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The Gateway Car to Your First Porsche

Corvair and Porsche 356
Photo by Karl Ludvigsen

Owning and driving a classic Porsche air-cooled model can be habit forming and addictive. It was the car of desire and what seemed unobtainable for many of us. We were growing up and fulfilling our “car fix” with cars that scratched the itch but they just weren’t that dream Porsche 911 or 356 that was winning race after race in Europe and the US.

What was your gateway car to a Porsche? For many it was a Volkswagen, but for me, it was a 1965 Corvair Monza.

In 1963 Car & Driver magazine labeled the Corvair Monza Spyder the “Poor Man’s Porsche.” The Corvair had an air-cooled engine mounted in the rear with 4-wheel independent suspension and a 4-speed manual transmission. You can see the similarities with the then Porsche 356. The Corvair base price was $2700 as compared to the Porsche 356 price of $4200 so the Corvair thus fulfilling the “Poor Man’s Porsche” moniker. And then when the Porsche 911 was introduced in 1964 with an aluminum air-cooled flat six the similarity was even greater and the name stuck: a Poor Man’s Porsche.

In 1970 my Corvair was already 15 years old but it had an engine in the rear and the hum of an air-cooled fan, plus Car & Driver called it a Porsche. I overlooked the “poor man” part; I was driving a rear engine air-cooled sports car (?) with four on the floor. I gave it an Earl Scheib $29.95 gray paint job and I had the closest thing to a Porsche. Even Car & Driver agreed. At 16, it didn’t get much better.

I knew eventually that a real Porsche was in the cards. Seeing a Saturn Yellow 914 on the dealer’s lot gave me hope but it was still another 28 years before I fulfilled the dream with the purchase of a 12-year old meteor gray Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 liter. I still have that Porsche to this day and have added a 1973 Porsche 914 2.0 liter to fulfill the other half of my high-school car dreams. Dreams continue daily of the next classic Porsche with an air-cooled flat six.

What was your gateway car that took you to your Porsche?

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