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Long-Term Update: 2003 Porsche Carrera C4S

Education through being stupid

Mar 19, 2004 SHARE
0404_01z+2003_Porsche_Carrera_C4S+Side_View Photo 1/1   |   Long-Term Update: 2003 Porsche Carrera C4S

Sometimes when you drive a car as special as a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, it's your duty to school others: Here's why my car is better than yours. Last Saturday night was one of those times.

I was driving home from one of the many philanthropic programs I support. It was after 10, and I knew that if I got home by 11, I could settle in and enjoy a rerun of "Friends" and a nice glass of chardonnay, a fine way to end a wonderful week of hard work and underpay.

Traffic was light, and I was making the most of the Porsche's excellent high-speed stability. Usually I don't drive so fast, but I really wanted to see "Friends." My sixth sense was telling me it was the one when Ross wears the leather pants, plus I knew the California Highway Patrol changes shifts at 10 p.m.

So, with the digital speedometer reading exactly 100 mph, I was humming along the westbound freeway, minding my own business and looking for Christina Aguilera on the radio because I think she's a much bigger talent than Britney. About 20 miles from home, I came up on a pack of tuned Hondas with the requisite big wings and loud exhausts. They were cruising around 90 mph, being good citizens. I didn't even look over as I cruised past. After all, I'm in the Porsche. But one of the Honda Heads, a guy in a Prelude, felt frisky and latched onto my tail.

The school bell had wrung.

Leaving it in sixth, I increased my speed to 105 mph. Then 110. Then 115. Then 120. I couldn't believe it, but at 125 mph I could still hear his obnoxious exhaust buzzing in the blind spot over my left shoulder. Time to teach.

I downshifted to fifth gear and hit it down. The Porsche burst forward like it had been rear-ended by a bullet train. I could hear his exhaust go up an octave in an attempt to keep up, but he couldn't. Not many cars could.

At such velocity, at night, on a public roadway, it's tough to check the speedometer or the mirrors, but I glanced down just after I shifted to sixth gear and reintroduced the throttle pedal to the carpet: 143 mph. My trusted sixth sense, the same one that alerted me to the "Friends" storyline, told me the Prelude had been successfully left behind.

What a car. Its behavior at that very stupid speed can only be described as dead stable. Despite expansion joints and other road irregularities, it never became nervous. Never made a bad move. Even when the suspension was forced into its full range of motion, and the chassis went into that classic corner-to-corner weight transfer every 911 driver has experienced for 40 years, the car's four big Michelins never even hinted that they might lose grip with the road.

With my luck sufficiently pressed, I slowed down to 85 and tried to blend in with the Camrys, Accords and Suburbans. I'll admit it: My heart was beating like I had run up 10 flights of stairs and my brow wore just a hint of moisture. Fun.

About a minute later, just as I located the Christina classic, "Jeanie in a Bottle," on one of the easy-listening stations, my students came buzzing by like a swarm of killer bees, first the Prelude, then the throng of Civics. Not one looked over. Isn't education wonderful.

Home safe and sound, and in time for "Friends," there was no missing the heady aroma of burning fluid as I exited the car. First thing Monday morning we dropped it off at McKenna Porsche for its scheduled 15,000-mile service and a looksy underneath. Sure enough, the flywheel seal had sprung a leak.

As usual, the folks at McKenna treated us right. In just 5 days they fixed the seal, adjusted both side windows to chase down a rattle, fixed the squeaky sunroof, replaced the exhaust pipe to fix another rattle and replaced the rear window wiper cap that had somehow gone lost, all under warranty. They also found an oil leak around the bell housing, so they removed the transmission and the oil pan and superglued everything back into place. They also bled the brakes, because we had just installed the ceramic brake kit from Porsche Tequipment, (look for our test next issue).

The 15,000-mile service, however, was not cheap ($600), but when you consider how infrequently this car needs servicing (the next scheduled service isn't until 30,000 miles), there's plenty of time for many more lessons to be taught before it goes back to the shop.

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