2008 New England 1000: Day 3, Thursday. Last day of the rally – Part 1.

Today was the final day of the 2008 New England 1000. We visited a couple of museums and a restoration shop, while driving on some great Vermont roads with some really cool cars with really nice people.

Above: The Cadillac and a Ferrari at the start.

We started at the front of the hotel and drove some great two-lane backroads around Vermont in a big clockwise circle. We had been given forewarning at breakfast about police activity, since Rich Taylor, the Rally Organizer (of the perpetually wayward clock) had been stopped for speeding in his red Maserati Sebring. So we behaved ourselves and just enjoyed the segment. Dad drove, while I navigated. Route finding was intense, so I didn’t have time for a lot of photography. I did try and get some nice motion-blurred shots of a modern Ferrari along a twisty road. Most times I can nail these shots.. but sometimes I don’t quite get them…

Oh well. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but still not bad.. in their own sort of way. Like I said, I think I need some eyeballs down at my fingertips!

The segment finished in a town noted for marble. Everything was made of marble… the school, the fire station, the tire-stops in the parking lot. It was marble overkill!

We decided to skip the marble museum and just drive the next segment. I drove, Dad navigated. Like the first stage it was long, and intense. No photos were taken, but like the morning, we zeroed the segment again. So far, only our clock screw-up was keeping us from a Perfect Game.

This second segment of the day brought us to RPM, the shop of the official Rally Mechanics. They served us lunch amid a veritable toy store of gearhead treasures. I literally wolfed down my lunch and spent the better part of our time there shooting photos. After we cleared the checkpoint, dad took the car back into the town of Vergennes to top off the gas tank, so I was out of touch with him for most of the time at RPM.

The rest of this post is in Part 2.

2008 New England 1000: Day 3, Wednesday. Whiteface to Woodstock.

From a start at the top of Whiteface Mountain, to Woodstock via The Trapp Family Lodge… the hills were alive with the sound of roaring engines!

Maserati expresses its carbon footprint

Above: A Maserati displays its carbon footprint.

Above: Same Maserati reflected in the Cunningham C3 Vignale Coupe

We started the day with another great breakfast in the Mirror Lake Lodge dining room. We had heard that the road to the top of Whiteface Mountain was closed and that we’d be starting the days rallying from the bottom. We packed up our bags and hit the road, with me driving the short transit stage to Whiteface.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the road open and we drove to the top!

Above: Scenes from the top of Whiteface… including push-starting the Michie 330GT, which had stalled.

Below: Parked for a rolling start!

We had some time to soak in the view before the start of the rally. I wandered around shooting photos and latter walked down the tunnel to the summit elevator, rode it up and shot some scenery.

Above: The road up Whiteface Mountain

Above: Looking down the tunnel towards the opening from the elevator.

Above: Looking towards Lake Placid

Above: Looking down at the start and road from the summit

I came back down a several cars into the start. Cars go off at one minute intervals. We were parked way back up the line so it would be a while before our turn. Meanwhile, I shot photos:

Above: Can you tell I REALLY like this car? It photographs so well!

Joe & Marge Costa’s Series 3 E-type Jaguar. You can’t see Joe & Marge in this photograph, but I can bet they are smiling. They had grins like Cheshire cats all week. 😀

I even took photos after I got back into the car!

Above: Geri looking serious at the check-out/start line.

We received our check-out time, and I drove this segment while Dad performed the navigation duties. It was a pleasant drive down the mountain, then along a wonderfully deserted, and suitably twisty backroad going mostly north out of the Adirondack mountains. From there the route lazily made its way along a mixture of state highways and complete back roads north and east to the shores of Lake Champlain, then due north to the bridge to Vermont, just shy of the Canadian border. Along the latter portion of this route we encountered several police employed in speed patrols, and even saw some rally participants engaged in intimate discussions with said police officers. Thankfully we had our detector and it provided us with plenty of warning. So much so that another rally participant who was following us asked about what brand we used.

