Green Miles: Through Ireland in a red Porsche 911
Let’s start at the end. Back home again. The comforting fragrance of an exquisite Colombian roast wafts through the air. Listening to Johnny Cash. One of my first thoughts: somewhere in Weissach, there’s a chassis developer smiling to himself, brewing himself a cup of coffee and wishing his colleague a good morning. Then the two of them go back to work.
A nice image. But where did this come from? Let’s take this one thing at a time.
Belfast, Northern Ireland. Night is falling. Greg sits down at our table. A nice guy in his early fifties. Maybe younger. “Want a cigarette?” No, thanks. He tells us that he’ll be working hard for the next three months and then return home for two months. He doesn’t tell us what business he’s in, however. My guess: oil rig or army. And an inherent wariness of foreigners, especially since Greta is sailing a boat. Maybe a construction worker. All the same to me. Don’t say a single word about the Porsche. Instead, we start talking football. “Kloppo is the man!” He’s an FC Liverpool supporter. A workers’ club, for its fans at least. I tell Greg that I once interviewed Kloppo. A straightforward guy.
Greg likes that. I get that, though I don’t understand everything he says in his heavy Irish accent. I buy Greg another whiskey. I pay, he chooses. “Two Bushmills, the twenty-one-year-old, please.” Greg takes ice. That makes 26 pounds per glass. Greg’s eyes are brimming with tears when he downs his glass, while I calculate that I’d have gotten half a tankful for the 911 for the money such a glass of Northern Irish whiskey costs. The liquid gold smooths my raspy throat. Then Greg pays for a refill. “That’s the way we do it here. It’s nice to be nice.” We say goodbye, as we want to cover quite a distance tomorrow, getting our butts in gear, braving the wind and the weather and the damn road. At least that’s what I tell Greg. Greg laughs. “The old Bushmills is showing its effect. Take care.”
I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea / From the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Dunardee / I miss the river Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen / The moorlands and the midlands with their forty shades of green
Irish breakfast. The beans are indeed fantastic, although I’d never eat anything like that for breakfast in Germany. The bacon has been cut too thick and is a little too floppy, just like the egg. What the heck. After such a rich breakfast, two coffees should get me over the day. And then maybe an Irish stew for dinner, in a pub somewhere. That’s the plan. A good plan. We think. But at first, we have to cover quite a distance along the Irish coast. We feel a little queasy when we think about driving the beautiful red Carrera 4S on these rough and bumpy roads. Too many unknowns. Not only potholes, blind curves, invisible bumps, but also tourists, left-hand traffic that we’re not used to and sheep. Sheep, sheep and more sheep. Yes, the Porsche may have been tested on the Nürburgring, the Green Hell – Porsche’s “living room”, as they like to refer to it. But is it also fit for the Green Island?
We start out gently. Everything feels familiar and good. Even very good. And in the blink of an eye the 911 follows the intended direction, the first potholes don’t seem to bother the car at all. The only thing that’s getting a little abraded is the rubber lip mounted below the front spoiler, exactly for this purpose, and not the spoiler itself. A driver needs this, it’s like a brief pain impulse that lets you know: this far and no further. That creates confidence. And already the synapses deep down in the limbic system start switching into another mode. An inner voice starts whispering, “Don’t restrain yourself.” Is this the thrill of anticipation? Or is it already cockiness? Coffee break. Dramatic skies. Irish sunshine. Our first résumé: the 992 drives as if it had been painted onto the road, the chassis working like the hip and knees of a skier, anticipating any bump, while the upper body, sorry, the passenger compartment remains largely still. The 911 is always under tension. Professional athletes call this body tension. It’s a driver’s car, oh yes, it is.
Photo break. Some American tourists. One of them looks like an impersonation of Axl Rose. During his bad times. He says, “What a challenge!” I assume that he thinks that driving a 911 on these terrible Irish country roads is a challenge and tell him that the car is doing fantastic and that I’m really impressed by the car’s set-up and the overall package. It’s all “November Rain” to Axl and he says, “What I actually meant is that driving a car with American drive in left-hand traffic is a challenge.” He really said, “American drive”, not “left-hand drive”. I consult my watch. Oh, already that late?! We’ve got to get going.
Johnny Cash once identified forty shades of green in Ireland. Many of them probably only were a variation of yellow, still: an interesting approach. Particularly when driving a 911, as the 911 is not only the world’s best-known sports car, but also available in a wide variety of derivatives for practically any challenge and taste. And when Jeremy Clarkson – definitely not a big fan of the Porsche 911 – made his peace with rear-wheel drive in a GT3, it became definitely clear which car was the world’s best sportscar. A GT3, which passes much closer over the road surface, would definitely leave the driver with much sweatier hands than the Carrera 4S. But let’s wait and see. The test drives on the Nürburgring and in Weissach are said to be well underway.
I’d walk from Cork to Larne to see the forty shades of green / But most of all I miss a girl …
In the end, everything is love. People, the car, the weather, the landscape. Even the roads that have a lot of character. Combined with a certain dose of British humor. Even though there’s a strict speed limit on Irish country roads (mostly 100 km/h or 60 miles per hour), when driving a Porsche 911, adhering to this limit would only be a realistic goal for the likes of Walter Röhrl.