Photoshoot with @dm.lens

I love cars. I love the way they look, how they smell, the incredible sounds they make. I love old cars, new cars, American muscle, European exotic, old gas guzzlers and modern electrics. As long as it isn’t boring, I can find a reason to love it. That being said, what really makes this materialist obsession of mine truly rewarding is the people that I get to meet and the passion for cars we share. Car people are everywhere. Blogs. Forums. Facebook. Instagram. TV shows. You can’t go anywhere in the summer without running into some car themed event…we just can’t get enough! I learn so much from the people I meet and its nice knowing that I’m not alone in my obsession.

Pre-covid, at the Lake Washington Cars & Coffee event, I happened to meet Dallas (@dm.lens on Instagram). Data Analyst by day, car photographer by night. We talked about cars we’ve owned, cars we love, car photography and then connected on Instagram. We recently had the chance to meet up (masks on, 6 feet apart) for a photoshoot of my car and it was fun to watch him work. He found a very cool spot with a great mix of direct sun and shadow to play with and the late day light was perfect. At car shows I’m typically stuck taking pictures in the harsh mid-day sun and it was such a nice change of pace to be using early evening light which is so soft by comparison.

Here are some of my favorite shots from Dallas, I love the detailed shots and how he captured the last few rays of the sunlight:

Here are a few of mine as well. I like the warmer tones in his photos and it is a good reminder that I don’t always need to crop the car to be the only thing in the frame. His use of light and incorporating more of the surrounding environment is something that I’ll work on as well:

Cars & Coffee, the COVID edition

Summer brings so many wonderful things. Beach days…vacations…boating…BBQs or just lazy sunny days with the family. We have a pretty short summer in Seattle so we try to cram as much fun in as possible between July and mid-September. For me, summer is also car show season! Exotics at RTC, Lake Washington Cars & Coffee, PCA driving tours, XXX Root Beer Jeep day. There are usually so many car events that it can be hard to pick which ones to attend. This summer, not so much. Cancelled is the theme of 2020 for so many things (we should be in Africa right now) and car events are no exception.

I feel very fortunate that The Shop is still hosting small car events with Cocktails and Cars on Thursday nights and Cars and Coffee on Saturday mornings. Sure, they can’t actually give out free coffee anymore and we have to keep our distance from each other but car talk works just fine through a mask and I’m just happy to have a few events to get out and meet fellow gear heads. Stay safe and be smart out there everyone, we want to have a full return to normal in 2021!

Cars & Coffee – Exotics Day

Cars & Coffee – Porsche Day (bright day, not great for photos)

Cars & Coffee – Japanese Day

Lake Washington Blvd is a gold mine for car photography

On Sunday, before we went into mostly full time home self-quarantine, I was able to go on a long drive in search of great spots to take some car photos. I started off by checking out the Lake Washington Cars and Coffee, not knowing that it would draw such a big crowd. It was cold but the sun was shining and if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 scare, it would have been the perfect day for a car show. There were plenty of great cars, I met some new fellow gear heads and everyone was really diligent about respecting the 8 foot rule…no handshakes or first bumps in sight.

I saw another photographer (@dm.lens) getting creative with my car and some spring blossoms so I tried the same. His was better!

Lake Washington turned out to be fertile ground for great car photo spots. It’s hard to find a place with a beautiful setting, where you can take your time and where there aren’t big crowds. I found a place every 100 feet it seemed. I’m done messing around with Alki…to crowded and no legal place to stage the car…Lake Washington is where its at!

I’m struggling to decide if I like this series better in color or black and white…but this is my blog so I don’t have to decide 🙂

Video Review of DSC Sport Controller

I love almost everything about my 2011 Turbo but I knew going into it that the suspension wasn’t going to be as good as my more modern 2016 991 series Targa was. After some seat time in and around Seattle, I have to agree. Even in normal mode, the 997 series is harsh on the crappy Seattle roads and sport mode is unusable on anything other than perfectly smooth asphalt. While my car is equipped with the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM), the software that controls it is almost a decade old.

In comes the DSC Sport Controller. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money and didn’t want to screw with the shocks or springs. Given I can barely get out of my garage without scraping the front spoiler, I certainly didn’t want to lower the car at all. I had read nothing but great reviews of the DSC Sport Controller and liked the idea of a simple controller/software swap to jump to 2020 software technology. The controller more intelligently manages the adjustable shocks and also improves the software for the dynamic engine mounts on the car resulting in a more compliant ride on bad roads as well as improved high speed handling and cornering. At least that’s the sales pitch and I decided to try it out myself.

