Kindred spirits

May 27, 2016

I occasionally visit a neighborhood that could be described as upscale. This neighborhood harbors a number of very nice houses. In my relatively small amount of time as a sentient being, I’ve concluded that very nice houses are often home to very nice cars.


Most of the houses in this neighborhood contain the typical cars preferred by men of means. Men of means are not always men of machines. Mercedes SUV? Yawn. Bimmer sedan? Getting warmer, but not quite. Lifted diesel pickup? This is my face. :(


Thus did I lie prostrate upon the altar of automotive affluence. Please, oh gods, reveal your disciple to my desperate eyes! Bring before me the one who will destroy this drudgery! 


Very recently, the gods answered my prayers. 


I knew the car was special the moment it turned onto the street. Its lines were unmistakably muscular, with a ride height that indicated athleticism and style that had aged into elegance. The bright silver paint glittered in the sun, stretched taut over a long nose and broad hips. 


The driver must have noticed my none-too-discreet staring. As he neared me, he brought the car to a halt. The window rolled down. 


“You like the car, huh?"


Guilty as charged. 


What you see above is precisely what I saw: a Porsche 928 GTS. Even though the 928 was produced for nearly two decades, from 1977 - 1995, it has since faded into obscurity, overlooked in favor of 911s, Boxsters, and the like. What you might not know is that the 928 was actually intended to replace the 911 — a blasphemous plan that thankfully fell through. 


The 928 was a quirky vehicle for Porsche. For one, it was front-engined, an oddball among cars from a manufacturer that religiously offered rear- and mid-engined layouts. Secondly, it was Porsche’s very first road car to use a V8. Despite its unique beauty, its styling was far adrift from Porsche’s signature design. Perhaps these traits, along with high maintenance costs, led to the 928′s current state of anonymity. Mr. Driver’s particular 928, however, was an exceptional example.


"That's a 928, right?" I asked the driver. 


“Wow, you know your cars”, he replied. “This is a 1995 GTS model. Only 77 were shipped to the States that year.”


The GTS was the final 928 variant, boasting new styling, bigger brakes, and a more powerful engine. Despite the upgrades, Porsche discontinued the car after 1995, hampered by high prices and slow sales. I'd never seen a GTS before, and I doubt I'll see another any time soon. Abuzz with delight at this chance encounter, I mustered my finest tone of reverence.


“That’s incredible. It’s beautiful. Porsche makes the best cars.” 


“They do. You know your cars, though. You know your cars.”


We exchanged a final wave, and he eased the Porsche up the street, its V8 emitting a deliciously subtle burble through the single tailpipe. The rear view of the car was every bit as striking as the side profile, the generous hips accentuating its exquisite physique. I relished the sight until the 928 turned off the street and disappeared from view. 


To any casual bystander, a 928 GTS is nothing special. It’s most likely just an odd coupe from a few decades ago. To the initiated, it’s something special indeed. But even more special than the car itself was the little bond I forged with Mr. Driver. It’s a bond shared by millions of motorists across the world. Mr. Driver and I may not know each others’ names, but we know enough to recognize a kindred spirit. 


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