The Memory-Maker: Driving A Porsche 930 Turbo On The 2018 Coastal Range Rally
Photography by Patrick Stevenson
The movies make summer camp out to be full of adventures, friendships, and all manner of joyous sun-soaked experiences that you’ll look back on with a smile. As an adult, memories like these are made less often. Work, family, and all the unnamed piles of small obligations keep us not from good things, but from things with that distinct feeling of a carefree childhood summer. Then again, there’s a driving event in California that feels very much like an automotive version of that summer camp experience. It’s called the Coastal Range Rally (CRR), and it’s put on by the group of friends and fellow enthusiasts behind Driving While Awesome (DWA).
They love to drive, as you’d expect, and in fact the group was formed out of a 24 Hours of Lemons team with the same name. They now host a bi-weekly podcast where they talk about driving and working on their cars. The group’s cumulative collection is diverse, but the theme is consistent: older analog sports cars that give each drive a special purpose, or in their words a “sense of occasion.” The perfect way to experience cars and friendship could be working on them in garages, sure, but even better is a well-organized road rally.
Most vintage drives like this limit the age range of the inanimate participants to pre-1980 build dates at their most modern. DWA’s cars don’t fit into these typical age restrictions, so they created their own event that does away with it.
This is the third year running of the DWA Coastal Range Rally, and the hand-picked group (95 cars) is sent out on three days of excellent driving along the coastal roads of central California. The curation of said group led to a very wide-ranging buffet of cars in every gas station and hotel parking lot we stopped at. Lotus Europas to Alfa Romeo GTVs, an Acura NSX next to a BMW M Coupe with a ’65 Pontiac GTO in the background; it was all present and accounted for, and the gathering resembled a rolling Cars & Coffee when we got underway with the first bit of the route. A few have been featured in the past on Petrolicious, including Ali Javidan’s M3-powered BMW 2002 and Jason Cammisa’s Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16.
In keeping with the DWA sense of occasion, we chose a modified 1979 Porsche 911 Turbo as our rally car. This particular machine is owned by Makellos Classics in Escondido, CA, also featured here previously. They are a collector-grade air-cooled Porsche specialist dealer, and they also do service and restoration work. I spotted this Turbo at Period Correct’s Pit Stop meet-up last month, and they offered to let us use it for the rally. This one has a larger K27 turbo installed, an Andial intercooler, a full exhaust built by powerhaus, and a beefy set of Fifteen52 Outlaw wheels. Given the reputation of these early Turbos, making it faster will make an exciting car even more so, and hopefully not spin us ass-first down into a ditch or off of something steeper!
A Frozen Start
The Rally started on a freezing morning in San Juan Bautista, CA, and really, it was freezing, seeing as our 930 was covered in ice. Once the car was warmed up and the windows mostly defrosted, we headed to the start and the first thought I had was that the collection of cars and people was massive for a road rally of this length and location. There had been concerns that it might be too big and congested, but thankfully this was not the case by the end of it all, a testament to sound organization.
So with the first driver’s meeting done and route maps in gloved hands, the rally was underway. Filing out of the parking lot in front of us was a line of cars including a Subaru SVX, a Porsche 912E, a Porsche 914, a ’68 fastback Ford Mustang, and a Toyota AE86 Corolla Coupe—an eclectic troupe. The winding roads curved in and around the rolling green hills, and it felt very much like driving through an old PC screensaver at times. Later in the day there was the choice of taking either a dirt or a paved section of road, and being in a borrowed car, we chose the latter option while wishing we could have done the dirtier one, especially after hearing the tales of heroically angled opposite locks and flicks of Scandinavian origin. Even aside from this special stage of sorts, the pace for the day was spirited and the route was amazing, so what more could we ask for?
The planning of the rally is geared toward building camaraderie in the people in attendance, and there were multiple regrouping points to facilitate this, allowing everyone to actually talk with the people they’ve been having so much fun on the road with. The best stop of the day came at a Y-shaped intersection in the middle of nowhere notable. Anyone passing by would have been completely confused by the pop-up car meet that was passing through.
This really does deliver the summer camp friendship experience, silly as that may sound. You get to meet a whole new group of people during a shared event, and since they’re all here for the same reason, it’s easy to create lasting memories and trade phone numbers. When a car had a problem on the route, people pulled over to help and get that team going again, and there were several heroic roadside fixes behind the fact that every car that started the rally completed it.
The second day began in a small city square, the rally’s cars lining quiet streets. Heading out of town we were once again with a different group; this time with a few 911s, a 944, a GTV, a Ferrari 308 GT4, and a Lamborghini Jarama leading the way. The natural pace of the pack evolved as the cars changed position over time, and my favorite stretch of road was part of Day Two’s route, a total roller coaster full of camber and undulation.
The 930 felt completely alive, a well-maintained classic still sharp on its feet because of it. Keeping the car in boost with the four speed transmission proved to be an entertaining game in the tight hairpins; leaving it in second gave me a huge span of lag as the big turbo waited to build boost. Though not a typical answer, downshifting into first was the correct response here, but it meant I would be back into first for the next tight corner, and so while you might expect fewer gears to mean fewer shifts it was not so in this case. Boost is an addiction though, and the 930 had me hooked on it immediately.
And did I mention this one spits out flames? The excess fuel likes to light up in the hot exhaust between gears, and for those behind us these moments made for a pretty good show I’m sure. For me the real party piece of the 930 though is the grip. The wide stance puts the rubber very far out to each end, the extra-wide track giving the car the ability to carry huge speed in the bends without the threat (or as much of one anyway) of the 930’s infamous oversteer. Mid-corner boost kept me on my toes as the power increase could break the rear end loose easily, and the roads themselves were really putting my abilities to task.
The end of day put us in Ventura, CA, and the host hotel quickly turned into the venue for something I’d call Cars & Beers (a hotel being the only good spot for such an event, obviously!). The motel-style accommodations had the parking lot encompassed by the building, and the colorful stories of the day’s adventure echoed off the walls as the groups and individuals shared the joys of the rally with each other. Even though this was day two of three, this dinner was the award ceremony and raffle night as the following day was only a half-length route, designed this way so everyone could get back home before the weekend was fully over.
Like I said, day three was a short and optional one, as participants traveled from as far as Oregon to attend and we all needed to get back home. Shooting up the 101 to Santa Barbara for Cars & Coffee, we quickly took over the majority of the parking lot; bringing the group tripled the size of the event.
From here the rally continued north until lunch, as many of the drivers were headed back to the Bay Area. I decided to capture a story of a interestingly filthy Ferrari 308 GT4 for a story to come soon, and then I made my way back down to San Diego. I can’t wait to go back next year.