We take a tour of the North Sierra of Madrid with 1,642 HP
Reposted Courtesy of espíritu RACER (RS: @espirituracer)
Written By: Javier Costas (RS: @javiercostas)
Photos By: Ivan Santamaria (RS: @gasandroads)
Driving a Porsche is always a special occasion, no matter what model it is, from the Cayenne Diesel to the 911 GT3 RS. It shows that there is something different in the mentality of this brand. It’s the dream of an engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, that continues in the family to this day. For its entire existence, Porsche has been building sportscars, even though lately it’s a manufacturer of sporty SUVs. But it continues being the best at it.
I will never forget when I drove my first Porsche, a Boxster S (986), which coincided with my first press release, back in December 2004. Even though I recorded everything on video with my old Video8 and took many photos, I still have it imprinted in my memory as if it were yesterday. The purr of that six-cylinder engine is saved in my mind like a first kiss or first vacation with friends (and without parents).
And such a pleasant experience is always capable of repeating itself. Last weekend we went on a drive with five Porsches from different eras, all cars with a lot of RACER spirit, through one of the best areas to drive within the Community of Madrid. The middle-of-nowhere Madrid has some scandalous roads, barely traveled, with landscapes that haven’t been spoiled by urbanization, excessive traffic, advertisements, or a culture of haste. On top of that, everything smells like childhood, as I’m a native of the area.
We met at a gas station north of the capital. When I arrived there was already a 1986 911 Carrera 3.2, a 911 Carrera 4S (997), a Panamera Turbo (970) and a 911 Carrera 4 (964) parked there. We only had to wait for a 718 Cayman (982) to go for a ride. In a sense it was like a blind date. We did a meetup with an app, but it was not Tinder. Well, almost.
The love for cars is one of the most expensive loves there is, and from time to time petrolheads want to meet with others like us, more than anything else so that they understand us. With this idea the RoadStr community was born, used exclusively on Android or iPhone smartphones. The forums have been around forever, including the IRC chats which for many is out of style, as other modern forms have arrived.
An event with a date, time, a marked route, and a “restriction” (for only Porsche) was the only thing that brought us all together. Once we all arrived, we got into the cars and left towards the north, with a few kilometers of highway to heat up our machines and oil. I was in the Carrera 4S. It immediately brought back memories of another press event in 2006, that of the Cayman. When a truck had had an accident with several test vehicles, they brought several 911s “to compensate”, and I managed to get a 911 Carrera 4S Cabrio. One of the best experiences of my life.
This car is well cared for, with little more than 100,000 kilometers, all original, maintained by Porsche service centers, and not a single scratch. Enrique, its owner, takes meticulous care of it. There are many others like him, which is why more than 70% of the 911s that have been produced still circulate, and are usually in an enviable state of conservation. Only the interior and a couple of screens betray that it’s a car with 13 years, otherwise it has lost none of its appeal, and it’s 355 hp are still impressive even compared to the turbos and extra goodies of other vehicles.
In a world where the 2-liter four-cylinder can get more than 300 hp, the 3.8 boxer with six cylinders asserts its authority when it accelerates, although the Tiptronic shift slightly spoils the feeling. It is full of strength and has a unique sound. Although Subaru also makes boxer motors, the sensation is completely different. It’s not the same have everything at the rear with a short exhaust pipe. It all counts.
We switch on the controlled suspension (PASM) and the Sport Chrono package. This car was bought with very specific intentions. We exit the highway on highway M-129 towards El Vellón. Once in the town, we head towards the M-122 and on to the N-320 road. The curves begin. The 911 was born to take on curves. The 911 Carrera 4S is noble in all moments, as if it’s making a show of its constant superiority, like someone who controls all situations, like the hero of a Japanese comic.
We passed by many motorcycles (almost all of them sport bikes or sport turismo). In those parts, you drive more for pleasure than for necessity. Bear in mind that there are very few people living in the North Sierra. Almost everyone would fit into a football stadium, even less than the Bernabéu or the Nou Camp stadiums. A little more than 25,000 people live in roughly 1,250 square kilometers.
The 911 traces the curves as if it were new. Ahead is the old Carrera 3.2, which despite its 30 years of age is in excellent shape. Although they have a slightly negative reputation as a difficult-to-drive car, its owner’s hands always keep it on its path, without any interference, like an arrow shot by a bow, true to his wishes.
We take the N-320 for a few kilometers, a bridge route if you want to call it that. A straight line where the “caravan” had to overtake two or three cars, no more. We quickly reached the M-120, headed towards Valdepiélagos, and after going through the town we continued onto the M-124 until leaving the province of Madrid. It’s not such an intense stretch, but you still enjoy the experience and the good music onboard.
