Cars, Beers, and Books

When I last saw Steve Berry at The BookMark in January, he announced that he would be back on March 6, 2020 for his new book The Warsaw Protocol. Last time, I left work at 5:00 pm and arrived at the bookstore just in time for the talk. This time I decided to leave work at noon and spend the afternoon in Jacksonville beforehand.

My car was originally sold by Porsche Jacksonville. I didn’t get any service history when I bought the car and I hoped that the Jacksonville dealership would have it. So my first stop was to visit the Service department. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any records after the initial sales preparation. I did buy a shirt in the shop, so I didn’t leave empty-handed.

Porsche Jacksonville

While there, I had a walk around the cat lot. They had all of the new 911s, 718 Boxsters and Caymans, Panameras, Cayennes, and Macans, as well as an interesting variety of used Porsches. Along the street were several other brands including a rare Karma Revero.

Karma Revero

There were many 911 models to choose from.

Porsche 911 Lineup

While wandering the lot, a man drove in with his Porsche Boxster Spyder 987 (a special edition Boxster). The car was probably 9-10 years old but in excellent condition. I like the side stripes a lot, maybe a future addition to my car?

Porsche Boxster Spyder 987
Porsche Boxster Spyder 987

Business and pleasure finished, I headed east toward Atlantic Beach to Reve Brewing (pronounced “rev”). I had heard about this new brewery from some craft-beer friends and had tasted one of their beers. But I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. The brewery was fairly small and located in a strip mall.

Reve Brewing
Reve Brewing

The place was fairly crowded for an early Friday afternoon. The interior was a combination of modern industrial and old-fashioned. The beer menu was entirely trendy. Reve specializes in three styles of beer: IPAs, sours, and imperial stouts—the current popular styles. However, I did notice a different recent addition, a Mexican lager (whatever that means) called Conejo Especial, and ordered a “taster” size. It was good.

Reve Brewing Beer

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I would like next. I asked the bartender, Joey, what the least hoppy IPA was and he returned with two samples. The first one, called Feed Your Head, was very bitter and not to my liking. However, the second one, called A Bit Too Leisurely, was dry hopped and not bitter at all but rather citrus-like. It might be the first IPA that I genuinely like. I ordered a taster size and really enjoyed it.

Finally, I purchased a crowler of their Along the Cherry Lane, a sour with cherries and dragonfruit. I will take this to the next beer-share at Red Pig Brewing.

Before I drank any more beer, I need some (late) lunch so I drove south towards Jacksonville Beach and picked up some fast food to-go. I headed next to Green Room Brewing a few blocks away. I had been there once in September 2018 and liked the place.

Green Room Brewing

I ordered a flight of four beers and found a table with my food. The bartender, Brendan, was a graduate of Embry-Riddle so we had a good chat about that.

Green Room Brewing Beers

I drank the beers in order (right-to-left in the photo). The flavors were OK, but the common characteristic was that they were thin and with low carbonation. I like my beer less filtered with a bit more bubbles. I still wanted to pick up a small crowler to bring home, so I ordered one of the Count Shakula, a chocolate oatmeal stout.

Next I headed north to Neptune Beach where the book signing would take place. I was early, so after snagging a parking spot in front of the bookstore I had a walk around town. I also walked the one block down to the beach to pass some time. Neptune Beach is a beautiful area with many good shops, restaurants, and bars. The nearby houses and condos are very nice with well-kept landscaping. It’s somewhere I could happily live, for sure.

Neptune Beach Trail
Neptune Beach
Neptune Beach Orange Street

It was time to get back to The BookMark in order to purchase a book and get a good seat. The shop is very nice, but rather small, so it was best to get there early.

The BookMark Bookstore

At 7:00 pm Steve Berry and his wife Elizabeth arrived. He spoke for about 30 minutes about his new book The Warsaw Protocol and took questions from the audience. Near the end of his talk he announced that it would be his last time speaking at The BookMark because he and Elizabeth were moving to Orlando (from St. Augustine). Rona, the store owner, presented them with a brick that will be placed in front of the store.

After the talk, I quickly got in line to have my book signed. We briefly talked about Orlando and that there was only one independent bookstore (Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park) they we could think of. He signed my book while we took a photo and I was soon on my way back home.

Steve Berry and James Day

In total, it was an enjoyable day filled with my three favorite things: cars, beers, and books. I got to see some great cars, taste some delicious (and not so good) new beers, and meet (again) one of my favorite authors to get a book signed. I came home with some great souvenirs from the day.

Shirt, Beer, and Book

Well done, Jacksonville.

Best of Chris Harris 1

If you are a car enthusiast, you know about Chris Harris. If not, I’ll give you a brief biography. Harris is a race driver, automotive writer, and reviewer of cars. He has written for sites including Autocar, evo, and Jalopnik. He’s better known for his video reviews from THE DRIVE and then his own channel Chris Harris on Cars. He’s currently a presenter on the UK Top Gear, but still produces extra videos in his Chris Harris Drives series.

First, Harris is a great driver. He’s known for his drifting ability—which the kids love but I find a bit ridiculous—seen in all of his videos. But he can apex, as well. He’s a Porsche enthusiast and the car of his he talks about most is his 911 GT3.

