across merica

by: Bert R of MD

I have been the proud original owner of a 1993 911 RS America since August of 1992. Throughout that time, the car has proven to be absolutely amazing. It is a pleasure to drive on the street as well as a stunning performer on the track. I have only good things to say about the car, and hope to own it for the rest of my life.

Perhaps I have spent too much time raving about my car, because for better or worse, one of my best friends and past roommate from college purchased a car very similar to my own. Michael Gulich had been saving for a 911 for as long as I have known him. In January of 1995, Michael found and purchased a 1993 RS America; black, no sunroof, limited slip, air conditioning, and a radio. In fact, the red pull straps and seat belts in his car, compared with the black ones in my own, provide the only noticeable difference between the cars.

At the time, Michael attended graduate school in Los Angeles, purchased the car in Maryland, and was storing it at his family's home in New Jersey. Well aware that he had eight months left in California, Michael decided he could not live so long without his newly acquired Porsche. Needless to say, when he initially suggested the idea of a cross-country trip to Los Angeles in an RS America, I eagerly jumped at the opportunity. As we mapped out our route, we planned for a beautiful drive across the Deep South in order to avoid any winter weather conditions. Little did we know the weather we would face for the majority of the trip.

Michael drove from New Jersey to my house mid-week. The forecast called for possible snow on Friday, and to avoid a slippery start, we left Annapolis, Maryland Thursday night, February 9, 1995. 7,630 miles registered on the odometer.

We spent our first night in Burlington, North Carolina. Paranoid about the car's visibility from the busy road, we requested a room on the back side of the hotel. The manager informed us that this was the cold side of the hotel, but ignoring his warning, we parked and covered the car. Upon entering the room and trying the heat, we leaned our first lesson of the trip - when a hotel manager gives warning that one side of a hotel is the cold side, one should not worry about where to park the car. We slept in winter hats and turtlenecks.

Friday morning we awoke to find snow falling and a very wet car cover. We brought the cover inside, spread it over both hotel room beds, and using every towel, attempted to dry it. Although this proved to be somewhat successful, we decided to abandon the cover for the remainder of the trip. With the roads now wet, it did not take long for our black 911 to really look like it needed to be washed.

Black RSA and Snow Tree

One of our goals was to stop at some Porsche Dealerships across the country, and next stop was Hendrick Porsche in North Carolina. We stayed there just long enough to realize that the salesmen had absolutely no interest in talking to us. Perhaps we should have been wearing suits. We then continued on to Snyder's Porsche in Greenville, South Carolina, where we were welcomed by a very pleasant salesman who proudly showed us pictures of a unique factory yellow RS America which had been passed through his dealership. After leaving Snyder's, we passed by a foggy Atlanta, then preceded to drive another six hours in the rain. Exhausted, we stopped for the night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Thirteen hours later, Saturday afternoon woke us, and we realized that we had overslept. The change in time zone provided the only reasonable excuse for the late check out. We knew, however, that if we slept this late every day, we would not see California for months. As we continued west, we discussed critical matters such as: what would make the better daily driver; a 79 Turbo or an 89 Carrera with a ducktail? Money no option, which would we rather own; RS America or a 3.6 Turbo? Should I have special ordered my RS America in viper green?

At 9:00 PM Saturday night we rented a cheap hotel room, ordered a pizza, and watched the highlights of the Porsche victory at the 24 hours of Daytona. We had actually attended this race the weekend before with many members of the Chesapeake Region Porsche Club. Invigorated, we checked out after the race. This short stop prompted strange looks from the hotel manager and an expensive dinner stop, but some things cannot be missed. We added a quart of oil to the car and then continued on into the night.

We passed through a dark Louisiana as fast as possible. A new Ford Mustang proved no match for the 911, and when rain began to fall again, we also discovered that the 911's upright windshield needed no wipers at speed. After entering Texas, we began to see many State Troopers, but they were all on the other side of the road with cars pulled over. That night we felt invincible.

