Into the wild – in a Porsche 356
In search of the perfect mix of tranquillity and adventure, a road trip is the perfect way to go. About the attraction of the horizon, poetic rhythm and the realisation: to be found, you first have to get lost.
A 10-year-old boy was pumping up the tyre on his BMX bicycle when it happened – too much pressure for the delicate tyre. We laugh as the bang is followed by a ringing in our ears but soon stop when we notice the tears running down the boy’s cheeks. “I just bought a new inner tube,” he sobs, inconsolable. It becomes clear that my friend Desmond and I have to help and as we buy him a new inner tube we tell the owner of the bicycle shop about our forthcoming trip.
“Nic, what’s the plan?” asks Desmond, when I pick him up in the morning in a Porsche 356 B Super 90 Coupé. The only plan I do have in mind is to camp in the Karoo semi-desert, to take a photo of a small hill called Koppie for a photographic project, and to take my 1963 Porsche 356 for some maintenance at a workshop in a small town en route – the only fixed element of the trip.
When I was 10 years old, I was sitting in the car next to my adventure-loving father when he did a U-turn and bought the very Porsche I’m talking about just a few minutes later. I can remember a number of trips we went on in the 356 – and that it was the perfect daily driver. But every few months I wake up the Porsche and take it on a special trip – sometimes 1,000 kilometres or more, depending on my mood. Semi-desert Karoo Driving towards the Karoo – a semi-desert in the high plains of South Africa, 500 km north-east of Cape Town – Desmond and I pass a small bush fire. The strong wind looks like it could fan the flames into a disaster so we turn round, just like my father once did, jump out of the Porsche and stamp out the flames with our feet. Semi-desert Karoo The strong wind looks like it could fan the flames into a disaster so we turn round, just like my father once did, jump out of the Porsche and stamp out the flames with our feet. It is only when we’re several km down the road that I remember I have a fire extinguisher in the car.
Desmond, who works as a professional car photographer, repeats how attached he feels to the Porsche, even as a passenger. Driving in the 356 with its four-cylinder boxer engine, we feel closer to the road than ever. Of all the many cars I have taken on road trips, passing through the landscape in this particular classic is something special.
Bonfire between the 356 and a cemetry
But although we have dug a hole for the fire and placed large stones around it, the strong wind carries the sparks far from the pit. We place a few more rocks around the flames and make sure that the last embers have died down before we retire to our tents.
“Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 90,” he says. “But come a little earlier next time. Then I can show you a better spot on the other side of the ridge. There are wild horses there.”
Poetic rhythm at work His many years in the job have given his work an almost poetic rhythm. If it were up to him, a well-maintained engine could run forever. He points to a wall on which broken engine parts are exhibited. A missed oil change, overworking a cold engine, just too much somewhere and somehow. Between the service, a cup of tea with Arno and his wife and the telling of many rally stories, we take a look at the workshop and the engines on which he is currently working. It saddens me when I think about the fact that Arno’s son will not continue in the family business, but he simply earns more in an office job. I ask myself who will maintain the Porsche 356 in 20 years.
Info Text first published in the Porsche Klassik Magazine, No. 20.
Jan 08, 2022 at 09:45