KC to LA, part 1: T minus Six Hours...
October 8, 2013—Of all the long distance drives I’ve undertaken, including a three and a half-week odyssey covering almost 10,000 miles around the US with a girlfriend and our ultimately doomed relationship, this one contained the greatest chance of failure. Contributing writer and friend, Ben Shahrabani purchased the 1967 Porsche 911S you see in these photos, sight unseen, through the internet. It was for sale in Kansas City and Shahrabani did as much research as possible from a distance including reviewing lots of photos and ordering a pre-purchase inspection (PPI).
But as I learned when driving back from Amelia Island, nothing is certain. The PPI looked good and the owner was straight about what worked and what needed work. He also said that he had tracked the car regularly as well as driven it over long distances. The maintenance history was complete and there seemed to be no cause for alarm. All signs pointed to the Porsche successfully completing the trip. But what about us? First, we'd be flying after working a full day, then sleeping in a hotel for less than six hours, followed by an extended roadtrip in a small, forty-six year old car that neither of us had ever seen, let alone driven.
To add to the uncertainty, the first snows of the year had just fallen along our planned route. But then, here was an opportunity to drive a beautiful, little classic 911 on what amounted to a two-thirds Cannonball. It was a chance to drive the first generation of this icon and distill the experiences that would take most people months to discover into one difficult, intense drive. We’d cross plains, mountains, deserts, cities and, due to the season, probably encounter varying weather. How could we not jump in? The Bahama Yellow 911’s allure was too strong.
For me the trip began at 4:30, Friday afternoon a couple miles south of LAX. I was waiting for a public bus to the airport on a warm, noisy Los Angeles street. I fiddled with my camera gear and made small talk with an older woman waiting for a different bus. Her bus arrived first, leaving me to bask in the fumes and cacophony of the busy artery, alone. Minutes later, my bus approached but being unable to get into the right lane, because of traffic, it passed by eventually stopping a block later in the middle lane, forcing me to wait for traffic to clear before boarding. Once aboard, the driver seemed irritated that I asked how much the fare was.
Ben was already in Kansas City, he flew out earlier in the day and picked the car up. Driving it around KC’s outskirt, he said that it ran strong. Additionally, he refueled the car so that we wouldn’t have to start the drive by visiting a gas station. I sent him an email during the day with my version of a concert contract rider—I needed water, M&Ms, pretzels (or popcorn) and a road atlas (because I had forgotten mine and prefer to rely on these rather than a phone).
Fortunately, my flight was virtually empty so I was able to stretch out across three seats and read without distraction. It landed on time in a rainy KC and by midnight, local, I was in the hotel room with Ben making dirty, slightly unsettling quips. Actually, they were dirty, very unsettling quips. Good times. Even though the Porsche was down in the garage I decided to wait until the morning to see it. I wanted as much sleep as possible. He set the alarm and as usual on these drives, I prepared mentally for a very long following day. We’d wake at 6:30, have a quick breakfast and then hit the road for as long as it takes to get to Supercar Sunday or until the car breaks… [kiWO]