Tale of two Targas
Tale of two Targas
Mark Titterton (Long time PCA member & Two Targa Owner)
Like all good fairy tales, this one begins in a land far away in a castle on a mountain , well a gasthaus near a ski hill actually . The year was 1970 , the location a mountain road near Saltzburg Austria . I was 10 , shoehorned into the back seat of a blue 1968 911T amongst ski gear and Toblerone’s . The driver , a certain Squadron Leader (Major) B Titterton , fighter pilot for the RCAF stationed in Baden Baden West Germany had a tendency to drive quickly and efficiently, much like he flew. This day however things were not to go according to flight plan.
The price of fuel in Europe in those days was considerably higher than in Canada so all military personal were issued with ration coupons to bring the price of fuel down to something comparable with home. That was the upside, the downside was that these were only usable at Shell stations few and far between. often hidden in small towns behind large stone buildings. This particular day the fuel gauge was approaching ¼ when the Shell sign peeked out from behind a neighbouring restaurant, stuffed in the back seat I heard the Major double clutch down and experienced the usually aural thrill one gets from a flat 6 engine blipping preshift , followed by a loud crunch as the passing BMW 2002tii that had been keeping pace with us crashed into our left door as we turned into the station entrance last minute.” Damn , that one was my fault” my father exclaimed as we drifted to an awkward halt in the station parking lot. It wasn’t just that he had damaged the car he had saved so hard to buy, his pride was hurt that HE had damaged this beautiful machine .He had always loved Porsches since he saw his first 356.
One might think the tiny seats in the back of a SWB 911 would be the last place a young growing boy would want to be stuffed but truth be told it was my favourite place in the world .From back there I was a voyeur into the love story that was my parents relationship, travelling around Europe to ski hills , race tracks , art museums and top notch restaurants all the time accompanied by that flat 6 addictive hum and the paper tearing rip of the exhaust . That sound has stuck with me over the years and it is the sound to which I compare all other car noises to . It is instantly recognizable as the 911 sound and although no doubt engineered into the newer models has been preserved throughout the 50 year history of the model.
Fast forward to my late 20’s. Two babies at home , Ford Bronco and 67 mustang in the garage, Mobile Tool business taking me away from my busy family. The 68 911 long written off in Montreal when a taxi rear ended it. The Major , now a full colonel stationed at shape headquarters in Belgium had found another Porsche . This one was a neglected 69 Targa lying abandoned in a Luxembourg garage after a minor accident. Questions flew across the Atlantic from Belgium to Terrace BC. What color should it be painted , Guards Red or the original plum . Leave the seats stock or install a set of non adjustable race seats that were in the back corner of the shop. Leave the engine stock or use some of the race goodies the restorer had from totalled race cars , rim type ? Upgrade the shocks ? Would I buy it when it was imported back to Canada …WHAT ! …would I buy it , a chance to own a Porsche of my own and all before the age of 30. I agreed without even considering price, my mom after all would protect me in that aspect I thought later.
A trip to Belgium later with a side trip by ferry to the Silverstone Grand Prix( you haven’t seen nervous until you’ve seen a novice Porsche driver negotiating the back roads of England in a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side). At one point the traffic reports were that all roads into the track were at a standstill. Not a problem for the Colonel however, more like a rally challenge segment. Turn left ahead , slip thru that ally , behind that gas station , around that round a bout , out the other side and suddenly we find ourselves at the Team only entrance to the track parking , an English bobby waving us thru as he glanced at our Belgium plates and tried to determine who we were and to which F1 team we belong . It was years later that I realized cars like that have a way of opening doors for themselves. Its not that they are expensive or special in some way because of their inherent value , its that they are recognized as an enthusiasts car and present themselves with such honesty and enthusiasm and simplistic grace that people cant help but treat them as an object d’art and afford them special respect. Its not that because we drive Porsches we deserve special privileges , but it sure seems the visual appeal the cars have create a positive bond between driver and spectator.
