PCA Southeast Michigan Region

From the Blog


by Paul Carthew

This is a story of love at first sight, heartbreak, and sweet reunion.  This narrative also serves as a reminder that as owners of iconic cars, we are stewards who are sometimes lucky enough to care for the same car twice.

Paul Carthew and his 911S in January 2007

I have always been interested in sports cars, and to this day, I enjoy reading automotive articles that review and compare each year’s newest sports cars.  Growing up, my family had practical, economical cars.  My parents emigrated from Europe with $1500 in their pocket. Everything they acquired thereafter was what they had earned and saved.  Personal luxuries like sports cars were just not a consideration.

This story begins like perhaps so many others with a random tire-kicking stop at a car dealership.  The year was 2007, and I had just read an article on the then new amazing 997 generation 911 turbo with a sub 4 second 0-60 time.  (Note of caution to the reader, consistently reading car articles can give you dangerous ideas and cause impulse, emotive-based purchases.)  At the time, I was unfamiliar with the Porsche brand and hadn’t known anyone who owned one.  However, I was intrigued with the 911 rear engine configuration and the lore of the Porsche brand and history.

On a cold Michigan day in January, I casually stopped into Fred Lavery Porsche in Birmingham and was introduced to salesman Andy Yakima.  Andy was and is a true Porsche enthusiast; he took the time to introduce me to the Porsche line up and brand.  Andy and I have remained in contact over the years, and he has invited me to test drive new models and experience the evolutionary changes.  Although there were no turbo models to drool over at that time, the showroom did have a Black 2007 911S coupe which I could not take my eyes off.  There was something special about the lines of the car, the red brake calipers, and the way the seat and interior just exuded sports car.  The car created an instant emotional response that is best described in the words of my friend who later said “it was the sexiest car I had ever seen”.

Despite the cold weather, I took the car for a test drive and was instantly hooked.  The unique accelerating sensation of being pushed and the seemingly effortless manual gearbox were all new experiences.  I went home and conjured up a way to purchase the car.  I would have to get it delivered due to the intense January snow.  The timing of the purchase was perhaps the most frustrating part of the process because I had to wait for winter to pass before being able to really drive the car.  I remember opening the door to the garage just to stare at the car, praying for winter to come to an end.  The car looked fast even just parked in the garage.

This 911S was the first sports car in our family.  I recall my father being impressed by the quality of the build and drive ability.  My children were six and four at the time and loved to climb in and ride in the rear seats.  My son was very impressed because the car had a digital map which he had never seen in a car before.  We took the car for Sunday drives, birthday parties, special events and shared many happy memories.  The car also drew a fair amount of attention. People would stop and comment on how the Porsche 911s looked best painted in classic black.

Carthew children January 2007

Perhaps the best feature of the vehicle was the Porsche Active Suspension Management (“PASM”).  With the PASM feature and a push of a button, the driver can choose a comfortable ride or a firm track ready suspension.  To me, this single feature differentiated the Porsches of that era from other makes and models and allowed the 911 to be driven daily if desired.

My best description of the 2007 911S is a sports car with some comfort features.  When you enter into the cabin and drive a 997 generation vehicle, there is a pure sports car feel which, in my opinion, has been diluted in newer evolutions.  While the 991 and new 992 generations are most certainly better and faster cars, I would describe them more as luxury cars with sport features. 

Unfortunately, ownership of the car came to an abrupt end in 2008 when the financial crisis hit Michigan.  By 2009, it did not make financial sense to keep the car and had to make the difficult decision of advertising and selling the car.  We were quickly contacted by a Porsche dealer in Ohio who paid the price we wanted.  I will never forget the day when the car was loaded onto a trailer and driven away.  I think a little part of me left with the car as it turned the corner and disappeared from sight.

Over the years, I dreamed about having a 997 generation 911 again, and recently I decided it was time to buy a 911 again.  I did some initial internet searching and none of the 997 advertised cars really grabbed my attention. 

Then, I had the seemingly unrealistic idea of trying to track down and locate my actual car to see if I could buy it back from the current owner.  I prepared a letter of introduction and copied the original sales information and certificate of authenticity in the hopes that sharing the information might convince the current owner to either sell the car or at least consider me in the future.  My only problem was I had no idea where the car was located, if it was even in existence, or who the current owner was.

First, I called the Porsche dealership in Ohio who purchased the car from me, but they did not have any information on the car because they had sold it almost instantly in2009.  I then called Porsche customer service, but they would not release any information to me (for privacy reasons) other than to tell me that Porsche records showed the car was titled in Pennsylvania.  I had the VIN # so I ordered a Carfax.  The Carfax indicated that the vehicle was indeed titled in Pennsylvania, serviced at a dealership outside of Philadelphia, and that the person who bought the car in Ohio in 2009 was still the current owner.  I contacted the dealership in Philadelphia that performed the service, but they also would not release any customer or ownership information.  As a last resort, I sent an inquiry to the Pennsylvania secretary of state, but again, they would not release any ownership information without a subpoena or active court case.

Discouraged after several months of searching, I accepted my fate and on a cold Michigan evening in January and resumed my internet search for a similar yet different vehicle.  Surprisingly, on my first internet search, a very similar vehicle had just been listed for sale at McLaren of Philadelphia.  The vehicle had the same distinctive wheels and look as my car and when I checked the VIN# to my astonishment, it was a match.  What are the chances?  Slim at best you say?  Nobody believes me when I tell this story, so I have produced my photographic proof so you can decide for yourself.

After a restless night, I called the McLaren dealership first thing in the morning on the opening bell and quickly negotiated a price.  The vehicle had extensive service history performed at Porsche dealerships including the IMS bearing service.  Kudos to McLaren of Philadelphia who, after I explained the story and my attempts to locate the car, performed the 30,000 mile service at their sister Porsche dealership and detailed and waxed the car at no charge. 

On a cold and snowy Michigan day in January, the car was delivered to me in the midst of a polar vortex.  When I tucked the car safely into my garage, I could not believe my eyes. The car looked almost the same as it did 10 years prior.  I could not wait to show the kids. Although they could no longer fit in the backseats, they were thrilled to see a lost piece of their childhood.  We were finally reunited, and it felt so good.  It seemed as though the universe had come full circle, and this car was destined to come back home to the care of our family.

I wrote this article because it has been my experience that Porsche owners feel a certain affinity, connection, and passion for their vehicles.  As this 2007 911S was my first Porsche, it holds a place near and dear to my heart, and it is my privilege to care for this car again and pass it to the next generation when the time comes.  So, if in your travels you see a black 997 generation 911S coupe on the road, please wave your hand as it may just be me reuniting with an old friend.