The checkpoint for this segment was located on an island on the Vermont side of the bridge. We arrived at the stand-off point with plenty of time to spare. It was a mildly tricky checkpoint run with a long, u-turn 1/3rd of the way in. Dad checked our clock while I snapped some photos.

Above: The exhaust tip of the Fischer’s Porsche 356.

David & Paula Fischer prepare for their segment checkpoint run at the stand-off. They were concentrating so much on the task they had no idea I was there!

Sure enough, our clock is off the rally master’s by quite a bit, a full second and a half. We calibrate our timing to adjust and go over in our heads how we’re going to get it right. Confident in our planning we switch drivers and dad nails it on the zero. We grab a check-out time and run the next segment. It follows the string of islands down the center of Lake Champlain, through wonderful Vermont countryside.

To our delight, and for the second time on a New England 1000 that we can recall, we encounter a string of pre-war Bentleys going the other direction!

Above: A pre-war Bentley and a 70s Jaguar pass each other in Vermont.

The route left the islands and navigation got tricky, so other than ogling the occasional Bentley, I was too busy for photography. That changed when we went up and over Smugglers Notch on our way to Stowe, and the check-in. Navigation was minimal-to-non-existent (no other road but this one!) and the terrain interesting. I shot photos on the way up…

…and switched my Olympus digital camera to “movie mode” for the trip down:

It looks and sounds like we were going real fast. In reality we’re going the speed limit – that’s just wind noise and what your tires sound like when you hang your ear a few feet away from them on really twisty roads. Think of driving around a parking garage and that sound will be familiar.

I wish I could have held the camera a bit more steady. I really need an eyeball on the end of my fingers.

The checkpoint was in the front of the Trapp family lodge. Yes, that Trapp family.

Above: A few dead bugs on the nose of a 911.

Above: The Costa’s in their Jag wait their turn at the stand-off.

The checkpoint was in the parking lot and had a ludicrously short run. Oddly, or clocks were in sync with the rally checkpoint this time, so no compensation had to be calculated. We zeroed and happily went inside for lunch, after parking our SL next to the 300. There was also a 230sl on the rally but I never managed to get all three in a shot together.

Lunch was great, as is the view from the dining room. The lodge is filled with family memorabilia and would make a nice pace to stay for the rally (something my father communicated to the Rally organizers. The Bentley group was staying there too.)

After lunch I drove the next segment, which wound its way south through rural Vermont to somewhere near Woodstock. We zeroed that checkpoint too, and I also drove the short transit stage back to the hotel. Just outside Woodstock, literally a mile or so from the hotel we were caught in a construction delay that went on for ever. Clouds appeared and we just barely raised the convertible top before it transformed into a deluge!

We enjoyed a dinner at a restaurant (ironically) named “Bentley’s” and collapsed into bed quite exhausted from a long day of rallying. Thursday will be our last day of the rally.

2008 New England 1000: Day 2, Tuesday. Around the Adirondacks.

Mostly sunny, pretty good performance, and fun roads.

We zeroed the first segment, and racked up 1 penalty point in the second (we were actually dead-on, but the rallymaster’s clock was half a second slow. =\), then we visited an awesome car museum, almost missed the start of the next segment toubleshooting a non-existent fuel leak, and finally nailed/zeroed a VERY difficult segment that caught most of the rally off.

wet maserati

The rally started from the front of the hotel overlooking Mirror Lake. It had rained on and off most of the night, and the distant mountains wore a fresh dusting of snow, but the sky was mostly sunny and the weather pleasant and cool. I slept a little late, still being on Pacific Daylight Time, and some cars were starting while I was still at breakfast. I brought the camera (fresh batteries!) with me and grabbed some shots after I ate.

hayes' 300sl

hayes' 300sl

Above: Two views of Joe Hayes’ gorgeous 300sl at the start. Love that car!

Michie 330gt

Above: Henry Michie’s deep blue Ferrari 330GT. His starter didn’t work and everybody gave him grief all week about pushing/bump starting his car. Henry has a great sense of humor and suffered all our ribbing with aplomb.

