Dream Drive: Meeting The Widowmaker

“Are you sure you want me to drive your car? If you are feeling nervous, it’s not a problem at all that we don’t do this.” This was my offer to Richard Good, the managing director at KW Automotive UK. The truth of the matter was that it was me who was feeling nervous, not him.

The reason? I had just been handed the keys to one of his personal cars: this absolutely mint 964 Turbo.

The idea was for me to drive it from KW’s UK headquarters in Kent up to Northamptonshire and the Edition38 show.

On first inspection, it was becoming clear that this car was Richard’s pride and joy.

Although the car had clocked more than 100,000 miles on its odometer, you wouldn’t have known it.

It was absolutely spotless throughout.

The more I looked at the car, the more worried I became about driving it.

Mind you, Richard seems relatively chilled out about the whole thing. Evidently my credentials as a motoring journalist were good enough for him to trust me not to mess things up.

So I collected up a certain Larry Chen into the Porsche and prepared to get going.

The first thing you notice when getting into an older Porsche 911 is the position of the pedals.

You feel like you’re sitting crooked, with your legs moving off to the left. It’s a little odd at first. The pedals also pivot on their bottom edge, which also feels very different to your typical passenger car. It reminds me of the 1962 Cal-Look VW Beetle I built as a teen, many moons ago.

This camera angle doesn’t really capture my driving view, but another interesting first impression about the car is that you can’t see the speedometer: it’s obscured from your vision by the steering wheel. Front and center is the tachometer. It’s an interesting prioritization of instrumentation from the Porsche engineers.

After ten minutes of driving, I instantly felt at home in the Porsche. Any sense of worry fell away, replaced by a pure #joyofmachine happiness.

Bringing the car up to cruising speed you could instantly feel that this was a very different beast to modern performance cars.

Here was a pure example of mechanical engineering, with no layer of circuitry between the driver and road.

Piloting the car, I stared to wonder if any progress has been made at all in the past 20 years. Why don’t cars feel like this any more? With each passing year, they get fatter, heavier and surround the driver with all manner of computer aids. With each model upgrade, manufacturers have gradually removed the direct mechanical experience and replaced it with something more akin tothat of a virtual reality simulation of car driving. Safer yes, and perhaps faster, but also far more sterile.

As Larry shot me from our chase vehicle, I match-rev-downshifted from fifth to fourth. A blip of the throttle perfectly matched the engine and transmission speed.

And I did it again… Blip-throttle, match-rev-downshift from fourth to third. Mash throttle to floor.

Fill tunnel with noise and blast into the distant. Pure #JoyofMachine.

Ben and Larry caught up with me at the next service station and we surmised that you just can’t find many high-end cars like this any more. Supercars now do all the engine-to-transmission synchronizing on your behalf. Yes it’s efficient, and yes it’s probably faster. But is it more fun and do you as the driver feel as involved?

Nope.

I will take my clutch pedal and my H-pattern gear box, thank you very much.

I think I just might be getting old and crabby, as I like the car to be mechanically dependent on me to shift gears and operate.

Yes my leg was starting to ache after two hours or so behind the wheel and that steering wheel certainly took a lot more effort to move than your typical economy-transportation-appliance. But that’s the whole appeal of driving a car like this. A car like a 964 Turbo wasn’t too far removed from the original 930 turbo. The spirit of the Widowmaker was still very much alive in all of its glorious rawness when this car rolled off the assembly line some 25 odd years ago.

And I for one feel very lucky to have been able to experience such a machine.

Anyway that’s all I can say for now about this amazing 911. It didn’t take long before we were threading our way towards the entrance to Edition38.

I raised up the Porsche’s suspension and burbled my way though the assembled VAG machines…

… and parked up at the Players booth. Car delivered. Experience taken.

Special thanks to Ben Chandler from Scene Media for arranging the drive and to Richard from KW UK for giving me the keys to his baby!

:Rod

Porsche Day Stories on Speedhunters

Edition 38 Coverage


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41 comments
tenpennyjimmy
tenpennyjimmy

Sweet car, great article, but "I raised up the Porsche’s suspension and burbled my way though the assembled VAG machines."

 

I'm no Porsche expert (one day, one day...) but i'm guessing adjustable ride height didn't come as standard! Surely not airbags on a 911 turbo? From KW no less? Have they invented a non-handling-compromising version of the airbag which everybody knows about except me?

LouisYio
LouisYio

No offense to anyone but I'd prefer this 964 over one that's been done up by RWB. That's just me though.

LXTRAX
LXTRAX

beautiful... not short off perfect!

Nikhil_P
Nikhil_P

i remember seeing this car at trax....stood there for a good 10 min or so just starring at it!! the old porsches look soooo much better than the new ones!

ding0tr0n
ding0tr0n

if you are old and crabby, then I am too because that's exactly how i feel and i'm only 23!  when you drive stick you feel just about everything the car is doing if you pay attention.  there's nothing like it!

Larry Chen
Larry Chen

My favorite part about this car was the rubber on the whale tail. It was soft like it rolled off the show room floor. I could not help but poke at it.

VecTT
VecTT

Awesome Porsche, they don't come like this anymore. Yes new Porsches are faster, yes they are better handling, yes they are more driver friendly and not trying to kill you like the older ones. But those old school just have that feel, that charisma, that pure feel that new ones would never have again. And that's in general for most if not all modern cars produced today. But oh well, you got to move with the times and try not looking back.

