Once upon a time certain white men, and they were always white men, would set out from their European homes on a mission to save the so-called savages from their godless, by which they meant non-Christian, ways. Or perhaps the goal was to bring their concept of law, order and enlightenment to those they thought less fortunate. Whatever the motivation, such behaviour is generally frowned upon in the early 21st century and rightly so. However, such notions lend themselves to a concept I call Porsche Proselytizing, or maybe, The Porsche Driver’s Burden.
We really are blessed. Our cars are better than almost everybody else’s. It’s not about snobbery. Plenty of expensive cars drive awful, fall apart or are almost completely useless. The nouns Lincoln, Cadillac (for the most part) and Lamborghini come to mind. On a completely objective analysis Porsches drive better, feel better and are better made. I’m preaching to the choir here, but the point is that we should preach to the non-believers. If you like somebody, even more so if you care about them, wouldn’t you want them to experience things of joy? Don’t you want to share one of the greatest founts of happiness in your life? Like a fine wine, a Porsche is best enjoyed with friends and not hoarded. You might even be able to convert a soul that has been heretofore on the path of eternal automotive mediocrity.
I don’t know about your office, but in mine word gets around that you, “race your Porsche”. No matter how many times you say, “it’s not racing, it’s driver education” you are marked as the resident car nut. Co-workers with more than a purely utilitarian interest in cars then start casually coming up to you to say, “so you race your Porsche” as an opener before launching into whatever car-related topic they want to talk about. And so it was one Christmas Eve at the office lunch. Robert sat down in the chair next to me and after getting the, “so you …..” formalities out of the way told me of his ambition to own a BMW Z3 and how that ambition would be realized in the spring. The window of conversion opportunity had opened wide.
One thing the 18th and 19th century missionaries and imperialist didn’t believe in was subtly. Subtly is key if you want to align someone’s long-held hopes and dreams with your way of thinking. You don’t say, “Robert, that car is crap. It’s made for hairdressers and why don’t you man up and buy a real car”. That won’t work at all. You need to show some understanding and enthusiasm for their position. Something more like, “yeah, that’s a nice car, looks good, handles great, I thought about one of those myself”. You have now shown respect for their judgment and that you’re on their side. In addition to confirmation of their good taste, one of the reasons they have started this exchange is that they are looking for some advice from a higher, Porsche-racing, authority. So you must dispense some wisdom, “I’d avoid the four cylinder, gutless, and concentrate on the sixes, those BMW straight sixes are great engines”, (more confirmation of soundness of their choice) “and if you can find the M version, now that’s an awesome car”.
Then you must bide you time. Over the next few weeks ask a few time, “how’s the car search going”? Only after you have laid the groundwork can you really move in for the kill. “Have you considered a Boxster? Not too much more money and so much more car”. After a few weeks of discussing the merits of Boxsters versus Z3s I played my trump card. I made Robert promise that he would not spend money on a BMW without first test-driving a Porsche. As I handled some legal work for Robert from time-to-time I told him that his files would go to the bottom of my inbox if he broke the promise. A Porsche test-drive sounds like fun to most people so he accepted my challenge. A few Saturdays later he drove a Porsche for the first time. The following Saturday he bought a 987 from Downtown Porsche.
Then there is my brother. A hard-working, non-frivolous type he always wanted a 911 but put other things like children and mortgages first. He was basically the kid who always wanted ice cream in that great Benz ad of a few years back. In the meantime his car treat to himself was a Honda Prelude. Being family I could lose some of the subtly and say things like, “when are you getting the subwoofer put in the trunk”? I would harass constantly, sending online ads to his inbox and offering to do all the leg-work as I would have to buy the car in Ontario before having it sent to Newfoundland. Finally, last spring he gave in. I check out a 997S at Pfaff, gave the thumbs up and the dealer had it shipped to his door. I can imagine what it must have been like, having driven a Porsche, my 944 many years ago, only once before, to see your new 911 roll off a truck, to climb into the sports seats and experience the sport-exhaust equipped 3.8 erupting, barking and crackling to life, for the first time. A few months later business brought him to Toronto and I asked him if he regretted all the years driving normal cars when he could have been driving a Porsche. “Yeah” was his only reply with a look on his face that said he knew that he should have done it years ago.
At one stage in my ownership history I adopted a, “nobody drives the Porsche” policy. I bet many of you have done so as well. As the years have rolled by I executed a complete 180 on that front. If I know you and trust you, know you can drive a standard (although I tend not to make friends with the kind of people who can’t so this is rarely an issue) and you have displayed some kind of car interest, I’ll take you for a drive. Once out of the awfulness of Toronto traffic I’ll likely pull over and put you in the driver’s seat. Like the fine wine mentioned above, it just seems right to share something that adds so much to my life with someone who may be of like mind. I encourage you to do the same.
I’m up to two Porsche converts for sure and who knows how many more through the trickle down of their friends and relations. I’d bet that my offering up the driver’s seat top down on a country road will result in a few more. I have often thought that Porsche Canada has no idea that I am out there working for them and that if they did know they should be grateful. Well, now they do know and they can show their gratitude with a $50,000 gift card toward a Cayman R. The webmaster has my address.