They’re sleek, sexy and, oh, so fast. Catch Porsche show at Tacoma car museum
Some people collect comic books. Rick Danielson and Scott Miller collect Porsches — the coveted, sleek, high performance German sports car that has captivated its fans for 75 years.
Danielson of Graham has 10 Porsches and Kent resident Miller has seven. Both men have cars in a new exhibit at LeMay — America’s Car Museum in Tacoma. “Porsche at 75” is on view at the museum for the next year and features a collection of about 20 cars, almost all of them on loan from collectors like Miller and Danielson.
At 75, the Porsche brand could be considered a senior citizen, but the cars the automaker produces roll back the clock every year with models that look like they deserve a speeding ticket while parked.
While there are a few late-model cars in the LeMay show, most are vintage like Miller’s. His silver 1955 356 Speedster is one of the first a visitor to the museum will encounter. It exudes class. Miller and his father bought it less than a year ago.
“It’s been the top car on our list,” he said. “Just because of its beauty. The rarity.”
Let’s get this out of the way early: Porsche is a two-syllable word, not “porsh”.
LeMay’s collections manager Tim Willard said the cars will rotate in and out during the year-long run of the show. The emphasis is on older models, including early 911s. But, there are what he calls “odd boys” in the exhibit like a 914, a collaboration between Porsche and Volkswagen.
Porsche has an impressive racing pedigree as illustrated by a couple of vehicles in the show, including Danielson’s 1956 Porsche 356 A Rally that was raced in the La Carrera-Panamericana revival rally. Nearby is a streamlined 1968 Porsche 908 that was an entry in that year’s World Sportscar Championship.
Some models have airfoils and others, like the 911, have their trademark rear wings.
Porsche’s airfoils are the real deal, Willard said, unlike some after-factory kits that are more for looks than performance.
“You know, wearing high heels doesn’t necessarily make you a supermodel,” he said.
If you take a peek under the hood of a Porsche, you’re likely to find luggage or spare tire. The rear-mounted engines are remarkably simple and easy to work on, Danielson said. Miller prefers to leave his engine work to the professionals.
“It’s the engineering and the connection you get to the road, and the handling,” Danielson said while visiting the museum last week with his wife, Sally. “The driving experience can be exhilarating and fulfilling.”
Older models, which lack power steering and weigh in at around 1,700 pounds, give the driver a direct connection to the suspension and ultimately the road, he said.
“Whether the car is 70 years old to the last five years, Porsche has done a incredible job of just keeping up with new technology and making the driving experience unique,” Danielson said.
Miller grew up poring over Auto Trader magazine with his father, Stephen. They started collecting Ford Mustangs. But things changed in 2001 with the purchase of their first Porsche.
“We were kind of done with Mustangs and gravitated toward Porsches,” Miller said. “It was the look, the performance, engineering.”
Miller’s and his father’s collection ranges from 1955 to a 2014 Cayenne — his mother’s favorite car.
The Danielsons focus on 356 models prior to 1965 although they do have a 2014 Cayenne.
While owners often repaint their vintage cars during restoration, the Danielsons took one of their Porsches a step farther. They arrived at the museum in a 1965 Porsche 356 painted with the images of American national parks. They’ve driven it to 39 states and five Canadian provinces.
You don’t need to have mechanical know-how to own a Porsche, but it helps. Danielson assembled one of his cars from scattered pieces.
“Lots of boxes of things,” Sally Danielson said.
The Danielsons have a 10-car garage on their property with a hydraulic lift. Miller stores his collection in several locations and buildings, including a converted goat barn.
The Danielsons have paid as little as $5,200 for a Porsche and as much as $150,000. A brand new top-of-the-line Porsche 911 can reach as high as $228,000 from a dealer, but the model starts at $106,000.
Vintage cars were more attainable about 15 years ago, Miller said. Their values have exceeded inflation.
“I think there’s been a focus on collector cars, in general,” Danielson said. “I think some people look at them as investments.”
Aside from their fellow Porsche owner camaraderie, the Danielsons enjoy the reactions they get from the general public, particularly when they are driving their muralized 356.
“It always brings out people who recognize what it is,” Sally Danielson said. “When we go to national parks and there are people from Europe and they know exactly what that car is, they’ll come up and they’re just all over it. They want to talk to you. They want to sit in it.”
If you go
What: “Porsche at 75”.
Where: LeMay — America’s Car Museum, 2702 East D St., Tacoma.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday–Monday.
Admission: Adults (18-64): $18; youth (5-17): $14, seniors (Age 65+): $16, Military/Veteran: $16; children (4 and under): free.