I ran some test before the swap, plugged I the new DSC controller and drove the same streets back to back. To me, it was an immediate and obvious difference. In normal mode my 997 feels just like my 991 did and feels like it handles rough roads so much better. I was even able to put it in sport suspension mode and leave it there for most of the day. It too felt like my 991 in sport mode…much firmer but I’m not taking kidney shots with every bump. The limited high speed cornering I have been able to do tells me that it is working just fine at speed as well but I’m far from being a pro and I’m not taking my car close to the limit. My verdict is that this inexpensive and easy DIY upgrade made an immediate difference for the problem I was trying to solve. I love the car even more now.

I decided to try my hand at making a review video, mostly so I can play around with some fun camera tech. I’m no videographer and likely belong behind the camera but it was fun to do:

Some fun photos I took while out and about doing the testing and filming the video:

PNWR Tech-Ed Seminar on Radar Detectors

My 2011 Turbo came with a high end fully integrated radar detector / laser jammer, the Escort 9500ci. It was state of the art back in 2011. The benefit of a fully integrated system is that you can’t tell its there…no ugly device stuck to your windshield. The drawback is that unless the manufacturer supports an upgrade path, it ages quickly. When I saw that my local PCA chapter, the Pacific Northwest Region, was putting on a TechEd session all about radar detectors I just had to go.

PNWR arranged to have Ariel Bravy from Vortex Radar lead the class and it was informative and fun. This was my first TechEd session but if they are all this well put together, it won’t be my last. We started with some classroom sessions to learn all about the equipment, the options and how radar and laser works in general. There were some off-duty and retired police officers there to lend their perspective as well. Then we went outside and got to test some cars and guns to see how they held up. Mine did okay shifting the laser hit but it was able to punch through eventually. The clear winner to beat laser is the AL Priority system which also issues frequent updates. Escort has never and will never update the older 9500 system. While having a radar detector is fun to play with, my outdated tech isn’t going to keep me out of trouble against modern laser guns so I’ll stick to Waze and save the really heavy foot for the track.

Sunday Drive and the first “photo shoot”

Sunday was a pretty typical January day in Seattle…cloudy with a high chance of rain. I have a choice with this car. Baby it and treat it like a garage queen, or enjoy it rain or shine. This is no garage queen so we took it out on a cold rainy day for our first Sunday drive. The temps would be in the low 50s so not too bad for the summer performance tires.

Meg and I ditched the kids and took off to have some fun. When I got home, my youngest son, Shep, wanted his first ride and so I went back out. I brought along my camera this time and stopped at a favorite spot of mine for some quick iPhone shots…nothing fancy.

Shep was very patient with me but also wanted to get in on the action 🙂

I randomly ran into a co-worker that was there to take some skyline photos and he shared a few of his shots with me as well. Thanks to https://www.instagram.com/wildmanzen/ for the photos.

Time for some critical “mods”

My automotive mechanical skills are severely lacking but I can tackle the easy stuff and I completed my two must do mods this morning:

I started by re-flashing my Cobb tune to stage 1 on 91 octane since 92 is the best I can find in the Seattle area and I don’t want to mess with custom mixes. The last owner had the 93 octane tune. I’m sure I won’t notice a difference and this will give me peace of mind. Say what you want about Cobb vs custom tune but this was so easy to do myself. I’ll have to see how the car feels with the stock engine and PDK tune so I can appreciate what I have. Super easy to flip back and forth.

Next I installed the Rennline ExactFit iPhone mount. Picked it up from Suncoast and the install was super easy, just follow the video they provide a link to.

I like the look, where it mounts and that it doesn’t interfere with the passenger, the glove box or cover up the PCM.

Something Wicked This Way Comes…

After a short wait that felt like forever, today was delivery day! The streets in my neighborhood are small so I decided to have the car delivered to a car club I belong to. Weather gave me a break and the delivery, inspection and ride home was rain (and snow) free.

My son capturing that “how does this work again” look on my face as I’m prepping the camera equipment:

It is really here!

A short video of the delivery:

Some fun photos we took quickly on our way out before the weather turned worse:

Made it safe to its new home…my garage!

