Letterman’s Porsche 914/6

The same week I was out in Los Angeles about 1995 working on the Late Show with David Letterman and drove Dave’s Dino, Dave and I were trying to make plans to see the rest of his collection. Dave had only started doing Late Show at CBS for a couple years, and his car collection was still on the west coast in a airplane hanger at the Santa Monica Airport. A few Hollywood celebrities kept their cars out there, among them Charlie Sheen.

We were doing a week of shows in Los Angeles and the whole crew went out to shoot the late night talk shows from CBS Television City. Dave would drive up every day in another car that he would swap out at the hanger and he invited me out to the hanger to see the rest of the collection. The problem was Dave needed to find a free night after the show to take me out there. My time in the evenings was spent bar hopping with the crew, but I waited night after night for the call from Laurie, Dave’s assistant, to meet Dave at the airport. Friday came, and Dave never found the time to get away for the tour. I got a call from Laurie as they were flying back to NY telling me Dave really wanted me to see the collection, and gave me the instructions to meet his “guy” at Santa Monica Airport. I told my crew mates in the hotel lobby I had other plans that night and drove over to the airport.

I met John Devico at the hanger and inside was about a dozen cars ranging from Austin Healeys to a Jaguar XK120, He had a Sprite, a 100/4, a 3000,…a MGA and a MGA twin-cam, and the Porsches! There was a 1600 Speedster, a Carrera Speedster, a Convertible D, a B Coupe, a 911 Carrera Coupe, and the list went on! It was pretty impressive. I think I knew each model more than Diveco! As John gave me the tour, he told me he had orders from Dave that I was allowed to drive anything I wanted! Not wanting to overstay my welcome, and knowing I was taking up John’s Friday evening, I had to choose one car to drive. Which one did I choose? The Porsche 914/6!!!

Here was my logic. It would have been fun to drive a twin cam Speedster, or a Big Healey, but the differences would have been subtle from 356s and English cars I had driven in the past. At the time, I was really into Porsches, and I had always heard about the great handling of the 914, but imagine one with a 6 cylinder 911 engine stuffed inside? John pulled the car outside and I jumped in for a drive. He let me take the car out by myself and I slowly took it out of the airport tarmac after finding a gear in the sloppy shifter.

As the car warmed up, I wanted to see how stuck to the road this mid engine car really was, so I took a right hand turn a little hot, leaving my foot on the throttle on the exit, but the rear tires broke loose and I tried to catch the swing with some opposite steering. I must have over corrected, but was determined to keep on the throttle. After a couple of elbow knocking opposite lock, I managed to save the car without smashing into a row of parked cars! When my heart jumped back into my chest, I drove the Porsche back to the hanger thinking about how the phone call to Dave would have gone if I had wrecked his Porsche!

John asked my how the drive was, and I simply said, “Fine!” I thanked him for meeting me and went back into town to catch up with my crew for the wrap party!

It was nice to see this car again 30 years later, and sad to see it go up for auction. I hope it brings a smile to the face of the owner, as it did mine seeing her again!