Diary of a muscle-car invader at the 2018 Porsche Werks Reunion
We muscle car owners are of a different breed than most. We like to tinker and we’re mostly blue-collar folks who enjoy a good hamburger at some greasy spoon where you’d be laughed out of the place for wearing slacks or a tie. Cynics probably think Porsche owners live on the other side of the spectrum, spending their days rubbing down their cars with Depends in a climate-controlled garage.
But here’s the thing: I straddle those two worlds, and not all muscle car owners really drive their cars all that much. About a year ago I went out and bought a 1986 Porsche 928S; it’s the only Porsche I’ve ever wanted and it fits my personality to a tee. It has a big 5.0-liter aluminum V-8 up front, a manual transmission, and of course, it’s rear-wheel drive. Some view it as a German Corvette, which meant I was all-in when I first saw one back in the late 1970s. Now embedded in the world of Porsche, my mission last week was to infiltrate the 2018 Werks Reunion as an agent of muscle, seeking the answer to one simple question: Can a dyed-in-the-wool muscle car guy, someone who’s built a career around Detroit iron, rub elbows with the Stuttgart faithful?
Werks Reunion was created by the Porsche Club of America (PCA) as an event that seeks to celebrate everything Porsche. It’s about the vehicles, the history of the brand, and naturally, owners and enthusiasts alike. As a new owner I wasn’t quite sure how I’d fit in with the rest of the Porsche crowd. For one, I should have a sign around my neck that reads, “Does not play well with others,” and two, I went out and bought one of the most underappreciated models (according to Porsche traditionalists) the brand has ever made.
I registered for the event and parked in the corral, which means that my car was on display next to others of the same type, but not judged in the show field. I shared real estate with other transaxle models like the 924, 944, 968 and of course, other 928s. We arrived early, around 6:45 in the morning, and immediately noticed that this wasn’t some hashed-together club meet, but in fact an extremely well coordinated event. People took it seriously. Everyone from the event staff and car owners, to the food and merchandise vendors had their game dialed-in. They were dressed professionally and right from the beginning I felt like I was part of something special. I parked, grabbed my coffee and got out to survey the area.
It should come as no surprise that the majority of the vehicles in attendance, both in the corral and on the show field, were of the 911 variety. We’re talking about traditional air-cooled from the early 1960s all the way up to the latest and greatest GT2 RS. There were classic 356s as well as offbeat models like the 914 and 904, various Caymans and Boxsters, along with the odd Cayenne, Panamera, and even an occasional Macan.
Hyper exotics like the Carrera GT, 918, and 550 Spyder were a real treat, along with what had to be my favorite car of the show, a bruised and battered 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo owned by one Bill MacEachern. It was purchased new in 1976 and over the last 42 years has covered more than 725,000 miles. And although I wasn’t able to track down Mr. MacEachern, the fact that this car was present and showing that many miles got me excited. I was getting the the feeling I was amongst real drivers.
Had I’d joined an elite club where the entry point consisted of a secret handshake and a password that was made up by some complex algorithm? Was this what Porsche ownership was like? Will they kick me out when they see my 928?
From the plaid interiors, paint jobs, and custom wheels, to the full-on safari style builds, these Porsche owners weren’t unlike my big-liter muscle car brothers. We both love to modify our junk and venture outside traditional boundaries. I struck up conversations with fellow owners and noticed that, when it came to the mileage put on their vehicles, Porsche owners wore each and every one like a badge of honor. We talked road trips, modifications, on-road mishaps, and track days, along with how many of the older models were single-owner vehicles and had been with their families since new.
The majority of the cars on display weren’t show ponies, but instead drivers that were ridden hard and put away wet. Road scars and paint chips littered the corral along with a fair share of door dings and dimpled windshields. There were also many odometers that showed in excess of 200,000 miles, something rarely seen on muscle cars. Maybe Porsches weren’t as unreliable as I’d thought.
Many of the older models on the show field had undergone restorations that were easily on par with the best muscle cars I’ve seen. From the interiors, stainless trim, and paint work to the detailing of the engine compartments, many of these cars look as though they’d just rolled off the showroom floor.
Northern California resident Jeff Mohler for instance, took a CLASS P8 win (924/944/968/928) with his 1987 928 S4, a vehicle that was more or less a parts car when he purchased it for a mere $1000 back in 2015. He then proceeded to undertake a full restoration for the sole purpose of turning it into his daily driver. My kinda guy.
“I like the event because it’s low pressure and it isn’t about how clean the inside of my seat rails are,” Mohler said. “The staff and judges make it easy and comfortable for even a beginner. To be honest, as a non-Porsche owner in the past, I felt PCA would just be a bunch of people polishing cars they never drive and don’t fully appreciate.
“Not that there isn’t that population of special cars, but it’s great to see a group full of owners that are also drivers. And now being part of PCA and participating in events like Werks, it has changed my mind.”
I can attest that most track days in Northern California are littered with a slew of 911s and Caymans. It must also be said that every Porsche owner I know, regardless of the model they have, drives the ever-loving life out of their car as often as they can. Seeing them rip through the canyons on Sunday mornings is a delight, and it’s even better when I see a $160K 911 GT3 stuck in traffic while the owner uses it as their daily driver.
As I continued to wander around Werks Reunion and take stock of the vehicles, the actual dollar amount of what I was viewing began to creep into my head. I’m going to conservatively estimate that there were around 1000 vehicles in attendance with an average price of around $50k per car. That means those walking around drinking coffee, talking about flat-sixes and color palettes were ogling well over $50 million dollars in German iron—an amount that’s simply mind-numbing.
Another point of fact is that when you compare the muscle car world to the Porsche world from a monetary perspective, they really aren’t all that different. Want a big-block 1968 Charger or ’69 Z/28 Camaro in mint condition? Then you’d better be prepared to spend north of $70k or about the base price of a new 718 Cayman S. And if you’re looking for anything with a numbers-matching HEMI or a professionally built pro-touring car, don’t be surprised if you’re dabbling in the high-six figure range and beyond, numbers that are right in line with the Porsche GT3 RS or Turbo S. However, one can still go out with $10k in hand and purchase a beater muscle car or an old unloved Porsche, if they have the right eye.
Owning a Porsche, even one that’s a bit of an outcast, doesn’t make a hill of beans difference to other owners. Werks Reunion was a great experience that was full of stunning vehicles that encapsulated the personalities of their owners. There was no bias here, no one was showing off, and every individual I spoke to was more than happy to share why they loved their cars. I suppose I went into this with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, not sure if I would fit in, but after spending a day there and enjoying all Werks Reunion had to offer, I fully plan on going back, except next time on the show field.