Let me tell you about the time I bought a Porsche 928 on eBay for $4,000...
Long before I had a driver's license and far back when I was a young boy in the early to mid 1980’s, I always wanted to own a Porsche (911 Turbo), a Ferrari (Testarossa) and a Lamborghini (Countach). During the time when I was getting my driver's license, I had a dream that I bought a Ferrari for four thousand dollars.
As I neared 30, after my then fiance (now my wife) and I bought our first house and started planting some roots together, it was time to purchase our first car. Having lived in New York City most of our lives, we mostly traveled through the subway system and never needed a car. But now that we were suburbanites in a cute New Jersey town, it was time for a responsible form of transportation.
After giving it some thought and fantasizing some more, I asked her for permission to buy a sports car. I wasn't sure what I wanted exactly yet, but I knew it was one of the big three. She agreed and we set the budget at four thousand dollars!
The price drastically limited my choices and brought me down to some interesting options such as unfinished Lamborghini Diablo kit cars, a few old and beat up Alfa Romeos, and even some Corvette Stingrays that were begging for the merciful forgiveness of death.
Somehow though, I found a little niche in the Porsche arena that guided me towards the Porsche 928 models. Surprisingly, there was a vast collection of exotic cars that I hadn't been completely aware of before, priced depending on year, miles and condition from $100 to $15,000. I loved the shape of the 928; it was unusual, tough looking and very unique from all other Porsche models. The model had been in our collective human consciousness since the late 1970's, but now I needed to know more.
The Porsche 928 was a Grand Touring Sports Car designed and manufactured by Porsche AG of Germany, and was in production from 1978 to 1995. The Porsche 928 was designed to combine the performance and power of a sports car and the comfort and refinement of a luxury sedan. Porsche’s main goal was to replace the flagship 911, and unlike the 911 and Porsche’s usual rear mounted, air cooled engines, the Porsche 928 boasted a front mounted V8 water-cooled engine that roared with the thunderous power of the god of sky, Zeus.
The Porsche 928 had grown immensely popular despite protests from fans of the 911. It slowly seeped into our lives through movies such as Scarface when Tony Montana bought a brand new 1979 928 from Lopez Motors and had it bullet proofed, Risky Business where Joel Goodson steals his father’s 1979 Porsche 928 and lets his call girl Lana roll it into Lake Michigan after getting stoned, and even music videos like AC/DC’s Walk All Over You with drummer Phil Rudd spinning a Porsche 928 around an ice blanketed field as he picks up the late Bon Scott.
The One - the 1984 928S Porsche
Over the course of several weeks I spent many unproductive work hours looking through listing after listing until I found, “the one;” a champagne colored 1984 928S Porsche with 110,000 miles, upgraded Porsche Boxter rims and a character that defined the hard life of an abused racing machine; all falling in line with my winning bid of $4,000!
Specs for my 1984 Porsche 928 S
- Manufactured by Porsche AG in Stuttgart, Germany
- Designed by Wolfgang Mobius
- 4.7 Liter, 234 hp V8 Engine
- Bosch LH-Jetronic injection
- Rear Wheel Drive Grand Touring
- 50/50 Front/Rear Weight Distribution
- Mercedes-Benz 4 Speed Automatic Transmission
- 2+2 Seating Style with 2 Rear Bucket Seats
- 3,300 lbs., 98 inch wheel base, 178 inches long, 74 inches wide
- Porsche claims it as the fastest street legal production car sold in the United States, achieving 146 miles per hour
The rush came on like a crying howl from a lone wolf in the night, silhouetted by a glowing January midnight moon. I had combined the child fantasy of having a Porsche with the adult dream of owning a fast exotic sports car for four thousand dollars - the dream was alive and en-wrapped in glorious acquisition. The realism of the moment emanated waves of electric energy and power from my chest, through my veins and into my arms and hands as I raised them before me and envisioned the exhilaration of the drive. The world felt a momentary psychic wave of shock erupting from a shared cubicle in a downtown New York office building.
The challenge for me, a minor one of course, was that the Porsche 928 was housed 629 miles away from our home in New Jersey in Cincinnati, Ohio! But I’d never let that small obstacle get in my way.
Fortunately, I had a birthday coming up and my wife offered to take me to dinner in New York City and put us up in a Hotel room in Columbus. We shared laughs and drinks in Times Square before boarding a midnight Greyhound bus at the New York Port Authority on 8th Avenue and 42nd Street. The night was open for derangement and adventure.
