The weather could not have been better for Schonesland’s Dragoon Trail drive this past Saturday. The sky gleamed blue with the occasional bit of glittering cirrus frosting as a procession of Porsches nearly two dozen strong filed out of the Machine Shed in Urbandale, bound for parts north. Convertible tops went down as temperatures cleared the mid-sixties and climbed into the seventies. From my point of view, last in line with my wife Anne and my two boys in my 996 C4S, trailing just behind Sue’s gleaming black-on-tan 987 Cayman S, things had started off pretty perfectly.
Shortly before we crossed onto the the IA-210 bridge over the Des Moines River, running parallel to the famed High Trestle rail bridge, I noticed that I wasn’t last in line anymore. Somehow a lovely silver 993 had taken the tail-end-Charlie position from me, and I was having trouble keeping my eyes off the lovely front end of it as it winked in my rearview mirror. This was not a standard 993 Carrera, I noted by the low-slung artistry of the front bumper.
The convoy ducked into the Casey’s on Mamie Eisenhower Avenue in Boone, IA for a quick stretch. The marching order got a bit scrambled as we all scanned for parking spots, and the 993 passed in front of me. And I’d been right! Not just any Carrera, but a 993 Carrera 4S. Oh, how I’d wanted one of those when my search for a 911 began. In my eyes, they had just the perfect look for a 911—the right hips, the right ride height, the right wheels, the right lights. The perfect mix of subtlety, menace, and style. Sadly the 993s hovered just out of my price-reach, and I “settled” for my car. (And you’ll pry it from my cold, dead hands, you air-cooled purists!)
We turned keys to press on after our break and relished the chorus of the boxers. These were accompanied by at least two 944 inline fours, plus a lone BMW V8—bless Skip for nearly having reached 100,000 miles on that stunning Z8 of his. We passed the Scenic Valley Rail Station—stop by there during this coming holiday season for a ride, I highly recommend it—and proceeded north out of Boone.
Positions had again switched; Sue’s Cayman was now behind, and the 993 C4S was in front of me. This was delightful, for as lovely as the front of a 993 C4S is, the back is perhaps even more perfectly formed. I could now hear the rasp of the flat six and watch the rise and fall of the rear wing as the group negotiated intersections and stop signs. I noted that said rear wing on the 993 didn’t seem to abide by the same numbers as my rear wing; mine rises at 75mph and remains up until the speedo falls back below 37mph. The 993’s numbers seemed to both be a bit lower.
And then, as we pulled up to a stop sign just outside Stratford, IA, the 993’s wing didn’t retract at all. Anne and I both said something to the effect that that was odd. And then I heard the 993’s starter clicking away, and the driver waved me past. Right, as if I was going to leave the automotive equivalent of Christie Brinkley stranded on a random road an hour from home.
I hopped out, introduced myself, and met Karen, the driver. First order of business was to get the 993 off the road, so Karen put it in neutral and Sue (who’d also stopped, bless her) and I pushed the car into a nearby driveway. I had some jumper cables, and when I brought this up, my boys, ages 4 and 5, got very excited—they thought the cars would physically leap off the ground when the cables were put to use. They seemed sort of surprised that this was the first they had heard of jumper cables, and if they’d put a bit more thought into it, might have asked why we don’t just use the “jumper” cables all of the time and avoid traffic.
Anyway, over the course of the next hour or so, I learned where a 993’s battery is (different spot, further forward and lower down than in my 996), as well as that it doesn’t much matter how many times you jump-start a 993 if the accessory drive belt is broken. Note: it’ll run for as long as the cables are hooked up, but not long after that. Karen spoke with her insurance company, but before they could respond, a helpful local from a nearby shop had gotten word, arrived, and fairly quickly diagnosed the root cause of the problem. Karen begged us off to lunch, and I thought we’d best go, as our boys had been well-behaved thus far but would soon get tired and antsy.
Sue’s 987 led the way as we two Porsches shot across the farmland from Stratford toward 209Main, the massive restaurant at the same address in Paton, IA, where we rejoined the group, actually arriving only minutes after they did due to our direct, non-scenic route. Sue went the extra mile by recruiting Gary and going back with him to Stratford to retrieve Karen and her daughter, bringing them both to the restaurant once the 993 was safely in a shop with a replacement belt ordered and on the way.
So we all successfully made it to lunch and enjoyed some views of harvest-time Iowa. And while this article (and its’ author) may not have followed the route that the reader may have expected, it really does serve to highlight PCA’s “cars…people” tagline, does it not? One might join the club to see some beautiful cars, and see beautiful cars one certainly would. But what keeps the community alive and well are the people that go out of their way to make it so outstanding, no matter what happens. I’ll be in PCA for a long time, I think.