I got myself ready and went down to get our car ready for the day. The green Maserati Ghibli parked a few cars down had a dead battery and wound not start. I pulled the 450sl along side and the rally mechanics and my dad hooked up the jumper cables. I recorded the event:

That’s me, helping the driver sort out what lights (the parking lights) were responsible.

wheels on the maser

This Maserati was being driven by a father/daughter team. Always nice to see parents and kids (like us!) enjoying these events together. I love the wheels on this car… they capture that 70s Zeitgeist so well!

We pulled the MundaneSL around to front and got our checkout time, then hit the road.

on the road

at the wheel

over a bridge

The first segment was very easy for the navigator (me) and I assume fun for the driver, as it was long stretches of wonderful, rolling two-lane roads through the Adirondack Mountains. There were a few representatives of the New York State Police out there and we heard quite a few rallyists were waylaid and assessed various infractions and fines… thankfully none of them ran into us. We just had nice open roads and nice lakes and hills (I hesitate to call these “mountains”) to look at. The only trouble along this segment was a strong smell of gasoline we kept getting when we opened the windows. At first we thought it might be from the Ferrari in front of us for a while, but even after it was gone we could still smell it.

Minimal navigation and otherwise enjoyable driving brought us to the first segment checkpoint, located behind a gas station. We arrived with enough time to hang out in the stand-off area while I shot some photos.


Above: Miles Collier’s “resto-mod” Cunningham C3 Vignale Continental Coupe alongside Jaime Muldoon’s Ferrari 250.

Lancia 3b

Above: The answer to the question from the other day about what was in the reflection, a Lancia Flaminia 3B coupe




Another view of the 250 and the Muldoons

Mick Pallardy

Above: All work and all play, Mick Pallardy from Porsche has some smiles on the job.

maserati's exhaust

Above: Gideon’s Trumpet protruding from the posterior of a Maserati.

We zeroed the leg, dropped the convertible top, swapped seats, and I drove the next segment. It was very similar to the first segment, at least at the beginning, with enjoyable back road highways but eventually we left the hills and arrived near the town of Saratoga Springs where roads started getting crowded. Oh well. I did manage to grab one good shot out the driver’s side of the top as we had fun on the first part:


Additionally it seemed we had lost some gasoline and now figured we had a leak somewhere. We stopped in mid-segment (rare on a timed leg, but we had banked time) to fill up the car as we feared running out. I gave the area under the car and under the hood a good look over, but could not find any leaks. The strong smell seemed to have faded but was still there. It seemingly only came on with hard acceleration, but no amount of throttle blipping with my head under the bonnet could locate any leaks.

The checkpoint was at the Saratoga Car Museum, and as per his desire, dad drove the last part of the segment through the checkpoint. I snapped a photo of him preparing for that run in the museum parking lot. You can see the final checkpoint in the background.


The one thing we didn’t do, which is even allowed in these rally’s rules, is to wander over to the checkpoint and check our clock against the official rally time. Big mistake. We proceeded through the checkpoint, nailing it according to our clock, but in fact were half a second early by Official Rally Time. Grrrrrr! The rules don’t take half-seconds into account, so we were penalized a full second. Oh well. In order for us to win now everyone else will have to screw up more than us. 😉

The museum itself was nice, with an interesting collection of cars. I took plenty of photos but I’m hoarding them for future “car photo of the day” posts where my readers guess the car in the photo. I will share this one image however, as it is very cool:


Anyone know what car this is from?

We ambled back to the parking lot and since the rally mechanics were there attending to Henry Michie’s starter problems we engaged them in looking for our suspected gas leak.

sniffing for gasoline

No leak was found… but at the last fill up dad did notice that the gas cap was loose. Oddly enough that seems to be the cause of the “leak” or at least the smell of gasoline… go figure.

