So with Monterey Car Week on the horizon, what could be more fitting — or perhaps crazy? — than to drive there, East Coast to West Coast, and not in just any car, but a 33-year-old sports car?
The car in question is a 1984 Porsche 944. Peter Lombardo, owner of the classic car dealership Lombardo Motorcars in Berlin, Connecticut, found the car in question for me. He knew I was looking for a 944 and when he saw the car he knew that it was the one for me.
The 944 has only 36,000 original miles, is finished in Gemini Grey metallic paint, and is an all-original example. The car came with a full service history from new and even its original dealer invoice and window sticker. Sounds good so far, right?
However, the car had been sitting since 2006 and needed some work performed. This is not unusual and if you are driving a classic sports car from any era across the country, it pays to be sure it is up to date in its service needs. Happily, the car has always been stored indoors since new and its paint and interior are in amazingly great and all-original condition.
We changed all the fluids (brake fluid, coolant, engine and gearbox oil), the timing belt, tensioner, H2O pump, pulleys, auxiliary belts, all cooling hoses, plugs, distributor cap, rotor, DME regulator, crank sensors, engine mounts, brake pads and tires. We did an alignment and charged the air-conditioning system. Thanks go out to Peter and Auto Associates of Canton, Connecticut, for doing the labor and to Ian at 944 Online for the great deals on parts and advice on what to do — and what not to do.
I also detailed the car, washing it, claying it and then doing a basic polish of the paint. The hardest part was removing 33 years of old wax buildup on every seam and piece of rubber. It now looks excellent, more like a 5-year-old car than one that is nearly seven times that age.
Today, I leave for Monterey, with stops planned in Ohio to see Ted Hersey of 7 (the best concours preparation firm in the business), and then on to Omaha to pick up Trent Abbott, who will be my co-driver for the last 24 hours of the trip.
We plan to be in Monterey next Monday afternoon and will have the car where if you are there you can see it. We will be on the Concours on the Avenue on Tuesday, at my auction tours Wednesday and Thursday, at the Quail on Friday, and at the Porsche Car Corral at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday.
So why did I decide to forego a business-class plane ticket to drive to Monterey?
First, ever since I first saw the 944 o, the cover of Road & Track magazine, I have wanted to own one. These cars are fantastic and a tremendous value in a classic sports car. And simply cannot be a better way to experience a new classic sports car than a cross-country drive to Monterey Car Week, the center of the sports car universe.
Since it is a 1980s era car, I have a huge playlist of ’80s new wave music already set to play through the cassette adapter I got so that I can listen through the original Blaupunkt Tucson stereo.
We are going to forego the neon colored 1980s T-shirts but Trent and I will be wearing era-appropriate timepieces, likely with Quartz movements, for the whole time-machine effect.
We are taking spares just to be covered for any potential issue we might encounter.
Also, even in upgraded mode, air travel is adequate at best and a horrible experience at worst. I guarantee that the seat in my 944 will be more comfortable than my business-class seat, and even the food we find on the road will be better as well.
Finally, I’ve long wanted to do a long road trip with a great friend and Porsche fanatic. I am betting that this trip out there will be the best part of the entire event.
We are taking spares just to be covered for any potential issue we might encounter. Thanks to Mark Yanni for his road-trip-in-old-sports-cars survival list. Our spacious trunk contains a spare O2 sensor, a spare DME relay, a brake master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, and oil and a spare oil filter. My guess is that since it is a Porsche, we won’t need any of that stuff, but it never hurts to be prepared.
We will do daily updates, hopefully here as well as on my own Facebook page, so check in and see what our progress is.
Give a wave or a honk if you catch sight of us along the way or next week in Monterey.