Monday, July 4, 2011

Our 944S - The Forgotten Porsche

Marital bliss. My bride and I married in 1990 and we each brought one car to the union. I was driving a 1990 Acura Integra LS and my wife was driving a 1986 Nissan Pulsar. The Acura was a great car; made by Honda it was well built, well engineered and pretty quick (for 1990 anyway). The Pulsar? No beating around the bush, it was a piece of crap. I can only hope that my wife did not pick it out, holding out hope that her parents saw it at a local dealer and thought, “why that is cute, let’s get that for our daughter.” Or something like that.

Anyway it was terrible - terrible slow, terrible looking, with terrible funky mid-80’s ergonomics. My plan was simple, once we wed - ditch the Pulsar. So how could I put my evil plan into play, it was her baby. Then the other quandary, what to replace it with? Hmmmm, let’s see...maybe a Porsche? Actually truth be known, she found it. See my wife is addicted to newspapers (yes she still loves to get the Sunday Newspaper and reads every section, every ad, it takes hours….) and she was going through the Saturday auto ads and she turned to me and “Hey is a 1987 Porsche 944S a pretty good car?” That is like asking Parnelli Jones if he liked to drive Indy cars (OK, maybe dating myself a little bit with that reference). So we went to the dealer to check it out.

As it turns out my plan was not too evil, the car was great. Black with a black leather interior, it had about 36K miles and was in pretty decent condition. Now this was before I knew about Pre Purchase Inspections (PPI), or having a Porsche mechanic give it a once over; fact was, we got lucky. It could have easily gone the other way and we could have ended up with a lemon. But we didn’t.

When it came time to do a deal, we brought both the Integra and Pulsar to the dealer and we traded both of them in. The dealer was a little unnerved having to take in two trades, but they did it. Of course they did it, I cannot image a dealer not doing a deal to move some iron. So I drove home, because my wife could not drive a manual transmission…yet.

First order of business was to teach her how to drive a stick. We went to a large parking lot on a Sunday and we traded places. She was very nervous. She killed it multiple times before I had her moving and shifting. We spent the next couple of days with me in the passenger seat giving her nurturing advice. She got the hang of it. We also had just received my new company car a 1990 Ford Aerostar van, so we split time between the two cars.

My wife had started a new job working for a manufacturer of luxury writing instruments and her job was to visit all the stores that sold them and conduct training, clean and arrange the display cases and make sure they had all the special paper products to demo the pens. I remember her coming home one day and she was worked up, really hot about something. She had gone to a local purveyor of fine jewelry and a couple of the sales gals had been really snotty asking her how she could possibly afford a “Porsh”. She smiled at them sweetly and said that although she could not afford a “Porsche”, her husband could and she got to drive my car. Shut them up…nuff said.

So she had been driving it a while and I noticed that the clutch pedal was getting a bit long, meaning that the action was almost all the way out before the clutch engaged. This meant that they clutch had just about packed it in. I had also just got a monthly bonus and it seems that the 944S knew exactly how much the bonus was because the bill of the new clutch and the amount of the bonus were almost dollar for dollar. New clutch, new lease on life!

I loved that car, it was fast, good looking and did I mention that it was fast? Well it was also doomed. My wife went though pregnancy with our first child switching between the 944S and the Aerostar and she was miserable driving the Porsche. The bigger she got, the worse she fit, but she still stuck with it. We had it after our first son was born in 1992 and actually made a trip to Abilene to visit her parents with our son in the back. It was a tight trip, all the baby stuff filled up the hatch area and one of the rear seats. I was using the Aerostar (or as my father in law called it…the Astroloid) more and more for work, so something had to give.

But before we sold it, I started to work on some maintenance items on the car. Limited tools, limited room, meant that it took forever even to change the rear gear oil to the transaxle. Bottom line we needed a new car. So we took a look around, but did not particularly like anything we saw on the market, until we saw the 1993 Mazda 626, especially the one with the Ford sourced quad-cam V6.

So we went to the dealer and traded the 944S for the Mazda. They offered us a pretty good deal, but we were still a ways apart. We had been going through the negotiation game for a very long time, we were tired, our baby boy was tired, hungry and we had finally run out of diapers. So he decided to put an end to the negotiations by pooping in his diaper. We did not have another one and the smell started to get ripe. At one point, when the smell of poop was getting quite lethal in that small sales cubicle, my wife and I glanced at each other, we were going to hang tough, not give in. It was getting stinkier by the second, but we did not budge on what we were willing to pay. The first one to blink (or run away from the smell) was the loser. At that point, the sales guy excused himself for a moment and came back with the manager who took one whiff of the aroma surrounding us like a fog and agreed to my deal if we would leave right then. They took a chance and rolled us in the car, asking us to come back the next day to sign all the paperwork, but made us promise we would have spare diapers.

As we pulled out of the dealership, we made a quick turn into a nearby parking lot, my shrewd wife pulling out a diaper from the bottom of the diaper bag, turns out she knows a thing or two about the negotiation process too. My oldest son still loves that story; how he helped his parents get a smoking deal on a 1993 Mazda 626 LS with a sporty V6. Ah…the memories of a negotiation game where we held all the cards…err based on lack of diapers.

Until next time.

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