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Part 1: The dilemma

Progression of an automotive enthusiast

Part 1: The dilemma

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Filed under: Opinion
Part 1: The dilemma

The past few months I’ve been doing some very serious thinking about my lifetime of car experiences. Ownership ups and downs, my usual modus operandi, the trends and marques I’ve followed, and ultimately what I really want from my future experiences.

All this hasn’t been easy to compile. As it turns out, I’m fairly complicated—or perhaps “crazy” is a better word. I still tend to polarize strongly to cars of German origin, as I’ve done now for almost 30 years. Regardless, it seems that I’m on the brink of making a 180-degree change in the way I go about my ownership habits

No, I’m not planning on defecting from the European ranks to Asians or domestics, or turning to Italy after all these years. Rather, I’m just going to start to go about things in a completely new way. Here’s the thing in a nutshell. Seems I’ve been buying and selling individual vehicles far too frequently, and every vehicle I’ve owned in the past ten years ended up being modified to modern (more or less) Porsche-levels of performance. It seems I compare every sporting vehicle to the ever-evolving 911. I’ve even had 911s parked in the garage—the last time was back in 2003. Of course I had my realistic and fickle reasons for selling out, but since then I’ve been secretly yearning to own one again, sometime soon. Tomorrow, for instance. In the meantime I’ve been fortunate to live vicariously through magazines like this one, and with rides on the street and at the track from buddies and students of mine. Old school, modern, aircooled, watercooled; I don’t care, I love ’em all. And if I’m extra lucky, they’ll ask if I’d like to take theirs for a drive or a couple of laps. Carefully prepared answer: “Absolutely!”

The new 2010 Porsche GT3 (997 Mk2)

 So why don’t I just go and buy another 911, and be done with it? Easier said than done, because after a great deal of thought and calculation, the 911 that I have firmly decided to hold out for is the 997 Mk2 GT3. Being the Porsche enthusiast and track junkie that I am, the GT3 really fits my speed and practicality requirements perfectly, and it comes that way straight from the factory. Brilliant brakes, tuned factory suspension with PASM, R-compound Michelins, a limited-slip differential, gobs of torque and power, a haunting exhaust note, striking exterior styling, all in the practical and user-friendly 911 package we have become accustomed to over 40 years. The new 2010 GT3 (997 Mk2) will have a base price of $112,200, so I've got one more year to save.

Regardless of what you can afford up front, I’ve had a long line of project cars whose “sunk costs” (base price plus modifications during ownership) have steadily climbed over the years for different projects: $30,000; $50,000; $80,000. It seems inevitable this number will converge on the GT3’s base price at some point in the not too distant future, and this is what really got me thinking about the deeper reason for my GT3 desire. My life of building project cars hasn’t just been about how much I can spend and how fast I can go; it’s also been about the time and effort I put in to a given project. While I have no problem with effort, especially when I truly enjoy the hobby as I do, it’s really time I’m running short on nowadays. Career, family, and other extracurricular activities and interests require more and more time. And extra time is always required when a dealer, repair shop, tuner, or body shop hasn’t properly performed the specific task that you asked them to do. Usually because they too are running short on precious time. So I’ve come to the conclusion that one should consider things very carefully when deciding to modify a lesser car of any given make or model.

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