He’s also a good writer. He’s knowledgeable and witty, using his cracking good British vocabulary and sense of humor. Once you’ve watched a few of his videos, you’ll begin to read his articles in his distinctive style. Am I enjoying it? Yes, I am.

But where Harris excels is his video car reviews. Here he gets to combine his driving skills, his car knowledge, his humor, and of course his drifting. Except for the latter, his reviews check all the right boxes for me.

So here are some of my favorite—or maybe I should say favourite—Chris Harris videos. Naturally they focus on Porsche and Mini/MINI.

The Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR

Here is perhaps the best (modified) street Porsche at the moment. Harris drives it on the track and gives his raving review. This is the car that once held the record for the fastest modified street car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Best line: “And of course your brain would say, ‘Shut up, mate, that’s ridiculous. I’m still clearing up the mess from my under-crackers after what that car just did to me’.”

The New Porsche 911 (992)

This video was from January 16, 2019 just after the introduction of the eighth-generation 2020 Porsche 911. Harris is a Porsche owner, so this review is great.

Best line: “But ultimately this is a 991 plus. Which means…a 992, I suppose.”

The Porsche 918 Spyder Tested

This video goes back to December 18, 2013, before Harris’s Top Gear days. Here’s a car that scares even Harris. He doesn’t really answer the question of why this car needed to be a plug-in hybrid.

Best line: “That’s right, the 918 is so clean even its petrol farts are pre-cleansed.”

The 2012 Porsche Boxster S

This video from March 14, 2012 is the closest review to the car I own. It was one that I reviewed when I was researching the purchase of a Cayman/Boxster. Harris likes several things about the Boxster over the 911. It sold me on the 981 Boxster.

Best line: “You drive the Boxster S with a six-speed manual gearbox like this, and you do think to yourself, what more car do I need? Do I need a faster car? Do I need a more agile car? Do I need a grippier car? You just don’t. This thing is brilliant.”

Mini Cooper S at Goodwood

Enough Porsche, let’s look at Chris Harris racing a classic Mini Cooper S at Goodwood on April 6-7, 2019. Harris, like many British car enthusiasts, says that his first car was a Mini. He can be just as enthusiastic driving smaller, slower cars. Probably my favorite Harris video.

Best line: “For me, when I was eighteen, that was the equivalent of a night with Heidi Klum, that was. Michelle Pfeiffer for the night or a pair of twin one-and-a-half SUs.”

Britain’s Best Handling Car 2006

This last video is a very early one, not posted by Harris or Top Gear. Is is a portion of the Autocar program Britain’s Best Handling Car 2006. In it he test-drives several cars including an R53 MINI Cooper S JCW GP and a 987 Porsche Cayman. I won’t spoil the result.

Best line: “And you do find yourself asking why anyone would want to bother with a 220-horsepower MINI with no backseats and still with a Toytown interior, but apart that we’re hacking along here not really being dropped by a 295-horsepower Porsche probably goes some way to explaining that.”

My First Porsche Service

Porsche South Orlando

Since last December, my Porsche has been warning me to get an “Interm. Service Now” every time turned the key. I wanted to have its first service done at the dealership, Porsche South Orlando, where I bought the car. It took several weeks before I found time to make the trip to Orlando.

The dealership makes it very easy to schedule a service appointment. Earlier in the week, I simply went to their website, entered my car information, and picked a day and exact time for my appointment. I didn’t need to speak to anyone.

Never certain what the highway construction and traffic will be like in Orlando, I left home early. The day was sunny and cool and there were no major delays, so I arrived about an hour early for my one o’clock appointment. No problem, they took me right away. Tony in Service was very friendly and helpful, answering several questions I had saved up since I bought the Boxster last June (2019).

Porsche Boxster and 911

After they inspected my car, Tony texted me a list of the primary and recommended services. Because my car still has low mileage, I opted only for the primary service which included an oil change, oil filter, two rings, and a sealing plug. They also topped off all fluids and set the tires to the correct pressure. Plus, they gave my car a complimentary car wash.

Porsche Boxster on Lift

While I waited, I had a look around the beautiful dealership. The modern building is spacious and spotless and filled with amazing cars, of course. The Service area was entirely visible through huge glass walls and saw my car on the lift. I always like to photograph my cars during servicing. Then I found a seat to read while I waited. My view was the rear of a pretty yellow Porsche 911 Speedster just inside the front door.

Porsche 911 Speedster 991

A little later I took another walk around the sales-floor and Parts department, and checked on the progress of my car, which was now off the lift.

Porsche Boxster in Service

The dealership was really promoting convertibles that day, with two more Porsche 911 Cabriolets in the front window.

Porsche 911 Convertibles

My car was soon finished and brought to the Service lobby area. I ordered a small part for the car which they said they will mail to me. Offhandedly, I asked Tony if there was a way to silence the loud and annoying double beep the car makes when you lock it with the key. He asked one of his service techs, who hooked up a computer to look for the setting. When he didn’t find it, he called in another “hacker” tech who was able to find the setting and disable the sound. Now I can lock my car silently. This “fix” alone was worth the price of service!

