Words and photos by Courtney Cutchen Photography
Red is a loaded color. It classically symbolizes love, rage, intensity, and a myriad of other high profile human emotions. Think of the most generic, overused image of a sports car - a red Ferrari? Maybe a red Corvette? It’s the societal image of coolness and danger, someone zipping around in a red coupe, music blasting, reminiscent of the James Dean lifestyle. At the same time, red is also capable of being very mature, and in some ways, reserved. This fiery shade ultimately says a whole lot about the person behind the wheel. In Carlo Ocampo’s case, it tells a story of pure, driving obsession.
We could speculate about the Magnus Walker Effect until we’re blue in the face, and we could lament the insane Porsche bubble and ask ourselves, “When will it end?” The real point here is that there will always be those right place, right time situations; the impossibly unique ones that you don’t think exist. Such was the case for Carlo when he set out to find the 964 he had dreamed of.
First, to backtrack a bit, let’s take a brief trip to Carlo’s youth. I don’t need to tell you that he loved cars even back then—you can just refer to the photos below. This is genuinely one of my favorite part about documenting anyone’s story. Those nostalgic 35mm frames from days of old, from before the driver became a driver; those are what tell the backstory.
Carlo grew up under the consistent and heavy influence of his two uncles’ and their various cars. First generation Camaros and Mustangs, C3/4 Corvettes, AMC Javelins, Plymouth Barracudas, Chevy Belairs and even a Pantera; these are the cars that Carlo found himself wandering around as a child. As he aged, he developed a special affliction for Ferraris in particular, and he eventually acquired a very well rounded automotive palate.
“Like most kids in the 90s,” he started, “I fell in love with Japanese cars, such as the MKIV Supra TT, NSX, and FD RX-7.” (It turned out that a black, 400HP, 6MT ’94 Supra TT was perhaps not the ideal first car for a 16 year old. Carlo’s first car met an untimely end in a car accident that luckily left him alive. You live and you learn, I suppose.)
While Carlo owned his share of Japanese cars, his first dip in the European waters came in the form of an Alpine White E46 M3 back in 2007. From that point on, he moved to a 997.2 GT3. Hop, skip, and jump, and he found himself in possession of an E28, then a Dakar Yellow E36 M3. The majority of those cars have since gone, and now we have come to a garage ruled by Guards Red Porsches and a Ducati 749R (it’s also red, obviously).
The 964 you see on your screen once resided in Arizona. After a series of searches for the right one, Carlo came across this car in an email reply to a WTB ad that he had posted on Rennlist. It’s a 1990 911 Carrera 2, in Guards Red, with a 5MT, and it’s almost unbelievably clean. The story is one that will likely restore some faith that you may have lost at the hands of dishonest or two timing Craigslist flops. From his home in California, Carlo made a deal with the owner to hold the car for a week while he figured out transport and payment. Despite making the deal, the owner listed the car online anyway in his eagerness to sell. The fortunate part here is that the man held true to his word and kept the car for Carlo to acquire.
Right off the bat, Carlo’s 964 does not ask for, but instead demands attention. The original paint is as vibrant as it ever was, and its obvious street stance breathes life and character into the car. Prior to buying a 964, Carlo had ideas and visions of what he wanted in his next Porsche. It needed to be closer to the street drivable portion of the modification spectrum.
The car stands at the perfect crossroads of modified and preserved. Nothing is overdone and everything complements the original platform. The freshly built BBS E26 boast a perfect flashiness that only serves to accent the body lines. The Rothsport short shifter is harshly intentional. The AST 5200 two way coilovers are accompanied by Elephant Racing sport bushings, Tarett RSR monoball tie rods and spring plates, and RS sway bars; put simply, the car hugs the pavement at all times.
All name dropping of parts aside, what matters at the end of the day is how the car makes you feel. What goes through your mind when you settle into the driver’s seat? What do you smell? What do you feel? These are the reasons we tell the stories we tell. The human experience in relation to these machines is something every auto enthusiast can attest to, identify with, and understand. It is what unites us.
Above all, though, what Carlo says is his ultimate love language with the car is the energy and attention that it requires to drive: “New cars are easy to drive… there is no sense of occasion. Every time I drive the 964, it’s a complete assault to my senses and I find myself tired after driving it for more than a few hours.” This is a point which almost any classic car owner can nod to. Properly done, it is exhausting. Not in the conventional use of the word, though. It is exhausting in the way that makes your soul feel full. It is taxing in the sense that your complete and uninterrupted attention is required because you have to listen to the car and what it’s telling you. It is truly fulfilling.
“For me, driving a classic Porsche means being a caretaker of a timeless sports car.” Carlos harkened back to the time before the dreaded Porsche bubble, before you were seeing 23k mile 964s on Bring a Trailer for $80k. In owning this car, he hopes to preserve it and give it the respect that it deserves.
While the autonomous reference may strike a bit of, “Oh, shit” fear in you, it is an impending possibility that will certainly affect the way we look at classic cars. Which, for the time being, is why I think we should appreciate these classics even more than ever before.
The feelings that Carlo experiences when he rails his 964 around a sharp backroad corner will never be replicated by a Tesla, or a Cadillac, or a Honda. The 964 is the perfect concoction of visceral rawness that can only be found in those certain, special cars. Those who know, know.
For now, let’s take notes from Carlo and strike that balance of driving for care and driving for continuation. If we carry these cars with us, they will never die.
Afterword: “First and foremost, I want to say thank you to my wife Katrina for always supporting my passion for cars. You’ve always encouraged my hobby and I can’t thank you enough for everything. Love you!
I also want to thank the people involved with the 964, such as my cousin Josh for always lending a hand when I need to wrench, Mooty for answering all my Porsche related questions and generally being a bad influence when it comes to Porsches (but in a good way), Drew and Barrett at Sonic Motorsports for all the suspension work they performed on the car, Ian at Carbonite Detailing for keeping the exterior in pristine shape, and Mike at 02 Creations for always taking care of my interior and sound system needs.Lastly, just want to give a final shout out to the track familia: the smoking Beemers Arturo and Josey, Noel (Murhica), Mike, and Charlie. Looking forward to the fun times at the track this season!