I found the one! Okay, I found the “next one” :)

After a brief hiatus, I’m back where I belong behind the wheel of a Porsche 911. After some pricing / market research and a ton of great input from others, I will be taking delivery of a beautiful black 2011 997.2 TTS this week! The car was purchased from Tristan @ RAC Performance and it was a quick and easy process. I wish I was able to meet them in person but I felt very comfortable doing business with them remote.

A stunner!
The original owner checked a lot of nice boxes, my favorites being the factory aero package and Turbo II wheels!
The full leather interior with the leather center console looks really nice and I love the painted back seats…just can’t let my kids sit back there now 

In addition to a nice set of original options, the car has a SpeedTech exhaust, integrated 9500CI radar system and the Cobb engine/pdk tune so it saved me at least $8K in upgrades. Full front clear bra as well. I would have preferred an all black interior, but with a black car the two-tone might actually be a nice break from black. I did order a set of black floor mats for the car.

The car was just put on a delivery truck and is enroute to Seattle…should be here by the weekend weather permitting.

For Sale – 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet M491 “Turbo Look”

printable-for-sale-sign

As much as I love this car I just can’t stop thinking about the new Targa GTS. The beautiful retro look of the Targa reminds me so much of when I originally fell in love with Porsches and bought my 78 SC Targa. To me the new Targa is the nicest looking Porsche in a very long time and I have an opportunity to snag a GTS order from my dealer. I only have room in my garage for one car so after much deliberation I’ve decided to sell the Cab. I know it will continue to appreciate in value but I just can’t stand the thought of it sitting in storage and not being driven, it should go to someone that will get more joy out of it. I’m still working on updated photos of the car so I haven’t posted it for sale anywhere yet. I’ll be posting it on all of the usual sites/forums and EBay once the photos are ready. Looking for $65K

I finally posted the For Sale page.

Who says a 27 year old 911 convertible is an impractical family car?

So it’s like 45 degrees outside today but the sun in shining bright and my car has been sitting in the garage way too long. But I have a problem. I need to spend time with my two crazy boys and I really need to make a trip to Costco to stock up for our holiday party. Is it possible to combine a fun Saturday drive, quality time with the boys and a domestic chore like shopping at Costco. Hell yes!

 

It might be 45 degrees but the heater works great so we are going topless!

IMG_1739

Gabe and Shep have their blankets ready

IMG_1740

 

I told you they were crazy boys and they love the wind in their hair!

Our long Saturday cruise was interrupted by a very slow train. At one point it stopped and went backward 🙂

IMG_1743

 

And finally, here is the proof that a classic 911 can be the perfect car for a sunny cruise with kids to Costco. Screw mini-vans!

IMG_1741

Showing The Suspension Some Love

I live in a part of the country where you just can’t get away with speeding, at least not for long. Eventually some Bellevue motorcycle cop is going to get you or the back road you found will be too full of bicyclists to really enjoy. Outside of track days or the occasional high speed tunnel run (about 10 seconds) you just can’t take advantage of crazy horsepower or top speed. But you can have a really good time with a well sorted suspension without drawing too much attention.

When I bought my car I knew it might need new shocks and that was confirmed the day it arrived. After confirming the front struts were Boge I was able to order all of the parts that I would need. With the expert advice and wrenching from Steve at Auto Services West we are going to get this car fully sorted with a full compliment of Elephant Racing upgrades:

index-main-slider-car-large_02

Image from Elephant Racing, I just love this visual.

In addition to replacing the worn out factory shocks with Bilstein HDs all around I decided to complete the Turbo Look suspension by adding the Turbo Tie-Rods, Adjustable bump steer kit and new front and rear bushings:

Here are a few terrible iPhone shots of my car on the lift getting ready for the suspension upgrades. It’s the first time I was really able to poke around underneath.  Damn…this car is clean and original. Thanks to the previous owners for taking great care of it!

A Blast From The Past

My first Porsche was a 78 SC Targa that I bought when I still lived in Northern Virginia. I was driving home from college one day and saw a beautiful white Porsche sitting in a grass field with a for sale sign on it. I went home, grabbed my Dad and went to take a look. I had read all about buying used cars so of course I kicked the tires, looked at the battery and opened the engine compartment. Basically I had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately my Dad did so after a thorough inspection and a long test drive we decided the car was solid and I bought it for $10K. I wish that I had held on to this car but eventually I needed some money and I sold it. I always knew that I would come back for another one someday.

