We unleashed the iconic German sportscar’s 443-horsepower twin-turbo flat-six on the speed limitless Autobahn.
All along the autobahn leaving Stuttgart, the digital dashboard displays the speed limit. Every so often it fluctuates depending on merging roads, construction or nearby towns, but there’s always a limit, just like on any freeway. Then all of a sudden, nothing – just these four simple words: No speed limit detected.
With an effortless thrust and a deep howl from the engine, my 911 takes flight and soon reaches a cruising speed of dreams. 155 mph (250 km/h) never felt so good.
Unlike everywhere else in the world, I’m not nervously scanning the horizon for police cars or instinctively looking for speed cameras. Instead, I’m actually enjoying the pure pleasure of speed. “Bless you Germany,” I say to myself, for this is the only place in the world where this is possible.
I’m driving the 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (4 meaning four-wheel-drive and S meaning super) down to its ancestral homeland of Austria. This is the new 992 model, which for Porsche aficionados means it’s the eighth generation of the world’s most iconic sportscar. And believe it or not, the 911 is better than ever before.
With 443 horses created in a twin-turbo flat-six, an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, acceleration of zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, a top speed of 200 mph, and steering, cornering, stability and performance stats to match most supercars on the market, the newest 911 is worthy of its many accolades and reputation as one of the best value-for-money sportscars in existence.
There’s a purity in my journey because I got the car where it was made in Germany, and I’m driving it across the Alps to where it was born in Austria. The weather is cold, the forests are carpeted in fallen leaves, there’s frost on the grassy fields, and higher into the mountains, as I cross from Bavaria into Tyrol, the roads are blanketed in fresh snow.
My trip is also purposeful, which adds further meaning because the very essence of this car and the Porsche brand was born from purpose.
My destination is the re-opening ceremony of a private motor museum that tragically burnt to the ground exactly 10 months ago. Owned by an Austrian friend of mine and his twin brother, Attila and Alban Scheiber, the Top Mountain Crosspoint Museum sits high atop the Ötztal Alps in Hochgurgl.
This spectacular corner of the world is best known for the Super-G ski races that take place on the nearby glacier in Sölden, but has also gained famed for being the place where 007’s Spectre was filmed, not to mention where the Ice Age man Ötzi was unearthed.
In true Germanic form, the museum was rebuilt ahead of schedule in record time, and stands as a monument not just to modernist alpine architecture and the evolution of the motorcycle, but also to the triumph of the human spirit.
Here in this high, remote magical mountain valley, where hardship and calamities like avalanches have been commonplace for centuries, a resilient, positive determination has been forged and it permeates everything.
The Top Mountain Crosspoint Museum is, without exaggeration, now the best motorcycle museum in the world. Despite the sheer enormity of the collection, with more than 400 motorcycles on display, it’s the quality and rarity that’s beyond compare.
Housed here on a mountaintop are the da Vincis, Rembrandts, Van Goghs and Monets of motorcycling. Nowhere else can you see so many priceless, historic, rare, successful, exciting, game-changing models from all eras of motorcycling under one roof. And the experience is just mind-blowing.
Better still is the addition of famous Porsche racecars on display, like the 2016 Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid, the 997 GT3 RSR Flying Lizard and, winner of the “most adorable” and “most selfied” prizes, the 991 RSR Pink Pig.
Why Porsche racecars in a motorcycle museum? It’s because the Scheiber family has been driving Porsches since the brand’s debut, and the museum’s common Austro-Germanic values mirror those of Porsche.
In fact, within hours of the museum’s destruction last January, while flames still smoldered from the random short-circuited wire, Porsche called and offered its condolences and commitment of support. Soon after, a multi-page article appeared in Porsche’s magazine Christophorus featuring the Scheibers, and now famous racecars from Porsche’s corporate garage appear in the resurrected museum.
And how appropriate too. Because the road up to Hochgurgl, passing through draw-dropping screensaver scenery, is snowy and icy and while I could’ve been on a certain German motorcycle and still maintain the spirt of the experience, I’d rather be paying homage to the all-purpose sports-racing car made for these very mountains and conditions.
It’s part pilgrimage and part travel odyssey – a journey of affirmation and of discovery. Is it strange to say that driving a Porsche in the Austrian Alps, just a few mountains over from where the Porsche family built their first cars in a converted sawmill, feels better than if I were driving it in the Rocky Mountains of my home state? Well, somehow it does.
The 911 4S grips the snow and ice like a panther, with confidence and athleticism. It’s assertive but poised and highly capable of anything it encounters. I take the S-bends in the road at speed and experience nothing but control and exhilaration.
Over the mountains and across the valleys I fly, past waterfalls and farms and craggy peaks back towards Germany and the drive is everything I could hope for. And then, before I realize it, I’m across the invisible border on a clear road and I see again the happiest dashboard display known to man: No speed limit detected.
The way back to Stuttgart seems too short.
Jared Zaugg can be found at the intersection of lifestyle, motoring, travel and culture, and is currently
working on a show for PBS called Lost In Motoring.