The new owner. The victim of a self-inflicted irrational need for Porsche. Computer programmer by trade, photographer and music collector/enthusiast by avocation(s), Lawrence has owned a large number of “interesting” (often in the Chinese curse sense of the word) automobiles, among them a 1966 Porsche 911, 1966 Triumph TR4A, 1963 Land Rover, 1972 Alfa Romeo, and “hot rods” including an Oldsmobile-engined 1939 Ford, a 1949 Corvette-engined Chevy, a 1959 El Camino (failed 409 engine project car) and much-modified 1965 Ford truck. Another notable machine was a then brand-new 1971 VW camper (see “Jim”, below, if that kind of thing interests you), purchased to supplement/complement the 911.
The previous owner. Ballet dancer and psychologist Michelle’s enthusiasm for and knowledge of the front-engined Porsche species is exceeded only by her charm and intelligence. This young woman kept coming back for more: she has owned four Porsches, two 924ses and two 944s. And has colorful stories for every one of them. Apparently, Michelle is now getting out of the game — temporarily, I would suspect — because she is seeking European employment and adventures, following an earlier gig in Germany. As a fallback position, she is said to be open to returning, together with her 3-series BMW, to New Orleans where she was once a TV extra. Utterly gracious, Michelle keeps up the conversation and has never failed to answer a post-purchase email inquiry.
Co-conspirator Jim is a aerospace engineer turned Internet service tech manager with British (including XKE) and German sports car leanings. And motorcycles. While he once professionally worked to performance-tune German cars and motorcycles in Southern California, after moving to the Pacific NW, he became a founding member of the famed WetWesties camping society. Centering his attention on the various flavors of VW camper/van/bus, he can be found at any time with at least two or three project machines in play. The latest is an ’84 high-top with a recently fitted and utterly transforming late model Jetta engine. And … oh, yeah … Jim and Lawrence swap ideas and tips as they both build music servers for their respective homes and compare music collections, hardware and software. 5/23/13 UPDATE
ASE Master Tech with almost unimaginable and seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of German cars. Here is a man who not only knows DIN electrical systems, but actually enjoys working them. A close compatriot of Jim, who once told Lawrence that he would “trust Jason to build a car for his mother” and that “any car that Jason works on could be immediately driven to the opposite coast with total confidence”. Lawrence remembers the first phone call he had with Jason who, off the top of his head without knowing in advance the questions that Lawrence would raise, started describing in incredible detail where to precisely locate and tweak an obscure underhood 944 component. Lawrence hopes to photograph Jason’s current project, a rare VW Syncro. Jason is one of the Pacific NW’s best-kept secrets, and we are banking on him to bring us through this ordeal.
Eric owns and operates a local body shop that specializes in restorations, customs, hot rods, classics and even airplanes. Not to mention the occasional Porsche. He tells Lawrence that his dream car as a high-schooler was Porsche 944. So far, Eric and Lawrence spend most of their time talking, scheming, browsing online, walking around his shop and looking at the vehicles there. Eric is a great source of tips and advice on paint, bodywork, restorations, and car care and feeding in general.
Dennis hangs out in Eric’s shop, where he helps Eric out in exchange for access to painting and preparation facilities for his own unique art pieces. Dennis happens to be a world-class automotive artist who is knowledgeable about not only Porsches, but Formula 1 racing and other automobile-related delights. Dennis provides Lawrence with bodywork assistance and great conversation, while the two collaborate on Dennis’ charitable work.
Brother of the victim. Retired California university creative writing instructor, ex-owner/operator of a building construction firm, mountain climber and nationally-awarded novelist and short story writer, Dennis also restores and/or modifies American muscle cars. His most recently completed project is a 425+hp 455 Buick Gran Sport ragtop. And his commentary on a totally unrelated issue was recently aired on a broadcast of public radio’s Marketplace program. Over a glass of wine in their sister’s mountain top Northern California home, Dennis actually encouraged Lawrence to pursue his Porsche … thing.
Once a college roommate of the victim. After all these years, Herman and Lawrence are still exchanging email, commenting on a wide range of topics. But mostly Porsche. Herman is kind enough to pass on his PCA newsletters to Lawrence. Upon his retirement and sale of his highly successful import-export company (which evolved from relationships he made while a student in France), Herman treated himself to a 911 Carrera S (997). Among other vehicles in his past were a 1956 356A, a 1960 356B, a 1968 912, a late 80s 911 as well as various BMWs, M-Bs, and maybe an Austin Healey. His current stable, besides the 911, includes a 3-series BMW, a VW Passat, a Volvo and … you guessed it … a 1987 944.
Innocent bystander and victim’s daughter. Accompanied the victim to Michelle’s house to retrieve the vehicle; was first passenger under new ownership. While somewhat nonplussed, Ivi later told her father that “I was half-expecting the thing to explode during acceleration on the freeway back to my college dorm, due to the exhaust sound plus the roaring of the incessant heater and its fan. But knowing next to nothing about cars, I reserve the right to be mistaken about that.” Since that initial shock, Ivi has proved to be the only other family member who displays any level of interest or halfway kindly disposition toward the project, and has actually consented to subsequent rides.