EVERY OLD PORSCHE HAS A STORY
Story and photos by Dan Proudfoot, UCR Member
First, though, consider my contention that anyone with an eye for older Porsches will feast on the details as will anyone with an interest in older cars in general, I’ve come to think.
Park anywhere at all: the supermarket, the movies, Chapters. A passerby will pause, look again, and amble over. “Nice car! What year is it?” The ensuing conversation will continue as long as the Porsche pilot cares to answer questions, share memories.
It’s pure delight. As well, it’s obligatory. For the rewards of ownership, the feel of the steering (especially pre-1985 before power assist), for the symphony of an air-cooled flat six, for the catapult propulsion you feel in your gut beyond 4,000 rpm, the richly-blessed driver of an older 911 really needs to share his or her car’s place within Porsche’s unique success in automotive history.
I’ve taken to leaving a printout under the windshield wiper whenever I park mine in a place where conversation might normally occur… not in places like the press parking area at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but definitely in the Field of Dreams at the Vintage Grand Prix at CTMP.
Here’s the story as I’ve told it, word for word. My hope is that you, too, consider explaining your car’s place in Porsche history:
“This 1978 911 SC was the 190th SC exported to North America.
“Over model years 1978-1983, SC production totaled 58,914; the 911 Carrera succeeded the SC in 1984.
“I am the third owner. Wester Porsche/Audi at Seaside, CA, originally sold the car on October 31st, 1977. Ron Ranagan of Salinas, CA, became its second owner in 1983 and drove it for 23 years. My eBay buy-it-now moment came Jan. 17, 2006.
“More than 328,000 km on the odometer serves as testimony to the pleasure this car has afforded all three owners.
“The colour is Cashmere Beige. Wester Porsche/Audi ordered the brightest hue in the factory palate, complimented by the optional full-leather interior in dark brown, to showcase the new SC series.
“Excellence Auto Body of Rexdale, ON refinished the car to a high standard in 2007. Disassembly prior to painting showed the car to be completely rust-free, a positive consequence of its years in Salinas’s dry climate.
“With all of the usual upgrades and scrupulous maintenance, this 911 SC drives like new after 40 years on the road.
“WHAT WAS NEWSWORTHY IN 1978?
Elvis Presley died within days of this car coming off the Zuffenhausen assembly line.
“Pierre Elliot Trudeau was Prime Minister, Rene Levesque Premier, Jimmy Carter President, Helmut Schmidt Chancellor. Future PM Stephen Harper graduated from Richview Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, ON, in 1978.
“Dodge Omni was named 1978 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine. It was a copy of Volkswagen’s Golf/Rabbit and actually was powered by a Golf engine. Also in 1978, Volkswagen began manufacturing the Rabbit in Pennsylvania.
“Porsche introduced the front-engined 928 as a 1978 model. Company chairman Ernst Fuhrmann was convinced customers would favor the 928 over the 911 and SC sales would diminish to the point the 911 would go out of production. Wrong.
“In racing, Canada’s Ludwig Heimrath won the Trans- Am SCCA Pro series in 1977 in a 934/5, defeating American Porsche ace Peter Gregg. Porsches won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1977, and the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 in both 1977 and 1978.
“Gilles Villeneuve’s first Grand Prix victory came at Montreal’s inaugural Grand Prix du Canada in October, 1978.
“Music: The Bee Gees’ songs from Saturday Night Fever topped the charts (How Deep is Your Love?) from 1977 into 1978. John Travolta’s dancing and acting in the film made him mega.
“Neil Young wrote Rust Never Sleeps in 1978, after Johnny Rotten left The Sex Pistols.
“Sports: Darryl Sittler led the Toronto Maple Leafs with 117 points in 1977-78. The Leafs made the semi-finals, losing to the Montreal Canadiens who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
“The Toronto Blue Jays first played in 1977. In 1978 they improved to 59-102 for a percentage of .366, against their opening-year’s 54-107-.327.”
And that’s it. I’ve limited my car’s account to two pages hoping this amount of context will prompt some to dig deeper into Porsche lore, perhaps inspire an occasional reader to explore the market for a 911 of their own.
Intentionally, I’ve stayed away from the personal, not got into buying the car on eBay, not recounting the wonderful adventures while driving it home from Monterey, CA. Not explaining the personal plate, RCNANTE (Don Quixote’s horse, Rocinante). That story is more my own than the car’s. Its place in Porsche history, I figure, is all that really matters.