Well, the 1984 Porsche 944 trip to Monterey came off without a hitch. The first day we drove from Connecticut to Ohio and stayed with my friend, Ted Hersey of 7, a firm that does concours preparation for Amelia and Pebble and collections management.
I had the opportunity to drive his 1984 944 and much prefer my car, which has power steering. His did have a more modern stereo, which is a sight better than the original Blaupunkt Tucson in my car.
Mine also had 20,000 fewer less miles, which made it feel like a newer car, plus the lack of a sunroof in mine made for more headroom.
On the other hand, his car had been chipped, which made it quicker and he also has sport suspension, which made it a flatter handling 944 than mine.
The next day, I headed off to Omaha, about 13 hours away, via terrible Indiana and Illinois roadways, so I was happy that my car did not have sport suspension, which would be battered me through hours of rutted interstate.
I reached Iowa and stopped for fuel and — surprise — I found a number of stations that contained ethanol-free fuel. This surprised me as Iowa is the land of corn. I am sure that the 944 appreciated the non-ethanol fuel, which cost only $2.25 per gallon.
I got to Omaha and was met at my friend Trent’s home by his brother in his 944S. It is an amazing example and was a cover car in Porsche Panorama years ago. We planned on an early evening but ended up staying up way too late catching up and playing with Porsches.
“We passed the Bonneville Salt Flats, where preparations were underway for Speed Week. We did not stop because traffic was insane — haulers backed up three miles behind the exit. Besides, there was a surprise waiting in Reno.”
The next day we got the car detailed at Veloce Brothers and took the 944 to Cars Restoration in Omaha for a final check before Trent and I headed out on a short 8-hour run to our next stop — Laramie Wyoming. It is a beautiful state and one of my favorites for driving. We also found a great Mexican restaurant for dinner.
The following day was a long, 14-hour run to Reno. We passed the Bonneville Salt Flats, where preparations were underway for Speed Week. We did not stop because traffic was insane — haulers backed up three miles behind the exit. Besides, there was a surprise waiting in Reno.
What was the surprise? Well Trent is as much of a James Bond fan as I am, so I made a reservation at Circus Circus. While it was not the Vegas version, where James Bond spends much of his time in Diamonds Are Forever, it was a close second. We saw a circus act and even won a prize at the water-shooter game. Sadly, like Pussy Galore, the stuffed animal we won did not contain any diamonds.
But there was another surprise in Reno — Hot August Nights was just wrapping up and we got to see some of the awards ceremony.
After watching some well-deserved hot rods receive their awards, we headed for Monterey. The going was slow; some of the hot rods broke down on their way home.
While caught I traffic, Trent spotted a dealership called Niello Porsche. We decided to take a break from the standstill traffic and visit. The people there were amazing. We had run out of clean clothes so we bought some new ones. They gave us route that avoided the traffic and also told us how to get to the nearest In-N-Out Burger, where we ate before heading to Monterey.
Arrival, and the car did not miss a beat. The 944 is possibly the most underrated Porsche road car and an unbelievable bargain. You can buy one of these in decent condition for less than $10,000. For trips like this, I cannot think of a more fun and affordable car.
They are supremely capable, stable at speeds well above 100 mph, have a roomy and comfortable interior, awesome handling, and vault-like build quality. These cars are reliable; we did our drive in a car that literally sat idle for 12 years before I bought it.
Everyone should do such a cross-country drive in a classic sports car. But don’t forget to properly prepare your car, and to make the drive with a good friend.