Visiting some old sites in a newly-bought car

Editor’s note: Moorandmore contributor and retired South Bend pharmacist Charlie Spiher wrote this story about his recent journey down memory lane after picking up his new cobalt blue metallic Porsche Cayman S that he won on the BaT (Bring a Trailer) auction website.

Fatigue … the virus … politics … self-imposed isolation. The result, an impulse to stare in the rear view mirror, once again. Only a few New Year’s Eves away from turning 90, I had never owned a Porsche. But now is the time. You only live once.

I don’t speak Porscheese, you understand: IMS, PASM, Tiptronic, DME, PSM, ETC. Learning Portuguese was simpler.

Driving a stunning 1976 Jaguar XJ6 coupe – a blue California car – the seller arrives at the Ithaca, New York airport. A retired judge, he whisks us 20 miles to his mountain top retreat. He offers dinner, a spare bedroom, and a tour of his stable. We had everything in common: pets, old Benzes, two careers, two marriages, too many cars.

The next day, the seller provides a brief overview of the Cayman S (I take notes), then morning coffee. Mileage at 10,440 on the clock. The car was, as described, immaculate.

As I coasted downhill on his quarter-mile winding driveway, two whitetails and a fawn emerged from the morning dew, fully expecting the right-of-way. Lesson one: Porsche makes brakes that work.

Depart the Finger Lakes of New York. Destination: east of Lake Michigan in Indiana, map-quested — 560 miles, door-to-door. Canceled planned stops to the Worth W. Smith historic hardware store in Olean, New York, and the Jamestown, New York library where I had purchased our first finback sedan from the librarian in 1983.

Nasty weather interceded – hard rain, gusty winds. Lesson two: Cayman wipers work.

Approaching downtown Cleveland from the East on I-90, there is a sharp left turn. The warning, a 35-mph maximum mph, is an oddity on today’s interstate. A killer. One hundred yards in front, a lady driving a late model VW Beetle nearly goes under a triple tandem UPS truck. I had been on this road over twenty years before, and that curve is still there.

Not far off is Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium where Dad, brother and I saw Bob Feller pitch in 1951. From the nosebleed grandstands, we could hear the echo when his fastball hit the catcher’s glove.

We drove to the game in a DeSoto four-door sedan. Pre-War – 1940. Dark olive, wool velour cloth interior. Memories with my two favorite guys.

Interstates were only a daydream until Ike became president.

A quick stop at an Ohio ‘oasis’ to fill up with 93 octane, EtOH free. 

Lesson three: The gas hole is in the front, remember? All four tires at 37 psi, date codes matching the model year. Adequate tread, but the rubber is nearly dead. Checking the oil never hurts, only when you get to the engine, there’s no dipstick.

 You must rely on the “sensor,” and a display in the instrument binnacle. I’d rather get a rag and check it myself, but first I would have to locate the actual engine. It’s in there, somewhere.

Nostalgia improves with age. The Cayman takes me further down memory lane as I near home.

1. Rear view mirror of the Madison Chapel – better than the Vegas Strip should you decide to marry in country style. For a marriage that lasts.

2. Favorite cemetery where my father-in-law is buried. “Hey, Neal, come up and see! I bought a Cayman.” He must not be listening today. “I’ll come back.”

3. To the good neighbors nearby in Wakarusa, Indiana – a stop on a favorite grassy airstrip. PT6 Ag dusters welcome fuzz-buster 997.1 to the turf.

4.Buckling up at 11,440. The thousand-mile-stone.

5. Home. Now stablemates with a prior BaT purchase – a 1973 Mercedes 220D.

The Porsche has a 7000 rpm redline, and a 190 mph speedometer, both of which are suicidal.

Its new stablemate, destined to join the 50-year-old club, a 4-cylinder diesel, top speed —80 mph. Downhill, tailwind, no passengers, no groceries.  The old benz is deserving of a vanity plate — and a cartoon.  Survival rate in a rollover accident, near 100%.