“Vic, dear boy, Porsches don’t break.” That was Huschke von Hanstein’s retort when Vic Elford had asked him about spare parts for the 1968 Rallye Monte Carlo. On paper a 2004 GT3 and a 1968 911T rallye car don’t have much in common, but their DNA and spirit is the same: Both cars will run as the day (or night) is long. Over our cross country journey, from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Torrance, California, the GT3 didn’t put a wheel wrong.
When Brett Sloan and I started our journey in Halifax, he mumbled something about the non-reclining Euro Clubsport seats and the potential drone of the X-Pipe Fabspeed exhaust. Over 4,800 miles later his initial fears were misplaced: The seats are much more comfortable than they look and we felt that the exhaust was a bit tame for our taste.
The suspension wasn’t too harsh (it currently rides on stock dampers and H&R springs) and the A/C worked like a charm. The only major drawback was the roll cage which made stowing anything behind the front seats almost impossible, luckily I opted for a duffel bag instead of a suitcase.
The biggest surprise about our trip was the realization that the GT3 is the ultimate road trip car. It’s equally happy cruising on the highway as it is on a race track. Give it three corners on a mountain road and it comes alive, take it on a gravel road and you can channel your inner Jeff Zwart. There really wasn’t anything this car didn’t do well. Yes, the yellow Pagid pads squealed (like fingernails on a chalkboard) at speeds below 25 mph but the overall performance of the brakes made up for it.
If I could do this trip again, I would, but I’d make it longer: These cars are meant to be driven!
Special thanks to Brett Sloan for the wonderful company and fantastic photography. Thanks to Amy Sloan for the hospitality, Alex and Kerrigan Smith and everyone else at VIR to welcoming us, Bruce Schwartz and crew at Stoddard Parts, Chuck Stoddard and his lovely wife, Chad McQueen and family and everyone else along the road for the thumbs up. I couldn’t have done this trip without my better half, Heather Norwood: She held down the fort while I literally gallivanted around the country. She even found time to scout our route ahead of time and provided us with some great shooting locations!
So herewith, Halifax to Torrance in 92 shots by Brett Sloan.
Graeme Allardice, former owner of the GT3 donor car, with his original Hunziker painting which was the deal clincher in our transaction.
The first look.
Out of the warehouse, into the light.
… I really traded some paintings for a GT3.
Journey to California begins.
What’s the speed limit again in Canada?
“Uhm, would you exchange USD 20 for 20 Canadian? We need change for the toll booths.”
Kills bugs fast.
Approaching the US border.
Somewhere in Main, we traded blue skies for clouds…
…and then rain.
Day 2 starts with Gulf power breakfast.
Nothing like a cup of hot soup on a cold rainy day.
Tucked in for the night at Sloan Cars in Connecticut.
Day 3: Blueberry pancake breakfast at the Lakeside Diner in Stamford.
Leaving New York State: Welcome to Pennsylvania!
400 and 1 horsepower.
An object in motion stays in motion, until its driver needs to go to the bathroom.
Somewhere in Maryland.
The Hoss reigns supreme in West Virginia.
Into the night we drive.
Q: Purpose of your visit to VIRginia International Raceway? A: Drive!
Day 4: Track prep at Villa 609.
I’m the one in the hat.
This little mouse can’t wait to get on track.
Tires squeal, brakes squeak. All good then.
The spirit of 100% ethanol free fuel to replenish after vigorous exercise.
“Are any of your signs for sale?” (They weren’t)
If I eat half, I might still fit into the Clubsport seats.
Dreaming of things to come.
Day 5: Visiting Bruce Schwartz and his team at Stoddard Parts in Cleveland, Ohio.
That looks familiar.
The belly of the beast.
As far as the eye can see: Special reserve stock of NOS parts that aren’t listed for sale.
Anything you’ll ever need to restore a 356.
Bruce Schwartz’ 1969 Soft-window Targa.
Targa makes for great camera vehicle.
Bruce in his element.
Know your roots: Same DNA but 35 years apart.
Too bad that images don’t transmit sound.
Visiting with Porsche legend Chuck Stoddard and his amazing private collection.
Long day, long shadows.
Day 6: Weapon’s grade machinery.
One of these is used to harvest corn.
It’s a big country but the 996 GT3 devours miles like a champ.
Which way to the GT3 parking lot?
Fill ‘er up!
Pretty sure this won’t fit in the GT3 cup holder.
We checked, they didn’t carry any pipes for the GT3.
Somehow the Clubsport seats are more comfortable?
See the USA… in a Porsche?
Going out of our way to frequent as many local businesses as possible.
Day 7: GT3 gives you wings! At the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Nebraska.
Blasting through the midwest heartland that feeds America.
Service please! – Ghost Town in Roscoe, NE.
Day 8: Denver CO. The Rocky Mountains beckon in the background.
Less oxygen, less power but the GT3 doesn’t skip a beat.
Averaging about 23 MPG since Nova Scotia.
No traction control, no problem!
Doing my best Jeff Zwart impression.
Colorado State Patrol: 1. #hunzikerartcar: 0.
GT3 time flies like an arrow.
Kills bees fast?
Welcome to Cortez, CO.
Off road GT3 at the Four Corners Monument.
Hunziker Design shoes in four States at once!
Racing against the sun in New Mexico.
Leave your worries behind.
Day 9: Leaving Sedona, AZ. Keep on trucking!
We’re definitely still in the desert.
New metal meets old metal.
I’m pretty sure the bearings are shot.
US Navy Piasecki HUP Retriever (in the foreground).
914 backing in the desert. Upside: There’s probably little rust.
Protein bars don’t count as fruit, right?
Quick visit with Chad McQueen in Palm Desert.
Can’t leave without a brief blast up Hwy 74.
Never leave your dirty GT3 behind, always take it with you.
Looks so much better now that there’s some dirt on it.
Not quite Mission E… just e-missions.
Still looks good for a 13 year old car!
Arrived at the Hunziker Studio in Torrance, CA.
9 days. 4,856.6 miles. 2 countries. 19 US States. 211 gallons of premium fuel. 23 MPG. 1 speeding ticket. Tons of memories.