It was the best of times and the worst of times. Tooling around Detroit in a mauve Porsche 968 certainly attracted attention, though if you tool around any place very long in a 968, the attention you want is that of a chiropractor. Whoever invented Slim Fast must have cut his or her teeth on Porsche interiors.

For the ability to wisk north and south from stoplights, you pay a price in east and west stability from oversized treads. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say the tires are two-feet wide, which is great for a drag strip when you want plenty of rubber gripping the pavement to help propel you from a standing start, but not on the open highway where those wide treads pickup too many variations in the roadway.

On Michigan interstates when you catch one of those valleys in the pavement from heavy truck traffic, the tires shoot sideways to find flat ground. On one occasion, the left side tires jumped from the far right to the middle lane at just about the same time a semi passed. Funny how quickly you can strike up a conversation with the Lord at 65 m.p.h.

At night and in the rain, it`s even more difficult to spot those peaks and valleys.

On smooth, flat roads the 968 is charming. When the road isn`t flat, the 968 is challenging.

It`s on an open, dry road that you can play with the 3-liter, 236-h.p. double-overhead-cam 4-cylinder powering the 968. A 5-speed is standard, Tiptronic automatic is optional. Our test car came with Tiptronic, the two-in- one unit in which the driver can opt for automatic or clutchless manual shifting through four gears. There`s the normal automatic shift gate and another alongside it for manual operation. When you choose manual, you ``tip`` (thus the name) the lever forward for upshifting, backward for downshifting.

It means you can move through the gears as you would a manual but without having to depress and release a clutch. Tiptronic makes rush hours seem more like rush minutes.

While sporting a wild color, a power convertible top that can be dropped and a stable of horses under the hood, the 968 has a few flaws other than seats built for those with 20-inch waistlines and tires developed for demolition derbies. The seat backs are very stiff, too much so, which easily tires the driver after a few miles.

The wraparound convertible top also is rather wide and creates a blind spot when backing from the parking lot. Don`t kid yourself: Those who sit awestruck over a mauve 968 would derive no greater pleasure than seeing said 968 back into an `84 Chevette. Certainly the lawyer representing the owner of the `84 Chevette would long to witness the mishap, which would no doubt provide the down payment for the legal eagle`s next Porsche.

On the plus side, the 968 offers dual air bags as standard along with antilock brakes and the entire array of power equipment.

Fun? Yes. Practical? No. Luggage? No. Grocerie s? No.

It`s the weekend toy. The longest trip you`ll want to take in it is one for which you`ll need just a change of sweaters, because one sweater is all you`ll fit in the trunk. It`s not a car for everybody, but then neither is the Corvette or Viper.

The problem we have with the 968 is all the talk about trying to do away with it. There`s rumor that Porsche philes are piqued over the fact the 968 is too pricey. Their ire strikes a nerve. It wasn`t too long ago that Porsche offered a low-cost, entry-level 924 model that those same philes chased out of the market because it allowed the commoner with $20,000 to get into a Porsche.

The 924 wasn`t the greatest machine to carry the Porsche name, but it brought people into the fold who could have moved up in the line when income levels grew.

So the snobs got their way. The 924 was dropped and in 1992 the 968 replaced the 944 as the entry-level model. Now the 968 has gotten a little pricey and them embers of the fraternity want to blackball it in favor of a low- cost 911 model. When Porsche loyalists make up their mind as to what they want and who they want to have it, perhaps the factory can get on with the business at hand.

The 968 starts at $39,950, the cabriolet at $51,900, the cabriolet with Tiptronic at $55,050.