Ton Dumans is back, so that can only mean two things. First of all, this post is going to be about Porsches. Second of all, despite the previous claim, this post won’t be very much about cars at all. Remember, you can follow Ton on twitter @Tonsty.
Everyone who knows me even just a little bit, knows that I am into Porsches and that I have been for as long as they can remember. Most people accept this as a fact (hey, we all have our limitations, right?), whilst others tend to wonder why. Of all the cars in the world, why Porsche, and how come I already loved them when I was barely out of nappies?
While all this might sound a bit too much autobiographical for a petrolhead’s blog, I promise I will get to cars in a minute. Bear with me for a moment.
Truth speaking, they were two separate incidents that helped me to become a Porsche-o-phile at an early age. First of all, there was my grandad. He didn’t know or care about cars at all, but as a traditional and conservative man, he must have thought something along the lines of ‘It’s my grandson’s birthday, I shall give him a present. Since he is a boy, he shall like cars. So I shall buy him one!’. And after a visit to the nearest toy store, that’s exactly what he did. Most likely unknowingly, he gave me my first Porsche. A toy 911. I must have been about six or seven at the time.
Several years later, (the 911 by this time had lost its rear wing and door mirrors due to extensive usage), my interest for real Porsches developed. I must have been nine or ten years old, when I was looking forward to those little trips across the country to visit family. Not because I was so keen on my aunts and uncles, (I probably won’t give them the link to this post!), but because that meant spending some time on the highways and byways of The Netherlands.
Hard as it is to imagine today, this was quite an event back then. Watching out the side window of dad’s Peugeot, observing all that was happening on this big, sometimes intimidating mass of tarmac. On a lucky day, so I had learnt, I could see that model car my grandad had given me in actual size. And hear its peculiar sounds.
And on an even luckier day, I would not only see a Porsche 911, but I would see a white Porsche 911 with orange and black decals on it. That’s right, back in the sixties until early nineties, the Dutch ‘highway police’ had a fleet of Porsches. Their high price was politically justified by various arguments. Most amusing of which perhaps being that the rear-mounted air-cooled engine wouldn’t overheat when reversing at high speed on the emergency lane to ‘guard the tail of a traffic jam’. I’m not here to argue, and I applaud whoever thought of this to actually get the Dutch government to buy Porsches for the law enforcement.
Yes, from the first moment I saw a Porsche in police livery, I wanted to be a cop. How else would I ever afford one? As I grew up, I changed my mind about joining the law enforcement, but the love for Porsche stayed.
Stories and anecdotes from (former) police officers who were privileged enough to have driven the Porsches are virtually endless. Especially interesting are stories from before 1973, the year in which speed limits were introduced in The Netherlands. Before this, cops were often seen taking on civilians in a top speed run. There were no tickets issued, just shiny happy people.
It was also in 1973 that the ‘POLICE STOP’ signs on the back of these Porsches were replaced with ‘POLICE FOLLOW, because some law-abiding citizens had taken the first sign a bit too literally and had slammed the brakes until a full stop, on the motorway. Blimey.
Even after speed limits were introduced, the Police Porsche squadron was still something to be admired for bringing a bit of glory to the Dutch police force. Another anecdote worth sharing, would be that of a father and son testing dad’s new Saab 900 Turbo. They were reaching speeds up to 200 km/h, before they were pulled over by one of the Police Porsches. A costly encounter, one might think, but you would be wrong. The police officers declared that since they had fun while chasing the Saab, a sincere warning would suffice ‘for this time only!’. This particular event had enriched the world with another Porsche fan, who told this story in his ‘Want to buy’ advertisement on a Dutch Porsche forum.
After some years of looking out for Police Porsches to spot on our roads, I realised I had to think of another scheme to help me realise my dream of owning a Porsche. This sad event was caused by the fact that, due to cost savings, the Police Porsche was discontinued in 1994. Bummer.
But even if I had been born many, many years earlier, I probably wouldn’t have ended up as a Porsche-driving cop. Because driving a Porsche in the special section of the Dutch police force was a highly prestigious and responsible job. Only married men with at least one child were allowed to do it. Clearly, married men with children are more responsible! Or so someone had decided.
So responsible in fact, that years later agent X and Y (names have been changed to protect the, er… innocent) confessed to the following story. It must have been the early eighties when, while out on patrol with their 2.7 Targa they spotted what they thought had to be a beefed up Porsche 924. Curious as they were, they decided to show the STOP, I mean, FOLLOW, sign to the person driving this fat looking 924. When they found out it was in fact a motoring journalist, testing the new Porsche 944, things got interesting. Impressed by the authoritative moustaches of X and Y, the motoring journalist let the officers drive in consecutive turns, himself taking place in the passenger seat. Soon after taking off, Mr. Journalist’s face turned a whiter shade of pale. Clearly, he was not used to driving at 200 km/h on Dutch roads…
After the demise of the Police Porsche in 1994, it would take almost nine years before the words Police and Porsche would once again come together in my life. Sadly, not in a very glorious way. With a very limited budget, I had just bought myself a Porsche 924. I was young and I was inexperienced. The car on the other hand was all but young. Or inexperienced. We all know where this story is going.
Within a month of ownership, I wrapped the Porsche around a tree. It was thanks to this tree that only two wheels were in the nearby water. The others were still resting on soil. I crawled out the wreck unharmed, (apart from a massively bruised ego and a bleeding ear caused by glass from the smashed side window), and decided to walk back in the direction were I came from. Because there were dry clothes where I came from…
When police arrived at the scene of the accident, the 924 was half in the water and the driver was nowhere to be found. Panic! To cut a long story short, they found me and threatened to make me live on a diet of bread, water and spiders for the rest of my life for my wrongdoing. I had learnt my lesson and it would take another seven years before I ran into the police again…
Fast-forward to last spring. I had attended an anniversary of one of Holland’s finest official Porsche Centres. They celebrated with an exhibition of 50 special Porsches. One of which was a beautifully restored original Police Porsche. I admired the car for a while and thought of all of the above. Because this exhibition was so near the German border, and I was there with my in-the-meantime-acquired 968, I decided to do a few high-speed runs on the Autobahn. Just for the hell of it! How nice it must have been to be able, (er, I mean, be allowed), to do this on Dutch roads…
It was on this very day that I wished more so than ever, that we still had the famous Police Porsche patrolling our roads. As I was nearing my destination on the way home, a black VW Golf Plus overtook me. Annoying enough in itself, but when the sign “POLICE FOLLOW” appeared, I knew I just ran out of luck. Yes, I was speeding. I had no idea by how much, because everything felt slow after a day on the Autobahn. My brain was still on Jeremy Clarkson mode: POWEERRRRR!!!!
I wish that day I was pulled over by two men with moustaches, driving a white Porsche 911, being married and having lots of kids, being proud of their line of work. And they would have told me:
“Son.. Even though you have a very lovely car indeed, and we honestly believe you know what you are doing, unfortunately we have some speed laws here. For this time, we think a sincere warning will suffice, but next time…”.
Even if they had given me a 286 Euro fine, like the young, unmarried and childless man driving the Golf Plus was about to do, it would have been worth it.
Recently I decided it’s about time to take the guesswork out of driving fast, and so will be taking a track-driving course with my 968. This training, ironically, will be held at the Police Academy’s track. I sincerely hope this will be the only combination of Porsche and Police for me in 2012.
I fear that Petrolheads and police officers will never be the best of friends, even though I was recently lucky enough to discover that lovely exceptions are possible…
All images courtesy of Ton Dumans.