Paris-based photographer Calvin Courjon began his future career at a tender age, boldly approaching sportscar owners as a child to ask to take pictures of their automotive treasures. Longing for classic Porsche cars growing up, it didn’t take long for Calvin to get one of his very own – purchasing his first Porsche, with a friend, when he was just 22. They clinched the deal for the 993 Carrera 4S in Arena Red on his actual birthday – as gifts go, it’ll take a lot to be beaten.
Love at first seat
Calvin's passion for cars was lit at the age of 10, when his mother took him to the Paris Motor Show. Captivated by the car paradise sprawled out around him, he trawled every stand at the event. In its wake, he couldn’t stop thinking about the sportscars he’d seen – and not long after he got a taste of what it felt like to sit in the cockpit of a Porsche itself. “I remember the first time I sat in a Porsche,” says Calvin. “There was a dark grey 356 on the street in Paris. I was taking a picture, and the owner asked me if I wanted to sit inside it. Ever since then, I’ve loved the brand and felt close to it.”
Over the next few years Calvin got to work, excitedly taking pictures of sportscars at every opportunity. Starting out with a small and inexpensive camera, he quickly moved on to a DSLR, then continued to upgrade his kit through his teenage years. Finding sportscar owners across Paris and beyond, asking to take pictures of their vehicles, it was this tenacity that granted him the opportunities to develop his skills at a young age. “I just wanted to photograph cars, because I loved them,” he explains. “I didn’t want to earn money or even think that this could be my job. When you’re younger, you don’t consider these things. But if you do the same things when you’re older, people wonder what you want from them.”
He may not have known it back then, but this regular proximity to classic cars was setting him on the path to becoming a Porsche owner himself. And it was as a result of joining forces with a fellow petrolhead that he was able to achieve it.
Keep your friends close, and your Porsche friends closer
When it came to searching for a Porsche wonder to call his own, Calvin had his heart set on one very early. “I knew for certain that the first Porsche I wanted was a 911,” he says. So, who better to help him look other than the owner of a fleet of classic Porsche sportscars? As Calvin’s 22nd birthday approached, this close friend suggested that they buy one together. “It was not planned at all,” Calvin explains of the spontaneous search. Trawling the internet to decide what Porsche 911 to buy, they stumbled across a man selling his classic Porsche collection, with one vehicle in particular standing out from the pack. It was a 993 Carrera 4S in Arena Red – one of few colours from Porsche history that spans the air-cooled and water-cooled 911 eras – that held a rather serendipitous link to Calvin himself.
The harmony between the car, its colour and Calvin harked back to his time spent living in Thailand. “I specifically wanted a 993 because of memories of driving around Bangkok in my friend’s that was that exact same Arena Red colour. For that reason, I knew the moment I saw it for sale that I wanted it.” And so, it became a reality. On the day of Calvin’s 22nd birthday, the pair purchased the classic 911 Carrera 4S. “It was pretty much the coolest birthday present ever! I already know the next Porsche I want, but I don’t think that will be on my 23rd birthday,” Calvin jokes. The car he has designs on is a 997 GT3 RS 3.8 – one that holds yet another nostalgic link, as it’s the first car he remembers driving in video games as a child.
Calvin expresses huge amounts of gratitude towards his friend with whom he co-owns the Porsche. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. It’s very reassuring to own a Porsche with someone like him, because he already has many classic cars and knows how to take the best care of them.” Together, the pair have exhibited a masterclass in how to buy a classic Porsche 911, if you really set your mind to it.
The Parisian daily driver
But how does it work, co-owning a classic Porsche? Thankfully, there are no squabbles over who gets to drive it, as the shared owner of his 911 lives out of the country. “My friend is just happy that we bought it together, as it is something that won’t lose its value. When I talk about ‘our car’, he’ll always reply, ‘No, YOUR car!’” It leaves the 993 free to be used to roam the City of Light as Calvin’s daily driver. “I wanted a car that that fits with Paris’ classic architecture – one that when you see it in front of a historic building, it looks as if it was made to be there,” he says.
Even though the 911 has classic status of its own kind, it still seamlessly fits with his modern lifestyle, says Calvin. “It’s so easy to drive whenever I need it, whether it’s around central Paris, out to the mountains for skiing, or just to IKEA,” he explains. That’s right, Calvin’s home essentials haul fit snugly inside – cactus and all. And with four seats, he frequently takes friends on his drives. “For me, cars are meant to meant to be driven, and my closest friends feel the same way. I just want to drive cars as much as I can.”
And drive it he certainly does, soaking up every moment of driving pleasure that he’s able to, while taking care of his beloved oldtimer in parallel. “In my case, the car has been perfect,” he says. “There has been nothing to do other than change the oil. With classic 911 sportscars, you can drive them for many hundreds of thousands of kilometres – there’s really no limit, as long as you look after the engine.”
And when it comes to old vs new, it’s clear that Calvin stands in one camp. “New cars can be so big, but the 911 is compact and I love that. I like the fact that it’s not modern, because I’ve received weird looks as a young person driving a new sportscar. With a classic car, everyone is always happy to see you.” It’s certainly a talking point, too. Owning the car doesn’t just attract the odd thumbs up and appreciative nod, it’s even led to making work connections. “It’s been a great marketing tool,” Calvin adds. “When I go to car meetings, people talk to me just because I own the car. Having it means that I’m not just outside of this world looking in.”
Driving Parisian car culture
Calvin says there is a strong car culture in and around Paris, one that he enthusiastically throws himself into. He takes his 993 to the weekly Sunday car meet-up at Place Vauban, an event that’s become a Parisian staple. There, his classic Porsche joins in with a gathering of vehicles that can number up to 150, sometimes even more, from every manufacturer and era imaginable. Its inclusive atmosphere is part of what attracts owners and spectators in their droves. However, he says that the event is currently in jeopardy, with enforced shutdowns putting a stop to some of the gatherings in recent months. “We are fighting back with a petition. Everybody from the car community in Paris is coming together to try to save it,” Calvin says of the efforts being made to save the future of the event.
Blurring the lines between virtual and reality
Calvin’s Porsche-related projects have even become intertwined with some of his other passions, such as video games. When PlayStation France asked him to photograph Gran Turismo 7 cars for the release, he was able to take out a GT3 RS to real-life Parisian locations featured in the game. The results leave you poring over them to determine which is virtual and which exists in reality. The project rather aptly took place shortly before his trip to the SXSW festival in Austin, where he spent the week shooting at the Porsche Unseen exhibit as guest editor for the Porsche social media channels. Centre stage at the exhibit stood the real-life recreation of the Porsche Vision GT from the game itself. “It was bizarre – one week I was playing this car in the game, and the next I was seeing it in real life,” he says.
Calvin’s next project is very much grounded in the real world as he hopes to embark on a whopping 3,000km Euro trip with friends and their Porsche counterparts. With a future filled with photographing his passion, he continues to work towards building the Porsche collection of his dreams. There will potentially be a few more epic birthday gifts to come, it seems.