On 10 April 2019 a gas leak in the Brightleaf District of Durham, North Carolina, led to an explosion and fire that killed one individual and injured two dozen others. It also destroyed one building and severely damaged a non-descript older building beside it. The exterior may have been unremarkable but this was by intent. This building housed the Ingram Collection of Porsches.
Please read Cam Ingram’s poignant piece about the day’s events and the days since. It follows this note immediately.
In the meanwhile, I don’t know how many of you may have noticed it, but the New York Times ran a story in its 23 March 2019 edition titled “Forget Self-Driving Cars. Bring Back the Stick Shift.” Written by a contributor, Dr. Vatsal G. Thakkar, a psychologist, the story’s title was music to the ears of Porsche owners, buoyancy material for the heart and soul.
Thakkar’s premise however was not about what’s missing from the pleasures of driving but that “Technology meant to save us from distraction is making us less attentive.” He went on to recite a number of depressing incidents when people—drivers, nurses, and airplane pilots—relied on automatic (and “supposedly lifesaving technology”) with disastrous results.
“But there is one feature available on some cars today that can increase a driver’s vigilance instead of diminishing it—the manual transmission,” Thakkar asserted.
“A car with a stick shift and clutch pedal requires the use of all four limbs, making it difficult to use a cellphone or eat while driving. Lapses in attention are therefore rare, especially in city driving where a driver might shift gear a hundred times during a trip to the grocery.”
He laments the disappearance of these systems, as we all do. One of the greatest pleasures of Porsche ownership is driving it, and for many of us, the more engagement in that driving process the better is the pleasure.
Spring is here, at last, after a tough trying winter for much of those of you reading this. It’s time to climb into a “real” car, not just an extraordinary appliance, exercise both feet and both arms and go drive. But watch out for those vehicle occupants who, on autopilot, are eating, cellphone communicating, and reading a book.
Our coverage this month is all centered around Florida in the north around Jacksonville, and a brief two days further south at Fort Lauderdale. If you missed Amelia Island this year, you won’t feel like that after you’ve read and seen Bruce Sweetman’s excellent coverage of what must have been a sleepless week for him. He was everywhere and has interesting words and captivating images to prove it, including the one that tops this column and those that punctuate our auction results.
We finish this issue with our typical auction results lists. Many observers have written that the sky is not falling though some clouds may obscure the sun from time to time. These results to confirm two other observations: first, those who desire only an average “driver” already have theirs and those who want something special—if the car checks out for condition, history, and documentation—will secure it; and second, it’s becoming apparent that a steadily increasing number of collectors are reckoning with age, with storage and maintenance costs, and perhaps disinterested family members, and packaging up their automobiles for sale privately or at auction. It actually might be a fine time to buy, whether it’s something to drive or something to treasure!
In the meanwhile, be safe out there. And have fun.
And thanks for reading us.