9 February 2017

Aural Fixation: One dentist's love for all cars Porsche

Even among the luminaries of Porsche enthusiasts, Dr. Jack Gish stands out. Over a 40-year period, he has amassed a collection of more than two dozen of the marque’s most significant vehicles, with a particular emphasis on the landmark 911 series.

Gish’s first Porsche was a 914 that he owned while in dental school in the 1970s. But that car did not slake his thirst for a 911, the model that seduced him years earlier.

“My 911 collection starts with the 1966 model, because it was the first one imported for sale in the U.S.,” Gish explained, noting that the model had been revealed three years earlier in Germany. “It was also the only 911 to come with a real wood dash.”

Gish admits that those early 911s were not the best-handling cars, partly due to their short wheelbase. Stretching the wheelbase, starting with the 1969 models, improved the handling. (He gave a tip of the cap to Zora Arkus-Duntov, the genius Chevrolet Corvette engineer, who was consulted for improvements.)

Lustier engines – output has almost quadrupled from the first 911’s 128 horsepower – along with targa top and convertible models, turbocharging and other advances may have helped flesh out the model range, but Gish is still an ardent admirer of basic 911s. His appreciation is unabashedly subjective: “I am no engineer.”

For instance, he said that he much preferred the exhaust note of the original air-cooled models over that of the water-cooled versions.

But which, he was asked, is the better car? His answer: “That is a tough call. I’m not a driver – I mean, not on the track. I think they are all great; their DNA is still the same. As much as the 911 has changed, it has stayed the same to me. Trying to choose between them is like trying to differentiate between your children.”

He added, “It was never just about the car – which, by the way, to me always looked great, felt great, handled great. I fell in love with the history of the car, the history of the family that created the car.”

In referring to “the family,” Gish is talking about more than its lineage from founder Ferdinand Porsche to his son Ferry and to grandson Butzi, who designed the original 911 in 1959. “To know the story behind it is to know the passion that Porsche has for the 911,” he added.

Gish related a favorite story about Peter Schutz, who made a bold decision shortly after being hired 1981 as the company’s chief executive.

“He looked at a chart that showed the projected lives of the various Porsche models,” Gish recalled.” When he got to the 911, which was supposed to be killed off after 1981, he said, ‘No.’ And he picked up a marker and extended the life line of the 911 all the way off the chart, around the walls of the whole room, and out the door. And then he said, ‘Do you know what I mean now?’”

Gish says he believes, as many Porsche fans do, that the 911 is the bedrock of the Porsche brand, and will forever remain so. Saving the 911, he added, saved the company.

“It is what Porsche engineering is all about,” he said.

As Gish acquired one model after another, he saw that things were quickly getting “out of control,” he said, laughing. “So my wife, Alice, said, ‘Why don’t you make it into a purposeful collection, with influential examples?’ So I started trying to find the most significant ones, the ones that followed the evolution of the brand.”

Now, the collection includes everything from the 356, the 911’s progenitor, to examples of the 914, 928, 944 and even the largely unloved 924.

Gish said he believed he could clearly and easily see the original 911 in today’s versions of it.

“The DNA has never changed,” he explained. “Something is carried over from one model year to the next that keeps them related to each other, whether it is a mirror, or a wheel, or the bulge of the hood, or whatever. There is no mistaking any 911 as a member of the family.”

4 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Dr David Bellows newport cal February 13, 2017 at 23:01
    Dentist of 50 years Bought off show room. 1974 911 S Targa concour winner. Still like new with 145000 miles. Your collection is great.
  • 2
    John Bair Florida February 13, 2017 at 23:42
    OMG, another "TRUE" Porsche enthusiast. I too was "sucked in" the Porsche realm by a 914 that a friend of my brother's owned, a pre med student. LOL. After that, another friend, of another Brother, opened me up to the 911. A 1972 911. I had my pulse elevated, loved that German feel and fragrance...none other like it!! In 1985, I had my first feel behind the wheel of a 1978 930 turbo. 4 speed and the boost kicked in at around 3900 rpm, though "non intercooled" which could lead to some issues . Holy ****, was I hooked on the PORSHCE brand. Began to read and appreciate the history of the Porsche Family. Dr Porsche being a "political prisoner" and forced to design cars for the French, among other's. Not to mention "The People's Wagon". Wow, so much history behind that beautiful crest. Graduating high school in 1985, and feeling the boost of a 930 Turbo, my sought after "Dream Car" was a 1987 Factory 930S, which I purchased. Still wish I had it today. Have since transitioned to the newer 911 Turbo's... and have also invited the AMG brand into my stable. Both fine automobiles, with power, performance and reliability. Love both those German beasts. But it all started with Porsche, back when I was 7. I appreciate the nostalgic portion, but I love the the new stuff even more. Insane horsepower, performance and PORSCHE still owns the track with the 918.. What an amazing story from an amazing man. Why settle for Italian Trash, when you can have a REAL SUPERCAR, with reliabilty. Love that the ignition on Porsche's are still on the LEFT side. UBER SMILING.
  • 3
    John Bair Florida February 13, 2017 at 23:58
    And I love the fact that this gentleman appreciates "ALL" the years. Even the early water cooled 924, 944 and 928. Which almost bankrupted Porsche. If my history is correct, think Mercedes might have bailed them out, and Porsche designed the 500E, in return. About the same time the '86 AMG Hammer came around. Such a cool history between both companies. I just love these German cars. Love the last of the "air cooleds" the 993. What a beast that twin turbo still is, and so hard to find. After my 87 930S, my fav of the "air cooleds" is the 94 slopenose with the 3.6 turbo. And how far was the 959 ahead of it's time?? Totally new gear box and shifter over the the 80's cars. The only line that I hate is the 91 C2's. Right side exhaust is for *******, and the C2 motor had many issues. The turbo was still amazing. Too late to continue to comment. Hagerty, you do a great service in connecting true car enthusiasts, glad to be part of the network.
  • 4
    Noel Eberhardt Cupertino, CA February 20, 2017 at 22:45
    The first time I heard about Porsche's was at Wisconsin's Road America inaugural year in the mid '50's. Still in high school, we were focused on hot rods, V8's and 'Vettes. Sitting on a hillside in the woods watching the new Road America racing, i overheard a gentleman sitting on a blanket to my left extolling the virtues of this new "Porsche import" about its cornering AND braking abilities in addition to top speed despite its tiny engine. It was a life-long respect and remembrance how the Porsches were able to out maneuver the "glass pachyderms"! Fast forward to 1976, I bought (and still have, all original, drive daily, 160k miles) a new '76 912E special order someone backed out from, red-on-red. By the way, prior to purchasing that 912E, I had never driven a Porsche! With the salesman's coaching I was able to drive it off the lot and enjoy it for 41 years! It was the clean design, reputation, and seemingly uniform admiration that motivated my purchase without having one.

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