A first love, a labour of love, and even a love connection. Porsche has played many leading roles throughout Lara’s life, transcending to be much more than acting as a mere driving companion. As she regales with her past and present Porsche tales, the guest editor of Porsche Classic magazine, ORIGINALE 07, explains why she fell for classic 911s, and how she’s using her influence to make the world a better, more inclusive place for other women who are passionate about cars.
Receiving that 911 call
It’s a once upon a time story that began at the tender age of 11. Witnessing one of her mother’s friends with her own Porsche struck an immediate chord; one which she couldn’t have imagined would then follow her throughout life. Her mother’s friend was unmarried. A business woman. And had a Porsche of her own. It was a vision that bucked the trend, contradicting the notion that it was simply expected for women in southern California to only drive SUVs or station wagons. “During that time, a Porsche were seen as a male car, so when I – as a little girl – saw that a woman could own something this special, it was inspiring. It immediately changed me. I remember it vividly, and for the rest of the day I was quiet, considering this surprise news that she didn’t have a husband and yet owned this sports car.”
Fast forward to adulthood and the first time that Lara drove a 911 – her boyfriend’s. “I went from driving my VW Rabbit convertible to getting into this amazing sports car and feeling that power. I knew right away that I had to have one.” In 2010, her dream of ownership was finally realised in the form of a 911 Cabriolet. “Once you’re in the seat there’s nothing else in any other car that comes close,” she sighs contentedly, describing the overwhelming feeling she gets when sat behind the wheel of a Porsche.
Cherishing classic Porsche 911s
Lara’s classic 911 adoration has now seen her involved with the latest Porsche Classic magazine, ‘ORIGINALE 07’, where she was a guest editor. “I was so honoured to be involved. I’ve loved Porsche my whole life, and my classic 911 is truly my first choice, always. To be recognised by the brand you’ve always looked up to is everything. ORIGINALE isn’t just a parts catalogue, it’s so much more. It’s a conversation piece.” Open the pages of the latest ORIGINALE and you’ll see Lara herself smiling back from her editor’s letter, setting the scene for the Porsche innovations, genuine classic parts and dynamic stories that lie ahead.
Great stories. In every small detail
Whether she’s precision driving at work or at home, coveting cars is a main fixture wherever she is. Taking care of her classic 911s – her bullet-proof 930 and 911 T – is always at the forefront of Lara’s mind. As someone who also works as a ‘fit model’ (used by fashion designers to check the fit and visual appearance of apparel), she finds herself trying to ‘fit model’ her cars. “We’re continually tweaking and refining our cars. Several years back we had to have the turbo on the 930 replaced and shortly after we realised it started blowing smoke. When we didn’t mess with it, the car was perfect!” After rebuilding the engine, the car drives like a dream again. Now, it’s just simple things like changing the oil and keeping an eye out for any signs of wear. “You don’t want to mess with the perfection that Porsche already gave you, but obviously, after 40 years, you need to fiddle a little bit and have some fun. There needs to be a tender touch and a tender ear to how the car is talking to you.”
Questioning the status quo
Lara has faced many challenges over the years, navigating a societal perception of women, even after years of a career as a precision driver in Hollywood. Over time, she’s found the independence to discover her true style. “It’s interesting the gender roles cars have traditionally taken on. Fast and loud? That’s a man's car. Nice and comfortable? A woman’s car. Porsche is both.” As a child, she was already drawn to certain details, and was able to recognise a 911 by the headlights alone. “When I was young, I wanted my mom to pick me up in a raised truck so that I’d stand out and look tough. I guess when I first saw that woman get into her Porsche all those years ago, I thought it was a sign of independence and standing out in a positive way.”
Lara’s true obsession is to help shape the future for women, to secure a seat at the table (or, rather, in the car) when it comes to driving luxury sports cars and being accepted. Ever since she started driving a 911, Lara has noticed some giveaway signals when she’s in the driver’s seat. “When I was in the new 911 Cabriolet, I got this sort of patronising reaction. But when I’m in my ‘Lee Green’ classic 911, I get a lot of smiles. And if I’m driving the 930 – such a typically masculine car – people often can't wrap their heads around it,” she says. “They look at me puzzled.” From these differing reactions, Lara has deduced that driving newer cars gives some people the perception that she must be driving her husband’s car. Yet when she is in a classic Porsche 911, there’s noticeable intrigue and much less aggression. “I’ve literally had people scream at me when I was driving the new 911. People tried to race me, or flip me off – angry that it's my car. If I didn’t know what car I was in, I would immediately be able to tell just from the reactions I get. And that’s why I want to change it.”
Even when it came to starting her @thatporschegirl Instagram account, she received feedback from male friends and acquaintances that people don’t want to hear a woman talk about cars. “They’ve now realised that’s sexist. Perceptions are changing for the better and women are being taken more seriously, but there’s still a battle. Sometimes you’re pitted against other women in the automotive scene.” This, however, couldn’t be further from Lara’s end goal of a world where everyone plays for the same team, without preconceived notions about what it means to be a car aficionado. “In the 911 T, I find that women are starting to yell supportive things out the window at me, and I love that. I think younger girls are starting to embrace it more.”
Instagram vs reality
Lara first started her Instagram as a travel account with her friend. Along the way, some cars would sneak in to her posts, so upon the suggestion of her boyfriend to make another account solely about Porsche, Lara ended up as @thatporschegirl. From then, it’s become a one-stop shop for curating pictures of her 911s and other beautiful car images that move her. The platform has been an overwhelmingly supportive space. “Everyone’s been very accepting. Because of the cars and my driving history, I think it helps garner some respect. My opinion is valued, and a lot of men message to ask which cars they should buy. I spend time answering every single question, and if I don’t know, I find out.” From a young guy asking if he should get a 964 to an 80-year-old whose life ambition is to buy a Porsche, people from varied walks of life come to Lara for her trusted guidance. With a predominantly male following, Lara wishes to bring more women into the throng to help promote their voices and presence.
A man after her own heart
When it comes to the man her life, harmoniously there are two Porsche hearts beating strongly in her relationship. Sharing this passion through 14 years together, Lara and her boyfriend have been renovating their ultra-special 1969 911 T in ‘Lee Green’ (named for her boyfriend, who mixed the colour and for his time spent on its restoration). It has been one their greatest hits. “We joke that it’s my engagement ring. I don’t have a ring, but I have a really, really great Porsche!” Their Porsche story is certainly not one characterised by traditional Hollywood romance tropes. “A typical date for us would be walking through car lots. I’m pretty sure there’s been alerts to people that own dealerships about a strange couple walking around,” she chuckles. Also in their garage is a 930 generation 911 Turbo 3.3 from 1982 as well as a Macan S daily driver.
There needs to be a tender touch and a tender ear to how the car is talking to you
A female-forward future
Armed with this Porsche trio (and a hankering for a new 911), Lara is heading into the future with the wish to spend more time connecting women and changing opinions on a larger scale – for it to be normal for everyone to be seen in great cars. “Slowly but surely, there's acceptance. Obviously not to the exclusion of men, because that is the wrong approach. We simply all need to include each other.” That sure sounds like the kind of car club that drives for the world.
Main photo: Kari Black @kariblackphotograph