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Originally printed in the November '99 issue of Porsche Market Letter

A camouflaged Porsche 914 brings visions of a Wehrmacht staff car or some neo-Nazi's post-apocalyptic dream transportation. But it didn't start out that way.

New, it had belonged to a prominent politician. But politics is an expensive vocation and when he wanted to run for higher office, the result was an ad in the automotive section of our local paper.

It was magnificent, bright yellow with black upholstery, and although the 914 was the lower end Porsche with none of the frills of the Targa, it still had the inimitable Porsche style. And we bought it, though we had to catch up on two months' back payments, which probably equated to a paid political announcement.

It was our dream car-low to the road, a two-seater with a detachable roof, engineered with Teutonic precision. My husband, Denny, babied it, loved it. In '71, we drove to our new air force base in it, packed with enough supplies for a three-month assignment, carrying the cat in a carrier between my feet. We took it to England in '72-a challenge driving on the wrong side of the road, but still fun to run around in.

In '74, before returning home, we treated it to a brand-new paint job, still bright yellow, but pristinely fresh. Then we took it to the shippers who loaded it into a container for the long voyage home. Denny flew back and drove down to the docks to collect it.

"When I saw it after they unloaded the container," he said, "I wanted to throw up."

It had come adrift in the container, bounced around in there, shattering the turn signals and tail lights, gouging door panels and fenders. Denny was desolate, but he managed to jury-rig the lights and it was driveable, still mechanically sound, so he drove it home, suffering all the way. His baby was bruised and hurting.

It was covered by insurance, of course, and the repairs were paid for. But the shop that took the money used Bondo instead of sheet metal, did a quick and dirty-cosmetically good-job.
Denny was swamped with a new assignment, a new house, and a new baby and didn't realize the inadequacy of the repairs until just after the repair shop closed and the owner left town, no forwarding address.

It still looked fairly good for another four or five years, but with the salt on the roads and the harsh winters it began to rust. He kept touching it up with spray paint, and nursing it along. It still ran well, but was not a practical car for someone with a family. We needed a second car, so the Porsche now had to sit outside in all kinds of weather, and it sulked.

We had all the interior upholstery redone, but it never did get another full paint job, there always seemed to be somewhere else that money was more urgently needed.

As it aged , it developed rust spots, and on a whim one day, Denny sprayed them with a can of black paint he had in the garage. The next time he noticed a spot he used some purple spray he had sitting around. It looked awful, but by then I think he felt it displayed a sort of charming eccentricity.

Our son was in junior high at the time, and he was mortified. His worst nightmare was having his dad show up in the Porsche to give him a ride home, and of course the teasing at school was unmerciful.

Finally Denny decided to do a proper paint job, and started blending the existing colors and adding khaki and green. He covered the purple spots because they didn't fit the theme and ended up with a very presentable camouflage job. Perhaps too effective-he had several near-collisions and nearly got T-boned at intersections a couple of times.

The Porsche was 19 years old then. I don't remember the mileage, but somehow it had become our third car and we had a two-car garage. So he put an ad in the paper:

CAMOUFLAGED PORSCHE: $914

A couple of skinheads from an Aryan Nations collective slouched in and bought it on the spot.

And Denny said goodbye to another piece of his youth. He never stopped missing it.

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