Fast forward a few more years , the eve. of my 30th birthday , a payment plan is arranged, more than I can afford but less than it could have been . And the guards red Targa is in my garage. It could run better and the body work looks like it was put together in a race shop ( which it was). But its there and its beautiful.
Fast forward again , retired now , remarried to a fellow Porsche enthusiast and business Partner , 2 body rebuilds on the Targa ( the last one a full on restoration), a move to the Gulf Islands , kids with kids of their own., The Colonel and his bride passing from my life way too soon.
“Should I buy this raffle ticket they are offering, It looks like they brought the stainless steel Targa hoop back, it looks like a modern version of the original Targa!“, its not really our kind of thing , its not like we buy lottery tickets or play the slots , and I wouldn’t know my way around a poker hand to save my life. “ Ah what the heck“ , I say to Shawn ( of Zambezi green 914 fame) “ we won’t win but at least someone will end up with a nice Targa ,we’ll consider it my contribution to someone else’s joy”
The plan was to take advantage of Porsche Parade 2014 offered up by the PCA in Monterey and to tow the now collector plated 69 Targa down behind the motor home. National parks that have long been on the bucket list would be squeezed in before the Parade. Yellowstone. Zion, Bryce and of course the red rock area outside Vegas. The great American national park route, amazing and beautiful. A perfect precursor to a week in the Laguna Seca campground.
Vegas, the horseshoe and the $ 3.00 sunglasses
We had never been to Vegas, the campground was great , with a huge pool. The strip of more interest than either of us had anticipated. As neither of us are gamblers and quite frankly we wouldn’t know were to start we enjoyed some great meals,the cirque de solais and splurged on a pair of $ 3.00 sunglasses. As is my long standing habit of picking shiny things up off the ground ( not because I have treasure hunting tendencies but because for the last 20 years I owned a fleet of tow trucks and anything shiny on the ground usually meant another flat tire) I picked up a small washer like object in the RV park driveway, pocketed it and forgot about it. I realize now that the ever growing collection of nuts and bolts beside the washing machine is most likely my fault.
The Parade was great. well organized, and despite huge numbers running smoothly. We did a couple or rallies , attended more than a few dinners, made some new friends and generally did what one does at Parade .This was Shawn’s first but I had attended the 1990 Parade in Monterey, At the time I was auto crossing the Targa a lot and did fairly well at times , even taking home a few rewards. As the Colonel had retired to Whistler BC to indulge his love of skiing the Whistler weekend was always a favourite. The Targa however had been returned to stock so more road based events were planned . One event I had booked in advance and looked forward to was the Parade lap of Laguna Seca , having done it in the Targa at the previous Monterey parade with my young son, and the Colonel manning a huge VHS camera .
This time it was Shawn operating an iPad and the corkscrew corner did not disappoint. I now have two great videos of the Parade laps at Laguna 14 years apart. What more can one ask for? We were to find out that night at the wind up banquet…
Of some concern to Shawn, being a girl of significant hair, was the tight schedule we had to change and prep between the Parade laps and the final banquet at the beautiful Monterey Hyatt . We exited the track and whipped up to the motor home for a quick costume change Back in the Targa we headed down the steep hill which exit’s the track. At the bottom near the highway I realized I had forgotten my cell phone , so up the hill back to the campground we went. Glancing in the rear view I noticed a familiar Cayenne following us back up the hill. It stopped at our campsite and left as I exited the motor home with my phone. At the time I commented to Shawn that perhaps they thought we knew a faster way out of the track , but I have since learned they were following us to make sure we turned up at the banquet. It turns out the drawing for the raffle Targa was done earlier in the week in Atlanta and the organizers were aware of our presence at the Parade. It worked out perfectly for them allowing them to present a raffle winner with a Targa at the Parade final Banquet.
And why are you here ?