Adjacent to us in the parking lot at the Museum was Wayne & Graceia Golomb. Loyal readers will remember them from the 2007 Going To The Sun Rally, especially day two, where Shaun & I fixed their borrowed Jaguar Mk. 2, and day five, when Wayne drove my E-type the way it was meant to be driven. Wayne didn’t bring one of his Ferraris to the New England 1000, he brought something even more special: a 1990 Cadillac Allanté! I kept telling Wayne that the Allante was “a Duesenberg of the future”… being something of an oddity/rarity. He kept thinking that I was joking, but I think I may be right. Who knows… at least for the next 70 years or so… at which point we’ll both be dead! 😉

Anyway, I love seeing oddball cars at events like this. Besides, if I see another red Ferrari I think I’ll fall puke. There were no less than a half-dozen red Ferraris in the rally, ranging from the 250, through 275 GTBs, 330s, to Daytonas, and a gaggle of newer models I can’t keep track of nomenclature for (their all on the depreciation curve anyway…) I’d rather see Allantes, Morgans, Maseratis, Mercedes, Jaguars, etc. Red Ferraris are OK but too much is too much. Vintage sports car events are sick with red Ferraris like small town show & shines are sick with Camaros & Mustangs. No disrespect to red Ferrari (or Camaro/Stang) owners, just my opinion.

Anyway, on the last leg I snapped an epic shot of the Allante:

Caddy Allante

Dad drove the last leg of the day, from Saratoga back up to Lake Placid, though along a mostly different route. While leaving Saratoga we encountered a traffic jam of sorts, and Dad went off-course (against my expressed desire) but he was able to just sidestep the delay by a few blocks and get us back on course and moving again. I was more concerned with odometer drift, but in the end he was proven right. Even with the detour, we barely made the checkpoint, arriving at the stand-off area with less than a minute to spare before our check-in time. Good thing Dad did NOT listen to me as most competitors racked up big penalties on this section, whereas we zeroed it.

From the checkpoint to the hotel was a 15 minute drive. There was a boat ride scheduled but we chose to skip it and get a nap. I also wandered around and shot some photos, including some of Scott George caring for the Cunningham C3.

Scott George and the Cunningham C3 Coupe

Dinner was fantastic. I can’t recall the name of the place, but I remember that the line for the shuttle was long so Dad & I chose to drive. We were followed by Joe & Marge Costa in their 1973 V-12 E-type 2+2. While we waited for the rest of the group to arrive we sat at the bar and had a great conversation. Joe & Marge were obviously having a great time, as they had huge smiles plastered on their faces all week.

At dinner we were told that our start atop Whiteface Mountain was in doubt due to weather, but we were optimistically looking forward to another great day of rallying.

2008 New England 1000: Day 1, Monday. Woodstock to Lake Placid.

It was the best of days (we zeroed both timed segments!), it was the worst of days (my camera batteries died and it rained or SNOWED(!!!) most of the day!)

As such dear reader, you’re stuck with very few, if any car photos. You’ll have to deal with whatever meagre images I feed you. Sorry.

We left the Woodstock Inn at one minute intervals. The parade of automotive beauty was fantastic… and my camera was as dead as the proverbial doornail. No matter what order I stuffed four of the ten rechargeable AA batteries I own into it… the camera just blinked or laid there… cold and dead as a day old fish. I even charged a set of the batteries the night before! Oh well.

100,000 miles

The first segment was about 75 miles long. I drove and dad navigated. The only bit I recall is that the car turned over 100,000 miles partway through. Thankfully a stoplight appeared and I was able to grab a shot of the odometer. This car has had an easy life: under 3500 miles a year since birth. I do that every two months or so in my “daily driver” back home.

The segment finished at a ferry dock on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain from Fort Ticonderoga. We cleared the checkpoint with no penalty time. w00t!

After that we went over the ferry in the second load of Rally Cars, and on to the fort.

Guns at Fort Ticonderoga

We were able to wander around this monument to our country’s early history. It was built by the French in the late 1600s to protect Lower Canada from the British further south. It was the scene of two amazing battles in the Seven Years War (what we call The French & Indian Wars) in the mid 1700s, then of course was captured by Ethan Allen in the early days of the American Revolution. It changed hands a few times in that conflict, and its guns were dragged over 300 miles by sled in winter to relieve the siege of Boston, convincing the British to leave the city for good.

