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The 1976 Porsche 911S Targa Enters the Minnick Stable

Autoweek Classifieds were the go-to place for buying and selling interesting/exotic cars in the days before the Internet. The paper was a must-have for what my buddy Wayne Carini would call The Chase. An interesting description, perhaps even a blurry photo, would start my next quest.

By jeff mason

April 13, 2021

I Find a Porsche I’d Like to Buy

In the case of my 1976 Porsche 911S Targa, the adventure would take me away from Buffalo. Manhattan was a short plane ride away and my wingman Tony (aka my brother-in-law) was willing to see how this particular escapade would turn out. I wasn’t thrilled with the color of the car — who would be thrilled with beige? But the numbers were right: low mileage, low asking price.

We landed at LaGuardia Airport and, as arranged, found the car sitting at the curb with the seller’s bodyguard at the wheel. I didn’t doubt he could handle any threat that might rear its ugly head given his height and size. I think he was ex-NFL. I wouldn’t have tried to get anything past him on any field.

When he saw us, his arm waved through the open window, inviting us to climb in. I called shotgun and Tony managed to arrange himself in what Porsche likes to call its back seat. I doubt he was comfortable but he was willing to do what he had to as he found the story getting more interesting.

A Porsche of a Different Color

Our destination was a hotel on the upper east side, where we expected to meet the owner. The Porsche ducked down a side street and into a garage where I had the chance to give the car a quick once-over with my practiced eye and shrewd judgement.

I tried to ignore the color during the inspection but that was like trying to nap in front of speakers at a Who rock concert. The non-stock color was everywhere and looked like it had been applied with a paint roller. Even the Targa roof was an awful color of beige. Think macaroni you forgot was in the back of the fridge for an embarrassingly long time. Not a tempting sight.

But, the rest of the features were good, very good. I wanted to learn more and Tony was going to get another chapter in this little escapade, as well as a new character.

I Negotiate the Purchase

When we got to the suite, there was a man sitting in back of the living room, next to a commercial grade espresso machine. In 1978, if you wanted to see one of those, you’d have to go to Little Italy and pay for a full meal in a restaurant. But, here was a bona fide machine beside a white-haired gentleman who introduced himself as Murphy. Just the one name. Like Cher.

This was getting weird. Tony was getting his money’s worth with this adventure.
I dealt with the situation using my time-honored negotiating skills. I was a legend in my own mind. I fired off a list of missing items and other flaws I’d noticed during my inspection. My goal was to bring down the price and I felt I had good leverage, starting with that color. However, I didn’t want to push too hard. I didn’t know if Murphy would ask the bodyguard to snap me like a twig.

I Get a Smoking Deal on the 911S

Murphy listened as I made my points. Then, he calmly asked if I’d like an espresso. I accepted the offer of some dark, rich caffeine as he picked up the phone and called his local Porsche dealer. I finished the first cup and he methodically went through my list, obtaining a price point for each item, including a new paint job.

By the time I finished my third cup, I couldn’t tell if my body was humming from the caffeine or the realization that the numbers Murphy was getting were retail. I was about to get a smoking deal.

Tony and I were all about getting out of the city before traffic increased. There was a strange sense of urgency to our afternoon; I was used to drinking coffee from McDonald’s. The espresso was a new high and almost blotted out the thought that was surrounded by god-awful beige as I drove my new car home.

My Porsche Goes To The Dogs—Enzo and Dino

I felt offended by the mix of beige and yellow in the door jambs thanks to the hacks that Murphy had hired to paint the car. Back in Buffalo, it was easy to identify the original color and reverse the damage. Code 117 went on and the beige disappeared. I was happy to see it go, even if I wasn’t in love with the original color.

My two English sheepdogs, Enzo and Dino.

I will never remember either beige or yellow with fondness but I have the sweetest memories of that car. I’d be happy to stop at red lights — even yellow ones — because my two English sheepdogs would fit perfectly into that back seat. As the car idled, they’d rise up as if on hydraulic lifts and look around. Then, when I accelerated, they would slowly descend to find shelter from the wind flowing over the car.

Enzo and Dino knew they were the stars of the show and never missed an opportunity to enjoy attention from passengers in other cars or pedestrians on sidewalks. “They’re so cute!” “What are their names?”

As registered pure-bred dogs, their names were subject to approval by the breeder. The name Dino was approved readily. Enzo, though, was another matter. I had a bit of a fight on my hands as I argued that I had last word on what I called my own dogs.

The boys became minor celebrities in Buffalo and I enjoyed the reflected glory as they drew beautiful women into our orbit. I think they missed the Porsche more than I did when I’d finally had enough of that color and sold the car, which will be fodder for another blog.

Robert P. Minnick is founder and CEO of the Piston Foundation. The cars in his life and the people he calls friends because of those cars inspired him to create a national fundraising platform to preserve car culture. He’d like nothing better than to know future generations can have car experiences as memorable as his own.

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