Suddenly, headlights approached very quickly from behind. Nervously, we slowed down, assuming that this was surely the cop that would give us our first ticket. However, it turned out to be a Dodge Stealth, which screamed by us. We glanced at each other, downshifted, and started the chase. At 120 mph, side by side with the stealth, the RS felt solid and sure-footed. We dropped the hammer and showed the Stealth that we had plenty of power left. This show of force stole the Stealth's sole, and the driver finally bailed out at an exit, wishing he owned a Porsche. As we basked in our glory, we discovered that Dallas and Atlanta both look the same while quickly passing by in the darkness. We finally stopped for the night in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bert R of MD in Snow

By Sunday, February 12th, we started to associate Texas with country music, American cars, dust, and mud. While stopped at a local car wash to hose mud off the car, we made a major mistake of not checking the surrounding weather conditions closely enough. Rather then continuing on Route 20 (the more Southern route), we decided to head a bit north to Route 40, with hopes of seeing the Grand Canyon the next day.

Darkness fell, and it was my turn to drive as we continued north toward Amarillo, Texas. A light mist appeared in the air and I slowed down a bit. About 20 minutes later, without warning, we hit black ice. The car fish-tailed violently left and right four times until I was finally able to bring it to a sliding sideways stop in the right shoulder. What might not have been that dramatic during the day was absolutely terrifying at night. Miraculously the shoulder contained no ditch, no signs, and nothing for the wheels to catch on in the frozen grass. We were both fine and the car had also escaped unscathed. We felt extremely fortunate.

As we continued at a cautious pace in the ice of 25-30 mph with our hazard lights on, we decided to stop for the night at the first place we saw. I continued to test the brakes, which proved over and over again that the road was a sheet of ice. We stopped 7 miles later in Claude, Texas at a $20 a night hotel. The walls were paper thin, and we could therefore distinctly hear everything said in the adjacent room. The group had just totaled two of their three cars. One girl had an injured arm, and another had an apparent concussion and was sick. There was no hospital nearby and the group and the local police felt helpless until morning. The following morning, at Monday's breakfast, we heard about numerous accidents and at least 5 known deaths. As we left the horror of Claude behind, we knew how lucky we had been.

By the time we reached Amarillo, the ice had melted and as we crossed into New Mexico the Sun actually made a casual appearance. For no apparent cause, a rattle started in the right speaker. We once again washed the car and then began a futile search for a gas station which sold high octane fuel. Even the Albuquerque Porsche dealership could not guide us in the right direction. We thought of desperate explanations to tell the gas station attendants such as “We are traveling cross country in a high performance, 3.6 liter, light weight RSA - generally we have been stopping at airports and using aviation fuel - but now we are just looking for some 93 octane.....” We finally were forced to buy 90 octane. The car moaned as we filled the tank. Once again, we had learned a critical lesson; the next time we drive through New Mexico, we need to have the car fitted with the 3.8 RSR optional 120-liter fuel cell. We would then simply have to fill up just before the New Mexico border. We finally stopped for the night in Santa Rosa, New Mexico due to the start of a tremendous rainstorm.

Tuesday the 14th we continued our drive toward Flagstaff, Arizona. The rain and rattle in the right speaker had ceased momentarily, however, as we approached Flagstaff it was not only dusk but also snowing again. The locals said they were expecting anywhere from four to six inches of snow. At this point, we dejectedly concluded that for us to see the Grand Canyon on this trip was just not meant to be.

Based upon this decision, we decided to head due South to Phoenix. This was obviously not the quickest route to Los Angeles, but it was a major road, which we hoped would allow us to escape the snow. Michael drove the car through heavy rain and fog until we reached Phoenix, where the weather finally cleared. We decided it would be best to make a run for it while the weather was favorable, and arrived in Los Angeles around 4:00 AM with just over 10,600 miles on the car. We had spent over 20 hours on the road that day and figured it had been excellent practice for the One Lap of America Event that we plan to enter someday.

After spending five to six straight days in an RS America, we concluded that it is an excellent long distance car for two people. The car is an absolute thrill to drive. The seats are extremely supportive and one of us often drove 4 hours or more without tiring. There is plenty of storage capacity for two people when the trunk space is combined with the area behind the seats. We averaged 24-25 miles per gallon and we believe we could have improved upon this if we had made an effort to keep our highway driving at one consistent, legal speed.

Michael got a lot of enjoyment out of his car in sunny California. His RSA once again crossed America, though not with so much drama, later in 1995. Now that Michael is back on the East Coast, we look forward to times our cars reunited.

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