This page is about Portia, the ’86 944 Turbo I owned in 1999. As a voluptuous, flared-fendered speed demon that could sprint from 0-60 in 6.1 seconds, she was my long-distance, inclement-weather road rocket. She was also supposed to be my autocrosser during 1999, but ultra-cycling events and travels ended up gobbling all of my spare time instead.
She is currently enjoying the sunshine of Hawaii with her new owner. She was a surprisingly practical car… just don’t expect to fit more than 2 people at once for more than 20 minutes; that “back seat” is a joke.
How Portia Got Her Name
Well, for lack of a better name at the time, I gave my Turbo the temporary nickname of “Porsha”, which of course is merely the German pronunciation of “Porsche”. But then one day my friend Esther asked, “And why not Portia for your Porsche? Isn’t it the name of a woman in a Shakespearean play? Right now the play name eludes me although the plot doesn’t….it’s the one we read in Shake/Lit about the Jew who wanted to exact a revenge…you know which one I mean?”
I responded, “No, I don’t, as I don’t think I read the Cliff Notes for that play.” Also, I didn’t initially like the name because it looked disturbingly like “portly.” However, I was intrigued.
Then a few days later, my friend Trang made the exact same suggestion as Esther. Being an English major in college, she even wrote a spiel on the significance of this “Portia” character, reprinted below.
“Anyways, the name Portia is from the Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)…She saved Antonio from Shylock. Antonio borrowed money from Shylock and Shylock wanted a pound of flesh as collateral. Meanwhile, Bassanio wants to marry Portia (who is this gal with a wealthy background) and he undergoes a test: he must choose one of three chests (one of gold, silver, and lead)…Well, he chooses the right one and they are about to get married. Bassanio receives a letter that Antonio is in trouble. He takes off to save him and can do nothing about it. Portia dresses up as a lawyer (because in those days women were considered inadequate for the job).
“Portia recites the famous Mercy speech: “The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven, it is twice blessed…blah…blah…blah…I don’t remember it all. Anyways, Shylock refuses to let Antonio go, because he hates Antonio, and Portia reminds him that even though he has all rights to receive his pound of flesh, he must not draw one drop of blood from Antonio, or he will lose all of his wealth and lands…
“Pretty smart girl…I think that would be a very exceptional name for your Porsche…”
Anyhow, so the name stuck (thanks Esther and Trang). I figure, if the name’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for me. Although, don’t worry, I do NOT have any plans on naming one of my future cars as “Hamlet…”