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Having service done at the dealership is certainly more expensive than going to a local mechanic. For my first service trip, I wanted to go back to Porsche South Orlando to get some of my questions answered, and for the peace-of-mind of having a certified mechanic work on the car. I’m still trying to locate the service history of my Boxster before I have any other service done.

Porsche Boxster at Porsche South Orlando

So about two and a half hours later, I headed home in my newly serviced, modified, and washed Porsche. I couldn’t be happier with the car and Porsche South Orlando.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Porsche competes in the GTLM and GTD classes of the Rolex 24 at Daytona so I joined my fellow Porsche Club of America members to cheer them on. Unfortunately, I signed up too late to park in the Porsche car corral inside the track, so I found a fellow Porsche to park with in Lot 4. The day was sunny and cool, prefect for racing.

My Porsche at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I entered through the tunnel under Turn 4. Immediately upon emerging I saw the Corvette car corral, the only other brand besides Porsche that had one. The new Corvette C8 would compete against Porsche in the GTLM class.

Corvette Car Corral at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I walked straight to the garages hoping to see the cars before they entered the track. They were already gone.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche Garage

I made my way to pit road and walked to the front of the line-up of cars.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Stands

The DPi and LMP2 cars were up front, followed by the two GTLM Porsche 911 RSR cars, #911 and #912.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche #911
2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche #912

After getting an up-close look at the cars and drivers, I made my way to the infield to find the Porsche Club of America (PCA) tent. On the way I got my first look at the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8. There were swarms of people around it, but I managed to get a photo. Its design is a bit too angular, busy, and aggressive for my tastes.

2020 Corvette at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Next I visited Suncoast Parts, the official Porsche vendor for the race. I bought a limited-edition Cayman GT4 mug and Porsche Motorsport water bottle. I spoke to Ric who answered several of my accessories questions and gave me a closer look at his own blue 718 Cayman. He was very helpful and I plan to order a few parts from them soon.

Suncoast Parts Cayman at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Apple Computer Porsche at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Suncoast Parts Stand at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Questions answered and souvenirs purchased, I continued on to the PCA hospitality tent.

PCA Text at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I showed my PCA card and received my wristband. I grabbed a Coke and a poster and had a quick look around before heading out to watch the beginning of the race.

The race began at 1:40 pm. I watched the first few laps from the road course section of the track next to the Porsche car corral. The #911 started ahead of the #912.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
#911 Porsche 911 RSR
2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsche
#912 Porsche 911 RSR

With the long race underway, I took some time to look around at the cars parked in the Porsche car corral, regretful that I had not signed up in time to get mine inside. The lot was mostly filled with 911s, but also included Boxsters, Caymans, Macans, Cayennes, and various classic models.

PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

One man had the back of his Porsche 928 set up as “BAR 928” filled with various bottles and mixers.

Porsche 928 at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
PCA Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Parked inside the fence next to the PCA tent was the new totally electric Porsche Taycan (pronounced “tie-cahn”). This was my first time seeing it in person and the first time in Gentian Blue Metallic, similar to the Dark Blue Metallic on my Boxster.

Porsche Taycan at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Porsche Taycan at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I left the PCA tent to have another look around. I saw some other interesting cars including a Turner Motorsport MINI Cooper S Hardtop and a Hyundai Veloster N.

Turner Motorsport MINI at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Hyundai Veloster N at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Back to the racing. I headed to my favorite spot to watch. From this infield spot you can see the cars enter the road course section, go around the Horseshoe, and accelerate past. Then you can see the cars as they head back onto the tri-oval and Turn 1.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona Porsches

After watching for a while and with the sun starting to go down, I decided to head back toward the exit. On the way back, I walked through the Fanzone to see the race from a few other favorite spots. I got my first look at the new Toyota GR Supra GT4 on display.

Toyota GR Supra GT4 at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I also had a quick look at the display of vintage racecars including two important Porsche 914 cars.

Vinatge racing Porsches at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Returning through the garage area, I realized I hadn’t taken my own photo to mark the day. So I got a last photo at the Porsche GT Team garage.

James at the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Although I had a great day on Saturday, I didn’t go back on Sunday, preferring to watch the race on TV (on my phone). After leading the GTLM class for most of the race, the two factory Porsches finished second (#912) and third (#911) behind a BMW. In the GTD class, the best finish for Porsche was fourth. Disappointing not to get wins, but the Porsche teams overall placed well. All racing enthusiasts should attend the Rolex 24 at Daytona at least once.

A Day with the Porsche

Porsche Boxster by the Ocean

The time has flown since I purchased my Porsche Boxster on June 26, 2019. In the two months since then, I have greatly enjoyed driving and also just looking at the thing, to be honest. I drive it to work on sunny days and have taken the Boxster on a few short trips.

But in that period I haven’t taken the time to do some of the basic things you’d do with a new car. I added only one radio station to the ones preset by the dealership and didn’t activate the satellite radio. I hadn’t paired my mobile phone with the car. I hadn’t changed any of the default settings on the displays or configured its optional features. I hadn’t even taken the Porsche on an extended drive just because. I barely tested the Sport mode. Although I actually did RTFM.

So on August 26, exactly two months after bringing the Porsche Boxster home, I decided to devote the day to getting to know my car.