After Independence the fort was abandoned and fell into ruin. The Pell family bought the property and eventually restored the fort around the turn of the 20th century to the condition it was in at the time of the Revolution. It is a fantastic site, and anyone with an interest in history should visit Fort Ticonderoga. I’m glad I finally had the chance.

From there we had two transit stages to lunch, then a transit to a private house for a tour. Then a timed stage which finished at the Olympic Ski Jumps at Lake Placid, NY. Partway along that stage we actually ran into snow! Despite the inclement weather we zeroed that stage, and went for a tour of the jumps. We rode the elevator of the 120m jump (the 90m jump was closed) and enjoyed the view.

120m jump

Above: Looking straight down the ramp of the 120m Jump.

The view, in spite of the weather, was awesome. Being a retired alpinist, heights give me something of a buzz, bringing back the wild days of my youth. My father however, gets pretty wigged out, so he peeked once, and headed back to the car. I stuck around, soaked it all in, and shot photos.

90m jump

Above: The view of the 90m jump from the top of the 120m

Above: Yours Truly, contemplating a run down the ramp.

medal stand

From the jumps to the hotel was a very short transit stage. We filled up the car with gas so we can start tomorrow with no worries.

Here is the view from our room. Car spotters can play “name that car.”

view from the room

2008 New England 1000: Day 0, Arrival

Picture Day!

Today was just sort of a static.. “arrival” day. We had our official photos taken, put on a mini Concourse in front of the hotel, chatted with old friends and made new ones, and enjoyed a dinner and pseudo driver’s meeting. Tomorrow the rally starts bright and early.

So today I just have photos, with a bit of comment in between.

In the banner pic above Jean Taylor, official rally photographer shoots a portrait.

Ferrari Kid

In the middle of the portrait shooting a father & son walked by and the kid was very animated about the red Ferrari … so they let him in the shot, and then….

Ferrari Kid

…took him for a ride! Complete with lots of engine revving. Poor dad… the kid is scarred for life.;)

After our portrait, I wandered off to the concouse area and shot photos.

As I was shooting this Maserati somebody walked up and said my name. It was occasional commenter her on my website David Traver Adolphus… aka “proscriptus” In case any of you wonder what he looks like, here he is on the right, chatting with the owner of a DB6:


That same Aston, while being photographed for its portrait.

Yes… it rained a bit.

Anyone care to guess the car reflected in the Ferrari?

I’m not a big fan of XK FHCs, but I like this view. Has an aeronautical sort of character to it.

Spot the oddity in this photograph! 😉

More coming tomorrow!

Ad Hoc Car Review: 2008 Porsche Cayman S

Porsche Cayman S

I had not planned, nor has anyone hired me, to write a review of this car. In fact I had no idea I’d be driving it. I was supposed to get a ride from Point A to Point B, but instead I was pressed into service to drive the car from Point A to Point B. It is a tough job, but somebody had to do it.

Top of the Notch

Some full disclosure: I carry several biases about vehicles. I love cars that handle well, but I’m not attracted by raw power. My daily driver is a 90 horsepower turbo-Diesel, and I’m very happy with it. Lots of things that people find attractive, I find repulsive: Size, weight, overly soft ride, too much power and not enough chassis. I spend most of my time driving between 30 and 90 MPH, so how a car behaves at 130 MPH, or even if it can go 130 MPH is irrelevant to me. More important in my estimation are handling, ergonomics, and feedback to the driver… you know … Fahrvergnügen. These are the sort of qualities that you find missing from the typical American barge, be it the Sport Utility Vehicle, or the Muscle Car, or the Rental Fleet Quality Vehicle.

It starts with the steering.

View from the driver's seat

Acceleration and braking are important aspects to a car’s performance, and distilled by the beaten to death horse of the 0-60 time, or the 0-X-0 time. I find both of those metrics completely irrelevant. I don’t participate in drag races, and I drive on roads, which turn left and right. So steering is the core of the driving experience for me. The Cayman’s steering is very taut and precise. If you could arrange the steering response of cars on a continuum, the Cayman might very well anchor the “best” end of the scale. Unlike the average SUV or luxury car where the steering can be as vague and theoretical as piloting an ocean liner, the Porsche steering wheel was like piloting a fighter plane.

