My friend Carl is the walking, taking embodiment of the term “gearhead.” Born and raised in Detroit, he probably recites cam duration numbers in his head to get to sleep at night. He has scores of friends and relatives that worked the line from Hamtramck to River Rouge and back, and probably an equal number in the design and marketing offices. People for whom the term “Woodward” means commute, and not Dream Cruise.
He’s a certified master mechanic for decades now and an all around good guy . . . except for one fatal flaw.
Like many gearheads, Carl was born with a congenital birth defect of his right foot being slightly larger than his left. Vatanen’s Syndrome, as the Finns call it. So, he has a natural tendency to constantly desire cars that can get you from one corner down to the next at frighteningly high velocities.
Which leads us to the aforesaid question of “do you think I should buy this?”
“This,” in this instance, refers to a rather fetching Panzer Grey Porsche Cayenne. Now, it goes without saying that I don’t have the highest of opinions for the chosen ride of Carmela Soprano. However, there are special circumstances here. Carl owns and runs a shop in Seattle, and has the proverbial “cabin in the woods” way out in the boonies in northeastern Washington. Out past Omak, if you know where that is. Deep into a Native American Reservation.
Getting there in summer is, comparatively speaking, a snap.
In winter, it can be a problem.
Beauty & The Beast
The first answer to this problem is Carl’s gigantic Ford F250 Thunderguts Diesel Triton Power Semi-Crew Cab Pick-up Truck. Painted a handsome Naval Artillery Blue, It has all vehicular capabilities of a World War II half-track, minus the 50 cal. mounted over the passenger seat. The downside is that it has all vehicular capabilities of a World War II half-track.
Although capable of moving through a snow berm like a toddler through a pillow fort, it is not the most comfortable ride on the planet. Especially when you pack the canopied bed with stuff, and put the dogs (two, one medium, one pony-proportioned) in the back jump-seats and your long suffering wife (Steph, who has the patience of a Saint) in the navigator’s chair.
“Okay,” you “reason” . . . “get something cool and fast like a Euro-station wagon!”
That would be Carl’s (actually Steph’s) 1st generation Audi S6 Avant. Green. Tastefully modded. Quick in all weather. Room for the dogs in the way back. Room for stuff directly behind you. And it works great, until you get to deep snow or snow debris plowed a few feet high, which there is abundant amounts of in the boonies in northeastern Washington.
Out past Omak, that is.
So, the middle ground is an SUV of some sort. And in this case, Carl is now fixated on the Porsche Cayenne. This is partially Carl’s own fault, being equally split in automotive love between cars German and cars Buick, comma, Riviera (seriously, the guy’s got a triple black 68 Riv that Darth Vader would say is “too powerful”).
And, okay, it’s kind of my fault too.
Paperwork & Impersonations
When he first raised the prospect of getting some sort of SUV, he asked, “what do you think of Cayennes?” To which I unhesitatingly replied, “well, all I can say is when professional race car drivers I know get an SUV, it’s usually a Cayenne.”
In retrospect, this was not the measured and calming response I thought it was at the time. It was sort of like saying to a chimpanzee, “no, that’s how you turn off the safety on an AK-47.”
Hours later, we (Carl & I) were standing in front of said Porsche Cayenne, unassumingly in the middle of a 20,000 square foot showroom, chocked full of things like Maserati Quattroportes, Mercedes-Benz C Class 6.9 AMGs (a personal favorite), and a bustling staff of non-commissioned sales people, almost unvarying in their hipster style. I swear on a stack of Haynes Manuals that one guy was wearing a floppy, buff-colored cowboy hat, stolen from the third best Jack White impersonator in town.
Moments later we (Carl & I) were blasting around Georgetown. For what it is, a Cayenne is not a bad choice. It’s much faster than you’d think, handles remarkably well for what is essentially a truck, stops on the proverbial dime (since Porsche has that fetish about braking), and soaks up things like railroad track crossings with composure.
Hours later, Carl was signing paperwork and I was recollecting, ironically, that Steph actually said the words, “sure, if you think it’s a good deal, buy it.”
“Okay. Here. You drive my S6 back,” said Carl, foolishly tossing me the keys.