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  • Writer's pictureMichael Lenzi

#1: Let's Start At the Beginning

Originally posted on Rennlist.

It has been a while since I posted much of anything. I joined Rennlist in 2012 with the purchase of my 993. My first Porsche. I used to have an ownership thread for that car. It is archived somewhere still on Rennlist. Tons of posts. I then did a detour into Ford Focus RS and Subaru STi enthusiast territory. Porsches went on the backburner. Heresy! I know.

A few months back I started looking for a 987.2 generation Spyder. Somehow on that frustrating search I got reinterested in the 996 GT3. A few years ago I was toying with buying one when they were actually a great deal. I should have acted then considering how pcar values are so high now.

In May I spotted a Speed Yellow '04 on Rennlist. But I was in southwestern France. I called the seller hoping it was still available. My wife was working over there and we combined that with a vacation. Naturally, right? I thought for sure that it would be gone if I didn't act quickly.

The seller was perhaps the coolest dude I have spoken to in my years of buying cars. He was very forthcoming with info to answer my questions. Photos, documents, etc. No BS.

I know it benefits the seller to be that way but usually they have been very cagey in my past experiences. Anyway, I told him I would come down and see the car when I returned in the beginning of June.

I booked a flight to Austin for 6 days after my return to the US and gave him a nominal deposit to hold it. I chose the red eye at 7 in the morning. This was perfect because I had been waking up at 2 AM every morning leading up to the flight. Jet lag from the 7 hour time difference. I could handle a 4:30 wake up to get out to O'Hare. It was easy.

The flight was a little late but I got there at 10:30 and the seller picked me up. That is a kind and classy gesture for sure.

Off we went to GT International The car was being kept there and looked after. This was a nice turn of events because it allowed me to put the car on a lift and examine the underside, engine, running gear and differential. The engine was dry and the coolant tubes looked good.

The owner of GT International, Webster Mercado, is a great guy and was very welcoming. He and a few of the mechanics there all answered guestions from me. I sensed they had a solid relationship with the seller. He had quite a few BMWs there in various states of build and repair.

In fact, the seller picked me up from the airport in his 1992 BMW E32 750 IL into which he dropped a v12 and manual transmission. What a smooth criminal that car is. That was my first ride in a v12. Turns out that it is basically 2 VR6s put together. The VR6 is a favorite of mine from my VW GTi and Corrado SLC days. Love that sound!

We drove out into Hill country in the GT3 and I was smitten. Damn does that 3.6 liter 6 perform. And the meldious howl is life-affirming. The 996 GT3 transmits all the right info to the driver.

My 993 C2S comes to mind in comparison but the GT3 is way brawnier. While my Cayman R was a little raw and rough, this thing is another order of magnitude. Even my beloved 2011 Cayman S is standing deep in its shadow.

Don't get me wrong. The 987 Caymans are really fantastic and under-appreciated cars. I realize I am comparing apples to oranges. But for the GT3 to bowl me over like it did was unexpected. I am hooked.

We went back to GT International and sealed the deal, signed the papers, handled the money. Then we went and had some tex-mex lunch at Julio's. Outstanding.

It had not sunken in yet. I now own a GT3. I am a GT3 owner. Not in a million years did I think that would happen when I was tearing around in my two liter GTi. GT3s are too scarce. Too expensive. Too everything for a moron like me.

Time to make my way back up to Chicago in this Speed Yellow stunner. I decided to head up to Lincoln, Nebraska in one burst. This is where I have family. Then an easy 8 hour drive to Chicago the following day. Big miles ahead. All told, it was a 1300 mile journey.

I really don't like roadside motels from many years of playing drums and touring in a rock and roll band. I am over the smell, sketchy beds and gnarly carpets. No thanks.

Full speed ahead. Drive through the night if necessary. 13+ hours in the saddle. No co-pilot. No bluetooth. No earplugs. No cds. Just classic rock, country and golden oldies stations to keep me company. No holy roller radio for me though. I draw the line.

Traffic out of Austin sucked. Construction, heat, and ominous clouds way off in the distance. They were foreshadowing my evening/early morning ahead.

My only stops were for gas. No lollygagging. No tourist shennanigans. Eat miles. The mission. Once I passed Denton, TX the road opened up and it was very nice on the eyes. Green pastureland and few damn trucks.

Something odd happened. Two different modded Japanese cars rolled by and gave me the thumbs up! Did they somehow know that I had spent 10+ years owning and modding STis? Did they see through my luxury Porsche disguise? Haha. That was unexpected. Although some d-bag in a 'Merican muscle car had to do a flyby and rev his engine at 100 mph just to show me what's what. Of course. The bully boys are predictable.

By the time I hit Wichita, Kansas the clouds and impending storm looked rough. I decided to keep that swashbuckling attitude alive and press on. At around 10 or so I was not far from Abilene and it was very dark.

I felt like I was riding head first into an artillery bombardment. To my right the lightning was going sideways across the sky one moment then multiple strikes were hitting the ground to my left. But no rain yet.

Then boom. Buckets of water hammering down. Then some small hail. Nowhere to hide on those two lane Kansas roads. No barns. Nothing.

I was trapped. I pushed on. And hoped the PPF the seller put on would help a little. I did a little hydroplaning but fortunately the car had fresh 4Ss and not Cup 2s! Those tires kept me mostly straight on the road.

I made it through that first barrage with no damage. Thank god. The next two storm fronts were very heavy but no more hail. By around 12:30 AM it was just raining lightly.

Then the critters came out to play. I had two very close calls with shambling raccoons. I almost **** myself when a deer bolted toward me but had a change of heart and doubled back a few feet from my front bumper. All I can say is God protects fools and drunks. For the record I am not a drunk.

At this point I was 3 hours out of Lincoln and I relaxed. I learned a trick. I did not allow myself to yawn. When I felt that urge, I clenched my jaws shut and waited it out. It worked.

The solitude on the trip allowed me to focus on how amazing the car is to drive. What a damn thing that car is. The idle is lopey as hell on start up. It gets less lopey once warm. But it has character. If I didn't own a 993 for years I might have been concerned. Now I love and appreciate the quirkyness. So old school.

Once I was about 20 miles from Lincoln I relaxed and out slipped a yawn. They say most accidents happen fairly close to home. So I locked it down. But the weight of my fatigue hit me. Then I arrived at my destination. Just in time. Yawn.

What a trip. I even learned to appreciate country music. Seriously. I am glad I had no real ammenities. I felt so much more focused on the trip. And I had to keep an eye on the phone to verify I was still on the right route. GPS is a cool technology even if I couldn't hear it.

Much more GT3 stuff to come as I get deeper into it. Here it is nestled in my tiny urban garage oasis in the city of Chicago. Freshly washed after a long dirty trip!

Some pics of the car by my new friend Kayhan who sold me the Speed Yellow charmer. Thanks!

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