Growing Up With Passion

THIS 1987 911 first came into my life at the age of nine. Ironically, this was also the first year I became involved in motorsport. A Porsche was the first sports car I was ever exposed to. This car has been embedded in all aspects of my life. It has grown with me and adapted to each and every curve life has presented.

I still vividly remember going to the car lot with my father and seeing this 911 for the first time. It was so distinctly different from any other car I had seen up until that point. The way the doors clicked open, the sound they made when they shut, everything about it screamed character – from its ragtop roof to its distinctive Porsche curves. It instilled an immediate and, sometimes, consuming passion. My dad and I spent hours working on the car together, doing repairs and making improvements. I was arguably taking a practical mechanics class at age eleven, not realizing at the time how invaluable and meaningful it would become.

I still vividly remember going to the car lot with my father and seeing this 911 for the first time. It was so distinctly different from any other car I had seen up until that point. The way the doors clicked open, the sound they made when they shut, everything about it screamed character.

The car became an iconic staple of summer; driving to race tracks, cottages or just to get new parts. I still have the Aerosmith CD which my father would listen to every time he drove the Porsche. There is no longer a stereo in the car but I keep the CD in the glove box, and it puts a smile on my face whenever I see it.

When I turned sixteen, it was time to get a driver’s license. The 911 was the first car I ever drove under the watchful eye of my father. At that point I had been racing motorsports for seven years, so driving came rather naturally, but it was still the single most terrifying experience I can recall. We drove from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island (about a 120 kilometre drive), my first ever road driving experience, never to be forgotten.

Turn the page and racing was getting more serious. The car began to show some minor issues and was put into the garage. By age eighteen my father was diagnosed with cancer. This life changing event saw me focus more on motorsport, as this was my father’s passion as well. I was traveling extensively for racing. The car remained stored in the garage, patiently waiting…

Two years later I lost my father to cancer. More than just a father, he was also my best friend, with whom I shared a passionate automotive connection. After he passed, I can remember coming home and walking out to the 911 in the garage for the first time and immediately breaking into tears. The car had not started for over two years, yet it fired immediately when I started it that day – as if to assure me that it will do what it can to help keep the passion, and thus my connection with my father, alive.

I lost my father to cancer. More than just a father, he was also my best friend, with whom I shared a passionate automotive connection. After he passed, I can remember coming home and walking out to the 911 in the garage for the first time and immediately breaking into tears.

That first drive in the car without my dad was emotional but also liberating. I felt more connected to the car than ever. I was still racing at this point and had recently been offered a job in Toronto. Chasing my passion, I immediately prepared to move to the big city from small town Nova Scotia.

Before moving, my mother handed me probably the best gift I had ever received; the ownership papers to the 911 in my name. While the car, unfortunately, could not initially make the move with me, I had already decided that I would restore it to the best of my ability over time. I knew, and still know this car inside and out; all the tricks to start it, when it isn’t happy, its strengths and where it needs improvement.

After living in Toronto for three years and getting accustomed to life there, I decided it was time to bring the 911 to the city. Some may have shipped it in an enclosed trailer; complete with bubble wrap and packaging. My choice, however, was to drive it – all 1,600 kilometres of it. I had spent every vacation trip I had taken home in preparing the car for this journey, doing all the work in our family home garage.

It has a Momo wheel from a Porsche race car which raced in the 24hr Le Mans in the late 80s. It has had the AC removed, the stereo removed, power seats removed – basically anything that I felt diluted the raw driving experience.

This car is not a trophy for me. It is a tool in my life that brings me happiness with each kilometre I put on it. I believe life is far too short to simply have a car to look at: that is what photography is for. I get excited when there are mechanical issues because that means I get to take it all apart and learn more. After all, isn’t that what life is about? Learning?  Feeding your passion?

The car is far from original, so anyone who is a “purist” should probably stop reading now, if I didn’t lose you already by stating that I drive it daily. The engine is mildly original. It has a new intake and filter. There may be a straight pipe exhaust on it. I redid the entire ignition system as the old one was rather inconsistent.  On the interior, it has a Momo wheel from a Porsche race car which raced in the 24hr Le Mans in the late 80s (cool right?). It has had the AC removed, the stereo removed, power seats removed – basically anything that I felt diluted the raw driving experience. I didn’t want anything interfering with the singular pleasure I get from this car, and that’s the act of driving it.

I have the seat position perfectly dialed-in, with the pedals precisely in line for heel-toe downshifts. The car is fitted around me and my measurements to the millimetre. Most will now ask, where do you drive it if you live downtown Toronto? To those in the know, there are numerous loops around the city with amazing corners to drive on, which do the car justice. I am usually on them early every Sunday morning to get coffee.

The car was featured in a recent Telus commercial, which was quite fun; it’s also found its way into numerous photo-shoots for fashion magazines, advertisements, etc. This year I entered it in the Yorkville Exotic Car Show, and plan on doing so again next year as it is such a worthwhile event and fundraiser.

It’s hard to say what’s next for the car. I do plan to redo the interior with something interesting. I have all the carpeting sitting in my closet as we speak. I know this car will forever be a part of me and will continue to grow and adapt as I do… continuing to fuel my passion for life. </>

Story and Photos by Nathan Kelly, UCR Member

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