My first Porsche: New York barber’s Guards Red 911
The Brooklyn stylist who bought a classic Porsche 911
Man standing in front of Porsche 911 in Guards Red
When Richard Mendoza was a boy growing up in New York City, he’d watch his grandfather fixing cars. After forging a successful career cutting hair, he tells us how it led him to buying his own classic 911
Hard work pays off. That’s Richard Mendoza’s mantra. Buying his first Porsche 911 was more than just realising a childhood dream – it meant capturing a little piece of history and showing the world what he was made of. For Richard – who was born in Hawaii but raised in New York City – buying a classic 911 was a reward to himself for years of hard work.Initially, Richard considered a career repairing cars but he ended up moving into cutting hair. It was the air conditioning that sealed the deal. “I wanted to work in a room with air conditioning,” he laughs. “New York can get really hot, and garages didn’t have them, so I ended up in a barbershop.” Richard – who now owns two barbers’ shops, one in Brooklyn, another in Queens – would chat to customers who would tell them about their lives, and how it was important that their style and accessories would match their cars. It only added to his determination to one day buy the car of his dreams.
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 (type G-Series) in Guards Red
A cut above the rest: for New York barber Richard Mendoza, there’s no car quite like the 911
How did you learn about restoring classic cars?“Nobody on my father’s side was into cars, except my grandfather. He adored German cars and German engineering, and I’d often see him restoring classic cars and bringing battered vehicles back to life. He was a real inspiration to my mother and me. Watching him doing mechanical things, I started to learn, too – about alternators, the ignition and how the car works. It was hard work, but also incredibly rewarding. When I was growing up, my mum used to drive my grandfather’s car. In fact, she had three different ones, so she taught me how to drive a stick [manual gearbox] at 16. Manual was the thing that I ended up loving. And there was no way I was getting an automatic after that.“This experience – paired with the automotive passion passed down from my mum and grandfather – is what drew me into the car import scene. And of all the different cars they had, the 911 was always the car that kept staring at me. When I was a kid, I just loved looking at Porsche cars. There was one in the iconic Guards Red that kept floating around the city streets. It was rare to spot it, but I’d always remember it. Every time I saw it felt like catching a ladybug. I always thought to myself: I want that life. Fast forward and now I have it all.”
Boy holding toy monster truck sits on a woman’s lap
Richard, as a boy, with his mother – the person who instilled in him a passion for all things automotive
Do you repair your own classic 911?“Absolutely – although I stick to minor repairs. I learned to fix cars by watching others. For the more complex repairs, I have a friend in Long Island who’s my go-to. I’ve developed this sixth sense, so I know just when my car is about to act weird. That’s when I visit him. I think the best thing about buying my Porsche 911 is that it takes me back to the old days. When I was younger, I was into drifting. I wasn’t a speed demon, but I knew how to get around and get there fast. So you can tell that I love speed and the Porsche 911 seemed to be the perfect expression of that. I bought it because I wanted my car to show how hard I work, but also to finally make my youthful dream come true. It’s my ideal car and it’s just amazing to park it in front of my shop. Sometimes I just stand there and stare at it – it’s my pride and joy.”How did you buy your classic Porsche 911?“It was Christmas Eve. I have a cousin who runs a car group in Seattle and on that particular day, he said to me, “I think I found your dream car.” At first, I couldn’t believe it, but I went to Seattle anyway to check it out. A friend of a friend had a collection of Porsche cars there, and he was ready to part with one. And guess what? It was exactly the Porsche I wanted – a Carrera 3.2 in Guards Red. The owner said that he went through a lot of different cars and now it was time for him to let this Porsche go. I’m its fifth owner now. The car has never seen rain or snow, so it’s in amazing condition, even though it has plenty of miles on it.”
Man leans into Porsche 911 with small boy in seat
Richard’s childhood was filled with cars, engines and the aroma of petrol. Now he hopes to pass on his love of air-cooled engines to his son
What have you changed on your Porsche 911?“I had it lowered and I changed the Wevo shifter [gear stick] because I felt the throw was too long. I put a MOMO steering wheel on it too because it reminds me of the 917, which was a race car with a brown ball shifter. A lot of people in the Porsche community have that mod because it’s a reminder of what racing feels like, and what it’s like to be on the track. It allowed me to feel the handling of the car better, to feel the air-cooled engine working, and that has always made it such an incredible driving experience. I haven’t changed its colour because I love Guards Red and the way it pops.”What is so good about the Porsche community?“I’m still new to the Porsche community, but I’m slowly making my way into the 911 world. Because of my social media following, posting my Porsche on my account has opened so many doors. My fans and friends were incredibly happy for me when I bought myself the car and announced it. They told me I deserved it. To me, the 911 is a symbol of all my hard work and dedication, and proof that if you put your passion into something, you’ll always be rewarded in the end.
Front 3/4 view of 1986 Porsche 911 in Guards Red
Richard is new to the Porsche owning world but he’s loving every second of it, taking his 911 to shows and meets
“The Porsche community is incredible. I’ve been to three motor shows so far and even though I’m a newbie, I know what everyone is talking about and I’m more than happy to take part in the conversations. I’ve also attended a bunch of car meets in New York, including one from a company called Grassroots, who park all the exotic cars on the grass and display them that way. I’ve also done some road car meets, where we take a drive into the mountains. As you can see, there’s plenty of Porsche action.”Why did you choose a classic Porsche 911 rather than a new one?“I already have two brand new cars. My wife has, too. But once I opened the door to the classic Porsche world there was no going back. I like taking care of my Porsche and I have the money and the time to do it. I drive this car for my mental health. It’s like taking vitamins – it keeps me strong. Driving a 911 is my way of feeling alive. In time, I’d like to have a whole collection of Porsche cars. The one thing I would never change about the Porsche 911 is its ceramic brakes and headlights. I think these details really add spirit to the car and make it what it is – a cultural icon.”
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