This is the seventh in a series by Howard LaPlante on his early experiences with cars.
Trouble! This time it took the form of a 1966 Porsche 911, yellow, black interior, a dealership demo. It transpired that they had a buyer for a 356 coupe. Would I be interested in a trade? Well yes, I had been quite taken with the new 911's since they first showed up in Minnesota. They were quite amazing! It is hard to realize now in 2016 just how different the new 911 was when it was introduced. The auto magazines were all quite excited by the new car from Porsche. Six cylinders producing 130 HP, 5-speed transmission, dry sump lubrication, and the performance was quite amazing – 0 to 60 in 7.0! It was rather interesting that the new 911 gave comparable or better performance than the 356 Carrera at a slightly better price. It was what Ferry Porsche had wanted in the new car. But I really liked my 356! But, the 911 was very seductive! Long, slim, low, new, different, what to do? The new young "Portia" won out; a trade was made.
It did not take long to regret my purchase! The wind noise was unbelievable, especially compared to the 356 that was so quiet – in addition the squeaks and rattles! I took the car back to the dealership many, many times, they did their best, but were never able to really cure the problems!
During one of my many trips to the dealership I was talking to the mechanic in the shop, when a man from the body shop stopped to ask the mechanic to come over and look at a problem that they were having. It seems that a new Porsche, that was sold had come in had a dent in the driver's door, and the owner was pushing for delivery. Someone got the idea that since they had another new Porsche in stock with the same color, they would just switch doors. Not so fast! It turned out that the two doors were not the same size! One door was a good 1" wider! Well! Guess that these cars were hand built!
It was about this same time that the body shop also discovered the front bumper "strengthening"!? A large iron weight inside the front bumper! Found out much later that it had been added in order to somewhat calm the weight of the new 6-cylinder engine hanging out behind the rear axle!
Remembering the Minneapolis Porsche/VW dealership, I must tell about the sales manager. To protect the innocent, we will call him Joe (not his real name.) He was from Brooklyn; NY. The accent was very slight, except when he became excited. He had a full head of black hair, always neatly trimmed, and an athletic build – a very handsome man. This was in the era when everyone wore a suit or at the very least a sport coat and of course a tie. Joe outdid everyone, his suits were custom tailored and looked it! French cuff shirts of course with very expensive cuff links as well as expensive ties, and shoes always polished to a gloss. In other words he was a sharp dresser! People took notice, but his demeanor was what attracted attention, and how! He had a way of walking that was, to be kind, noticeable, sort of a swagger and a habit of "shooting his cuffs" He drew attention all right. I heard from the staff that some people took offense at the sight of him! Yet in talking to him he was educated, informed and very smart. Would perhaps draw the line at saying he was a nice guy, but he was a character! Joe was very instrumental in my trading for the new 911. He gave me a test ride in the 911 that I remember to this day! He showed absolutely no regard for traffic or the law! In and out of traffic, down the highway at twice the posted limit and then to top off the ride, back to the dealership. to enter the dealership it was necessary to make two left turns. He took them both sideways, sliding the car into the lot and then calmly driving into a parking spot. It was exciting!
Unfortunately or not, I had not managed to put many miles on the car, did however enjoy the attention that it generated every time we drove anywhere. The problems did continue however. On top of the problems deserved earlier there was more. Major oil leaks! The shop told me that I would have to leave the car for a week or so!
To be continued.