I started with the center display screen functions. Although I don’t expect to use this feature much, I paired my mobile phone with the car using Bluetooth. It was a simple process. After checking my preset radio stations in the MINI, I set the same stations in the Porsche. Finally, I jotted down the satellite radio ID so I could activate it online later.

Porsche Boxster Center Console

After reviewing the owner’s manual for the programmable features, I went through the menu and set a few options such as the folding mirrors, auto door locking, warning volume, and the multi-function display items. I checked the oil level and tire pressures on the display. (Note the outdoor temperature of 107°F!)

Porsche Boxster Display

My building’s parking lot is gated and I had been using a clunky, ancient-looking remote control to open the gates. No more. I programmed one of the Porsche’s HomeLink buttons to open the gates. So much better!

The next order of business was to wash the car. Due to the soft-top, Porsche doesn’t recommend putting the Boxster through an automatic carwash. So I have been hand-washing the car and today would be its third bath. I washed and dried the car, taking extra time on its wheels and under the rear spoiler.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster Spoiler

The day was hot, so a drive and photoshoot would have to wait until evening. There is a scenic and partly curvy road nearby, known to bikers and car clubs, called The Loop. Around 6:30 pm, I set off up Beach Street, top down, in the warm evening. I began The Loop at Granada Boulevard, driving north on Old Dixie Highway with no traffic ahead of me. I turned right on Walter Boardman Road and then again on Highbridge Road which winds its way along the edge of Bulow Creek. Here I pulled off the road to take a few photos.

Porsche Boxster on The Loop

I continued on Highbridge. There are two ways to complete The Loop, either along the river on John Anderson Drive or along the beach on A1A. Since I hoped to take some photos by the ocean, I continued to A1A and stopped at the parking lot where the roads meet. Here I took more photos above the beach.

Porsche Boxster by the Ocean
Porsche Boxster by the Ocean
Porsche Boxster by the Ocean
Porsche Boxster by the Ocean

The sun was setting soon and I had one more stop for photos I hoped to make. So I cruised south on A1A enjoying the cool wind and the ocean views. At Granada Boulevard I turned right and crossed the bridge, completing The Loop. A few blocks further I made a U-turn, then pulled up in front of the Ormond Garage. This was an historic garage but recently turned into a bar and grill. Since I was parked illegally, I left the Boxster running while I quickly took a few photos, dodging traffic on Granada.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Photos completed, I jumped in the car and headed back home along Riverside Drive and Beach Street, arriving just before 8:00 pm. During this drive I passed 1,000 miles since purchase and will be writing a review of the car soon.

Porsche Boxster Dash

MINI JCW Coupe vs. Porsche Boxster

MINI JCW Coupe

Porsche Boxster

If you know me or have browsed my website, you’ll already know that my most recent previous car (in addition to my older MINI Cooper) was a MINI John Cooper Works Coupe.  While I like the sporty, yet practical, hatchback MINI Cooper, I have always preferred the two-seat sportscar.  I don’t have a family or the need to haul many people or large items.  This preference is why I bought the MINI Coupe in 2011 and the Porsche Boxster this year (2019).  Despite the Porsche being a convertible, the two cars have several similarities.

Both cars are two-seaters and relatively small and lightweight.  They are true driver’s cars with excellent steering, handling, and braking.  Both cars employ active rear spoilers.  Both have excellent six-speed manual transmissions.  Although very different, the two cars each produce a distinct, aggressive engine noise; the MINI pops while the Porsche growls.  My Porsche 981 has the traditional flat-six engine, but the current Boxster 982 (and its hardtop sibling the Cayman) has a turbocharged four-cylinder like the MINI JCW.  The MINI JCW Hardtop and Porsche Cayman used to compete against each other in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class until 2018.

The biggest difference is in the layout: the MINI JCW Coupe has its longitudinally-mounted engine up front, while the Porsche Boxster has a mid-engine configuration.  The MINI is front-wheel drive; the Porsche is rear-wheel drive.  Two different philosophies with each having its benefits and drawbacks.

Here are the numbers for comparison.

MINI JCW Coupe Porsche Boxster 981
Dimensions
Length 148.0″ (3,734 mm) 172.2″ (4,374 mm)
Width without mirrors 66.3″ (1,683 mm) 70.9″ (1,801 mm)
Width with mirrors 75.3″ (1,913 mm) 77.9″ (1,978 mm)
Height 54.5″ (1,384 mm) 50.5″ (1,282 mm)
Wheelbase 97.1″ (2,466 mm) 97.4″ (2,475 mm)
Weight 2,701 lb (1,225 kg) 2,888 lb (1,310 kg)
Engine and Transmission
Type and Displacement Inline 4 Cylinder
1,598 cm³
Flat 6 Cylinder
2,706 cm³
Power 208 hp @ 6,000 rpm 265 hp @ 6,700 rpm
Torque 192 lb-ft @ 1,850-5,600 rpm 207 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-Speed Manual,
front-wheel drive
6-Speed Manual,
rear-wheel drive
Suspension
Front MacPherson MacPherson
Rear Multi-Link Multi-Link
Brakes
Front 12.4″ Ventilated Disc 12.4″ Ventilated Disc
Rear 11.0″ Ventilated Disc 11.8″ Ventilated Disc
Wheels and Tires
Wheels 17″ x 7″ Alloy – F
17″ x 7″ Alloy – R
18″ x 8″ Alloy – F
18″ x 9″ Alloy – R
Tires 205/45-R17 – F
205/45-R17 – R
Performance Runflat
235/45-ZR18 – F
265/45-ZR18 – R
Performance
Base Price (MSRP) New (With Destination Charge) $31,900 $50,450
Performance
Top Speed 149 mph (240 km/h) 164 mph (264 km/h)
Acceleration
(0-60 mph)
6.1 seconds 5.5 seconds
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 25/33/28 mpg 20/30/24 mpg

