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FARM 996: An Origin Story

If you’ve read my post on “FARM 996” then you’ll know the meaning behind the name. To summarize, I bought the car sight-unseen from a guy who lives on a farm in Georgia. But that alone wasn’t enough to make a name like that stick. Decades ago I bought a 1968 Volvo 122S that was literally sitting in a field behind someone’s home, but nobody called that “FIELD 122.” So, just exactly how did FARM 996 come into being?

FARM 996 is really a nickname, and nicknames are earned. They’re generally bestowed upon you by good friends and family. When I first mentioned that I had bought the car to my friend Kevin, he was a bit surprised. I had told him previously that I was debating between buying a new-to-me car or completely restoring my Boxster. The next time I talked to him about my car situation, I had already bought the 996 and was looking for a transport service. Naturally, Kevin asked about the car, and I told him the story of how I found it and that it was located on a farm in Georgia. 

Kevin is a professional car guy, and he knows a lot about most cars in general, but knows virtually everything about Ferrari. He may not know all the details and trivia about Porsche, but he definitely knows enough to recognize a good 911. He had made a joke that I had bought “used farm equipment,” and when I reminded him that Porsche did once make tractors, it just made the off-hand quip that much more fitting. When I first showed Kevin my car, I knew I would finally have to tell someone about the horse shit smell (otherwise, he’d probably wonder what I had been doing in my car). I think that’s when Kevin first uttered the words “FARM 996.” And it never went away.

I was amused with that, in the beginning, but I also think I was taking myself way too seriously. I had already ordered a custom plate for my 996 that had the chassis number on it, which was somewhat of a reference to the film I made of one of Kevin’s Ferraris, 109333 The Yellow Car.  Of course, a chassis number on a plate is boring and a bit pretentious (hindsight is 20/20), and Kevin thought I should have a custom plate that read “FARM 996.” So much so that he enlisted the help of our good friend Tim, as well as the entire auto club at our employer (a bit over 1800 members). The auto club would have a monthly lunch (alas, pre-covid days) and Kevin sent out a reminder while also asking the club to encourage me to get the custom plate: 

We all need to get Chris to get a better custom plate than the lame one he ordered for his Porsche “barn find.” He seems to be biased from the last film he made and wants to do the chassis number for his Porsche. Just doesn’t seem right for a piece of used farm equipment. Help me convince Chris to “do the right thing” and get the Farm 996 plate 🙂

Needless to say, many people kept suggesting I get the plate. Of course the two primary antagonists were Kevin and Tim. Kevin went as far as to print out the plate on a sheet of paper and place that on my car at the start of the lunch that month, Tim happily supplied the photo.

But Kevin took it a step further, because an image of a license plate printed on paper just wasn’t good enough. My birthday was around the corner and Kevin confirmed the year of my birth with me, which at the time seemed a bit odd, but I didn’t think much of it. But there was an ulterior motive. At a lunch with Kevin and Tim closer to my birthday, their devious plot was revealed and I was presented with a custom made “costume” vintage 1969 Georgia plate with FARM 996 emblazoned upon it. But there was more… they also created a large poster with the story of my 996 printed on it as well. Peer pressure at its finest.

Then tragedy struck. My mother was killed in a car crash in Texas (where she lived), and that prompted an unexpected road trip in my 996. With such short notice, and having just purchased a new condo and a new dog, and my wife having just started a new job, it put us in a weird position questioning whether or not she should come on this trip. Ultimately we decided it was best for me to go solo. So I had six days in the car by myself (round trip) and got to think about a lot of things. During that time it hit me that life is short, and we should have fun, and we should embrace the things that make us happy, and the things that make others happy too. No matter how silly they may seem. Then somewhere in Arizona I stopped for gas, and what was also getting gas next to me? A fucking tractor.

I literally burst out laughing when I saw my 996 and a tractor getting gas together. It was precisely that moment that I decided I needed the FARM 996 plate. It was fitting. It was right. It’s funny. It tells a story. It’s the car’s legacy. I was actually sad I didn’t have that plate at that moment in Arizona. There were so many right reasons to have it, and no real reason not to have it. And, so it was. Shortly after returning home I jumped on the DMV website and ordered the plate. I took a screenshot of the completed order and emailed it to Kevin. I’ve never seen a man so happy in my life.

This is how you know who your true friends are. They know what’s best for you, even if you can’t see it at the time, and they lovingly nudge you in the right direction in good humor. They gift you with the intangible things that give us stories to tell for the rest of our lives. Whether they’re life changing events or just little inconsequential moments, those stories always come from a good place. FARM 996 is one of those stories. The PCA mantra is “It’s not just the cars, it’s the people,” and I think this story proves that mantra hold true, even if not everyone is a “Porsche guy.”

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