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Into the wild: a Porsche adventure

The perfect day? Looks different for everyone. One person, for example, draws his zest for life from the humming of his six-cylinder, while the other is hoping for peace and closeness to nature when camping. And then there's Brock Keen. The adventurer from Portland, Oregon, appreciates the combination of both and has therefore mounted a tent on his 996. That raises questions…

Interview: Alexander Morath Photo: Brock Keen 30.08.2019 7 min

Where does your passion for the Porsche brand come from?

My Porsche Passion started at a pretty young age, but it didn’t happen in a 911 like it does for a lot of people. I was 8 or 9 years old and a school friends parents owned a grey 928. Her dad was a farmer and always kept it in the corner of a large barn. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was since it was under a cover, but I knew whatever it was I liked the shape. One day it was in the driveway and as it turned out it was the car my friend’s mom was going to take us to the fair in. That was my first ride in a Porsche. I was tucked into the rear seats for the drive and I can remember leaning forward and looking at the speedometer because it felt like I was in a rocket ship… the needle was in the triple digits.

Beautiful childhood memory...

My parents probably wouldn’t have been happy to find out about that but from that point forward I was hooked. It wasn’t long after that I discovered the slant nose 930 and after that a 911 was the only sports car, I was interested in. It was probably another 7 or so years before I was able to have another firsthand Porsche experience…this time with a 911. Another friend’s dad had a RUF 964 Turbo. After that ride I was 100% determined to own a 911, it was the greatest car experience I had ever had and from that point on I was sneaking a peak at it any chance I could. I’m of the firm belief that if you commit something to your thoughts you can manifest them in your life. It took a few more years and again Porsche entered back into my life. This time in the form of a 1997 Boxster, after that it was a 2002 Turbo followed by a 993 C4S. After the 993 was no longer in my life I was Porscheless for a few years (far too long) A couple years ago my wife and I began looking for the next one. We weren’t looking specifically for a 996 but when we came across this C4S it checked almost every box and we just couldn’t pass on the value for the money. This is where the 996RoadTrip story begins.

How did you come up with the idea of transforming a 911 into a “motorhome"?

Well, the original intention for the Porsche 996 Carrera 4S was to simply replace our Audi S4 as the 4 season, multi-purpose, daily driver but that escalated to a new level when I was at our local outdoor store and spotted a roof top tent for a price I couldn’t pass up. I bought it without really thinking and quickly found that I would need to order some special mounting hardware to attach it to the roof rack of our old Range Rover. After some quick thinking I figured out that it would easily mount to the roof bars I had on the Porsche. I drove home, swapped cars and went back to pick up the tent. Let me say, I got a lot of strange looks on my drive home. This small challenge of how to get the roof tent home is how the idea really started. I thought if it’s possible, why not merge a couple of my favorite things together… spirited driving and camping. I could enjoy great mountain driving roads then at the end find a camp site, open up the tent, build a campfire and do it all again in the next day. That is my version of the perfect day.

Sounds like adventure. And genuine Porsche passion ...

“Porsche” is definitely a way of life for me. What the brand represents has inspired me for the majority of my life. I believe in pushing limits, taking risks and having fun while doing those things.

And how is the sleep on the roof of your Porsche? Is there something you miss?

Sleeping on top of the Porsche is actually quite comfortable, much more comfortable than sleeping in a tent on the ground. The tent has a built-in memory foam mattress and all of our bedding can be stored in it while traveling. Add in the fact since we’re off the ground we don’t as much about bugs and other creatures trying to get in the tent… to be entirely open with you the only downside is when nature calls you have to climb down the ladder in the middle of the night.

What does the 996 offer you on your journey that a camper can't offer you?

Haha well what it doesn’t offer is a ton of space. But that’s made up for the driving experience you get from driving a Porsche. The handling is still great since the tent is lightweight, the exhaust note is something you’re not going to get from your average camper… So really you’re getting all the great things you get with a 911 but you can sleep on top!

Where have you been so far with your 911?

We’ve covered about 30,000 miles in the 911 and we’ve been all over the west coast of the US.

Tell us about the most beautiful moment you have experienced on your journey so far.

We hadn’t had the tent very long and I realized Rennsport Reunion was coming up so what better way to give it a real-world test than a 1500-mile road trip to Porsche’s 70th Birthday party! I made sure to map my route down the scenic coastlines of Oregon and California. My first night was spent camping under 300ft tall trees in the Redwood Forest and let me say very few 5-star hotels can match the views you get when waking up in the places I can set up camp in this car.

By the end of the next day I had arrived at Laguna Seca and while I might have been driving just a 996 C4S I was the only Porsche out of hundreds and hundreds that had a tent mounted to the roof! Needless to say, I was receiving some strange looks and a lot of questions. Since I hadn’t really planned this trip out too far in advance so all of the hotels and even the campgrounds were reserved. I decided to bend, maybe break, some rules and went to see if I could drive the famous 17-mile drive of Pebble Beach. Lucky for me the guard at the gated entrance just smiled and waved me by. The sun was setting and there weren’t that many people around, so I decided to take a risk. I found a secluded area near one of the beach viewpoints, parked the car and opened up the tent. The cost of the tent was paying for itself tenfold!

Where would you like to travel in the future with your 911?

That’s a tough question! A road trip across Canada is high on the list but I think our next big trip will be though Idaho, Utah and Arizona to visit some of our countries best National Parks!

What do you bring with you?

Our full gear list looks like this:

  • Sleeping Bag (Two-Person): Big Agnes King Solomon
  • Sleeping Bag (One-Person): Big Agnes Anvil Horn
  • Pillow: Roll & GoAnywhere MyPillow
  • Blankets: Rumpl Puffy, Pendleton Yakima Camp Blanket
  • Camp Chair: Helinox Chair One
  • Lantern: UST 30-Day DURO LED
  • Headlamp: Black Diamond Storm375
  • Camp Stove: Snowpeak LiteMax Stove
  • Lodge Cooking Equipment: Cast Iron Skillet, Camp Dutch Oven, Adjustable Tripod
  • Portable Fireplace: Snow Peak Pack & Carry Kit, Snow Peak Field Oven
  • Snow Peak Cooking Equipment: Titanium Cookset, Titanium Cups, Titanium Plates
  • Utensils: Toaks Ultralight Sporks
  • Coffee Maker: Snowpeak Titanium French Press
  • Water Bottle: Platypus Collapsible Water Bladders
  • Multitool: Leatherman Wave+
  • Axe: Snow & Nealley Kindling Axe
  • Table: Trekology Portable Camping Table
  • Hard-Sided Cooler: Grizzly 15
  • Soft-Sided Cooler: CleverMade SnapBasket
  • Camera to take all of those gorgeous Instagram photos: Sony a6300

Follow Brock and his Porsche adventure on Instagram at 996roadtrip