[Sources: MINI USA website, MINI USA News, Porsche Boxster Owner’s Manual, Porsche Boxster Window Sticker.]

My Porsche Boxster

Porsche Boxster

After I bought my loft in December 2017, I began thinking about buying a new car. After researching the new car market, including MINI, I decided that nothing in my price range really interested me. Since the time I was a kid, I have always wanted to own a Porsche. So, about a year ago I started doing some research on the Porsche Cayman. The reviews of the car were excellent and I decided to try to find a recent (Generation 3 or 981 in Porsche-speak) with low miles. I had one requirement: the car had to have a 6-speed manual transmission.

In early June I spotted a 2015 Porsche Cayman in white with low miles that seemed perfect. But it was an automatic. I decided to go have a look at it at Porsche South Orlando and maybe test-drive it. Maybe it would change my mind. When I arrived, someone was just taking it out, so I went inside to speak to a salesman. I gave him my preferred specifications and he told me about a 2013 Porsche Boxster with a manual transmission that had just been sold to the dealership. Did I want to have a look? I hadn’t really considered a Boxster, which is the convertible version of the Cayman, but I thought it was worth viewing. So I followed him up to the large parking garage at the back of the building.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

The Boxster was a beautiful Dark Blue Metallic with a dark blue top in nearly new condition. It was indeed a 6-speed manual. Plus, it had very few miles by the one previous owner, an older gentleman in his 70s who owned several Porsches and used this one on sunny days to drive to the golf club. I liked the car and its history, but I still wasn’t sure that a convertible was right for me. So I left.

The following week I received a message from the Porsche dealership asking if I wanted to test-drive the Boxster. Since I had an appointment at Orlando MINI for an oil change that coming Friday, I decided to go try the Boxster. It was a very hot and sunny day, so I began the drive with the top up before retracting it on the way back. I really liked how the Boxster handled, shifted, and sounded with its mid-engine flat-six engine. I expected the the car to feel big and heavy, but it drove very similar to my previous MINI JCW Coupe.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Again, although I loved the looks and enjoyed the feel of the Boxster, I still wasn’t sure a convertible was for me. So I left again. But I kept thinking about the Boxster.

In the meantime, I did some more searching and research. I realized that a manual Cayman (or Boxster) with my other specifications might be hard to find. I was buying the car for fun, and I live in Florida near the beach. When the salesman sent me a message the following week asking if I had any general questions (they were not aggressive at all), I made them an offer a few thousand less than the asking price. I didn’t have anything to lose. But they accepted my offer and I quickly put a deposit on the car.

The first available day I had to go back to Porsche South Orlando was Wednesday, June 26. I took the afternoon off work, left my MINI Cooper in my parents’ driveway, and drove down to the dealership with my dad. We had another look over the car. My dad, Jim, a retired auto-body technician, was impressed with the like-new condition of the car. I signed all the papers (twice, due to a small error on their part), and was the owner of a Porsche Boxster! I took a few photos at the dealership before heading home in my new purchase.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

When I left, it was nearing rush-hour and traffic through Orlando was terrible. But it was a beautiful day and I was just getting adjusted to the car. Once I escaped the suburbs of north Orlando, it was open Interstate back to Daytona Beach. Then I could really enjoy driving the car. Once I reached the local streets of Daytona Beach, I lowered the top and drove the rest of the way home.

Since it was a sunny day and there were several spaces blocked off in front of my building, I decided to have an impromptu photoshoot.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Because my building was being painted, all cars had to park in the guest lot. Including mine. A few days later I spoke to the painters who assured me that my car would be fine parked in the covered lot. Only then could I finally could rest easy knowing my Porsche was safe at home. And I have already decided that buying the convertible was the right choice. I am thoroughly happy with my choice of the Porsche Boxster. I’m sure there will many adventures to come.

Porsche Boxster

Classic Minis in Classic Literature

My favorite type of writing is the spoof or satire using humor, probably acquired through my reading of Mark Twain, P. G. Wodehouse, and Douglas Adams.  Plus, I’m a natural-born smart-ass.  Thus, much of my creative writing is reactionary or a reworking of something existing.

For one of the MINI Cooper websites I contribute to, I started a series called “Classic Minis in Classic Literature” where I rewrite (re-summarize) classic novels to incorporate a classic Mini (the 1959-2000 version) into the plot.  The idea was inspired by the 2009 bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, only replacing zombies with Minis.

In addition to the fun writing, I also reworked an iconic book cover for the revised story.  For some books, this was the bigger challenge with my self-taught graphic editing skills, but also enjoyable to create.

