07/14/2017

Journey through Time

Bill MacEachern has had a singularly long-lived love affair with his Porsche. He has driven it more than a million kilometers—a distance that would take him to the Moon three times.

Journey through Time: A million is not enough for Bill MacEachern. He has long since passed this magic number of kilometers in his G model. He bought his first Porsche 911 with a turbocharged engine forty-one years ago. After all the years, adventures, heartaches, miles, and smiles, the car remains his four-wheeled soulmate.

“I grew up with American muscle cars,” says MacEachern, a lanky Scots Canadian from Toronto with an entrepreneurial spark, a racer’s singleness of purpose, and near-limitless tenacity. “In my younger days I had an Oldsmobile 4-4-2. It was fine for drive-ins and stoplight drags but handled like a milk truck.” He still laughs at the thought and immediately proceeds to describe his astonishment on test-driving a Porsche for the first time in 1970—a red 911 T. “I couldn’t believe how agile, well constructed, and poised the car was. And comfortable, too, despite the compact dimensions and impressive performance.”

Bill MacEachern and his Porsche 911 Turbo

That experience marked MacEachern for life. His passion for sports cars from Zuffenhausen was triggered. He bought a silver 911 as a company car for his rapidly growing carpet-cleaning business. Shortly thereafter he had another revelation. “In 1972 I saw a Porsche 917/10 for the first time at a Can-Am race. Turbocharging was the new way to go—it seemed like rocket science at the time.” When a few years later Porsche offered the 911-based 930 Turbo street machine for sale in Canada, MacEachern decided he just had to have one. The dealer initially tried to dissuade him. He told him the 930 was dauntingly powerful, and asked whether he might be happier with another model. Not on your life. MacEachern was in love. For all time.

1973

0 kilometers / Energy crisis

Retrospective: gasoline is in short supply in 1973. Lines form at service stations. While some car owners toy with the thought of switching to smaller models, MacEachern sticks to his decision, which he puts into action in the fall of 1975: he orders the 911 Turbo—in deep Midnight Blue with a cork leather interior, a sport driver’s seat, and a limited-slip differential. Perhaps there might never be another chance, he thinks, to buy a genuine, ultra-high-performance sports car.

1976

23 kilometers / Initial shock

The car is flown in from Germany in May of 1976. Its serial number marks it as the 350th 930 built. MacEachern spots the Porsche for the first time through a chain-link fence at the airport. His heart sinks: “It looked like the wrong color.” But no, there hadn’t been a mistake with the order. “The car was just covered with a layer of dust.” When the traces of the long journey are washed away, he starts to drive. And continues to do so to this day.

4,312 kilometers / Marriage

Bill MacEachern marries his sweetheart Lyse.

6,245 kilometers / Racing fever

“My first major road trip took me across Ontario and Quebec to a Trans-Am race in Trois Rivières,” MacEachern recalls. It turns out to be a fantastic weekend for a diehard Porsche enthusiast. George Follmer wins in a Porsche 934, followed by Al Holbert in the same model. MacEachern is fascinated. After the trip he seeks out numerous racetracks in North America. Over the following decades he and his Porsche cover hundreds of thousands of kilometers on countless memorable journeys to places like Sebring and West Palm Beach in Florida, Road Atlanta in Georgia, and Lime Rock Park and Watkins Glen in New England. MacEachern goes on extended cross-continent jaunts to the fabled Monterey Historic Automobile Races in California no less than five times.

1978

13,800 kilometers / The next generation

MacEachern’s son Craig joins the family’s carpet-cleaning business—today he’s the junior CEO. This same year Bill’s second son, Brian, heads off in a Porsche 935 with Canadian race-car driver Ludwig Heimrath to Mexico City, where Heimrath enters and wins a race. Brian is bitten by the racing bug. The father’s passion lives on in the next generation.

1981

88,713 kilometers / Family ties

“My son Brian entered his first race in 1981 and never looked back,” says the proud father, who has made a far-reaching decision. His beloved 911 Turbo should remain in his family’s possession after he passes away, MacEachern reveals.

2006

641,312 kilometers / Improvisation

Not everything goes smoothly. Like the time a fan pulley breaks while traveling south through Oregon on another trip to Monterey. “There was no way to get a replacement part fast enough,” says MacEachern. “But I managed to find a shop that could weld it.” And he made it to the races on time.

2009

850,000 kilometers / Accident

A happy partnership of thirty-three years must be able to withstand a crisis or two. This can be true of cars and their owners as well. An SUV turns right from the center lane and hits the now quite venerable Porsche. The impact dents the fender and damages an axle shaft and a suspension arm. But coincidence brings a solution along too. While MacEachern and the red-faced SUV driver examine the bruised vintage car, a flatbed trailer with a Volkswagen logo rumbles past. “Who’s that?” asks MacEachern. “Oh, that’s Eric. He owns a Volkswagen shop in town,” is the response. In short order the 911 is at the shop and back in shape in time for MacEachern to drive straight through—over thirty hours!—and arrive in Monterey as planned for the races.

2012

1,000,000 kilometers / Celebration

“The car clicked over its one-millionth kilometer on the way to the famous swap meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania,” says MacEachern. “And we had a little celebration with champagne toasts when I got back to Toronto.”

2017

1,165,937 kilometers / Outlook

The odometer on the 911 Turbo currently shows around 725,000 miles (1,165,937 kilometers). And the number keeps going up. MacEachern continues to drive his beloved automobile nearly every day. He can’t imagine any modern supercar he’d prefer. “The 930 was just such an amazing watershed machine. Porsche Turbos have set new standards of excellence as both racing machines and high-performance road machines. And they’re still a one-of-a-kind thrill to own and drive today.”

Info

Find out more in the new 9:11 Magazine.

Text first published in the Porsche customer magazine Christophorus, No. 382

Text by Burt S. Levy // Photos by Rennfilms

AUTHOR

Burt S. Levy Writer who published his first book The Last Open Road in 1994. He has written for various publications, including “Alfa Owner”, “AutoWeek” and “OnTrack”. thinkfast@mindspring.com
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