Porsche 356 aromatherapy
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
On the Porschephile calendar, the third Sunday of September marks "Drive Your 356 Day," which celebrates Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche's birthday of Sept. 19, 1909. This year, our holiday fell on Sept. 17. With the top down on my 1994 968, under a bluebird sky, I cruised along the lovely roads from Thomasville, Georgia, to our starting point, Cascade Park in Tallahassee, Florida.
I showed up early, but the three 356s were already staged for our 11:15 a.m. departure mapped through North Florida back roads to the nostalgic Spring Creek Restaurant in rural Crawfordville.
Cynthia Davis drove the champagne yellow 1963 356 B Super 90 she has owned for about 18 years. Don Vodicka's 1965 signal red SC had been handed down by his father. And event organizer Don Boggs brought a sand beige 1964 C he had purchased in 1976.
Although mostly original, their minimalist 356s looked pristine and pocket-watch quaint contrasted against their evolutionary digital vunderkinds.
Cynthia Davis drove the champagne yellow 1963 356 B Super 90 she has owned for about 18 years.
I couldn't remember the last time I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a 356.
Most of you already know the ritual. You politely sidle up to your beloved, then slowly circle around, absorbing the organic perfection until you finally lean over and peek through the small, open windows.
By the time I got to view them, the Florida sun was teasing its primal intensity. The domed 356 interiors possessed a musty comfort, becoming humidors of memories in the rising heat.
A curious bystander may think of it as an funky odor, but any 356 lover will recognize the special fragrance that harkens to guys working on their cars in barn-door garages, maybe a window left open during a thunder shower, a cigarette haze that has faded out of fashion, greasy wrenches stored behind the seats and the summer perspiration that gave a symbiotic sense of triumph behind the wheel until factory air conditioning intervened.
I must have spent more time than I realized enjoying my 356 aromatherapy because out of nowhere Boggs called our modest caravan to attention. He asked that the three coupes lead the drive. As it turned out, I was the fourth Porsche in line, immediately behind Vodicka's 1965 SC.
Before long, the cars could exercise their engines on roads that cut through bygone tropical towns. The air-cooled fours ahead secreted their whiff of gasoline that drifted into my open 968. The faint fumes actually enhanced the experience of driving through "Old Florida" — a nostalgic landscape of cracker South tourism still evident through decrepit motels, gas stations, trailer parks and souvenir shops that had stocked stuffed alligators and praline bars for passing snowbirds.
The smell of gasoline from the 356s sustained the Post-War age of Super Purple Ethyl reigning supreme here in Old Florida where good ol' boys, moonshine runners and stock-car renegades would lay their eyes on that jelly bean of a Porsche and most likely laugh.
About 45 minutes later we arrived at the Spring Creek Restaurant for lunch. Set in a grove of live oaks draped with Spanish moss, the clapboard and cinder-block outpost circa 1977 has a reputation for fresh local seafood and enduring the wrath of storms and floods from Apalachee Bay and Ochlockonee and Sopchoppy Rivers.
Somehow, the 356s seemed right at home there.
From left, Cynthia Davis and her champagne yellow 1963 356 B Super 90, Don Boggs and his sand beige 1964 C, and Don Vodicka and his 1965 signal red SC all sit in front of Spring Creek Restaurant.
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