Guest contributor: Michael Ardelean on his 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 (964)
My name is Michael Ardelean, and about two years ago I bought the 1990 Porsche 911 that you see here. There were a couple of quirks that influenced my decision:
- I live a pretty minimalist lifestyle and I don’t have a lot of tolerance for uneccessary stuff, and I stay busy so I value time above all else. So I was looking for something purposeful and also reliable.
- I have an aversion to disposable things, and I get a little bit sick thinking about how car companies know that their customers only keep their cars for 2-5 years and thus probably build new cars accordingly.
So basically, I wanted something with the narrow body and old school ruggedness, but with semi-modern power and working AC. Old enough to be cool, but nothing too precious.
This is my first Porsche. Back in the day I was a pretty hardcore BMW dude (a few E28s, an E30, and E46) due to the fact that they were cheap (as far as driver-focused cars go), well designed, and pretty utilitarian for someone who was always hauling a BMX bike around and parking in the street. During this period my friend Jim Bauer bought a 911SC and he let me drive it. I could not get over the amazingness of operating a machine that was so dedicated to a single purpose — being awesome.
This was the early 2000s. I started asking Jim about Porsches. When he broke down the model history for me, I got stuck on the 964. “So you’re saying this 964 has the same narrow body as your SC, but with 50 more horsepower, cleaned up bumpers, slicker shifting, working AC, and they’re cheap becuase nobody wants them?” He said yeah.
So I did what any real forward-thinking visionary would do — I built a collection of 964s and waited for the market to come around. Just kidding; I chilled out for six or eight years driving ’90s boxy Mercedes-Benzes, for which I paid about $2k each, because I didn’t see any urgency.
In early 2013 I finally got it together, and I had recently been on a few canyon drives with Jim (who by now had two of them) and had experienced firsthand what these 20-30 year old cars could do. I had to have one, and by then I had a network of Porsche-owner friends doing weekend rallies and causing me serious FOMA.
After searching seriously for maybe 3 weeks, I found this one in Santa Rosa, owned by an 83-year-old doctor who was letting his son’s friend sell the car for him. I called five minutes after the Craigslist ad was posted, got confirmation that the car had undergone a documented $10k top-end rebuild, and got on a plane with cash in my backpack.
I bought this thing pretty cheap and it has appreciated rapidly in two years. That fact has caused some people to hoard low-mileage examples and baby them. I personally still love old boxy Benzes and bought a cheap old E55 AMG to daily drive. As much as I enjoy that car, two times out of three when I wake up in the morning I drive the 964 to work. How could I not?
It’s been to the track once, up and down the coast twice, and to the canyons a million times. The contagion has resulted in a large group of new Porsche owner friends, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who break all the Porsche guy stereotypes — nary a pair of Tevas or cargo shorts in the whole gang.
And I use that term “gang” pretty loosely… quite embarrassingly a dozen Porsches headed to the hills at 6am looks like a gang, but nah. A friend proposed making T-shirts that said “dirty cars and black coffee” which explains our ethos perfectly, but that sounded dangerously close to something a “car club” would do.
One of my favorite things about this car is its approachability. It’s assertive but humble. I’ve heard discriminating designer types say that modern sportscars look like Asics running shoes, and if that’s true, the humble 964 is more like a simple ’70s Nike waffle runner.
So the miles are racking up quickly and I can’t help it. I love this car. I love the fact that it’s special (to me), and at the same time it’s really nothing special. The way it starts up every day and swiftly gets me where I’m going is almost utilitarian. Somehow this is at once the most reliable and the most fun car I’ve ever owned.
Now my minimalist tendencies are out the window and I want more Porsches. First I considered buying a dirt-cheap base 996 and giving it the proper running gear and IMS+RMS upgrade. This way I’d have a daily driver that I could park in the street, take to the track, and worry about nothing. Then my mechanic indoctrinated me with the Mezger-only philosophy, saying that beyond the air-cooled cars, only GT3s and Turbos could offer the long-term bulletproofness that my car has. Sounds reasonable. Until then I’ll keep racking up the miles.
Images © Michael Ardelean