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Why Does Your Porsche Have a Wheelbarrow in the Back?

In the late 70s, I was asked that question often enough—and got such a kick out of hearing it—that I was disappointed when no one noticed the small cart held down with bungies in the back of my 1978 Porsche 928. Dropping the rear seat would reveal a gigantic cavern capable of holding the concrete mix, mulch, tools, and, yes, the wheelbarrow that I needed to work on my house. But, inventing the SUV version of a Porsche decades before the Cayenne and Macan would arrive on the car market wasn’t why I bought the car.

By Jeff Mason

January 27, 2021

Great Car, Lucky Buy-My 1978 Porsche 928

I was living more than 60 miles away from the store I owned and where I sold high-end stereo equipment and that car made fun out of an otherwise grinding commute. The clock on the dash let me time the drive and see if I could best myself. The car performed well, with an advanced and well-balanced powertrain, with weight distribution nearly perfect at 51%/49%, front to rear. A 90-degree, all-aluminum, 16-valve, 4.5-liter V8 with Bosch Continuous Injection System (CIS) fuel delivery produced 219 hp and 254 ft-lb of torque. The engine worked with a fully synchronized rear transaxle and a 5-speed manual. I found the car very stable, very poised on the road.

The car had been specially ordered by someone I’ve never met in March 1978. When financing fell through on the deal, Jim Kelly Porsche in Buffalo grabbed the list of customers known to have more money than brains. I was at the top of that list and thought the car was both interesting and fast. I timed the deal for just after lunch; it was well known that Ron enjoyed his visit to the local pub at noon and you had the upper hand by negotiating in the afternoon.

I happily sold the 1976 Porsche 930—one of the first turbos—that I’d bought from Ron and got comfy behind the wheel of the 928. Buying a pickup truck would have been the sensible move but I’ve already pointed out that I wasn’t motivated by well-considered arguments. The 928 left adulting in the dust.

Another Porsche 928, 10 Years later

Ten years later, a slightly used 1988 Porsche 928 S4 crossed my path. I had fond memories of my first 928 and bought this new version. The 928 was different and exciting.

Ten years later I replaced my replaced my 1978 Porsche 928 with this car.

The shape was unique. You couldn’t get more attention from that vehicle if it were a spaceship landing in a cornfield. People would stop me just to look at the car and ask questions, even without my wheelbarrow in the back. The water-cooled, front engine meant I had my hauling space but I’d be full-of-it if I went on about the practical aspects of the car. Mine 78 had a black interior with black leather, avoiding that checkerboard interior that never really caught on. Black on black and probably the only one of its kind for miles and miles and miles. Now that’s cool.

The ’88 version was just as fun to drive as I commuted from City Island into Manhattan, where my offices had moved and I had traded the wheelbarrow for a briefcase.

My Porsche Bookends

I am a bit sad that my two cars bookend the 10-year life cycle of Porsche 928. I think it’s kind of funny that the car meant to replace the 911 and meet all the new emission and safety regulations disappeared from the market and the 911 is still hanging in there. Cars should make you giggle. A car that was radically different made me giggle and gave strangers a reason to stop and enjoy a good gawk. Car enthusiasts like me don’t like cars just because they get you from Point A to Point B. Some of the best stories are when Point B gets a mere nod at the top of the tale, never to be mentioned again because you’re focused on, well, wheelbarrows.

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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