I recently survived a horrific car crash. I feel fortunate to have escaped with only bumps and bruises, but my 2019 Golf R was totaled.
The story starts off in Italy back in May 1999. My friend Luca invited me to drive from Regensburg down to Genoa with him to visit some of his relatives there. I said sure, as long as we could swing by Maranello and visit the Ferrari factory (another mediocre story for another time). So armed with my little point and shoot camera, I started snapping pictures out the car window at the Italian landscape.
Fast forward twenty-one years later to May 2020 and I’m locked down in a pandemic. I don’t bake bread or plant gardens, so I’m in my basement scanning film negatives instead. That’s when I re-discovered my pictures from Italy on that trip.
My 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo was immobilized for over a year after I decided to work on one of the most critical components of a car—the radio. Without a radio, a car is not driveable.
This could have been a good pandemic project, but I actually started back in the summer of 2018 and didn’t finish until the end of summer 2019—over a year later. This was supposed to be an easy winter project, but on an old Porsche, no project is ever easy or straightforward.
My favorite purchase for a car is tires. I’ve written about this often. And I was reminded of this as I read an article on AutoWeek about getting Yokohama tires for a VW Golf GTI. In the article, it mentions the Yokohama Advan A008, the tire (A008P) that Porsche 911s used back in the 1980s. That was the first tire I was excited to get when I got a set for my 944 Turbo.
I’ve lost all track of time. My children have turned feral after hours of unsupervised screen time. I’ve been banished to the basement while working from home. And we’ve been so desperate for streaming content we’ve even subscribed to Apple TV+.1 But none of that really bothers me.
What I really miss is driving.
I attended a two-day program of the 2020 Subaru Winter Experience and did unnatural, unspeakable things with cars. It was both a hoot and a holler.
“Do you think we should pick up some pizza for my dad?”
We were on our way to visit my wife’s parents. Her father had been taking care of her mom in the nursing home and hadn’t had much time for himself.
“Sure, that’s a good idea.”
My wife looked up pizza places in town and started calling. Our kids, lacking internet connection, were in the back seat staring out the window.
“Could you slow down a bit? It’s hard to hear.”
I dropped the Subaru down below 100 mph.
I attended the 2019 Detroit auto show (NAIAS) last January, but unlike other years, it was for work. I spent most of my time in the basement pretending to be interested in autonomous vehicle stuff. It’s a section called AutoMobili-D, and you may have seen it if you got lost looking for the bathrooms.2
Years ago my sister told me what a “rutter” was after she had read James Clavell’s Shōgun. A rutter was what the pilots and navigators used as guides as they sailed around the world. Countries such as Portugal guarded these rutters (roteiros) as national secrets to prevent others from finding their trade routes.
Inspired by these rutters (but not by the colonialism that accompanied them), I decided to keep a roteiro for my own journeys. I think in old-timey English this translates to “trip logbook.”