For the famous and image-conscious, the car you’re seen driving says as much about you as the clothes you put on.
There is, for instance, a large contingent of Prius drivers among celebrities, including Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, and Jessica Alba. The hybrid remains a symbol of green virtue; it’s also an easy way to say, “I’m just like you, non-famous person who sees my movies!” The many Range Rover owners, meanwhile, express a regal uprightness without calling too much attention to themselves. Thank Robert Altman’s The Player for that; it cemented the Range Rover as the sensible car of the Hollywood power set. And, of course, there are legions of new luxury cars that the famous drive, all of which telestrate “I’m wealthy” in a multitude of ways and to varying degrees of ostentatiousness. And if you’re Ludacris in a bouncing gyrating Maybach GLS, you are expressing genuine joy that few will ever experience.
But then there is the famous person in a vintage car. This is where things get interesting. Why? They can be such a deeply personal choice, as opposed to just getting into the latest lease on a Beemer. They offer the promise of revelation, almost an invitation to get to know them better. By driving a vintage car a celebrity is saying: I’m not just a pretty face! I’m genuinely interesting!
There’s no easier way to say you’re a capital C Car Person than driving a Porsche 993. It is practically shorthand for Real Taste in Old Cars. Which is perhaps why so many celebrities seem to own or drive them. Among the many photographed driving or climbing into a Porsche 993 over the years are Kendall Jenner, Keanu Reeves, David Beckham, Harry Styles, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres, and Antonio Banderas. (Reeves nicknamed his 993 "The Sled," and it was eventually stolen from him.)
The 993 is shorthand for the 911 model produced from 1994 to 1998. (The model years are 1995 through 1998.) They have always been one of the more sought-after Porsches, because it’s the last of the air cooled models, akin to audiophiles raising vinyl on a pedestal over digitised music. Newer Porsches have water-cooled engines, which, while more powerful and easier to maintain, don’t have the same high-reving mechanical rawness of an air-cooled engine. To many, 993s are also the prettiest Porsches, straddling the older era and the newer era.
So what does it say when a celebrity is the driver of a Porsche 993? It means, believe or not, they want to blend in a bit—Porsches, along with Range Rovers, are the car of the people in wealthier areas of Los Angeles.
But it also says they want to be special among their people. It is simultaneously a safe bet, and a soulful one. It says they actually know cars or know enough to express something about cars. It says I’m interesting, sure. But the person taking in the car is still being held at arms length. Nothing more is revealed—this isn’t a vintage Aston Martin or one of the more obscure vintage Porsches with oodles of back story about provenance. The 993 says all it needs to say, “I want you to know me as a person who knows cars,” and nothing more.
Am I safe? Am I dangerous? Maybe both. The sure thing: you’ll never know the real me.
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