Good things come to those who wait. And occasionally, those good things come while you’re on vacation. Such was the case last week when I found myself sitting behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Black Edition Cabriolet. How did I get here? It started with a man named Eddie. I had never driven a 911, a sin which most car enthusiasts would find punishable by Prius. Luckily, he would have none of that, tossing me the keys and telling me to “take some risks”…thanks, Eddie.
The Black Edition was one of the final editions of the 997 model line, Porsche’s most successful 911 line ever. Only 1,911 units were produced worldwide, with about 25% of them being Cabriolets. This particular car was #904. The Black Edition stands out from other 911s with its appropriate black on black on black color scheme. That’s black paint, black soft top, and black interior. All the exterior trim pieces and vent surrounds are similarly black. Other visual cues include sporty 19″ Turbo II wheels and an elegantly simple “911” badge on the rear deck. The entire car is a clean and classic visual package.
Inside, the Black Edition gets a BOSE surround sound system and a touch screen PCM (Porsche Communication Management) system that includes navigation and satellite radio. As far as special editions go, its a bargain, coming in $6,000 under an identically equipped non-Black Edition 911. As I climbed in and put the top down, I noted how comfortable and supportive the seats were. Normally I’m a bit too tall for the seat bolsters to be in the right place, but I found no problems there.
#904 was equipped with a 6-speed manual (hallelujah!) that was so smooth and precise that I had a hard time believing I was in a 345-hp sports car. Porsche notes that this “base” 3.6 liter flat-six mated to the lovely manual gearbox will run 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. This is no “base” engine. At speed, the flat-six is audible in the cabin as a distinct burble. However, as you run up through the revs to the 7,200RPM redline it transitions into a growl, with a smile-inducing bark upon upshift. The steering wheel is thick and bolstered in just the right place. It’s not adorned with any buttons or switches either, existing for the soul purpose of steering the vehicle, a task it does with great precision.
I don’t know if it was my on-vacation state of mind, the lovely 80 degree sun, or the occasional scenic vistas that popped into view as I drove, but nothing about the 911 Black Edition seemed harsh or unstable. The typical pock-marked New England roads didn’t upset the car or the driver. Despite being over 6 feet tall, the wind didn’t buffet my head, even with the side windows down. Normally this is where a race car driver would mention the weight gain and loss of structural rigidity in a convertible. But I don’t even care. At that moment I didn’t even want a roof, or extra rigidity. I just wanted to relax and drive – it’s a feeling you often miss in the daily grind. Even the acceleration didn’t feel hurried, despite the aural reminder from the engine and exhaust right behind me. And make no mistake, this car is quick.
Surely there are some drawbacks. The back seats are basically useless for people. You’ll also have a bit of trouble telling where the rear of the car is when you back up. But the feeling of refinement and acceptance on the road, in part coming from a high-beam flash of acknowledgement from a Boxster S driver, is enough to overcome these small problems. After giving it some thought, I’ve come up with the biggest drawback to the Porsche 911 Black Edition: you can’t buy one anymore. And that is a pretty good problem to have.