I recently mentioned to my parents that I only had one photo of my old 78 SC and it was just a low quality digital capture of a framed print in really rough shape. Well as always my parents have come through and surprised me with some other photos that I thought were long ago lost! Thanks Mom and Dad for finding these and sending them my way.

78SC Side

Looking at it now, it’s no wonder I fell in love with it the second I saw it!

78SC Rear

It might not be as wide as the Turbo-Look but it still looks great.

78SC Front

This was taken on Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park.

78SC Head Engine Bay

The car needed a top-end rebuild and my Dad and I did some of the work ourselves.  Well, we dropped the engine ourselves 🙂  Such fun!

78SC Engine Out

Two things to note about this image.  I had no idea what I was doing but fortunately my Dad did.  And apparently I thought it was cool to wear a Taz hat.  Oy vey!

 

A Great Porsche Day

Saturday is typically my morning to sleep in late, but not today. The Redmond Exotic car show held every Saturday in the summer was having their once a year Porsche day and John Walker was having his annual Porsche swap meet. I’ve been looking forward to today for over a month. It required me to get up early, enjoy a fast drive to Redmond and then a nice drive back to the Phinney Ridge area before heading home again. Any excuse to put miles on my car AND spend the day around other Porsches, owners and enthusiasts will work for me.

Exotics at Redmond

This was my first time attending and I didn’t know what to expect so I showed up early, arriving a little after 8 am. Holy crap, there were already hundreds of Porsches there and the main strip was completely full. The big back parking lots were filling up quickly. This was turning out to be a huge show even with the occasional rain shower.  I was directed to my spot by the nice volunteers and then spent a few hours walking the lots, seeing all of the beautiful cars and meeting some really great people.

My car was quite pedestrian compared to the beauties at the show:

The lots were full of row after row of gorgeous air cooled 911s:

This amazing RUF Turbo R was a show favorite, at least my favorite, and the owner was a super nice guy to talk to.  I’m glad to know this rare monster of a 911 lives in West Seattle too and I hope to see it on the local roads soon.  No, I won’t be offering to race it 🙂

IMG_0617

 

And some nice older models:

And some race cars that looked fast standing still:

Okay, there were also some newer models there as well.  As beautiful as they are they just don’t compare to the older models in my view:

And finally some non-Porsche distractions.  There were a ton of other cars from Ferrari to Lamborghini, etc. but I was here for the Porsches:

And finally I ended the day driving to Phinney Ridge to check out the John Walker swap meet. I arrived pretty late but there was still a lot of activity. People talking cars, people selling parts and one guy so excited about his new Fuchs that he jacked his car up in the parking lot and swapped them right there.  I was too busy looking around to take many photos but for some reason this collection of brake calipers caught my eye:

IMG_0673

My First “Project”

When I bought this car I had images of wrenching on it myself, doing all of the maintenance, teaching my two boys all about how to work on cars etc. But the truth is that I have no freaking clue what I’m doing. My Dad is a genius when it comes to working with his hands. He’s built race cars, custom knives, beautiful furniture…the list goes on and on. Somewhere buried deep in me must lie some dormant genes just ready to come out right? This car is going to help me discover them. Slowly.

The Project

My car needs new shocks, it’s bouncing all over the place. No, I’m not actually going to replace the shocks myself, that’s a 201 class and I’m still in 101 territory. I just needed to confirm a few things about the suspension. I just needed to know the type of front struts that I have and I needed to know the size of the rear sway bar so that I can get some replacement bushings.

IMG_1311

Tools ordered, car jacked up for the first time and the best helper in the world ready to lend a hand!

IMG_1313

The front wheel is off, just look at those beautiful 930 brakes!  Now time to discover who made these struts…

IMG_1314

It’s Boge for the win!  A set of Bilstein HD inserts made for the Boge struts will fix my bouncy ride.

IMG_1316

It turns out my M491 Carrera has the standard 21mm Carrera rear sway-bar and not the 20mm 930 sway-bar.

Time to order some suspension parts. I know this might seem like the stupidest little project but for a guy that isn’t use to working on cars it was a nice confidence booster that getting the car in the air and handling simple work is no big deal. Maybe I’ll try to tackle this suspension upgrade myself after all…