When our son turned sixteen and got his license, his aunt gave him a dying Buick to drive. Dying, as in gaping rust holes, complete with plant life growing vigorously under the passenger seat. It soon passed and made its way to the local U-Pull-It yard. Then we made the decision to give him our copper-colored 1978 924 that had been in the family for several years.
A car for a new adolescent driver has many decisions points, not the least of which is overall safety. This is especially true in today’s driving environment. So going through the list of requirements, here are a few items on the decision-making list.
- Overall safety profile, including on-road visibility and safety equipment in the car, such as multiple airbags
- Fuel mileage and overall economy, including the price and availability of parts and service
- Reliability, including whether the car can make the various trips to school, events, etc.
- Image projection, which is very important at that age
- Number of passengers, so that your kid isn’t running a bus service for twenty friends
All of these are very important, especially the first three. For our 924, unfortunately, the first three weren’t even a consideration as the car barely had three-point belts, was a little more expensive to fix and, face it, had shoddy reliability. But with only two useable seats and massive image, the last two are covered.
With our decision, you have to realize that it was the mid-1980’s when the safest thing you could buy was a Volvo or Mercedes. American cars were, let’s say, less than desirable as evidenced by the rusty Buick. Other factors that were considered included 1) we had a solid history on the car and 2) we had the parts, facilities and tools needed to maintain and repair it. And the price was right.
Another factor also reared its head – if it wasn’t all that reliable and needed mechanical care and maintenance, the boy would have to learn how to maintain it or he’d be riding the bus. Of all these factors, this was probably the most attractive. He already had worked on the car with me, and he had/has incredible mechanical sense. So, it was his. His first real car was a Porsche.
He drove HPDE in that car as soon as he turned 18, refining his skills, knowledge and abilities on the track. By the early 2000’s, he was an HPDE instructor with PCA. He is quite an accomplished and intuitive track pilot. Oh, and a real fixed-wing pilot, too.
So fast forward to 2019, when I acquired a low miles, complete-but-not-running 1987 924S. White, linen interior, bad paint, nasty fuel system, “running when parked.” And, it is a dreaded automatic. But it is complete. A bit nasty, but complete and stock. It will need a complete rescue treatment by 924S944.com.
The oldest grandchild is now approaching fourteen years old. Dad and Grandad have offered her the ragged 924S automatic as her first car. There is a caveat, though. SHE has to help US rescue this car, including fuel system, engine seals and maintenance, brakes, interior refit, air conditioning, paint, etc…well, you get the picture. Working on weekends in the shop for a year, she can then learn to drive on her own rejuvenated 924S, then take her driving test at sixteen in her Porsche.
While this plan may strike some as completely ludicrous, think of this. How many sixteen-year-old girls will arrive at college (yea, early graduation and entering college at sixteen or so – smart kid) with a Porsche that they themselves rescued? In an era where most don’t know how to change a flat? Awesome.
There are plenty of life lessons that she will acquire along the way with that 33-year-old Porsche. And confidence. And mechanical abilities and understanding. And being able to work with tools. And it is worth it to be our gift to her.
Oh, yea – and full membership in the Porsche Club of America is part of the deal.
We will also later teach her how to drive a manual transmission car, and if she wants it, we will convert the automatic to a five-speed. “We” meaning “she” with “our” guidance.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.