Featured: Shaking Down A Time Machine To The 1960s In Modern Day Monaco

Shaking Down A Time Machine To The 1960s In Modern Day Monaco

By Romuald Clariond
April 11, 2022
6 comments

Photography by Romuald Clariond

At the moment, there is no way for us to travel back in time, but until the laws of physics are bent upon themselves the best we can do is approximate parts of the past. Thankfully, not all time machines need to approach the speed of light to take us into another era—and some of them only have about 130 horsepower.

We own older cars in part because they evoke a time other than our own: the past as we remembered it, or as we imagine it. I still recall my last rendezvous with the retro last autumn, when I participated in Le Vendôme 80, a rally organized for iconic cars manufactured in the 1980s—think BMW M1, Nissan 300ZX, VW Golf GTI, Ferrari F40, etc.—that traveled from Place Vendôme in Paris to the town of Vendôme, just south of the city. It was an absolute blast, as if spending a weekend with good friends in fun cars on amazing roads traveling through beautiful scenery could be anything else. Our period-correct attire and the abundance of boomboxes certainly didn’t dampen the mood. 

Unfortunately that specific rally route can only happen every two years, but the organizer, SRO (Stéphane Ratel Organisation) has already added events to the list of their so-named Total Look Rallies. During the ‘80s event, the SRO crew and other entrants like me were already discussing possibilities for the future, and how to best explore other decades, and other areas. Certain places are conducive for our version of time traveling, and there are few cities in the world that can send our imaginations for a temporal loop like Rome. Add cars into the mix, and the obvious plan emerged: “Dolce Vita 60” was born.

If the ‘80s version was anything to judge by, I cleared my calendar well in advance, and started figuring out what I could drive. I’d already been generously loaned a friend’s Ferrari 250 GT Lusso for the Tour Auto a few years back, and though it would be a perfect fit for a 1960s rally through Rome, I didn’t want to take that kindness for granted. Instead, I found something German, as you can see. As far as 1960s sports cars go, there is arguably nothing more iconic than the 911 that started the legend, and this specific example has an interesting history of its own.

This is a 1967 model year 2.0-liter long wheelbase 911, and if the yachts and hillsides didn’t give the location away, it lives in Monaco. A Porsche is not really all that rare of a sight around here, but it is not so often that you come across one that’s lived in the principality for more than half a century. Delivered to Monaco when it was still a hot new thing, this car was sold by Sonauto, a company that brought Porsches to the French market, and to Monaco. It still wears the Sonauto badge on its engine cover, and though it would be all but a crime to drill into a piece of metal like this now, these little pieces of history don’t deserve to be wiped away.

The first owner of this car kept it for more than 30 years, until he passed away and left it to his daughter. She kept the Porsche for a while longer, and oversaw a major mechanical restoration about 15 years ago—though she was adamant to keep the interior original, including the still-functional original radio—before eventually selling it on to the next enthusiastic owner. That owner happened to be a friend of mine, which is how this car came into my hands for the upcoming adventure in Rome. I’ll be co-driving with another good friend, Cédric Vaslin, whom I’d teamed up with in the ‘80s event in his wonderful turbo Nissan. 

The three-day Dolce Vita 60 weekend is less than a month away (May 6th-8th), but I just had to give the peppy red 911 a proper shakedown above and around Monaco before we set off for Rome next month. I can’t wait to see what else turns up with us in Italy, and although I’m not old enough to have any memories of the 1960s, I can’t wait to make some new ones with new and old friends very soon. Maybe I will see you there, and if you come find me the first of the weekend’s countless espressos (or glasses of wine, your choice) is on me.

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