Driving down a residential road in 1986, I saw the unmistakable silhouette of a Porsche 911 under a tarp with a 4-Sale $1000 sign. I purchased what turned out to be a 1968 912 Soft-back Targa. I was a tinkerer of cars and this was my "golden" opportunity to own a "real" Porsche. Now, I needed to find an apartment with a garage for sheltering my project. That was just the beginning of my costly nightmare. Working in the 100 degrees Dallas temperatures, I gradually stripped and rebuilt the entire vehicle. The body rust was just the beginning. After ever-rising and increasing expenditures and hundreds of hours, my powder-puff blue 912 was ready for the road. It was a pleasure to take s-turns in this well-balanced version of a Volkswagen-powered Porsche. It looked beautiful and I quickly had a cute young blonde as my passenger. I was a yuppy living the life in Big-D. Hell, it was the eighties. The Porsche looked beautiful from every angle; as it was repeatedly dragged onto a flat-bed tow truck. My girlfriend would often rescue me in her beat-up Honda with over 150,000 miles that would simply not die. This was very generous, given that she knew the incident(s) had occurred during a date with another. Then one beautiful, bright Texas morning, I took my Targa for a fun drive through the flat, open streets of a vacant, future new home development. It was handling like a dream. Then I noticed that the new powder-puff blue paint was starting to bubble up on the distinctive sloping hood. I quickly stopped the vehicle and opened the bonnet to discover the cause. It was fire! A totally engulfing blow-torch-like oven of flames. I grabbed the small fire extinguisher and watched the spray do absolutely nothing. A 1968 Porsche 912 was constructed of magnesium body panels. I quickly discovered that a magnesium body panel burns much like a magnesium flare. In less than 10 minutes, a fire truck arrived. This residential fire department was not equipped to fight burning metal. They simply kept the fire contained to the vehicle. We all watched as the glass melted, the metal crumbled, the tires exploded, the gas tank erupted, and the surrounding asphalt street melted. The blackened, charred, crumbling remains of my previuosly beautiful powder-puff blue Porsche were towed to an impound lot. My bubbly, blonde girlfriend once again picked me up in her little "putt-putt". Since the fire department had arrived in less than 10 minutes, the insurance company did not believe that the vehicle could possibly be considered a total loss. I asked them to simply send someone, anyone, to actually take a look at the remains. They reconsidered and agreed to compensate the 1987 "book value" for a 1968 Porsche 912 Targa. Needless to say, that did not nearly match the amount spent to periodically drive a Porsche. Well, I ended up marrying that little bubbly blonde and we have been together for over 32 years. She has been asked/instructed to never ever allow me to purchase a Porsche. The suspected cause of the fire: The rusted gas tank fill-pipe had over time allowed fuel to contaminate the trunk mat and assorted contents. A mouse or age had frayed an electrical wire/component. Aggressive driving caused an electrical spark/arc and a gasoline fueled fire erupted. Opening the bonnet simply provided additional oxygen. Once the magnesium metal caught on fire it was quickly unmanagable.
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Bought a new 1990 Miata and drove it daily for 2 years in Dallas traffic as a regional sales executive. I stared into truck wheels at every redlight and could feel the heat from the radiator fan of the truck behind. While driving down the highway at 60 mph the truck infront drove over a sizable log. My front left tire was unable to avoid this obstacle and it blew my front left tire and cracked the alloy wheel. The car did a couple of 360 degree spins and I ended up stopped in the right side break-down lane. I was very lucky. I changed the tire, drove to the Madza dealer and traded for a 626. I do miss that Miata. I never had a vehicle that shifted easier or handled better.
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