In this 50th anniversary of the birth of the Porsche 911, it was appropriate to go for a cruise in one.
Dong! Boring! Start again! OK...
Wowsers!!! and wowsers again!!! What an experience!
Doortje and I have been planning this trip since our kids (and their families) gave me 24 hours with a Porsche as a birthday present back in March. We've had a lot of fun anticipating the experience and working out what to do to maximise it. (I even went so far as, once we'd decided on an itinerary, to prepare a 66-page PDF document with google maps and directions to put on my darling navigator's tablet computer, so that the trip would be hassle-free. We weren't sure if a Melways directory would fit in a Porsche!). We decided to drive on roads we were unfamiliar with and roads that offered some challenge.
Yesterday afternoon at 1.30pm, we started the trip at Richmond, the home of Sports Car Rentals, when we picked up a shiny black Porsche 911 Carrera S, a 2005 model otherwise known as a 997, valued at $240,000 when it was new and now about $120,000. We headed north out of the city to Whittlesea, on the edge of suburbia. There were a few "nice" moments in the suburban traffic when the wannabes in their white tradie utes wanted to take us on. I was only tempted once, when I needed to merge right from a lane that was ending...(the throttle is slow to respond, possibly to avoid tailending the car in front (!) but when you hit the sweet spot, it goes!)
From Whittlesea, we went to Kinglake West and then followed the winding roads through the hills to Flowerdale and the village of Strath Creek, and west on to Broadford, the sort of route that motorbike enthusiasts probably take on Sundays except we had no traffic to speak of. From Broadford we went north-west on the Sugarloaf Creek road and ended up in Seymour. The weather had been great but then it rained in the late afternoon so we had no photo stops. The last leg was on the Goulburn Valley highway and we stopped at a motel in Nagambie.
Here's Doortje's photo (with cloud and sky) of the beast at the motel with Lake Nagambie in the background.
Meanwhile I'm wondering if we'll get it fast enough to activate the automatic spoiler. A Carrera S has the larger motor, 3.8 litre flat-six with lots of oomph, so no reason why not!
Next morning (today!) and ready to head off again. Doortje is holding flowers to celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary (also today!!).
Meanwhile, I'm loading our luggage into the boot, a space slightly larger than the spare wheel well in a VW beetle. (I have no idea if the Porsche had a spare wheel or where it might be!).
A quick stop at the Nagambie post office shows either that Doortje has grown or the Porsche is not that big. In fact, we were both delighted with the size of the car. It really is a sports car, still sharing DNA with cars like the Triumph TR3 (the last sports car I was in back in 1963 - the year of the first Porsche 911!! Spooky!)
Did someone mention "black"? On the outskirts of Nagambie, this is one of the entrances to Gilgai Farm, the birthplace of Black Caviar, recently famous for her 25th win on the trot (but unlike Porsche, she never won at Le Mans).
From Nagambie, we drove to Heathcote, 53km of good but unused road. Nice bush, sweeping bends, undulations, crests, and good driving. The low profile tyres plus sports car suspension meant the handling was harsh and heavy at low speeds but a revelation at higher speeds. A bend signposted at 70kmph, which I might take at 85kmph in the Honda, could be driven comfortably at 100kmph in the Porsche - no deviation, no body roll, just the feeling of side forces, all contained by shaped leather seats.
This is the driver's view of life in a 911 Carrera S. The info says I was in 5th gear auto (as opposed to Tiptronic manual, paddle changes on the steering wheel), 2000rpm, 81kmph, 10.6 litres per 100km and 106km until empty. Shortly after this photo, we got to 166kmph and only noticed the difference because the road wasn't smooth! (No, I wasn't still holding the camera!)
It drinks a bit more fuel than the Honda! In Heathcote we put in 40 litres of premium unleaded ($1.55 or 11c more than standard) which I reckon is about the amount we used on the trip.
From Heathcote, we drove through Mia Mia, Redesdale and Kyneton, and then via Cobb and Co Road to Woodend where we had brunch.
There were lots of nice vibes associated with our wedding anniversary, including the tulips. Meanwhile, 24 hours wasn't long enough to work out how to get my left knee past the steering wheel when entering. The seat adjustments were almost infinite but maybe the steering wheel adjusted too?
From Woodend, we took back roads to Mt Macedon, the Macedon town, Riddell's Creek and Sunbury. Opportunities to try out the car still came with overtaking manoeuvres. I was surprised to find that my maximum speed after overtaking was much less than in the Honda because the acceleration was hugely better; in fact it was great fun, the things that could be done legally!
All too soon we were on the Tulla freeway and into the city. Here we are back in Green St with a clean bill of health for the car (phew!) and an anniversary photo to boot.
The trip to Nagambie was 167km, the trip back 215km; we didn't make one navigational error (although the Porsche response was tested when I switched lanes in Hoddle St avoiding a concrete lane divider at the last second) and the whole trip was a huge buzz.
Thanks to Jac, Daniel, Andrew and Helmy, their partners and kids, for their generosity and great insight (with no input from me) into what Dad would like. Wouldn't be dead for quids!!
My final assessment of the car for what it's worth. To be honest, I don't have a lot to compare it with, which is why I mentioned Pete Elsegood's Triumph TR3 from 1963. The ride is incredibly harsh and the tyres offer no suspension at all, but despite this it sticks to the road like glue and there is absolutely no body movement in relation to the chassis. A Ford Falcon will feel softer but the movement of the driver (up, sideways, fore and aft) will be much greater on undulating bitumen. In the meantime, this is a little car, with huge power and great fat tyres and provides great amounts of fun. The DNA of the 1963 Porsche 911 can't have been much different.