The Midnight Bus to Cincinnati - Derangement and Adventure
The first bus ride was packed with strangeness and the air filled with venomous aromatics. Loud crunching noises came from the seats behind us, and images of grease and cracking foundations filled my half awake dreams. We would have laughed, but the hours of pain and discomfort thwarted us from the joy of living.
We arrived at our second transfer in Pittsburgh, PA with a 90 minute layover. It was then that we had the opportunity to see our chip crunching friend and one of humanity’s most interesting creatures: a large male without regard to hygienic concepts or self preservation. He sat on the floor and ate a premixture of peanut butter and jelly with his bloated fingers. Almost ten years later I can still remember the artful sculpture of his disfigured gums as the infectious fluids inflamed his flesh to steeply overshadow his small, severely decaying teeth. We instantly fell in love with the theory of this man as he became an icon in our marriage’s experiential history.
The third bus traveled through the long and vast nothingness Ohio as the Greyhound sped with luscious intensity. Our friend, diagonally in front of us, munched on a continuous bounty of chips, candy bars and assorted junk food - the air continued to harvest a thick and pungent musk that verged on the edge of rot and punishment.
Our fourth and final bus boarded at Columbus, OH and offered an improved and added color of insanity and dementia. Our friend, now immediately behind us, carried his howling aroma with him while adding one more night to what could have been months of unbathed body and unwashed clothes. Now, his grand culinary finale was hand dipping into an open container of raw Vienna sausages - the scene made us nearly vomit and my wife sneaked a spray of her body fragrance onto his seat as he took a break in the bathroom. Since then, we have never been able to eat Vienna sausages or pb&j.
Adding to the madness was a drunk crazy white lady that couldn’t help but yell out insanity to an all black audience. While both of mixed Hispanic origins, my wife and I appear Caucasian, and as such, we were number 3 and 4 in a group that consisted of drunk crazy white lady and wretchedly disgusting fat man. But drunk crazy white lady was special and almost adorable. She kept shouting out phrases such as, “Cincinnati here we come, wehaw!” and “Can’t we all just get along?” And the most precious interaction was between her and a black man was when she shouted, “It’s all Good in the ‘Hood!” And the response was, “What you know about the hood? If somebody catches you shouting that in the hood you’d be like “I’m sorry, I’m just here selling insurance.”
True Love at First Ride
Finally arriving at our destination at 2:30p.m., we met with the seller and had the chance to see “the one.” It was impressive to look at. Beyond the paint chips on the hood and the roughly aged leather interior, it was 3,300 pounds of jet grade aluminum and galvanized steel. It was sexy, rugged and monstrous.
Too tired from the trip to properly drive it, we had the seller drive us to the motor vehicle department to exchange ownership and attain the temporary tag. During our ride, my wife sat in one of the rear bucket seats as the seller prepared us for Porsche ownership, complete with a quiz on why I chose the 928. His wife had forced him to sell it in expectation of their new baby. He even warned my wife that the Porsche 928 would take my time away from her, and compared driving the 928 to having sex. She was delighted and not at all uncomfortable to hear that insightful commentary.
After finally completing the deal, the 928 was ours! Both my wife and I were excited to get behind the wheel and onto the open road. I held on to the key with its substantial weight, started the ignition which opened its roaring engine, and headed for the highway to the tunes of AC/DC, Rolling Stones and The Cult.
The road trip from Cincinnati to Columbus was an hour long. With no sleep from the prior night, we drove fueled only with the excitement of the Porsche. The ride was fantastic. The aged interior felt genuinely 1980’s. The performance was a mixture of Italian Exotic Sports Car and 1970’s era American Muscle Machine. The engine roared with furious engagement, and yet the ride was comfortable with the fading luxury of an aging relic. It was not the zippy sports car one might think of an exotic car, this was muscle, power and domination.
The After Hours VIP Party
Downtown Columbus was a strangely small city. At first we drove right through it and had to turn around to find it again. It didn’t help that we had been without sleep for two days and were roaring around town in a monstrous Porsche 928. We finally arrived at the Columbus Westin Hotel, handed the keys to the concierge, and headed for our suite with the aid of a hotel bus boy who claimed to have received multiple hundreds of dollars in tips from wealthy patrons. He was greeted with a fraction of that claimed reward.
