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40 Shades of Green: Ireland road trip with the Porsche 992

The car is red like a Porsche 911. The country is green like Ireland. The soundtrack is from Johnny Cash. And the roads? Rough and demanding.

Text: Matthias Mederer Photo: Matthias Mederer · 17.10.2019 5 min

Let's start at the end. Home again. The pleasant aroma of a fine Colombian roast in the nose. Johnny Cash in the ears. A first thought: »And somewhere in Weissach, a chassis developer is smiling happily, letting a cup of coffee run into his cup and issuing a »Gudde morga« (good morning) to his colleague. Then they both go back to work.

Nice thought. But how did this happen? So one after the other.

I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea / From the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Dunardee / I miss the river Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen / The moorlands and the midlands with their forty shades of green
Johnny Cash – 40 Shades of Green

Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is evening. Greg joins us at the table. Nice guy, early 50s. Maybe younger. »Cigarette?« No, thanks. He tells us he's on a job for three months, then on home leave for two months. He doesn't quite tell what he's doing. My guess is work an oil rig or in the military and an innate scepticism towards strangers, especially since Greta is sailing. Maybe a construction worker. It's all right with me. I Don't lose a word about the Porsche. Instead: Soccer! »Kloppo is the man!« FC Liverpool is his club. A workers' club, at least for the fans still. I Tell Greg that I interviewed Kloppo once. Honest guy. Greg likes that, even though I don't understand every word of his Irish accent. To say goodbye I invite Greg for a whiskey, I pay, he chooses. »Two Bushmills, the 21-year-old, please.« Greg adds ice. Price: 26 pounds a glass. Greg has tears in his eyes as he opens downs the glass. I run the numbers briefly in my head, calculate that for such a glass of Northern Irish whiskey I get almost half a tank full for the 911. The liquid gold oils the scratching throat. Then Greg returns the favor with exactly the same order. »That is how we do it here. Be nice to be nice.« We say goodbye, I want to cover a solid distance tomorrow, get the ass on the road, defy the wind and the weather and the damn road. At least that's how I put it. Greg laughs. »The old Bushmills shows effect. Take care.«

But most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town / And most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown / Again I want to see and do the things we've done and seen / Where the breeze is sweet as Shalimar and there's forty shades of green
Johnny Cash – 40 Shades of Green

Irish breakfast. The beans are really great, although in Germany I would never get the idea to eat something like this in the morning. The bacon is sliced too thick and just like the egg, it's undercooked. What the hell? With the nutritional content, two coffees are enough for the day. In the evening maybe an Irish Stew, somewhere in a pub. That's the plan. Good plan. We think. But first there are a few miles and kilometers of Irish coastal road. A little bit queasy is the thought of chasing the beautiful red Carrera 4S over these rough mogul tracks. Too many unknowns. Not only potholes, badly visible curves, hidden bumps, but also tourists, unusual left-hand traffic and sheep. Sheep again and again. Of course, the Porsche was tuned at the Nürburgring, the »Green Hell«, their »living room« as they call it at Porsche. But can it also be the green island? Gently rolling away.

All very familiar. Feels good. Very good, in fact. Shortly a blink of the eye and the 911 follows direction, puts the first blows away almost indifferently. If it grinds, then it's not the front apron, but the rubber lip further down, specially attached for that. As a driver you need that, it's like a short pain impulse, then you know: up to here and no further. That creates trust. And already the synapses are moving somewhere deep in the limbic system. »There's a lot going on,« notes an inner voice. Is that anticipation? Or exuberance? Coffee stop. Dramatic sky. Irish sunshine. Conclusion up to here: The 992 drives as if painted on the road, the chassis works like the hips and knees of a skier, foresees all unevenness, the upper body, pardon, the passenger compartment, remains largely calm, but the 911 pushes on. Body tension is what competitive athletes call this. It's a drivers car, and very much so.

I wish that I could spend an hour at Dublin's churching surf / I'd love to watch the farmers drain the bogs and spade the turf / To see again the thatching of the straw the women glean
Johnny Cash – 40 Shades of Green

Photo stop. A few American tourists. One looks like a parody of Axl Rose. During his bad times. He notes unasked: »What a challenge!« Of course I assume that he thinks it's a real challenge to drive a 911 on these terrible Irish highways, but I say that the car masters the roads very well, that I'm honestly impressed by this alligment and the whole package. Axl understands only November Rain, he says: »I actually meant that you're driving on the left here with an American steering.« He actually says American steering, not left-hand drive. A quick look at the clock. Oh, already so late?! We have to keep going.

Johnny Cash once identified 40 facets of the colour green in Ireland. Much of it was probably just a variant of yellow, but the approach is still interesting. Especially in a 911, it is not only the most famous sports car in the world, but also one of those products that are available in numerous derivatives for almost every challenge and taste. And at the latest since Jeremy Clarkson - anything but a real friend of the Porsche 911 - finally made his peace with the rear-wheel drive with a GT3, the search for the best sports car in the world can be regarded as finished. Only a GT3 that floats over the asphalt much flatter on the Irish country roads will cause more sweating hands on the driver than the Carrera 4S. Let's wait and see. The tuning on the Nürburgring and in Weissach should already be in full swing.

In the end, Everything is love. The people, the car, the weather, the landscape anyway. And also the roads full of character and challenges. Paired with a portion of British humor. Because although there may be a strict speed limit on Irish country roads (usually 100 km/h, or 60 miles per hour), even in a Porsche 911 reaching these speeds in many of the very winding passages is probably only a realistic goal for the likes of Walter Röhrl.

I'd walk from Cork to Larne to see the forty shades of green / But most of all I miss a girl...
Johnny Cash – 40 Shades of Green