944 Reasons This Porsche Is Not For Me
Story by Hellena Miron & Photography by Michael Banovsky
The other day, I opened the door to our garage, anticipating finding my Volvo waiting for me; instead, I got a strong whiff of eau de mechanique and found a strange car in its place…with a key and note from my husband.
As a kind gesture, he had taken my car to the dealer for routine servicing, which I appreciate, but in its place he had left me a most unexpected loaner that would make many of you quite happy: a 1983 Porsche 944.
Looking at it, I wasn’t too pleased, but at least it was a nice gesture. I don’t really know how to describe the 944, except that it’s the car driven by a Tom Cruise look-alike in the movie Sixteen Candles.
Sadly, it’s no longer 1984, and this particular car showed all of the wear and tear that a 32-year-old car would have. Worse, it’s not red like in the movie, but rather a brown only seen on corduroy pants. After a deep breath, I steeled myself, and opened the door. I heard the loudest creaking noise—like it needed a dose of WD40 everywhere.
Inside, there was brown everywhere, and on everything. Power window switches, air vents, gear shifter, you name it. Looking at the floor, I guess wall-to-wall brown carpeting also came standard at the time, too.
The only contrast was me. Did I really belong in this car, and what was my husband thinking?
I sat down, got my my bearings of the car, adjusted the mirrors and seat, and set off to the market. Cue “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. Well, I would have, but there isn’t a lot of technology in the car—there’s an aftermarket radio—but I don’t bother to tune in any stations, or plug in my iPod.
A stick shift isn’t my choice to begin with, but in the 944 it was also difficult to reach the pedals. (Was there a height requirement when they sold this car in 1983?) I turned the key, and the engine clattered to life. Yes, clattered—this engine sounded like a tractor trailer bound for a quarry.
I slowly backed out and began my adventure to the supermarket to grab a load of groceries for the week. First and second gear sounded like a spaceship; aliens not included. The 944 isn’t very fast either: a Toyota Corolla dusted me from a stoplight.
So much for the journey in a finely-honed German Sports car, but by some miracle, I made it to my destination unscathed. Walking back with several bags of groceries, I realized the all-glass hatchback was sized for a Members Only jacket. And maybe a hat. Considering the significant amount of shopping, it was difficult to find room for all of it—obviously, the 944 was designed for a different sort of hauling in mind. As a result, I had to scatter the bags of groceries throughout the car, almost piece by piece.
To make matters worse, the air conditioning knob did nothing. Turns out it was broken. When I got home, I opened up the glass hatch, which was more like a greenhouse: everything had wilted and melted. Great.
What did I learn from this experience? That I miss my car, with its modern drivetrain and all of its conveniences. I just need four doors, normal trunk, and mirrors that don’t contain optical illusions. Functioning air conditioning would be nice. Kidding aside, the 944 was a memorable experience that I don’t want to repeat, especially considering that my daily driver is now fixed.
Have you, or someone you know, experienced (or was forced to) drive a vehicle that was entirely out of your comfort zone?