The final banquet was a fine affair, everyone dressed up , looking for new friends and old acquaintances . Food was great and considering the attendance very efficient. At one point I saw our local Vancouver Island Pres. Brad Blaney up at the podium . Moments later I was paged to the front and thought perhaps someone had turned in our rally clipboard we had misplaced earlier in the week. It turns out organizers were trying to make sure we were in attendance as we were to feature prominently in the evenings festivities.
Dinner done it was time for the awards and the give aways. Accolades were given to many deserving folks who contribute to the club and congratulations ensued to the many Parade winners and follow uppers.
At one point all of zone 6 was called up to the podium , in truth at this time I wasn’t even really sure why. The master of ceremonies had a great time asking people were they were from and sending them back to their seats. It slowly dawned on me this was the big deal, this was the raffle winner for the 2015 Targa give away and I indeed had purchased a ticket.
Shawn ( being somewhat shy) had not originally come with me but appeared at my side at the behest of our table mates. The M/C took this opportunity to thrust the microphone under her nose where she hid behind me and he demanded “ and why are you here” . She responded that she was here to support me . He then asked ‘ what would you say if he has the winning ticket?” and she said “ why, I get the car of course!” The M/C then pulled a a set of keys from his pocket and put them in Shawn’s hand saying “ then you might as well take these, because he’s the winner’. Poor Shawn promptly burst into tears and tried to pass the keys to me but I played along with the M/C and got into passenger side of a beautiful Safire blue Targa on display while Shawn got behind the wheel and to the delight of the crowd fired it up and gave it a little rev.
We posed for a few pictures, had a brief meeting outside with the national treasurer outlining our options and potential obligations. It’s a big deal and a lot to take in. It’s a bit chilly outside and I found myself warming my hands in my pockets, its then that I realize the “washer“ I had picked up in Vegas is still in my pocket. I examine it and find its actually a miniature horseshoe, the kind they used to throw as wedding confetti, go figure.
While still outside we call our kids to share the news but most of all I find myself wishing I could still call the Colonel to tell him I would save him a ride. He would have loved that.
Fast forward. Dec. 2014. Christmas has attacked our house with a vengeance as it does every year. 3 trees, all of different themes, decorations , many hand made are everywhere. In truth it makes me a little claustrophobic but Shawn so enjoys it that I don’t dare make a fuss. Sunset Porsche has called and the Targa is built and on its way. I try to remain calm but know the excitement is showing. How am I going to ask her to travel to Oregon at this crucial pre Christmas time . It turns out not to be a problem as she gets on board and off we go .
We had a few hurdles to jump thru to make it all happen . There were tax considerations, border costs and inspections to be done. I did my research to make sure I could meet my obligations as a raffle winner and prepared for the importation to Canada of the car. Porsche very kindly allowed this unusual cross border transaction and everyone within both the PCA and PCNA were very attentive and helpful . The process on this side was made even easier with the assistance of our local dealer in Victoria who helped facilitate the Canadianization of the car . In truth they are pretty much world cars now days and technology is at the point you can self program things like MPH vs. KPH. Interestingly both customs agents I dealt with had Porsches in their past and were very enthusiastic and helpful. It really is true what they say, its not about the cars, it’s about the people.
I put the two Targas side by side for the first time today to take a few pictures to send to the many who have been so helpful in this process . I notice the build dates are 45 years apart exactly. ( I have the original passport for the 69). I find this significant although I’m not sure why. The fact that PCA and Porsche Cars allowed me to spec the car to represent a modern version of the 69 Targa is amazing to me . The sport techno wheels lend a vintage look to the 991 that other rims on offer don’t seem to , the stainless hoop matches the old one to a T …yes , pun intended.
What will you call it ?
I’m not taking to naming vehicles but lately people have been asking me what I call the new Targa. For 26 years now I have been calling the 69 “ The Targa” so it follows that the 991 would be the ‘new Targa” which sounds just slightly too practical . As I write this I’ve come to realize I could be talked into giving this car a name …..I think it would be “The Colonel”.