Jmayhem
Jmayhem

As much as I love manual gearboxes, I'm getting sick of hearing people complain about their decreasing availability.

 

It's like listening to hipsters talk about vinyl.

TreyFiveOhJoe
TreyFiveOhJoe

"Piloting the car, I stared to wonder if any progress has been made at all in the past 20 years. Why don’t cars feel like this any more? With each passing year, they get fatter, heavier and surround the driver with all manner of computer aids. With each model upgrade, manufacturers have gradually removed the direct mechanical experience and replaced it with something more akin tothat of a virtual reality simulation of car driving. Safer yes, and perhaps faster, but also far more sterile."Absolutely brilliant sir. The whole piece is amazing, but I particularly loved that statement. Well done guys! 

LesterHitch
LesterHitch

I loved this feature, but I want to see more on the Merc Estate please.

magnus
magnus

I've always wondered, how hard is the transition to left-handed shifting?

brokeEnthusiast
brokeEnthusiast

"I will take my clutch pedal and my H-pattern gear box, thank you very much." that's gotta be one of my fav quotes on here. Thank you so very much.

maiham_media
maiham_media

@SPEEDHUNTERS Don't worry the pedals only feel awkward in the RHD models!

teamsleepnine
teamsleepnine

theres few mercedes wagon on bbs lm picture there.....will you feature the car?pleaseee!!

cornerbalance
cornerbalance

It is amazing how different these older models feel from newer ones.  They do have a very raw, tactile feel to them that modern cars have surpressed.  In many instances now, it takes 'modifying' the more modern car, so that it has the more direct feel of the older cars.  But that's part of the fun as well.  The modern cars do have the ergonomics leaps and bounds above the older cars though.  From driving position, to the awkward shifter in the older 911's.  I know it'a all part of the experience, but the newer ones are terrific cockpits to be in.

 

What is so great about a car like this, IMHO, is it's timelessness.  It's ~20 years old now and doesn't come close to looking it.  It still has that prescence to it

 

Any list of modifications (other than some KW coilovers I'm guessing).  As an aside, it's cool to see a car with functional 'stance' to it.  Showing when you get it right, it' just right.

Elijah Lane
Elijah Lane

I wish there were wallpapers. That Garage is Sick!

shortgrauzis
shortgrauzis

why the ''douchebag'' parking at service station?

Melvin H
Melvin H

Would anyone know the Paint code? i would love to have my 280z that specific color!

PSC
PSC

This is one lovely looking car, the type of thing that you would love to own to fill the country lanes with 80's turbo noise.

 

Off to Pistonheads classifieds to get an idea on how much i cannot afford to fulfill that dream of mine.

 

nice little right up though, anymore like this on the horizon?

AlexG
AlexG

 @tenpennyjimmy Since the car is at KW, I suppose they have the HLS system which gives it a little bit of travel to clear bumps and stuff. Think of how new Porsches today have air support to clear bumps, same concept but different system.

inspector_exacto
inspector_exacto

 @LouisYio Everybody has they're own opinion, and I completely respect that. Personally, I would take my 964 over to RWB if I had one, but at the same time, this particular example seems so clean that I might not want to mess with it!

AlexG
AlexG

 @TreyFiveOhJoe This is the same thing I wanted to post about. After getting my regular 964, nothing else feels quite the same anymore and I simply wait till I have a chance to drive it again.

wigg1
wigg1

It's not that hard at all.  Took me a few weeks to really get use to it, when I first started driving in a spirited manner I would go from 1st to 4th but luckily that didn't last long.  My issue is switching back and forth and having the wipers and indicators arms reversed so I sometimes hit the wipers when I wish to signal. 

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@magnus It felt unnatural when I first lived in the UK. It's certainly not as comforable as LHD driving for me but it's not as issue.

Larry Chen
Larry Chen

For me it was super hard, but I can imagine it was easy for Rod as he lived in England for quite a while.

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@brokeEnthusiast Cool

Kitch
Kitch

 @shortgrauzis Because if you've ever parked your pride and joy in a UK services, you'll know that if you park between the lines you'll come back to two SUV's/MPV's parked tightly either side and a lovely smattering of dents down the side of your car.  

 

Been there, done that.  I park like this now....

LesterHitch
LesterHitch

 @Larry Chen  @LesterHitch Yes please, I've seen it lurking in the background of a few features lately...me want more...in fact you guys should do a yearly Estate feature!

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@wigg1 So true!

Larry Chen
Larry Chen

 @wigg1 I am always afraid of driving on the wrong side. That and I will bang my hand trying to shift.

ejbluth
ejbluth

 @Melvin H I'm thinking it is either graphite green 669 or slate grey 22d...

Other Will
Other Will

 @Vilko  @Kitch  @shortgrauzis  If you take up 2 spots in the car park I'm using, you get my my car parked so close to your drivers door, you have to get in the passenger side.

 

Thank you Mr Chong for  adding to the notion that all German car drivers are numpties, its bad enough the sales reps doing it, never mind the enthusiasts as well.

Trackbacks

  1. […] often does DSC engage? So i was juts reading an article about an old school Porsche (Dream Drive: Meeting The Widowmaker | Speedhunters if you're interested), and the author mentions something about not having any electronics (a la […]


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