As I’ve recently discovered, genius comes in rather small measures, yet a fool and his passion can crush a concrete overpass. In the perpetual and occasionally frustrating search for additional horsepower for my rather anemic Porsche 944, I came across a device called the Transeptular Vortex, which for the paltry sum of $89 promised to increase my power and fuel economy by up to 10 percent. The glowing and allegedly unsolicited testimonials—plus the offer of free shipping—did the trick, and within minutes I began to conceive that if one of these miracle devices can give a 10 percent increase in performance, then perhaps two would yield 20. Four of them would return 40 percent, and so on. In my lathering and breathless wisdom I finally settled on 16 of these marvels, and three days later they arrived at my home in four gigantic boxes.
I installed the first one by carefully following the pidgin-English directions supplied with the kit and I also managed to screw two more of them into the engine compartment. I then jacked-up the car and screwed three more to the chassis using long, self-tapping screws. Two more went on each of the doors, three on top of the hood, and three more on the roof of the car just aft of the sunroof. By my conservative calculations I conceive that I should achieve nearly 630 hp from my 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and, even better, I should use almost no fuel at all. The only downside to this modification, so far, was that my car no longer looked like a Porsche and more closely resembled Skylab.
I fired up my 944 Skylab and pointed her towards the highway, the Transeptular Vortexes whistling in the wind with all the subtlety of a blown REO Speed Wagon pulling a steep grade. Ignoring the frightened looks from my fellow motorists who were only too happy to move out of the high-speed lane, I carelessly jumped into the throttle and unleashed the madness of cheap horsepower and torque upon the unsuspecting two-laner. My 944 lifted its nose like a stallion catching a promising feminine whiff as we galloped down the highway at a fearsome pace, and I started to think that, finally, I’m going to need some bigger brakes. Fast approaching redline in Fifth gear I slowly eased off the throttle and the nose of the car began to settle as we left the realm of triple digits behind. Checking my gauges, I noticed my fuel indicator seemed to be rising and within moments the needle was pegged at full. I suddenly detected a strong odor of fuel and wisely pulled my Skylab over into the breakdown lane just as my gas cap blew off and sent a geyser of 93 octane fuel shooting deep into the woods. Several startled motorists pulled over, not so much to assist me but more to view the spectacle of a 944 Skylab disgorging itself on the side of the highway. Someone produced a siphon hose and within minutes I was dispensing fuel to my fellow motorists and enjoying a decent return on my investment in 16 Transeptular Vortexes. My gas cap, however, proved unrecoverable, as it had been hurled into the woods with all the subtlety of a howitzer. So after siphoning my tank down to the point of activating the low fuel warning light, I stuffed a rag into the filler neck and slowly drove back to my drawing board.
So as with life in general, and cars in particular, the shaky solution to one problem only serves to peel the onion and reveal yet another one—sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. With my eye cast towards cheap horsepower and establishing a viable cottage industry, I’ve purchased a tire trailer and a pair of 50-gallon drums, and I’m welding the whole mess together and mounting a large hand pump on the top. I still need one of those “All Taxes Included,” signs and maybe a permit or two, but I’m confident that by the time you read this missive, OPEC will be courting me with handfuls of flowers and entreaties of brotherly love.