down in Altamont, California. (Amongst other obscure places). One night it broke down on a date, which would have been cool had I not been stressed out. But any car with real leather interior will keep your date relaxed until you can find the coil plug that came undone. Then you can forget about the kiss good night as the shop rag you kept in the back never got your forearms clean.
THE 1978 BMW 320i duo
Fast forward past the Divorce. I went from one BMW 320I to another 320I. They were perfect because you can drive them until it’s time to throw them away. I threw two away. They were BMWs and that’s about all I can say about them. I got them cheap and drove each one for about 3 years. I would not call it an exotic “Classic Car” like you might a Porsche, Ferrari, or Lotus or even a Corvette but the Beemer crowd in the 90s was what it was. (sorry I hate that phrase too) The 320i didn’t impress anyone and if anything, just made me look like an upper scale poverty drug dealer. 325s were the car all the yuppies were driving. I was hoping old would be new again like the BMW 2000. But I haven’t seen a 320I since I donated mine.
My girl friend at the time left me because she knew I couldn’t afford a 5 series BMW.(The Bitch)
Now, you’re probably expecting me to say: “I finally bought a Porsche”. But the vehicle I refer to as my baby, (believe it or not) is an old beat up 1998 Chevy Astro Cargo Van. Why is this my baby? Because I’ve owned it for 12 years now and all I’ve had to do is replace the usual crap like a fuel pump, water pump, Breaks, Power steering hose and a few batteries. I’ve finally come to appreciate the car that you can rely on. I’ve never owned any vehicle this long. But if you have a truck or a van, you’ll always have lots of friends that want you to move a 6 foot couch that won’t fit in their Prius. I think marriage should be this way. One reason I got this van was to move a half ton of musical equipment around. I literally used it to move my household stuff from Monterey to Carmel. (Only about 10 miles) it’s made numerous trips from San Francisco to Washington State. And on a whimsical spur of the moment act of spontaneity (this last June); it drove from Nevada, over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to central California and back the same day with over 165 K on the odometer.
I wrote a song on my last album that starts out: “We Love People not Things. We use Things not People”. I must admit that I’ve become quite fond on the old beat up Van. I say beat up because it got T-boned and rather than fix it, AT&T sent her to auction. My Van guy who specialized in refurbished Vans told me he had a great Van with nothing wrong with it except it had the driver’s side panel crushed in at the bottom. It’s not THAT much of an eye sore, but he was happy to find a home for it. But it runs like Jerry Rice. I took it for about 6 K (U.S.) and it’s only broken down on the freeway once and that was when the fuel pump went out. Not bad for 12 years. I credit its’ longevity not to love, but to the fact that it was an AT&T repair vehicle. They have guys that change plugs and oil on vehicles whether they need it or not. So for the first four years, this Van was raised like it was in a Montessori school. So for those of you buying new cars; take that sucker in every 4 to 5 months for an oil change. That has to be the reason this Van has driven so long.
A YEAR AGO
After buying a quaint little 3 bedroom house on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, I had a decent balance in my savings account. So I was browsing EBAY to see what 914s where going for. And let me preface this by saying, in 1985 when my youngest was born, I bought him a very cute 1/14 scale Porsche 928. This was the fastest street legal car ever built. It was guaranteed to go 157 MPH off of the assembly line. It was the coolest looking Porsche I’d ever seen. BTW, it is pronounced Poor- Shuh ; not Porsh. (I was admonished in L.A. on the correct enunciation of the make) But anyway, I bought it for my new born because I wanted him to have dreams. He would grow up and watch fast and furious and gain an interest in Japanese Rice Rockets. The 928 which was created by Tony Lapine, the maker of the 1963 Chevy Split Window Sting Ray, was the first pure Porsche. Nothing came from the VW plant. Now I don’t know how it happened, I figured I would find a 914 and have to work on it and it would be my new money pit. But as soon as I entered Porsche 9 into the EBAY search engine, this beautiful RED 928 popped up. I think it said Ace on the driver side door. (Just kidding) but I fell for it. Especially the part that said: “Runs great”. As fate would have it. The broker had to flip this car quick for taxes and he had a business in L.A. next to a Mercedes dealership. Someone had traded in a gorgeous rust free 928 on a new Mercedes. I wired him the money and in two days, I was actually backing my new Porsche off of the delivery truck.
Yeah it had been raped. I think the guys in the shop stole my gold plated Porsche hood crest and the stereo. My spark wires are from Kragen not BOSCH, and it was leaking drops of everything. So I found the best Porsche guy in the area who had my radiator rebuilt. For some reason, if you move up here, don’t be surprised if your power steering hose goes out on you. (I’ve replaced the Van and the 928’s) But I’ve put about 2K additionally in it since I’ve owned it. (That includes a new Blaupunkt) I only take it out on weekends. I bought a trickle charger for those “Snowed in” weeks. And I still have a yearning for the 914. But the 928 is like having a German mistress. (Heidi Klum comes to mind)
The 98 Van is the wife that is always there. What else could a man ask for? And, my Van never gets jealous when I take the 928 out and drive it hard.
I never would have gotten this 928, (Which is the only driving/preserved 928 in my county) had the stars not aligned just right and the previous owner not traded this into the Mercedes dealership next to the broker I dealt with who needed to get rid of it fast so he could pay his taxes. And I still know in the back of my mind that this little sweet heart could get stolen or T-boned in an Area 51 second. So I’m avoiding getting emotional about it.
Will I get a 914? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. If I was offered a Ferrari or a “McLaren” I wouldn’t get excited about it. It’s just stuff that will go to someone else after I die. I’m thankful God allowed me to own a “Top of the line” Porsche that is capable of going over 200 MPH. I’m still just a regular guy. I don’t go to the Porsche Club of America events. I don’t wear Porsche polo shirts or cuff links. What I own does not and never has defined me. I don’t have a license plate frame on my Van that says: “My other car is…..” Nope, but the more I drive K1 (The 928), the more I’m bonding with it. It’s just a nice car.
That 15 year old version of me that drooled over the 914 every morning on the way to school would have been proud of this car.