I usually don’t pay much attention to the Facebook “Memories” feature that reminds you of what you were doing one, two, or even ten years ago. However, a recent one popped up with a photo gallery of an amazing road trip I took last November driving the Pacific Coast Highway from Marin County, California, all the way back to Portland, Oregon. The best part? I had the privilege of being behind the wheel of a Porsche 928 S4, one of the all-time automotive greats, and a model to which I have a deep connection.
The 928 has always been an oddball. Porsche invested heavily in this handbuilt GT car to expand its line-up. Unfortunately it got banished to the Island of Misfit Toys as a front-engined Porsche was akin to a toy train with square wheels. The press gave it epic reviews, while the public said, “Meh.” The result was a depreciation curve that was far down and to the right.
That accessible price point allowed me to own my first supercar when I picked one up in my 20s. For me, it was the realization of a childhood dream when I bought a 1985 928S for $13,000, what was then less than Honda Civic money. I was head-over-heels, and we had a very long relationship. I beamed with pride for every one of the 175,000 miles we traveled together over the 14 years I owned it. My 928 was ultra-reliable -- it actually cost less per mile to drive than a new car would have.
So when my friend Keith Martin started getting “928-curious,” I was a willing enabler. He finally pulled the trigger on a mechanically and cosmetically sound 1991 928 S4. When he was looking for a volunteer to run his new purchase from the Bay Area back to Portland, I raised my hand faster than a teacher’s pet. I really have to pause to give my heartfelt thanks to Keith for giving me this chance, it was very generous and a welcomed escape in the midst of the pandemic.
I did start to wonder if you really can go home again. Will it be as good as I remember? Memories have a way of being shinier than reality. The day arrived to pick up the car at Hi-Tec Automotive, a local favorite of the Marin Porsche crowd in San Rafael.
Taking a walk around, I was reminded of how breathtaking and futuristic that curvaceous body looks -- truly nothing like it before or since. If Tesla released a model with this design, it would be a blockbuster. This one looked elegant in midnight blue, accessorized with a large wing and raked antenna. My heart skipped a beat.
I took the car north on Highway 1, and we were still figuring each other out. It had been a decade, so we didn’t rush it. Nice and easy as we got reacquainted on the corkscrewing blacktop hugging the rugged Northern California coastline.
The next day we cruised out of Mendocino and it was as if we had never been apart. The 50/50 weight distribution and advanced suspension made the car predictable and it handled the twisties surprisingly well despite its husky size. We headed inland to the land of the Redwoods. By this time, I was downright giddy as we drove amongst the ancient forests on the Avenue of the Giants. We even had some laughs visiting kitschy roadside attractions like the Chandelier Tree and the iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe statues.
The 928 is so capable. Despite being introduced two years before Pac Man, it still feels like a modern car, and has impeccable power and precision. It gobbles up the miles like that yellow guy ate up dots: Relentlessly.
Porsche’s first GT car was named to Car and Driver’s “Greatest Cars of All Time” list. It’s hard to argue that. When you consider that good ones are selling in the mid-20K range, they are eminently affordable and a great value.
It was phenomenal to reconnect with my old flame for a three-day fling. I have a feeling I’ll be having another 928 in my life -- not immediately, but someday. I guess it’s time to go set up the Bring A Trailer alert -- you know, just to keep an eye on the market. (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!)