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.”
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.
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.
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.
Bill MacEachern marries his sweetheart Lyse.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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