Porsche Cayman & M-B 450sl

Steering of course produces challenges for an automobile’s chassis and suspension. The interaction between suspension, steering, and chassis is generally called “handling”. To really test the handling of a car it is best to push it beyond the edge of the envelope. Autocross is the perfect test of car handling. Speeds are slow, but steering input is fast, and acceleration and braking are constant. I did not have the opportunity to take the Cayman on an autocross course, but I would love to have the chance. Why? From by couple of hours behind the wheel it was by far, the best handling car I have ever driven. I’ve driven some legendary machines, so this is not a light statement.

The Porsche Cayman is so well-balanced. At no time did I feel like the car was challenged to accomplish any task I asked of it. The roads we travelled were not ideal; frost heaved and poorly surfaced, potholes and cracked asphalt were the rule, not the exception. We chose a route that followed state highways and up and over the ridges they call “mountains” here in Vermont, as well as through rolling farmland. Traffic was light but provided enough cars to give some overtaking tests now and then. My drive was such that I had no idea where I was going. My father was leading the way in the 450sl so all I had to do was follow him. The Cayman can drive circles around the Cruise Missile 450sl, so I found myself lagging back on occasion, just so I could drive faster around a series of corners. On the flat ground I kissed The Ton doing this on occasion, and on the hills I never managed to make the tires squeak. Not exactly hard core hoonage here, but I was enjoying myself well within the edges of the performance envelope. It was the very small course correctness, such as a slight swerve to avoid a pothole, that illustrated how well the Cayman handled. Steering inputs telepathically became swift and sure action. I really like the way this car handles.

So handling is what I like… what don’t I like about this car?

Not much. Honestly my nits to pick about the Cayman are minor in the overall scheme of things. The gearbox is… weird. I love good old-fashioned cog swapping with a man-pedal and stick-shift. This is a manual shift car, in fact six-speed manual… but the gearbox seems… well, odd. The engine has plenty of torque and honestly it feels like 3 speeds will do, but in these days more is better so 6 it must be. At any given speed on these two-lane highways the car was just as happy to be in 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th. I really could not tell much difference between them. Additionally the shifter itself had a sort of vague feeling to it; was I in 3rd or 5th? Perhaps the gears become distinctly different at Autobahn speeds, but on rural roads at 45 to 85 MPH (yes… I broke the law, deal with it!) they all seemed the same above second gear. Very Minor Detail: The shift knob itself felt odd in my hand too. Smooth faces where they should have been rough, rough where it should have been smooth. Fingers need something to GRIP, not slide on.

Other ergonomic notes: The whole interior, while well constructed, of nice materials, seemed something of an afterthought. The rearview mirror has an odd shape. The gauges seemed to be a tad contrived and busy. Placement of some stuff made no sense. The big old gauge in the middle top of the dash was not immediately obvious as to its purpose; A barometer? A rally clock? WTF? They obviously need to put as much thought into the interior as they have the handling. Not quite there yet.

Following a 356

While underway I came upon a 1956 Porsche 356, and followed it for a while. It was a wonderful moment, as the Cayman is in many ways the 356 of now. Porsches Sacred Cow, the 911 is (in my opinion) artificially propped at the top of the performance heap. If they put as much effort into this chassis as they did the 911, they’d have, seriously, the world’s best car. However if they did, their core audience, the Porschephile loyal customers, would collectively revolt. No Porsche can be better than a 911 in their minds. That is sad in some ways as the Boxter/Cayman mid-engined design is truly a world beater. In other ways it is good because for Porsche it is their “low end” car, meaning it is relatively affordable next to the 911.

All the time I drove it I was mentally comparing it to my 43 year old E-type Jaguar. When the E-type arrived on the scene in 1961 it was truly a world beater. Supercar performance at a very reasonable price. In fact it BEAT the supercars of the day, namely the 300sl and the Ferrari 250. It beat them soundly, in all measures of performance, speed, braking, and handling. It did more with less, and more FOR less. This car is very much in that same mold. Like I said, and I’m happy to repeat, this is the best handling car I’ve ever driven, period. If they let it off the leash it could very well be the best car on the planet, bar none. As it is though, it remains relatively affordable, and truly amazing to drive.

