The Wrong Generation: Quan Tran’s 1978 Porsche 911 SC

“You were born in the wrong generation.”

For young people who grew up finding joy in the culture of the past, this was a common trope. Whether the subject is music, art, fashion, or design, there’s an expectation that we, as like-minded (or at least like-aged) individuals, are ultimately drawn to contemporary movements. Granted, there’s always ribbons of retro aesthetics and influences that run through modern culture, but most tastemakers generally fall into a single, generational zeitgeist, except when they don’t.

There are the outliers; individuals that defy the expectations of normative culture. Specifically, these are people that are outside of the “alternatives” of the day. They aren’t the punks of the 1980s or the hipsters of the 2000s. Instead, someone that exists, not in opposition to the mainline, but outside of it altogether. Their tastes seem to only make sense in a different historical context. That’s Porsche-owner Quan Tran when it comes to his taste in cars.

“I’ve always been into classic cars,” says Quan.

“My first car was a 1968 Ford Mustang coupe that I rebuilt the entire suspension on with Bilstein shocks, new exhaust, carbs, converted the brake system to discs, and steering to rack-and-pinion. It was an awesome car to cruise around in, but one of its biggest shortcomings was the 3-speed auto and fuel economy. I was pretty much limited to driving around town only, with occasional short bursts on the freeway, but I was pulling uncomfortably high RPMs just trying to do 60 mph.”

Granted, being into classic cars isn’t odd or particularly interesting on its own. However, Quan’s reaction to his gripes with the Mustang’s retro shortcomings wasn’t to switch up to a modern daily driver. He replaced it with this 1978 Porsche 911 SC, another vintage car. His solution to a fifty-year-old American vehicle’s problems was to replace it with a 40-year-old German one. And it wasn’t like that move was just accidental. He was eyeing either the 911 or an Alfa Romeo GTV. This particular car had spent time as a track car, but the modifications were mild. The previous owner had retained the stock 3.0-liter engine but added upgraded shocks, torsion bars, sway bars, suspension bushings, and a gutted interior with roll bar and bucket seats — all things Quan had on his to-do list anyways.

When he set out to make the car his own, he did his best to impute his distinctive style into the build. The Porsche certainly wears a period-correct look. However, details like a Joshy Robot-produced skateboard deck shift knob or a one-off laser cut decklid grill show that Quan knows how to be interesting without being flashy. These subtleties are lost on so many modern builds because they aren’t easy to notice in social media’s infinite scroll. Both the build itself and the appreciation of its construction take time that many enthusiasts today aren’t willing to take.

That desire to slow down separates many vintage car fans from those that require what only an old car can provide. The internet has given the car community so much. Endless positives make the hobby easier and, in most cases, better: unlimited access to information, faster shipping, a global supply chain, and a worldwide community. He admits that Instagram has been a driving force for both inspiration and community.

“I think one of the best aspects of Porsche ownership is that there’s a ton of people that like to hot-rod their 911s and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with you. Social media just makes finding and getting access to those people to ask them questions and pick their brains so much easier. Most of the cars and owners I drew inspiration from (Magnus Walker, Joshy Robots, Kris Clewell, Derek Whitacre, various R Gruppe cars, etc.) I stumbled upon browsing Instagram,” says Quan.

So while all these modern systems benefit an owner like Quan, it’s easy to see that his joy isn’t derived from a numbers-based performance or mass recognition. Instead, he recounts his trip to Luftgekühlt 6 last year and the solace he found in taking the long way down from Sacramento on Highway 1.

“It was a solid three hours of engaging, twisty roads, with no traffic, and the Pacific Ocean immediately to my right the entire time. There were several instances throughout the drive along the coast where I got emotional, where I realized that all of my hard work… finally paid off.”

That type of pure driving experience is a rare one, not so much because of inaccessibility, but because of inconvenience. Modern culture travels by use of traffic apps because that is the path of least resistance. Waking up at 4 AM to get into a 42-year-old rear-engined sports car for a long drive is welcoming resistance. It’s loud, uncomfortable, and whatever benefits are found are only there for the driver. But for Quan, that experience is his story of success.

For many his age, that standard is completely foreign. For a select group of others, however, it resonates perfectly. Those were the same friends that he came to know through the car. The ones who encouraged him to take those long drives and ultimately gave him the inspiration and assistance to get the Porsche where it is today.

Photography by Drew Manley

[table id=53 /]