How writing about Porsches changed his life

Robert McGowan is living proof that following your passion can lead to such great things, especially when Porsches are involved

Porsche is a brand that needs no introduction. It has a rich history of making some of the world’s greatest driver’s cars, which as a result has brought enthusiasts closer together.

Author and self-proclaimed Porsche lover, Robert McGowan decided to follow his passion and write about these exciting and diverse cars for a living. With Porsche celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, who better to sit down with than this gentleman?

Q&A with Robert McGowan, Porsche writer:

When did your love for Porsches begin?

It began in the summer of 1986. I was 12 years old. We had taken a different route home one evening during one of our family walks and we stumbled across an Official Porsche Centre (OPC). Of all the cars there I was completely smitten with a Guards Red 911 Targa Sport. I’ve been a bit obsessed with Porsche ever since.

Why Porsche? What’s your favourite thing about them?

My uncles were huge Porsche fans. As a kid, I got to hear about how fast Porsches could go and how well made and how reliable they were. This combination was very appealing and set them apart from other high-end performance cars like Ferrari or Lamborghini – both of which had a bit of a reputation for being unreliable at the time.

It’s hard to pick one favourite thing. For me, it’s a magical and addictive combination of how they look and drive, and how they make you feel. To this day I can (and do) look at 911s and still be a bit mesmerised by the timeless purity and beauty of the design. It never gets old.

What was your first Porsche and what do you drive now?

My first was an ‘86 911 Targa Sport in Guards Red, just like the one I’d seen during the family walk. It had the black leather interior with red piping. Very ‘80s! Being the Sport model, it had the whale tail rear spoiler and the front lip. I bought it in August 2007. I loved that car.

Today I am very fortunate to own a 1995 911 Type 993 in midnight blue metallic. The last of the air-cooled 911s. And I also have a 2010 Boxster 987.2 in Guards Red. They are completely different animals, but both are very special in their own ways.

How are you finding Porsche ownership in 2023?

It’s a lot of fun! I use my cars regularly and drive to some of my usual routes along the Lochside and beyond to the Scottish Highlands. I’m often alone during these drives and I usually take a similar route. I love it though. Sometimes an hour or twos’ blast is all I need to give me my Porsche fix, haha. I’ve been on a few meets and drives with OPC Porsche Glasgow this year which has been great.

What’s the best Porsche you’ve ever driven?

I had a go in my uncle’s black 356 Spyder back in 2000. It was immaculate. What an experience. I couldn’t believe how supple it felt on the road and how delicate the steering was. That car has soul. It was very special.

Why did you decide to write Porsche 911: The Practical Free Supercar?

Great question! I’ve always been artistic and like a lot of artists, the desire to create something unique was actually born out of less than favourable prior events. A close relative had died, and I was also dealing with stressful work situations and had been for some time.

It was a very challenging time and I felt that I needed to do something, to change something. Deep inside I wanted to do something meaningful. Something that would positively impact people. Something that I could feel proud about.

I decided that I could share the knowledge I had built over years of being a Porsche enthusiast and owner and create a body of work that would be an excellent guide to owning a Porsche 911. I knew that I wanted to be the guy who helped influence those who had dreamed about owning a Porsche but never thought they could. No prior writing experience may have been a benefit.

I took six months unpaid leave from work and my partner left her job. We travelled southeast Asia and it was life-changing. I wrote the outline and some of the chapters of my first book during this time. Thinking back about that seems a bit surreal now. We had the time of our lives.

I put my heart and soul into writing an authentic expression of my personal experience, thoughts and feelings with no real intention or expectation of commercial success. I believed that if I was proud of my book and if it helped even a small amount of people then I would be content and view the project as a success.

You’ve also written a book about Boxster ownership – which is the one you’d rather drive at the weekend?

Well, it depends on the weather. I’m based in Glasgow, so the weather is often four seasons in one hour. Recently I’ve been driving the Boxster more. It’s hard to beat the Boxster with the roof down on a warm sunny day.

I also reckon that I might sell the Boxster at some point in the future whereas I currently have no intention of selling the 911. I guess I’m currently also driving the Boxster a bit more with that in mind.

How’s life as an author and how has it changed your life?

It’s led me in a direction that I could never have foreseen.

My Porsche books and audiobooks have proven to be popular, and I’ve had the privilege of attending book signings and doing interviews like we’re doing now.

I’ve become ‘The Porsche Guy’ in some circles and I am very proud to say that I have helped many people from across the world get started on their Porsche journey – that for me is a dream come true. I’ve built a Porsche community where we discuss the books and share knowledge and ideas and photos of course. Lots of photos and videos.

The Porsche community is full of lovely, helpful and generous characters.

Where do you see Porsche as a brand going in the future and do its newer cars still excite you?

Like most other brands, Porsche is going green, albeit the 911 will be last in line to do so. I think Porsche will do a good job of sticking to its principles and mission while moving with the times.

Porsche has a knack of exceeding expectations with its new technologies. Its new fuel systems look promising. I don’t doubt that the Porsche brand will continue to lead the way, and of course, be hugely profitable in the process.

In truth, my first love is, and always will be, the air-cooled 911s. Their unique character and charm are utterly addictive. Some of Singer’s reimagined 911s have an off-the-scale ‘Want It Factor’ and price to match.

Some new Porsche sports cars do still excite me. One of my favourite modern 911 designs is the 992 Targa GTS. Oh, and the Boxster 981 Spyder… and the 911R!

Have you got any upcoming projects in the pipeline?

Yes, I plan to re-release my Porsche colouring book once I revise some of the content. I also plan on developing some products that will make driving a Porsche even better.

My new YouTube channel is growing as is my Practically Free Porsche Facebook Group. I also have more Porsche books planned.

I’m excited about what the future may bring.

Want to know more about Robert’s Porsche journey?

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