1991 Porsche 911

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washingtonpost.com
SOME CARS are vehicles. They are about passengers and cargo. Othercars are poems. They are about you and the road.

The 1991 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Coupe, unmistakably, is a poem -- amotorized work of concise verse.

The car's body speaks to the point. It's free of gimcrackery. Thefront end slopes forward. The back end slants rearward -- no tricks, nogames, just clean, classic lines.

And those big, round headlamps: They look like car eyes in ahappy-car cartoon -- you know, the kind where the car is sayingsomething like, "Have a good day!" or "Drive safely!" or "Please changemy oil!"

The Carrera 2's styling is so basic, it's timeless. Indeed, it haschanged little since Porsche began selling 911 models in 1965.

Yet, with all of its exterior simplicity, the Carrera 2 is remarkablydifferent from anything else on the road. You could strip all nameplatesand manufacturer's badges from the thing, and people would still ask,"How do you like that little Porsche?"

Well, I liked it just fine. Life with the Carrera 2 was somethingspecial -- a week-long celebration of personal mobility.

Background: The rear-engine, rear-drive Carrera 2 is a perfectlyselfish car. It does not pretend to want to do anything other thanplease its driver and one willing front-seat passenger. The car has twoseats in the rear, but it assumes that no one with good taste or goodsense would want to sit back there. Those extra seats are for coats,bags and stuff.

"Carrera 2" refers to Carrera, two-wheel drive. There's also a"Carerra 4" -- yep, Carerra, four-wheel-drive.

You can get a Carerra Coupe, two-door hardtop; Carrera Targa,removable roof panel; or Carerra Cabriolet, a sweet convertible thing.

If you're going Carrera 2, you also have an interesting choice oftransmissions: the traditional five-speed manual job, which is mostlynice, or the new Tiptronic, which is weird.

The Tiptronic is a dual-function transmission that allows the driverto shift manually without working the clutch; it also permits the driverto run the car with a fully automatic transmission. It's sort of likehaving a Porsche with training wheels.

Complaints: The reverse gear on the five-speed transmission islocated next to first gear, which would be okay if the reverse gear hada sufficient lockout mechanism. It doesn't. I shifted into reverseseveral times, thinking that I was moving into first. Hmmm. Perhaps Ishould've opted for the Tiptronic transmission.

Praise: Heck, just get into the Carrera 2 and go. The term "fun todrive" belittles this car. It's more sensual, more meaningful than that.It's the way the thing moves that thrills you. And in case you stopmoving abruptly, the likelihood is that you'll be around to remember theexperience. Porsche is the only company that puts driver and passengerair bags in all of the cars it sells in the United States.

Head-turning quotient: Total knockout, especially among the older,affluent, wann a-be-wild set.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The ride's firm, but you wouldn'twant it any other way in this car. Handling is simply superb.Acceleration is, well, uhmm, I take the Fifth.

Braking is excellent. The car stops as fast as it goes. The engine isvery nice -- 3.6 liter, in-line six-cylinder, dual-ignition,fuel-injected, rated 247 horsepower at 6,100 rpm.

Sound system: Eight-speaker, AM/FM stereo radio and cassette byBlaupunkt. Pretty darned good.

Mileage: About 21 to the gallon (20.3-gallon tank, estimated 415-milerange on usable volume of unleaded premium gasoline), mostly highway anddriver only.

Price: Base price on the tested five-speed manual Carrera 2 is$61,915. Dealer's invoice is $51,830. Price as tested is $66,107,including a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax and an estimated $3,192 luxury tax.

Purse-strings note: Hey, poetry ain't practical, either.




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