Update & Addendum: Several days after I drove and wrote the above, I had another chance to drive the very same car. Again I was asked to help shuttle a car back to Burlington, so I had another chance to have a second look, and make a few more observations. This time we drove one state highway, and a US Highway in moderate traffic. Unlike the previous drive on winding back roads with little to impede progress other than the 450sl I was following, this drive was more indicative of the day-to-day reality of driving in the real world. It was a lot less fun. I never was granted that true bliss of feeling this car handle. A Cayman without some curves to drive it on is like carrying a fishing pole through the Sahara. Sure there were a few long sweepers now and then, and I swerved to avoid a pothole or two… and yes, the car felt great while doing it, but my second drive was pretty mundane and uninvolved. As such I pondered several things about the car that bothered me. The big center mounted gauge is actually a rally clock, but I was never able to figure out how to work it. The manual was still shrink-wrapped and I didn’t want to break the seal. It had no buttons or obvious controls on itself, so I figured it was menu driven somewhere else on the dash. The radio seemed to have a few odd buttons but pushing them did nothing (even the one labeled “Menue”?) There is a stalk at about 7 o’clock that seems to drive a tachometer based display, but “scrolling” through that UI did not produce anything usable… besides a rally clock should be usable from the Navigator’s seat. I gave up on it. In fact I suspect that a fair number of the controls require some serious study in the owner’s manual. Of course, I spend several nights studying one whenever I buy a new car… something I could not do with this car so perhaps I’m shortchanging the Cayman here.

From the driver’s seat the exhaust note is far away, but not as “bass” as I would expect… more of a mid-range noise. There is however a persistent treble note whine from the engine compartment just off your right shoulder that is uniquely Porsche in its nature. A timing chain perhaps? Every Porsche I have ever ridden in has this note to its range and it is always the most dominant noise heard. It can be spine tingling when really pushing the engine, but when just tootling along at 35-50 MPH it is actually annoying as hell. It takes on the nature of similar annoying and persistent noises: a neighbors howling dog all night, a crying baby on an airplane, or a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. A engine screaming when you press the loud pedal is one thing, but screaming all the time is just too much.

Speaking of spine-tingling, I had the opportunity to do some overtaking and was blown away with how breathtakingly awesome this car is when unleashed! To me 0-60 times are a useless metric, but 50-90 times are truly useful… that is passing performance. When you make the demand of a car to go from rolling at some moderate speed to GO FAST NOW. The Cayman? WOW. Passing in this car makes nicotine and heroin look like mere gateway drugs. I was looking forward to slow traffic JUST so I could pass them. Bwahahhaahhhahhhaaaa! Drop the gearshift down to third and press the right foot and pow! You’re dropping The Ton as fast as you can say “woah” and having that banshee over you shoulder scream some Wagnerian epic – condensed into a few seconds. It is more intoxicating than Everclear.

I could get used to this.

Final Thought: I would LOVE to see a lightweight version of this car, ala a Lotus Elise. Strip out all the superfluous stuff… power this & that, heated seats, A/C, cruise, cupholders, etc. Just basic seats, minimal plastics and carpet on the interior. Strip it down and make it fly. Just add lightness. That would be brilliant.

2008 New England 1000 – Getting There.

I spent Friday flying from Sunny Seattle, to Rainy Newark, New Jersey, where I met my father. This morning at a shockingly early hour for a west coast resident, we flew up to Burlington, Vermont on a nice sunny day. Upon arrival we were pressed into service to shuttle a brand new Porsche Cayman to the start location for the rally. Porsche is a sponsor of the 2008 New England 1000, and these cars serve as shuttles for rally workers and more importantly, as backup transportation for rally participants whose vintage cars break down. We then picked up our vintage car, a Mercedes-Benz 450sl from RPM in Vergennes, and drove down to Woodstock, VT.

Continue reading “2008 New England 1000 – Getting There.”