eBay Porsches and youthful obsession are Risky Business

Your parents leave town. What’s the first thing you do? If you’re a teenager, you probably plan a party. However, if you’re Joel Goodson (played by Tom Cruise) in Risky Business you throw a party and turn your house into a bordello with the help of Chicago prostitute Lana (Rebecca DeMornay).

The 1983 movie helped launch Tom Cruise into the generation’s biggest star. Its absurd, amusing premise, quite understated by IMDb.com, “A Chicago teenager is looking for fun at home while his parents are away, but the situation quickly gets out of hand” unforgettably imprinted on many a teen and young adult who saw it. The impression the film made also had much to do with DeMornay and Cruise’s chemistry.

But Los Angeles-based Adam Langsbard, Chief Marketing Officer for the Petersen Auto Museum, wasn’t fantasizing about either one of the lead actors. His object of affection was the Porsche 928 that played an equally important role in the movie’s plot. The 928 made something of a memorable splash in the infamously classic film, and Langsbard knew that he would one day have to own one.

As Goodson’s father would advise, “Sometimes you just gotta say ‘what the heck.’"

“You think of the 928 from Risky Business,” Langsbard said. “Here’s a car that I wanted as a kid that’s affordable [now].” Relatively affordable, that is: A Porsche 928 in “the right condition,” as Langsbard put it, was well within the $9000 to $15,000 he set aside for the pleasure of owning one.

Fast-forward three decades, and Langsbard—on a Porsche kick after having owned a 911 or two—decided to search for his elusive fantasy car.

“It’s a different flavor than the kinds of cars the generation before me collects,” he said.

Apart from the film connection, Langsbard had practical reasons to consider a 928, including value and serviceability. The 928, Porsche’s first V-8 model, still has an air of obscurity about it, and hasn’t achieved 911-level demand. “I don’t know if 928 fever is the right thing to say, just yet,” he said.

Childhood memories have a way of catalyzing impulse decisions, which helps explain how and why he came to own a 75,000-mile, 1987 Porsche 928 S4 found on a leap of faith taken on eBay.

“Funnily enough, I didn’t have any expectations,” he recalled. “It was kind of a scary process for me. Buying cars sight unseen isn’t something I do.” He was familiar with the perks and woes of Porsche ownership, after acquiring his first Porsche, a 996 (1998-2004 911), and then a 997 (2005-12 911). When the 928 finally arrived in Los Angeles, his initial impression qualified the spontaneous purchase.

“It looked like a dirt clod when it showed up,” he said. “My first experience with the car was driving it home, and it probably stalled about 25 times.”

Still, he was “giddy” receiving the 928.

Langsbard has become fast friends with a trusted, local mechanic who “can recite Porsche owner manuals as preachers recite the Bible.” He’s begun learning about this 928’s particular quirks, including “a little electrical gremlin” that strikes when it is left unlocked. (Don’t ask.)

The complicated electronics caused him to scratch his head a bit. Furthermore, it drove “like the back hatch was full of water,” the suspension wobbling to and fro, and the paint was “just starting to oxidize” in a few places. But like so many transplants to Los Angeles, the 928 is living a relatively pampered life now. Langsbard occasionally drives it to work or for an errand.

Would he bid on another vehicle online, dream car or not? “I don’t know if I’ll do it again, to be honest,” he replied. Bidding blindly might be risky, especially when motivated by adolescent memories, but the rewards—as he’s learned—can be sweet.