This Porsche 930 Track Toy Is The Spiritual Successor To A Triumph Motorcycle
Photography by Will Mederski
Tom Hedges got gasoline into his blood at an early age. He was zipping around eastern Washington on mini bikes and go-karts before he had a driver’s license, and once he got his first car, a 1932 Buick, it was all over. That hefty piece of American iron was replaced by a 1955 Chevrolet with a 302 V8, which he drag raced at every opportunity.
Soon, the story takes a turn that this author enjoys even more. After graduating from high school but before heading to college at the University of Washington, Hedges announced to his parents that he was taking a trip down the West Coast on his Triumph motorcycle. With little money and plenty of stubbornness, he strapped some clothes and a sleeping bag on the back seat and headed southwest. “I had a Peter Fonda Easy Rider helmet, which I’d grown tired of and painted black. No leathers or gloves, not even a pair of goggles. I did have sunglasses, I think.”
Owning and operating classic cars requires a sense of stewardship and a healthy dose of masochism, and Hedges has both in spades. For many of us, the less conventionally practical a machine is, the better suited it is to getting us from place to place or around a racetrack. Hedges and I talk about the freedom of unrolling a sleeping bag on the side of the highway, the way things seem to string together once you put yourself out on the road, and the way a machine can make those experiences truly memorable. “Most of the time I drove with the baffles open. For me, the sweet sound of an interesting motor is absolutely essential to the overall experience.”
And because of the sweet sound of an interesting motor, he recalls vividly the final night of that motorcycle sojourn: “After spending the night near Susanville, I was getting a little homesick, so I left the ‘campground’ early and drove straight through to my parents’ home in Richland. There were some guests at our house, and I recall telling them to speak louder as we briefly discussed the trip. My ears were ringing so loudly I could barely hear! Ear plugs came later in life.”
Like any gearhead with a strong sense of the relationship between man and machine, he also cannot forget the day he finally bought his first dream car, in 1972. While still in college, he walked into the local bank and demanded to speak to the manager, telling him “I gotta have a Porsche.” The manager looked at him and asked the simple question: “Are you going to pay me back?”
Hedges remembers, “I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Yes.’ So I bought a 911T on a waiter’s salary of a dollar an hour.”
After owning the Porsche for a while and having air-cooled motors imprinted on him from then on out, he made another all-too-familiar move and traded it for something practical, a Honda Civic, in order to focus on his career. “It didn’t have air conditioning. I remember that because I drove it down to Guadalajara, Mexico in the summertime.” Shortly afterwards, he accepted a job with a banana distributor based in South America.
“I bought a right-hand drive 1932 Buick Roadmaster with side pipes. It was owned by an ex-Nazi or some other enemy of the Allies who fled to Cordoba after the war, and he brought his Buick with him. That was the first car that I really set my heart on restoring, and I brought it back to the States with me when I moved back. Once I made it look ok, I started looking into the mechanical stuff. You know how that goes—I was in way over my head, and I ended up selling that car. Soon after that, I bought a Porsche RS America.”
Hedges is charmingly honest and cavalier. He admits his limitations and shares his earnest efforts at learning all things automotive. And his story continues to crisscross the globe, from South America to New Brunswick and finally back to Washington, where he settled into the wine business and Porsche enthusiasm.
“In 1997, I wanted to go racing, so I bought a disassembled ’69 911E. We raced that car from 1998 until 2010, then converted it into more of a streetable rally car. I’ll never sell it, it’s just gorgeous and still has that original two-liter motor in it.”
“By that point, I was completely into Porsches. I started getting more into the investment side of things and wanting to own a specific piece of Porsche history. And, back then, 935s were still hanging in the affordable range. I bought my first one and raced it for a while, then got in a bad wreck and had to sell it.”
“I took a Super 90 GT in partial trade, only to find out that I’m not much of a 356 guy. Soon after, Jim Hendrix, a friend of mine who specializes in RSR tribute cars, called me about a 930 he wanted to go in on together. It was in bad shape. We were really buying a VIN number and provenance. The car was a total friggin’ disaster. But that gave us the opportunity to build it back right. It took about 16 or 17 months.”
That car is the one pictured: a 1977 930, one of the earliest cars to feature the signature flachblau (“slant nose”) that became an option for street cars three years later. It now has a single-turbo three-liter motor pushing 500 horsepower, and it is finished in period-correct privateer livery. Hedges, more of a man for stories than details, notes, “There is something so satisfying about taking something rough and turning it into something functional and beautiful.”
In many ways, the 930 is the spiritual successor to his old Triumph motorcycle. It may have ten times as much horsepower as the old motorbike, but it too makes some great noises and provides a catalyst for lifelong memories. Hedges says he drives the car often, and hard, and I’m inclined to believe him.
I thank him for his time and mention that the trip on the Triumph sticks out to me even more than the gorgeous race car I called to discuss. He reflects, “You know, I may have even kept a diary of that trip, long since lost, I’m sure. Now, before I’m too old to do it, driving all the great racetracks of the world is my goal. Still a few to go.” He certainly has the tools for it.