Borrow a Porsche 911 And Go Off Road
Photography by Alexander Bermudez
Ambivalence is the word that comes to mind when recalling the friendships forged through my relentless obsession with Porsche. Not because I’m a misanthrope though; it’s because the very existence of these like-minded individuals, while in some ways reassuring, allows me ample opportunity to indulge my affliction (to my financial disadvantage)!
Mr. John Esposito is one such individual, who to my detriment, is more than happy to enable my addiction at any given opportunity; so when I needed a ride home, he casually gestured towards his recently completed 911 SCRS and simply said, “Take it.” Who was I to refuse?
John’s Porsche had always fascinated me, although not for the reasons one might expect. Sure, its exterior Gruppe B muscle tone and wide stance are a respectful nod to the iconic Rothmans rally cars of the ’80s, arguably the most extreme decade the sport has ever seen. And yes, the SCRS’s relative obscurity, due to its short production run of just twenty-one examples, makes John’s car a tribute to one of the rarest Porsches in the company’s history. However, the most striking element of this car is the fact that John, who has long been revered by the notoriously fickle Porsche community for his meticulous treatment of early 911 sheet metal, has chosen not to build himself the obligatory pre-’74 long hood that has become the darling of internet forums and magazines alike. Instead, committing eight months and considerable resources to the “G” series car of his dreams. Speculators, fixated on future value, will no doubt frown upon the results but from a true driver’s perspective, this machine is nothing short of spectacular!
Once comfortably settled inside the cockpit, the stiff brake pedal and 915 transmission are quick to introduce themselves, both notable departures from the excessive refinement of later models and yet, both more than capable of indulging the driver. As John’s shop vanished into the background, the gentle coaxing of the gearbox coupled with the amplified pedal feedback, became a constant reminder of the pure mechanical nature of this car, where firm but unrushed inputs of both lever and pedals produce the best results. The steering by comparison, is perhaps a little on the numb side, a consequence of the soft suspension setup designed to compensate for Los Angeles’s crumbling infrastructure.
As with most tailored builds, the owner’s sensibilities are ingrained in the result and this car is no exception. For all its exterior bravado this Porsche is calm, refined and remarkably civilized, much like John, whose bad boy exterior is juxtaposed by his cool head and friendly conduct. By comparison, my cars have always been high strung and edgy, if not down right angry! I’m not sure what that says about me, but I digress…
Occupants are treated to a lush interior, free of any notion of weight savings, equipped with a stereo eager to play New Order in true, period-correct fashion! The 3.6-liter power plant quickly dispells any notion that a full interior will slow you down though. Trust me, it won’t! The exhaust note is predictably subtle but to the point, yet another example of Esposito’s sense of restraint.
As I crawled along the Ventura Freeway with a sea of traffic all the way to Pasadena and the stark realization that my journey was coming to a somewhat uninspired end, I found myself on the phone canceling my appointments for the following morning; all Porsches are special and deserve attention, but it was evident this one had more to offer than a mundane commute during rush hour traffic.
The following morning couldn’t come quickly enough. But when it finally did, the mixture of high-octane fuel combined with the serpentine-like asphalt crossing the San Gabriel Mountains proved to be the perfect morning fix. There is nothing quite like dashing up Angeles Crest Highway as the crisp light of dawn cascades upon the arid Southern California landscape.
Flying through the Angeles National Forest the smooth composure of the chassis, coupled with the light steering, quickly seduce the driver with a sense of effortless operation and while the car may not have the same chatty feedback found in a more aggressive setup, this compromise is a welcome change, especially on longer voyages, which my little excursion was rapidly becoming. The unassisted brakes take a little getting used to if one is not already acclimatized to such things but once familiar, there is almost no going back! The feedback from the pedal pressure makes brake modulation far more manageable and increases driver confidence at the threshold. The transmission on the other hand, is a tricky little thing, that demands patience, as anything less will mercilessly punish the synchros.
Whilst refueling at a dusty station in Acton, I had an epiphany that lead to a ringing phone in North Hollywood. John enthusiastically agreed that photographing his car on unpaved roads in the high desert would be a great homage to the original Rothmans’ machines. Off I went in search of mud!
Continuing north through the Antelope Valley, the SCRS stormed along the forgotten desert road with unambiguous ease. Lean on the accelerator and the 3.6-liter, air-cooled flat-six will easily push the car well into triple digits and multiple citations. Its only hesitation came as the weathered asphalt gave way to sand and mud.
After 140 miles of crisscrossing LA’s backcountry, I finally stood upon the perfect unpaved road, camera in hand, at what would regrettably be my final destination before heading back to the shop. “Well Bermudez, what do you think?” John inquired upon my return. I smiled and replied, “Wait until you see the photos!” Maybe friends like these aren’t actually so bad.