I might write more but here are the first nine.

Pride and Prejudice and Minis

Pride and Prejudice and MinisThe Bennets are thrilled when rich Charles Bingley and his Rolls-Royce move into the neighborhood.  Mrs. Bennet hopes to marry one of her five daughters to Bingley, or even to Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bingley’s “proud” friend with an Aston Martin DB5.  The oldest daughter, Jane, isn’t into cars and falls for Bingley.  Darcy falls for Elizabeth Bennet with her spirited and individualistic nature despite her driving a Morris Mini 850.  Elizabeth is attracted instead to fellow Mini club member Wickham who tells her that Darcy once ran him off the road during the British Rally Championship years before.  Then, the Bennet’s cousin, clergyman William Collins, arrives in his ridiculous Citroën 2CV and falls for Elizabeth.  Unexpectedly, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth but she has become prejudiced against him and refuses him.  Darcy and Wickham compete in another rally where Darcy stops to assist Wickham whose Mini has gone off-track, giving up his own chance at winning.  We also find out that in their previous encounter, Darcy was avoiding a kitten in his DB5 when he supposedly ran Wickham off the road.  Now that Elizabeth sees the real Darcy, she accepts his second proposal and they motor off together in their new Mini Cooper S.

Candide, or The Mini Mechanic

Candide, or The Mini MechanicCandide is a young lad in Westphalia, Germany, who is being trained as a mechanic for the British Motor Corporation by Doctor Pangloss.  Pangloss teaches Candide that the Austin and Morris Mini is “as far as motoring is concerned…the best of all possible motorcars.”  Discovered fraternizing with the beautiful Cunégonde who was extolling the benefits of the V-8 engine and rear-wheel-drive, Candide is kicked out of school.  He packs up his Morris Mini-Minor and travels to Holland, but is turned away by VDL Nedcar due to his lack of modern MINI knowledge.  Candide stops one day to help a beggar and discovers he is his old BMC instructor, Dr. Pangloss.  Soon after, Candide is offered a position with BMC South America in Buenos Aires.  Cunégonde, intrigued by the amazing abilities of the small Mini, follows him.  The governor, Don Fernando, falls for Cunégonde and proposes, sending his police after Candide.  After several incredible coincidences and plot twists, Candide returns with Cacambo, a local mechanic, and their team of three Minis’ boots filled with gold and treasure from Eldorado.  Everyone returns to Europe where Candide finds misfortune as he looks for work in Paris, England, and Venice.  Eventually Candide finds Cacambo who tells him Cunégonde is in Constantinople and they go off to rescue her.  Candide, Cunégonde, Cacambo, Pangloss, and others buy a small garage and set up the first BMC Centre in Turkey where they find simple happiness servicing Minis.

The Mini Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Mini Adventures of Huckleberry FinnUnhappy with life with his abusive father, Huckleberry Finn fakes his own murder then steals his dad’s classic Mini Cooper and runs away.  Huck motors south and soon picks up a hitchhiker, Jim, a runaway slave.  The two fugitives motor on–all of their possessions in the world fitting in the Mini’s small boot–finally feeling free only while motoring in the Mini.  Huck names the Mini “Raft”.  Motoring Jim to freedom, the pair run across a band of thieves, narrowly escaping due to the Mini’s small size and agility.  The two run into misfortune again when they meet up with the Duke and the King who force Huck into performing automotive stunt shows in cities along the Mississippi River.  The Duke and King sell Jim into slavery, but Tom Sawyer arrives in his Mini Cooper S and the two rescue Jim, motoring through the roads of eastern Arkansas to get way.  However, Tom’s Mini has a flat tire and Jim is recaptured and taken back to Tom’s uncle’s farm.  There they find out that Jim’s owner has died and left him his own Austin Seven and a free man.

The Great Gatsby’s Mini

The Great Gatsby's MiniNick Carraway moves to West Egg to become a car salesman.  Soon after, he visits his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom, who live across Long Island Sound in the more-fashionable East Egg.  He also meets Jordan Baker, a professional racecar driver.  One evening, Nick meets his neighbor Jay Gatsby who is standing in his driveway, looking at a green light across the Sound.  Over the next summer, Nick, Jordan, and Gatsby become friends due to their common interest in British cars.  While having tea with Jordan, Nick learns that Gatsby wants Daisy’s 1964 Mini Cooper S which used to belong to Gatsby.  The green light Gatsby stares at is above Daisy’s garage.  Daisy and Gatsby meet again at one of Gatsby lavish parties and Gatsby tells Nick that he wants to recapture the past and get his Mini back.  One hot summer day, Nick, Jordan, Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom take a trip into the city in Daisy’s Mini Cooper S and Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, stopping at the Austin garage owned by George Wilson, husband of Myrtle Wilson whom Tom Buchanan is having an affair with.  At the Plaza hotel, there is much drinking and an argument breaks out between Tom and Gatsby where Gatsby admits he wants Daisy and his Mini Cooper S back.  Tom says Gatsby will never have the Mini back.  They all return home, Gatsby and Daisy in the Rolls-Royce followed by Nick, Jordan, and Tom in the Mini.  When the second group in the Mini reaches Wilson’s Austin garage, they discover that Myrtle was killed by a hit-and-run driver.  Although Daisy was driving the car when it killed Myrtle, Tom tells George Wilson that it was Gatsby.  Wilson goes to Gatsby’s house and kills him.  Besides Nick, no one seems to mourn the death of Gatsby.  In fact, Tom and Daisy decide to take Gatsby’s old Mini on a roadtrip.  Nick decides to leave.  On his last night in West Egg he visits Gatsby’s driveway where he could see the green light over the Mini’s garage.