Hunger, delusion and deprivation pulled us to the Wendy’s downstairs. We stared at the menu for days, lost in its unattractive options. My head felt opened and frenzied, as if my skull was split in two, turning into snakes, swerving in perpetual opposition to each other. After ordering over $20 of food, the clerk asked in dumbfounded open mouthed confusion, “Y’all gonna eat all that?” I didn’t have an answer for her. It seamed possible at the time, and at least that was the intention. But the night was still too young and only living it would unravel the mystery. She’ll live on never knowing if we finished our meal. We headed up to our room with an unhealthy amount of fast food, a bottle of diet soda, 750 milliliters of spiced rum and 25.36 ounces of champagne.
The night at the room greeted us with a second wave of energy. The food hit the spot and there was plenty to last through the night. The rum added a smooth edge to the already sharp derangement. We played with an old 35 millimeter camera, loud music and pornography. Powerful, mutually climactic sex filled the air with raw estrogen and testosterone. The cigarettes kept me awake partying long after my wife had crashed for the night. We were rock stars once again. One of the many examples of the lives we lived as wild humans and true enjoyers of life. In proud solitude, I gazed out the window to the rising sun in pure fulfillment and pleasurable satisfaction. The girl, the house, the Porsche. I was living an exotic dream, and was nowhere near ready to stop. Of the many waves of highs and lows we’ve shared together and experienced as individuals, that moment encapsuled a monumental zenith in my own personal human experience; etched in my soul’s journal until the inevitable end. I was ready to fade into the sweet and welcoming embrace of sleep.
The Way Back Home - Pushing the Thunder to the Edge of the Sky
We always call for an extra hour of checkout time at the front desk. It works every time! We shared a late breakfast at the hotel’s fancy restaurant with feelings of lust, love and romance. The sunshine poured into the restaurant and showered sparkles of prism colors onto my wife’s soul spread from her mimosa filled chalice.
We fetched the Porsche 928, filled it with high octane gasoline, and fired up its engine with capricious deviance and murderous intent. We drove with powerful anticipation and entered the highway greeted by gridlock and a massive traffic jam!
For some reason, I remember Ohio and Pennsylvania speed limits being in the neighborhood of 70 miles per hour, but I could have just imagined it. Nevertheless, the road opened and the fresh feel of the Porsche 928 had me inspired to push some personal boundaries. I’ve really only had rentals before my first car and drove them somewhat responsibly, so anything above the speed limit was new territory for me.
The car was smooth and powerful, and the fury propelled forward into the mid to upper eighties, nineties, hundreds? Possibly into the hundred teens? Who can tell these days. With a speedometer topping off at 160 mph, I hardly scratched the surface. It was a brave new world for us as we traveled in deliberate outlaw and recklessness. 600 miles in eight hours only averaged about 75 miles per hour, with a little lunch and some light shopping along the way.
Home and Forever
Back home the Porsche 928 sat on our driveway with pride and activity. In retrospect, the Porsche 928 was an amazingly bad-ass machine to own and to drive. I felt like a rock star. People couldn’t help but notice it, from fellow drivers howling compliments on the highway, to children at the gasoline station wondering what kind of amazingly cool car this was, to a customer at a liquor store who just had to ask me to turn on the ignition simply to hear what it sounded like - the three of us were famous!
This Porsche 928 came with both ups and downs though. A friend of mine that drove it tried to be nice and offer a cleaning at a local car wash, but smacked into an Infiniti as it reversed after being told the car wouldn’t fit. No biggie to the Porsche but for some dents, though Infiniti guy did hold us to $800 in damages.
Another big insanity was when I picked up my brother and his girlfriend from Laguardia Airport. I drove into Queens from New Jersey on the BQE through the Verezzano Bridge at 80mph and drove them back home at a similar speed. But when I took them to the supermarket the next day, I made a 5mph turn as the front passenger wheel fell right off! Thankfully, it didn’t happen on the airport trip OR on the wedding day at a New York pier, but a few blocks from home on an unimportant evening. We did have the Porsche 928 fixed in time for our honeymoon at the Poconos Palace Resorts!
A Sad Farewell
Ultimately, the engine itself started smoking and leaking oil. All attempts to fix the Porsche 928 were financially wasteful and mechanically ineffective. Once it was fixed, it would smoke and leak again. Big smoke too, tons of it. Over time, it was replaced with a practical 1998 Nissan Altima and sat on the driveway for a year, succumbing to the disintegration of time, elements and hurtful neglect. With a new baby on the way, I turned again to the internet and sold the Porsche 928 on Craigslist for $800.00.
Farewell Charlie Thunder (2004-2007) - You were an exciting vehicle to own, an amazing first car and a valuable tale in our marriage’s collective history.