No car ever made will buzz your innards like a bike will
This all started as a joke. And like any great joke, it ended with pants full of sour excrement, laughter and manly back-slapping. Ho ho.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently funny about a Porsche Carrera 911S. Corby calls it a “proper Porsche”, which I understand to mean it is not one of those handbag-coloured, watered-down, under-powered Porsches expensive girlfriends and their hairdressers like to swan around in. And, according to him, short of something called a “GT3”, is the right Porsche for a fang around a racetrack.
On paper, it looked like he was right – 294kW at 7400rpm, 440Nm at 5600rpm, and zero to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds for a 3.8litre, naturally aspirated car is pretty special.
But I don’t have much of a passion for cars. Stone-cold motorcyclists normally don’t. Surrounding myself with steel and glass and going for a “drive” is something I do when there’s watermelons to be bought or the dogs need to visit the vet.
I have always viewed cars as the evolutionary descendants of the horse-drawn Conestoga wagons that carried American settlers into the tomahawks of the Apaches; fit for the transportation of women, children, pots, pans and crates full of chickens. Men rode horses. And now, men ride motorcycles.
But Porsches, for reasons I shall explain, have somehow found their way into my psyche.
And I blame the 1983 film, Risky Business. Three things from that movie are seared into my mind. Tom Cruise dancing in his underpants to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock’n’Roll (I do so wish I could un-see that), Tom Cruise nailing the world’s hottest hooker on a train, and Tom Cruise sitting behind the steering wheel of his dad’s Carrera and stating with utter conviction; “Porsche. There is no substitute.”
I believed him. I too wanted to have sex on a train with a prostitute that looked like Rebecca de Mornay, and if I understood the film correctly, driving a Porsche would facilitate such an encounter.
It didn’t quite work out that way, and my first encounter with a Porsche was as a passenger in one that Corby was test-driving. It was “only a 911”, he told me, then proceeded to hurl this “only a 911” through peak hour traffic with a savagery that appalled me. I was so appalled I began pasting handwritten notes onto the walls of the Top Gear office that said: “Giz Porsche, (nasty word). Not for one second did I imagine that either Corby or his successor Tim Keen would actually do so. After all, tattooed motorcycle hooligans really have no business driving exotic German supercars unless they have stolen them under the influence of cocaine and are fleeing from the police.
And then it happened. Corby organised a 911S and would let me drive it around a racetrack, if I could organise a suitable bike for him to ride around the same racetrack. The plan was to slap each other around the joy-glands with our respective obsessions. And maybe time our efforts.
In my case, the whole stop-watch caper was entirely redundant. Corby can drive much better and therefore faster than me, and I was confident I could get a bike around the track faster than he could.
I chose the new BMW S1000R because a) I knew its mid-range stomp would juice Corby’s brain; and b) It would be more manageable, more fun and probably a bit faster around a tight track like Sydney Motorsport Park than its more race-oriented relative, the all-conquering S1000RR.
And let’s face it. If it’s the sheer thrill of bowel-dumping acceleration you’re into, motorcycles have it all over cars. Power-to-weight is what it’s all about in that world. And in bang-for-your-buck terms, I can buy 13 or so S1000Rs for the price of the Carerra, and still have dollars left over for a fancy prostitute.
My first few laps in the car were hugely informative. Corby immediately grasped that I was well shit at this car-driving caper, and I understood that the Porsche is not a car at all. It is, in fact, some kind of lunacy-inducing rocket-sled Stuttgart produces as a bit of a giggle.
But I wasn’t laughing. I cannot laugh when I am certain I am going to plough a quarter-of-a-million dollar Porsche into the tyre wall; and then somehow I don’t. Not through any skill that I possess, but rather because the Porsche has some kind of anti-retard sorcery built into its crazy German guts. “Go faster,” Corby insisted. “Do not back off suddenly in corners. Trust the car. It’s better than you are at this.” Then he took me for a few laps to show me how much better both it and he were at this.
I screamed the whole way. I cursed him in all the languages I speak. Death sat on my face and rubbed his dread sickle across my belly. The stupid G-forces the car was smashing me with were unspeakable. The lines Corby was taking through the corners would have had a bike cartwheeling into the stratosphere. But I only saw maybe three of those lines. The rest of the time I had my eyes closed.
A small part of my now-primal shrieking mind was satisfied the bike Corby was yet to ride would terrify him just as much. But I later realised that my terror lay not in the speeds we were doing, but in the fact that like most motorcycle riders, I am a control freak. I’m fine doing 200km/h into Turn One, provided it’s me in charge of the doing. Sit me on the back of a bike or in the passenger seat of a car and I’m utterly stupefied with terror.
Later that afternoon, I had found some common ground with the Porsche. I would drive it as fast as I dared and it would not try and kill me. A few laps on the BMW re-aligned my motorcycling chakras and when Corby had completed a series of ever-improving laps on the bike, and had filled his race-leathers with enough nerve-sweat to grow mushrooms, we conferred.
We agreed that both vehicles were astonishing. They were technical masterworks that made either the driver or the rider better than he really was. They both deliver performance well outside the ken of any mortal; but they deliver it and the thrills that go with it, in very different ways. It was like comparing apples to iPhones.
No car ever made will buzz your innards like a bike will. Likewise, there’s not a bike on earth that can match the Porsche for…well, “Porscheness”, I guess. And corner speed. The car is diabolically brilliant, both in terms of oomph and in sheer road-holding ability. It out-cars anything I have ever driven.
Cruise was right. Porsche. There is no substitute.
Except maybe a motorcycle.
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Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.