A Porsche 911 love story that spans generations
For two friends in California, a passion for Porsche has brought them together like family
Two women with classic brown Porsche 911 Targa at dusk
Yoko, a Porsche owner in LA, and Kyoko, a young neighbour who grew up admiring her 911 Targa, with a tale of memories and friendship, dedication and community
In Japanese culture, tradition is important – as is keeping families and friends connected through memories, objects and shared experiences. That’s certainly true for Kyoko and Yoko, two women from California who first formed a bond back in the late 1970s. It’s a bond that has continued to grow – and Porsche has been central to it. Yoko became one of the first Asian women to own a Porsche (a 911 Targa) in the Los Angeles area back in 1974. For Kyoko, the little girl next door, it was a car that would ignite a lifelong love for Porsche. Now, four decades on, with the help of Kyoko restoring that very same car, they enjoy weekends spent cruising down memory lane. The beginning of a Porsche 911 love story“I married an Olympic athlete when I was 19, but we divorced early,” says Yoko. “That left me with two sons to look after – and I was the sole provider. It meant that I had to develop a career. I was one of the few women back then who travelled internationally from LA to Hong Kong, Osaka and other parts of Asia. But it made me more confident and self-assured, stoking a fire in me to be bold and embrace new experiences.” It was this drive that led Yoko to pursue her interest in cars and eventually saw her buying a Porsche of her own. “A friend of mine had a Porsche Speedster. And I thought, Wow, I want my car to have speed too,” says Yoko. “When I was younger, I used to go to the Long Beach Grand Prix, which was practically in our backyard. Plus my dad was a car buff. That, and watching the races, is what got me into cars.”
Woman beside Porsche 911 Targa at sunset with palm trees
Back in 1974, Yoko became one of the first Asian women in the LA area to own a Porsche | Jack Schroeder
Where the classic Porsche dream beganYoko has fond memories of her father washing his cars by hand, always repeating the same mantra: make sure they sparkle. “With his precision and attention to detail, it was my father who taught me business acumen,” says Yoko. “Then there are memories of me in high school, hanging out with the local guys who were working on their cars. They trusted me to help out. That’s where I learned accountability. And that carried over when I bought my own car. In Japan, taking responsibility, taking care of your family, your friends, your possessions – these are all big parts of what makes our culture what it is. That’s how my car became part of my family. It was something I had to take responsibility for and cherish.“We were all very close back then,” interjects Kyoko. “We even called Yoko’s parents Grandpa and Grandma. My parents moved from Japan to America in the 1960s with no relatives here. So Yoko’s parents became our grandparents. And that’s why I used to call Yoko my ‘Aunty’ – even though we’re not related.” One of Kyoko’s earliest and happiest childhood memories was watching Aunty Yoko driving her Targa and parking it up outside her window. Then two boys would scramble out of it – Yoko’s sons – and Kyoko and her own brother would come down and play with them in their backyard.
Tan Porsche 911 Targa by palm trees at dusk
Yoko’s 911 Targa is a testament to her own values – strong, robust, playful and the perfect companion for adventures | Jack Schroeder
How a Porsche 911 helped build family traditions“I was three or four at the time Yoko was driving her car around, so I didn’t know what Porsche meant and probably didn’t pronounce it correctly,” says Kyoko. “I would just call it ‘Yoko’s brown sports car’ and point it out to my parents. It was the shape that left a lasting memory. It was rare to see a Porsche in those days.” Yoko was away most of the time, but when she did come home, Yoko’s parents would invite Kyoko’s family over for a meal. It all became a ritual – watching the car, playing, then family dinner and memories shared as friends. A ritual that Kyoko would remember for many years to come.
Woman beside a purple Porsche 911, windblown hair, open fields
Kyoko was so inspired as a child by her Porsche-owning older neighbour that, when she was older, she was determined to buy a 911 of her own | Type 7/Jack Schroeder
“I learnt to drive very early on – probably at the age of 12 or 13,” smiles Yoko. “My dad taught me how to use a column (manual) shift and drive his truck in the backyard. I used to ask him to let me try it. I just wanted to see what it felt like to be behind the wheel. I’ve always been a very curious child, and I think that’s what got me into cars in the end.”For Yoko, her 911 Targa is far more than just a car – it’s an integral part of her family. She affectionately refers to it as her ‘baby’ or ‘third child’, as that is how she relates to it. “I was drawn to the Targa initially for its speed, but safety was paramount,” explains Yoko. “Having two children, the safety bar gave me peace of mind. One of our favourite rituals involved taking the Targa out for drives down the California coast, heading straight down PCH [Pacific Coast Highway] to Malibu. Those weekend trips, enjoying breakfast in Malibu before returning home, are cherished memories. Even as the boys grew and space in the back became a little more snug, those moments continued to be special.”Empowering the next generation of female Porsche driversKyoko’s admiration for Yoko was rooted in the older woman‘s remarkable strength and sense of empowerment – qualities that Kyoko began to associate with driving a Porsche. “Aunty Yoko was the epitome of cool,” says Kyoko. “As a child, I was always curious about her – wondering about her life, her adventures, how she spent her days. Seeing a Japanese woman, career-driven and behind the wheel of a sportscar, was rare and inspiring. Yoko’s example sparked something in me. A desire to chase my hobbies and dreams, to develop a passion for cars. She’s been a monumental influence in my life, and for that, I am forever grateful.”
