Gentleman, Start Your Engine

Here's what happened when our writer joined 120 other Porsches for a run to Everglades City

BY February 23, 2016


They say you shouldn’t text and drive. And now that I give it some thought, it makes sense. That’s because at this very moment, I’m trying to write this column while driving 102 mph* down State Road 29 in a 2016 Porsche Cayman. It’s a gleaming French-tip fingernail digging into the back roads of Collier County—and I feel at one with the universe. Actually, make that two. You see, I’m not alone in this German attaché—the car’s owner, Ed Trombley, is with me. And he’s cramping my style.

Now, before any of you start yelling and screaming about my recklessness, I want you to know that it’s not as bad as it sounds—I was just keeping up with traffic. Seriously, there were 120 other Porsches in front of me and I never passed a single one. So, technically, I was showing restraint. Some would say I was being responsible. (But those would be the people in front of me.)

Three Porsches soak up the sun in Everglades City's Everglades Isle at the end of the mass joy ride.

And while it sounds like we were filming Cannonball Run III (or Fast & Furious 17), this little get-together was actually the brainchild of John Harris, owner of Southwest Florida’s two Porsche dealerships (in Naples and Fort Myers). He thought it might be nice to have some customers gather for a leisurely drive out to Everglades Isle, a luxury RV resort in Everglades City, where they could enjoy brunch and chat about their appreciation for Stuttgart, premium gasoline and speed limits. He thought two dozen might attend. He was wrong.

When I arrived at the Fort Myers Porsche dealership early Sunday morning, there were already dozens of shiny Porsches lined up and ready to hit the road. Their owners were mingling in and around the dealership for what was billed as a “Cars, Coffee and Brunch” event. I was promised a new Porsche to drive for the day. (That’s how they lured me out of bed on a Sunday morning.)

But when I introduced myself, I was greeted with, “We’ll find you someone to ride with.”

“Excuse me? Someone to ride with? Umm, no. No. No. No. Nope. No. … No.” I guess I looked like I was trying too hard because I wore long pants. They pointed me in the direction of the dealership’s manager (that’s Ed). He told me I could drive his car, the 2016 Cayman.

“Have you ever had the opportunity to drive a Porsche before?” asked Ed, clearly thrown by my pants.

“Only every day,” I replied.

We walked out to his car and he gave me a quick rundown on its features as we waited for all of the other cars to pull out. Ed wanted to be the last car in line just in case anyone had problems; that way we’d be able to stop and assist. There were red Turbos and black Carreras and blue Boxsters and white Panameras and brown Cayennes galore. All shiny. All glorious. That’s when it hit me: These are the types of events that wreck egos. After all, 120 cars just like yours go a long way to showing just how un-special you really are in the grand scheme of things. Ugh. Then again, it beats being kicked in the shins.

“Feel free to open it up,” Ed said, as the light turned green onto Treeline Avenue. “That’s what’s it’s made for.” And so, I dropped my right foot and was amazed. Not necessarily at its speed, though it’s plenty fast, but rather at the fact that my bottle of water held firm in the car’s very slick cup holder—even under the heaviest of acceleration. Nicely done, Porsche. I guess when you’re surrounded by all that expensive leather it makes sense to avoid covering it with a Salted Caramel Mocha Light Frappuccino. If there is anything to complain about, it’s the windows. For this kind of money, you’d think the glass wouldn’t make the landscape so blurry. Are those cows? Damned if I know.

The exclusive 918 Spyder

Of course, we had to slow down when we drove through the heart of Immokalee. (There are stop signs.) A group of kids waved frantically, offering a roadside carwash. Not surprisingly, all of these cars had been waxed like a Brazilian, so they were out of luck. If I was privy to the route earlier, I would have contracted with them and offered a mud-throwing service just one block prior to their venture, but alas…. Let it not be said that I’m not looking to give back.

Then again, being a part of more than 120 mostly new Porsches driving through the heart of one of this state’s poorest communities gave me pause. Not enough to come to a complete stop at any of the stop signs, but figuratively a pause.

Gosh, it really feels good to be behind the wheel of a new car. Ed can sense it and is letting me know there are several very nice choices back at the dealership available for a reasonable adoption fee. He actually has me doing math in my head, which, in addition to writing this and driving 102 mph down unfamiliar roads seems foolhardy. (But so does buying another Porsche on what this magazine pays me.)

Ed seemed visibly pleased that we made it to Everglades Isle in one piece, and, as I was looking for my complimentary croissant, I spotted the real reason I wanted to be a part of today’s Porsche parade: Porsche’s latest supercar, the 918 Spyder. (It was on display for the event along with its chaperone, David Donohue, a former Le Mans and Rolex 24-hour winner at Daytona.) This hybrid bullet, of which they made only 918 (all of which are already sold—even though they started at $845,000 before upgrades), was clocked by Car and Driver magazine as hitting 60 mph in just 2.2 seconds. Donohue started it for us and made 150 people reach for their blood pressure medication. If they had let me drive that car, this column would be a lot shorter.

*The speeds mentioned in this column are purely exaggeration and in no way accurate. The drivers mentioned were always driving at, or below, posted speed limits. That’s our story.

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