Category Archives: Porsche

The Other Side of Mulholland Drive


A college buddy of mine, we’ll call him B-Dogg because that was his moniker, said to me during our undergraduate days he was going to do three things:

(1)   Get his PhD
(2)   Move to Hollywood
(3)   Drive a silver Porsche

At least that was the part of the conversation I remember most. The rest of it was about some homework assignment that I may not or may not have completed satisfactorily (that’s not a typo).

Fast forward a few years and he duly accomplished the three things he had enumerated. Since then I’ve come to visit on occasion when I’m in LA.

We’ve also been to a number of other places but they usually involve nondescript rental cars (a Hyundai i10 on St. Maarten’s twisties was a real gem) driven with reckless abandon. And strip clubs. B-Dogg loves his strip clubs.

In fact, there’s this strip club somewhere outside of Miami that’s nearly the size of a CostCo, containing a larger quantity of women and stages than one’s two eyes can see in an hour. Or three. But I digress.

Even though I had known about it since I was a kid, it wasn’t until last March that I sought out Mulholland Drive, that sinewy mountain road that winds through the Hollywood Hills.

I was there again recently, and instead of thrashing a rental, we took B-Dogg’s silver 2013 Porsche Boxster S (Type 981) for a brief Sunday excursion on Mulholland Drive with the top down before afternoon plans with his wife and some friends. Continue reading “The Other Side of Mulholland Drive” »

Porsche Cayman Wizardry and Lizardry

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My first step in publishing each post is to write utter garbage. Whatever you may think of the final product, I just spill all my words out into something tangible – enough so that I can show it to someone else and have them tell me it’s crap.

Then after inhaling the waft of my printer burning toner or whatever it does while coughing up multiple drafts and revisions, I’ll arrive at something I am only slightly discontented with and ready to post, though not without trepidation. Typing up a first draft that’s polished enough to call a final product is not how I roll.

Perhaps some car companies operate the same way. They throw something together based on a concept and keep refining it until it finds its niche in the world or the scrap pile.

The process of launching a car involves a lot of trial and error, prototypes and fixing myriad problems. Possibly all because a couple of engineers debated the merits of one way or another of doing something while chowing down burgers, schnitzel, sushi or pasta during their lunch hours.

Then someone, after perhaps many sips (or gulps) of some inebriating beverage says, “Hey, why don’t we try that?”, and the others at the table nod in agreement. Or seem to nod because they’re plastered.

I mean, how else do you explain putting six cylinders without a radiator on the backside of something akin to an upside down bathtub that shared a bunch of parts with a VW Beetle and calling it a sports car?  Then, many brew addled lunches later turbocharging some version of it, slapping a giant wing on it and pretty much kicking the entire world’s collective sports car racing ass?

Anyway, my point is that if you want to get started doing anything, just throw something together and see if it seems like a good direction. Then keep polishing. That’s my theory on how the Porsche 911 became one of the world’s most, if not the most, iconic sports cars.

But this piece isn’t actually about that car. It’s about something that happened a generation after its debut, where perhaps another group of engineers may have revisited the rear-engine vs. mid-engine debate. One thing led to another and, hopefully without fisticuffs in the biergarten, they wanted to put things to the test and came up with the Porsche Boxster.
Continue reading “Porsche Cayman Wizardry and Lizardry” »

24 Hours of Le Mans Review [SPOILER ALERT]

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The 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is now in the books. One of the three top contenders won the race as expected… but a whole lot of other things happened too. Here’s the short, short version of  events:

LMP-1

Audi took the overall and LMP-1 win with a 1-2 finish, an amazing 13th victory in 16 attempts, though it was not without drama. The third Audi (#3) and #8 Toyota were involved in a crash in wet conditions about 90 minutes into the race. The Audi was unable to continue while the Toyota limped back to the pits and was in the garage for about 50 minutes to repair the damage.

The winning team consisted of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer in their R18 etron quattro. Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen was part of the team that finished second in the sister Audi after the car experienced turbo problems. His teammates were Lucas Di Grassi and Marc Gene, both ex-F1 drivers.

Gene was called in at the last minute to replace Loic Duval, who was not cleared to race as a precaution following the massive practice crash on Wednesday from which he fortunately emerged largely unscathed.
Continue reading “24 Hours of Le Mans Review [SPOILER ALERT]” »

2014 New York Notables At the Auto Show

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As one of the world’s major auto shows, New York always has its share of new vehicle introductions, and 2014 was no different with the new Nissan Murano, Toyota Camry, and Ford Focus sedan. Our interests, however, center specifically on sports car events (and non-events). Below is a summary of this year’s notable moves.

Alfa Romeo is returning to the States. It’s for real this time with the mid-engine 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C. Sporting a 237 hp four cylinder turbo and a twin clutch six speed semi-automatic transmission, this is a big deal. Little else in sports car land pairs approximately 2,000 lbs with wait… wait… wait… manual steering! Yes, it’s true. There will not be any power assist filter between the front wheels and the driver. With 258 lb-ft of torque and 80 percent of it available at a diesel-like 1,700 rpm, count on this to be loads of fun and the purest sports car since the Lotus Elise.

Aston Martin rolled out an “entry level” V8 Vantage at just a hair under $100k. Aside from the lower price, power increased to 430 hp and additional styling tweaks were made. The power upgrade certainly helped it avoid regular Special Ed status below. Aston also launched the DB9 Carbon Edition but we’ll let that one slide.

Continue reading “2014 New York Notables At the Auto Show” »

Porsche 911: The Quintessential Sports Car

Porsche 911 Type 996 coupe

Type 996 Porsche 911: Quintessential Sports Car for the New Millennium

Porsche shook up the U.S. sports car scene for the 1999 model year by replacing the previous 911 model (Type 993) with a new 911 (Type 996). It possessed sleek new bodywork with a drag coefficient of just 0.30 in a package that tipped the scales at just over 2,900 lbs.

The Type 996 shared its front end, seats and dashboard with the recently introduced Boxster, and its steel unibody was equipped with aluminum subframes, suspension links and brakes. Seventeen inch wheels were standard, and eighteen inch wheels optional.

Distinctive “fried egg” shape headlights were a departure from the traditional round lights. The rear spoiler would automatically deploy above 75 mph for additional stability, inadvertently signaling to sharp eyed cops if the driver was speeding.

The big news, however, was under the rear decklid. For the first time the engine was water cooled instead of air cooled, as it had always been since its 1963 introduction. Propelled by a 3.4 liter flat six with VarioCam valve timing, with output of 296 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the Type 996 offered buyers the choice of Getrag six speed manual or ZF five speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, similar to that found in the Boxster.
Continue reading “Porsche 911: The Quintessential Sports Car” »