- Brendan McKay
A few weeks back I caught one of those random Tuesday night urges to grab the car keys and go for a drive. "Making sure the car feels OK" is the inevitable excuse I give my wife as I sheepishly head out the door, but I'm pretty sure that's more or less like telling your doctor that the reason you're consuming so many cheeseburgers and beer is for the protein and vitamins. Factually accurate? Perhaps, in the slimmest sense of the word. Reasonable by any normal person's (e.g. non-autophile) definition of "accurate"? Not exactly. But then again, facts these days seem entirely subjective and I am a willing bender of those universal truths when it comes to anything aircooled in nature.
However brief, like most great trips these drives have no destination in mind and are usually limited to a cruise up the PCH to Malibu Country Mart and back. Tunes on, windows down, and a bit of braggadocio when you find those car-length openings in traffic after clearing Tuna Canyon Road. I'd never characterize SoCal as humid, but the evening air this time of year is enough to fog up the gauges on the dash and leave a salt-laden slick of of moisture on the windshield (for anyone wondering, no I still haven't repaired my windshield wipers, but more on that in a month or two). Suboptimal for visibility but man what a mood it sets, particularly when you catch those pungent whiffs of the Pacific.
You can toss the the relative brevity of these little nighttime runs out the window however when you see a fellow Porsche on the road, and bonus points when they happen to be heading in the same direction as you. On this particular night, my fellow comrade-in-arms was a white 997 GT3, who I glimpsed right as I was planning on turning around and heading for home. Goosing the throttle off the line, I was able to catch him as we crested the hill towards Pepperdine University, and I crossed my fingers that he recognized the G-body silhouette in his rearview as I threw the turn signal on for Malibu Canyon. Porsche telepathy apparently works, and he dutifully ripped a quick right hander off the PCH and away we went for a bit of evening fun.
Unfortunately it didn't take us long to run into a few motorists who were driving a tad less enthusiastically than we were. I would never begrudge anyone for not pulling over for vigorous passes in the evening hours...but I'm not NOT saying I wouldn't completely hate it the RAV4 and Camry in front of us took the hint. Nevertheless, cruising some of the familiar twisties with a new friend, even at the speed limit, is always enough to put a smile on your face. And I can attest that a GT3 downshifting into 2nd in the canyon tunnels is enough to shake a few fillings loose from your back teeth.
We parted ways a short white later, remaining strangers in name only. Our cruise was enough to put a little vinegar in my veins for a heady solo sprint up Mulholland Drive, pushing the limits just enough into those blind turns to get the heart rate up. The whine of 3.2 liters a few feet behind your head is a glorious racket at any time of day, but particularly exhilarating after hours, memories of surreptitious teenage joyrides on instant recall. And for those wondering, yes the car felt very "OK". Sometimes you just gotta get those cheeseburgers, extra pickles.