1984 Mini

1984 MiniWinston Smith owns a 1984 Austin Mini 25 special edition and works for the Records Department at the Ministry of Motoring.  He alters fuel efficiency and emission data to support Big Auto under its ever-watchful eye.  To rebel, he begins keeping a secret fuel log for his Mini to counter Big Auto’s lies, which is an act punishable by death.  One day, Winston meets the dark-haired Julia who slips him a note reading “I love your Mini.” and the two fall in love.  To escape the eye of Big Auto, the pair motor into the countryside in Winston’s Mini.  Winston gets Julia a room above the local Mini garage, where he frequently services his car, so they can be together.  Eventually, Winston and Julia confess their small-car enthusiasm to O’Brien who welcomes them into the Brotherhood and gives them an illegal Austin repair manual.  Winston and Julia are caught reading the manual and arrested.  Winston discovers that O’Brien has been watching him for seven years due his ownership of the 1984 Mini.  O’Brien tortures Winston for months, trying to make Winston accept doublethink, simultaneously believing two contradictory ideas.  O’Brien tries to get Winston to believe that cars which are bigger on the outside, yet smaller on the inside, are better.  Winston, remembering his 1984 Mini, resists the notion.  Finally, O’Brien takes Winston to Garage 101 in the Ministry of Love to force him to confront his biggest fear: rust.  When O’Brien threatens to dunk Winton’s Mini in a tank of water, Winston shouts, “Do it to Julia!” and gives up his fight and his independent mind.  Sometime later Winston is sitting in the Chestnut Tree Café watching NASCAR when he sees Julia motor by in his old Mini.  But Winston now loves Big Auto.

The Mini Odyssey

The Mini OdysseyWhile off on the epic roadtrip MINI TAKES THE STATES in his fast, black Rover Mini Cooper, Odysseus’s beautiful girlfriend Penelope back at home is being relentless pursued by several other members of the Ithaca Mini Club.  After two long weeks on the road heading West, Odysseus reaches Calypso, California.  He is tempted by the beautiful Calypso with its many winding, seaside roads.  But he breaks free from Calypso’s spell and longs to return home to Penelope.  Before Odysseus can leave California, Poseidon, a tropical cyclone from the sea, delays him in Phaeacia, a friendly town, for two days.  While stranded, he tells the people of Phaeacia his whole tale of MINI TAKES THE STATES.  He motors on to Cicones, Arizona and adds some oil.  Odysseus makes good time through New Mexico until a huge sandstorm forces him to change his route to Colorado.  In Denver, the National Lotus Owners Meet was taking place.  The Lotus-meeters are not hostile, but try to get Odysseus to drive a Lotus Elise so that he might forget about motoring home in his Mini.  He is tempted but is able to escape to Kansas.  Curiosity compels Odysseus to make a detour to Cyclops, Iowa where there is a giant statue of a one-eyed monster.  Here he has his first bit of trouble with the Mini and it gets trapped in a local garage called the Cave.  The Cave’s owner, Polyphemus, doesn’t want to let the Mini leave but Odysseus eventually pokes him in the eye, leaves cash for the repairs, and escapes to Illinois stopping for the night in Aeaea.  The next morning the Mini won’t start and Odysseus has it towed to Circe where she tells him it’s dead.  While waiting for repairs, Odysseus is visited by a few old rally heroes and his mother.  He resumes his journey but soon hears sirens.  Barely escaping a speeding ticket, he continues past the dangerous Scylla and Charybdis suburbs of Chicago.  Wanting to be home very badly at this point, he makes quick time through Indiana and Ohio but decides to stop, despite warnings, for barbecue beef in Helios, Pennsylvania.  He soon gets violently ill on the shores of Lake Erie and must spend two days recovering.  By now, Penelope has given up on Odysseus’s return and offers to go out with the Mini club member who is able to start up her temperamental Innocenti Mini.  Odysseus finally arrives in Ithaca and finds out about the contest.  He attends the Mini meet in disguise and after several others fail to start the Mini, Odysseus, knowing the trick, starts the Mini.  Odysseus and Penelope are happily reunited.

