September 19, 2009 would have been Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche's 100th birthday and to celebrate his centennial, the Porsche Club of America's Long Beach Region (PCA-GPX) threw a little party. And what better way to honor Ferry than with a drive in one of the most iconic Porsche's of all: the 356. About 30 of them showed up for a drive that started at Pacific Porsche in Torrance, California and ended at the San Vicente Lighthouse in Palos Verdes. However, it wasn't all 356s -- there were a few 911s, 912s, 914s, 928s and Boxsters, and an apparently lost Lotus Elise.
About 40 revelers met up at Pacific Porsche where bagels, donuts and coffee helped to get the cobwebs out. It was also nice to get a glimpse of the new 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 - all 3.8-liter, 435-hp, $135,000 of it. And even though the GT3 grabbed almost all of the spotlight, it was hard to miss the cool carpet in the showroom too. It was made of old interior leather samples that had been passed through the shredder. Now that's some recycling we can get behind. After lunch orders were placed and turn-by-turn directions handed out, we hit the road.
Driving a Porsche 356 is a bit like walking a puppy. Passersby smile and want to talk to you, but it's slow going because they want to play but they pull you in every direction at the same time, and of course, you have to mind the leaks. It's also a whole lot of fun.
Keeping a group of 30 such cars together on a 40 mile drive can be extremely difficult. Throw in a route that includes approximately 493 turns, other motorists who could care less about your convoy, an insane number of cyclists, and narrow, winding mountainous roads with grades that strain the plausibility of mounting them in a conveyance that had barely enough horsepower to attempt the feat when it was new some 40 years ago, and it all adds up to a memorable day.
The route took the group up through the streets of Palos Verdes, California, one of the wealthiest towns in the world. Looking at some of the houses along the way it becomes pretty obvious what all those statisticians are talking about. Mansion is an overused term, but these houses can wear the title well. A wonderful mix of old and new, modern and classic, we could easily imagine ourselves commandeering one to act as AB HQ West. And did we mention the view? That clinches the deal.
We were lucky enough to land a seat in a 1960 T5 356B Cab, so we were able to soak it all in as we followed the parade of humming and belching rolling anachronisms. While the T5 was a great steed, one of the newer cars also caught our eye. It was a 928 S4. Not that it isn't a handsome car, but what had us drooling over it was the wonderful sound booming out of its headers. Sounding all the world like a Trans-Am racer, we suspect that it was hiding a few horsepower secrets under its long bonnet. The cars, roads and people were all incredible and in the end it was a great way to toast Ferry, without whom none of it would have been possible.