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Darren Fritzsch's 928S in Western Australia

Sharks in the Nor West

One day I woke up and decided I wanted to change vehicles. My daily driver was a heavily modified ’77 F100 4x4. I was getting softer, it wasn’t getting any easier to drive, and we hadn’t really needed it for a couple of years now. It was the best 4wd I had ever driven in the bush, but after nine years I thought I would give it a break from the heat, the noise, the vibration, the insanely heavy clutch, the impossible to park manual steering, and a newly rebuilt gearbox that required Schwarznegger to grab second. Oh yes, and shifting out of low range required rolling backwards and grabbing the lever with both hands…

So I drove down to the city (Perth) and decided I would look for something comfortable – an NC Fairlane Ghia would be nice. I wanted something comfortable, my wife insisted it be easy to park, (something zippy she said…) and we both wanted an auto because all of our then current cars were manuals and we were sick of it. Power steering I thought, Air con that works…

The joke? The Fairlane’s I could afford, I didn’t like, and the ones I liked cost too much. So I looked wider. I came across this 928 thing. I remembered those from car shows at Burswood in 1986. Weren’t they ridiculously expensive I asked? Oh no said the salesman. So we worked out I could afford it and I looked.

More pictures of Darren's 928 in the GalleryIt looks nice. It has a history. It drives better that any other car I remember driving – and I have driven lots – It is comfortable, I like the leather and the aircon works. Its automatic; I buy it. Two weeks later the car is presented to my satisfaction and I drive the 1600kms back to Karratha with my eldest son (four years old, but he likes travelling).

This car is everything I’d hoped for with superb handling and effortless high speed cruising. No bump thump even though the rear tyres are at that 43psi, nothing appears able to throw it off its line. Phenomenal acceleration from 100km/h; I have to hit the brakes hard when pulling back in after overtaking a 50 metre road train. I think I saw 180km/h on the speedo but the roads are not built for that sort of speed (downhill run with a couple of sweeping curves just out from Geraldton) and I am concentrating on driving, not my instruments so I could be wrong.

It is very wrenching to drive this car. It is a bit like playing a video game – you can’t see the bonnet and you are way too comfortable to be in a car. I now notice that I am unable to see over most other traffic, but the visibility from so low is not as bad as I feared.

Anything vaguely sporty is very rare on this highway so you can imagine the interest the car generates when we stop at roadhouses. The adults are sometimes restrained but all the kids say "wow! Look at that" and have a really good look.

The lights are good enough not to need spotlights and the fog lights will give a good spread for detecting wildlife (after I shim the bastards out with a couple of washers). The creature comforts all work really well. My son asks why we have to travel so slowly (speedo indicates 140km/h) and I wonder the same thing.

Having gotten home it sinks in that I have never seen another one on the road. Ever. So I get a little lonely and start surfing the net. I came across Rennlist first, and 928’s in Australia second. What strikes me about the Rennlist posts is that these blokes seem awfully concerned about standing start/low speed acceleration and I wonder if we are actually looking at the same vehicle.

I bought my 928 because it is comfortable, a real GT in the true sense of the word. It virtually drives itself, all I need to do is steer and decide how fast. It’s a rocket on the open road and a lamb in town. I had cars that accelerate faster low down, but nothing to match the top end, and certainly nothing that compares to the high levels of handling while still giving a good ride.

One might question what sort of car enthusiast likes autos, and talks about comfort and ride, and the answer is one who has to drive the damn thing for over sixteen hours without a break. Think about how much work is involved in other cars and the 928 slaughters everything else.

As for the fellow who bemoaned the high axle ratio recently, I wouldn’t swap mine for anything. Overtaking big rigs has ceased to be a problem for me, largely because the kickdown to second at 100km/h puts the engine in the big powerband real nicely.

More pictures in the GalleryThe family wagon is an 80 series Landcruiser (twin cam petrol), which we have had for some years now (it’s a ’92). Landcruisers are incredibly popular in Karratha. My street has a dozen houses on it and five other cruisers apart from mine. Cruisers are known locally as "Pilbara Porsches". I bought petrol for a couple of reasons, but suffering with an asthmatic diesel was fairly high on the ‘no’ list.

More pictures in the GalleryIt is not as tough as the F100 but a good deal easier to live with. Having seen and done the things we wanted to see and do that required traversing really rough terrain we would simply avoid the diff bashing suspension-destroying spots.


Back to the 928: Initial build quality must have been very high for it to survive these eighteen years in such good condition. People who don’t know Porsche models, and there aren’t that many who do around here, imagine it is no more than five or six years old, judging from its external condition, and its ‘modern’ styling.

You may have gathered I was not a Porsche enthusiast - though I am becoming so inclined! - before I drove this car. I bought the car for four main reasons:

  • The handling, ride and on road performance,

  • The interior appointments and general condition inside and out,

  • The styling,

  • It was priced in a bracket I would consider.

More pictures of Darren's 928 in the GalleryNow that I own it, the price has become irrelevant, and I couldn’t care less about the styling. I take the interior and build quality for granted and so the way the car drives has eclipsed all other factors. 3000 kls on and I’m still impressed.

The problem is, it is getting increasingly difficult to drive anything else and maintain a positive outlook. Everything else I drive is too hard, or too soft, or too slow, too plasticy, too indifferently screwed together or lacks feel.

I’ll give it two years. If I am still happy with it I am going to buy another one so it doesn’t get lonely here. I think it IS that good.

Darren Fritzsch 928S Euro (3 speed) Auto (The colour is that funny darkish bluey grey metallic stuff that has an almost purplish sheen under some lighting conditions.)