The Mini of Dorian Gray

The Mini of Dorian GrayIn his London garage, mechanic Basil Hallward installs the finishing pieces on his latest auto restoration project, a 1963 Mini Cooper S.  Basil’s visitor, Lord Henry, wants to know the owner of the Mini, and Basil accidentally tells him it belongs to Dorian Gray, who visits soon after to see his finished car.  Lord Henry tells Dorian, who is terrified of growing old, that he should cherish his youthful looks because he can’t be restored like an old Mini.  Dorian wishes to trade his soul with the restored Mini so that he could stay young while the Mini gets older.  Dorian falls in love with a young MINI Motoring Advisor named Sibyl Vane.  He is impressed with her MINI knowledge and the two soon become engaged.  Sibyl’s family is against the marriage because he drives an old Mini and they think he doesn’t have any money.  James, Sibyl’s brother, threatens to kill Dorian if he harms his sister.  Dorian visits the MINI dealership where Sibyl works and watches her heap praises on the MINI Countryman and new MINI Clubman while suggesting the classic Minis were too small.  Dorian breaks off the engagement and goes home where he notices his newly-restored Mini now has a touch of rust around the front grille.  He realizes his wish is coming true so he decides to be better so his Mini doesn’t rust any more.  The next day he goes to the dealership to apologize only to find out that Sibyl killed herself.  Dorian decides that he was spared an unhappy life and decides to lead a life of pleasure, going that night to the auto races with Lord Henry.  Dorian parks the Mini Cooper in a shed and covers it.  Several years pass as Dorian lives a hedonistic lifestyle not knowing that his Mini is corroding and growing old-looking.  One day Basil asks to see the Mini and they discover its terrible condition, so Basil begs him to take back his wish in order to fix the Mini.  Dorian kills Basil and disposes of his body.  Soon after, Dorian runs across James, who repeats his vow to kill him for causing his sister’s suicide.  Dorian fools James that he is too young to be the man James is after.  Six month later Dorian is having a talk with Lord Henry about Basil, the secret to Dorian’s youth, and the Mini.  That night, Dorian decides to have the Mini crushed at the local junkyard.  But soon after a police officer finds Dorian’s mangled body on the ground next to a perfectly-restored 1963 Mini Cooper S.

Anthem: A Mini Story

Anthem: A Mini StoryEquality 4-1275 was made a Street Sweeper by the Council of Vocations, which selects the jobs of all citizens. While cleaning the streets he often wonders about the vehicles that were rumored to have once used them.  He knows these thoughts are forbidden but he can’t help himself.  One day while sweeping in an old alleyway, Equality 4-1275 discovers a hidden shed, not used since the Unmentionable Times. Taking a risk, he opens the shed and finds a 1970 Mini Cooper S in rough condition. Each night he secretly visits the shed to determine how the Mini works and how he might get it running again. During this time Equality 4-1275 sees a woman, Liberty 5-3000 whom he calls The Golden One.  Although it is forbidden, they meet and she shows a preference for Equality 4-1275, as well.  He has thoughts of the Uncharted Backroads and what motoring in cars was like in the Unmentionable Times.  Also what the long-lost Unspeakable Word was.  After years of work on the Mini Cooper S, he finally restores the car and gets it to run.  He shows his Mini to the World Council of Scholars who become frightened.  They ask what will become of the people who make carriages and take care of the horses.  They concluded that the Mini is evil and must be destroyed.  Equality 4-1275 jumps into the Mini and motors off into the Uncharted Backroads until he is out of the city.  He stops and spends the night in the Mini.  The next day he is adding a quart of oil when he is startled by a sound which turns out to be Liberty 5-3000 who saw him motor by and ran down to road to find him, walking all night.  That night they make love on the Mini’s bonnet.  The next day they motor farther into the country and discover an abandoned house with a garage.  Inside the house they find art, colorful clothing, books, tools, and another Mini parked in the garage.  They wear the new clothes and read the books including a Mini Cooper S repair manual.  In reading the manual, Equality 4-1275 discovers the Unmentionable Word: “rust”.  His reading teaches him that people were once individuals who liked to customize their cars and motor wherever they wanted.  He takes the name Issigonis—the bringer of small cars—and gives Liberty 5-3000 the name Navigator.  She will bear the first child who is free to motor.  Soon they will motor back to the city and bring back some of their friends to form a new Mini club and live out their lives as free individuals.

The Minimorphosis

The MinimorphosisOne morning Gregor Samsa woke from bad dreams to find himself transformed in his bed into a Morris Mini.  He was on his hard back looking down at his metal undercarriage and tiny 10″ wheels. By rocking his front wheels back and forth Gregor was able to flip onto the floor with a thud.  He heard his boss, the chief clerk, outside talking with his family while trying to figure out how to open the double doors of his bedroom.  He managed to push them with his bumper, then quickly reverse and they sprung open.  His mother shouted then fainted while the chief clerk ran out of the house.  Gregor’s father picked up a large stick and drove Gregor back into the bedroom.  Days later Gregor’s family discussed the state of their finances without Gregor’s income while he remained in his room.  His sister Grete began leaving him small amounts of petrol each day, cleaning up his daily oil leaks, and opening the window to allow the exhaust fumes to escape, although Gregor seldom ran his engine.  His sister and mother removed the furniture from his room to allow him space to maneuver.  Gregor’s father got a job in a bank, his sister in a shop, and his mother took in lodgers to generate income and pay for Gregor’s auto insurance.  They soon began to tire of the smell and the fluids and the expense of keeping a Mini inside their home and discussed openly of sending Gregor away.  Gregor, out of the sheer desire not to be a burden (along with having Lucas electronics), simply died.  The charwoman disposed of the Mini and Gregor’s family went out for a tram ride into the country, no longer burdened with the upkeep of an old Morris Mini.