Purple Porsche 911 in a field of orange wildflowers
Kyoko loves how elegant and powerful her 911 Carrera is. And, of course, its unique and unforgettable shape | Type 7/Jack Schroeder
“In our culture, being Japanese, there’s a certain reservedness expected, especially from women,” says Yoko. “But there I was, expressive and unafraid to show emotion – not typically what you’d expect from someone who looks like me. But I’ve never been one to confine myself within those societal boundaries. And it seems Kyoko absorbed that spirit from a young age, inheriting a slice of my passion and my love for freedom. She represents the new, fearless generation of female Porsche owners.” Reuniting with a childhood friend and a classic Porsche 911 TargaSeveral years later, Kyoko and her family moved away from her childhood home. The years rolled by but the memories of her old neighbourhood and enigmatic Aunty Yoko remained. Kyoko returned to LA in 2017 for the second time and increasingly felt driven by a mixture of nostalgia and curiosity to rekindle her connection with a woman who’d helped shape her life. “I eventually called Yoko up in 2019. It had been over 30 years since I saw her last,” says Kyoko. “My parents had retired and moved back to Japan, so I didn’t have any immediate family in LA. Still, I felt like there were a lot of things waiting for me here, including Yoko and the brown sports car that used to sit outside my childhood living room window.”“What brings joy to my life are the bonds I’ve formed across different generations,” says Yoko. “The shared memories, the unique community we’ve created together. When Kyoko returned after all those years of being gone from LA, it felt like she was not just coming back to a community but also reconnecting with my Targa – and with our shared legacy.”After reuniting, the two began taking long weekend drives together in one of Kyoko’s own Porsche cars, a 1988 911 Carrera, catching up and sharing their Porsche passion. By then, Yoko hadn’t driven her 911 Targa for 20 years having retired it – although it was still in Yoko’s garage.
Elegant lady with classic brown Porsche 911 at twilight
For many years, Yoko’s 911 Targa was hidden under a dust sheet in her garage. When Kyoko returned to LA, both her old friend and favourite car came back fully into her life | Jack Schroeder
Restoring a classic Porsche car“I have two grown-up sons, but they have zero interest in my baby,” Yoko says of her 911 Targa. “So when Kyoko came back, I knew it was time to get it running again. I figured Kyoko of all people would be someone who would understand what I wanted and how I wanted it done, especially since she had two little babies [her Porsche cars] of her own. “When I asked her to help me restore the car, she got even more excited than I thought she would,” Yoko adds. “It just turned out to be perfect timing for both of us. This has been a new journey for me, having Kyoko here and seeing that she loves these Porsche cars even more than I do.”For Kyoko, restoring the classic 911 Targa was like opening a treasure box. “Yoko had all the paperwork for the car, and I asked if I could take the file home and reorganise everything,” says Kyoko. “I took a whole weekend, sorted everything by workshop, by date, and then brought it back to her. In the course of the restoration, we just had to do these little things – just take care of stuff.”With the help of a local garage, the restoration process went smoothly and Kyoko and Yoko had the 911 back on the road in next to no time. “I got goosebumps when we picked up the car because it was the same feeling I had in 1974 when I first saw the Targa,” says Yoko. “It’s like seeing someone you haven’t seen for a long time – such a wonderful, satisfying, happy feeling.”
Two Porsche 911 sportscars parked side by side at dusk
We are family: Yoko and Kyoko’s two Porsche cars hang out together, just like their owners do | Jack Schroeder
Building a Porsche community through shared experiences“There are so many different connections within the Porsche community and so many relationships that you build through it,” says Yoko. “And community is part of being Japanese because we respect the generations. For me, that helps explain my connection and affinity with the car. The other thing I love about my 911 Targa is that it’s not plush, it’s a real sports car – which is what it’s supposed to be. When you’re sat in a classic Porsche, you feel like you regain some of your sanity.”For Yoko and Kyoko, having a friend who shares an interest and passion is hugely meaningful. “It feels like we were meant to be, from the time she was three years old,” says Yoko of her younger friend. “Watching her grow and develop her passions, which are so close to mine, is something we owe to our love of Porsche. “And I hope we can pass that passion on to the next generation,” Yoko continues. “That mutual respect between the Porsche, owners, fans and the entire community is what will always keep that Porsche for passion going.”
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