We continue on another road GU-202, which leads to the CM-1002 towards Casa de Uceda. It’s the same area where a 22-year-old guy was caught driving a Lamborghini Huracan at 228 kmh (142 mph). The area has good roads, of course, but with that car it’s easy to quickly run out of asphalt. We don’t proceed at a gallop, but rather a light trot, as you don’t need to go so fast to have fun.
Spectacular landscapes lay in front of our windshields and out of our windows. Even riding along as a copilot is enjoyable. A gentle touch to lower the window and the aroma of the countryside and clean air invades the cabin. That’s how it should be everywhere. The temperature is pleasant, neither cold nor hot, and comfortable in short sleeves. Winters are very hard in the area, even harder in the past, however here we are at the end of spring.
We enter the CM-123, and there the route becomes scandalously fun. There are all kinds of curves, where you can have a good time driving your machine. It’s only inconvenient when eventually encountering a slower vehicle, and without a safe zone to pass, especially when trying to overtake several cars. When driving with others behind, you must be much more careful and considerate with your calculations than when going alone.
We took an opportunity to make a short stop on a straightaway with excellent visibility to take some souvenir photos. Just a couple of cars pass by that area, and the driver of one of them screams loudly: “I’ll trade you!”. For the locals to see so many Porsches in one go is like seeing a UFO, an unusual phenomenon.
The “final” section of the route takes us to the GU-1065, a humble road that leads to a valley where the sun sets early depending on the time of year, and we end up in a place where very little happens, Tortuero. Not even cyclists go there, but some peasants go for a walk in their free time to evade the nuisance of our digital world. In the tiny town square, we stopped our engines to give them a short rest.
But the route doesn’t end there, far from it. There is still the main course ahead. We return to the CM-123 to head in the direction of the Embalse del Atazar. Leaving Tortuero, we stop at another turnout to take some beautiful photos in the afternoon light while exchanging opinions on the distinct 911s. The Panamera Turbo is a kind of strange body, not characterized by its lightness or its speed through the curves, but its 500 HP emanating from the 4.8 V8 are still figures to be respected.
We return to the CM-123 and follow it back to the confines of the Madrid province. As soon as we pass over the border, a sign reads “M-134 El Atazar Dam”. We follow it through a frenzy of curves and a descent within a few kilometers, and the experience could only be better if the Guardia Civil (police) guaranteed that nobody else drives in the area. But as there are other vehicles on the road, we must continue to respect the rules of the road, since after any blind curve there might be a motorcycle, a cyclist, or a car along the shoulder while its passengers are taking photos.
We pass one lookout after another until we reach the famous curve where so many petrolheads used to take photo. Tire marks show that no attempt has been made to avoid an accident, but rubber has been deliberately burned. In fact, we discussed that the road traction of the last several kilometers is better than normal thanks to more rubber on the road rather than traces of pollen or dirt. There is a certain atmosphere of the espíritu RACER (racer spirit) on these second- and third-category roads, with a lot of rubber laid down.
We arrive to the last point where we take photos of all the cars together. The light of the sunset hits the surface of the reservoir before us, creating a beautiful and evocative image. The dam that holds back so many millions of liters of water is impressive, and its relative size, reminds us that although man is the measure of all things, sometimes this measure is small in relation to man’s achievements.
The 911 Carrera 3.2 smokes slightly, as the brakes have received a more intensive treatment than usual, and the car needs to cool a bit while in motion. We’ve taken on several descents without taking advantage of the sustained power of the engines. While passing by the viewpoints prior to the famous curve where we have parked, several motorists and drivers of high-performance compacts, have gazed at us, watching us pass by.
The last sun rays bathe the bodies of the five German cars. The participants share the sensations we felt from the roads we have just experienced and how much we have enjoyed them. What a difference without traffic. If it were an alternate route to a toll road (as is similar with the famous Garraf route near Barcelona) the experience would have been quite different. Fortunately, this is not the case.
With the evening already beginning, it’s time to say goodbye. There is a good camaraderie among those who a few hours before were perfect strangers. We give each other our hands, and our roads separate again. There is someone waiting for us or some pending commitment back in the capital. “Until next time”, we say.
Follow us on RoadStr
What you have just read and relived is a common experience of a “meetup” in which there are not necessarily many cars. Sometimes it’s just about filling a town square or parking lot. This is more like a game of poker between gentlemen, a game to which would be welcome, obviously, a feminine touch. But we were all like kids, one just under 10 years old and another almost 50, but we all enjoyed it in a similar way.
If you want to live experiences like this one, you have to start to socialize. Beyond the big events, which are advertised on websites, forums, and social networks; RoadStr can help you to find those experiences. You just have to sign up, enter some basic information about you and your cars (or the one you have). If you are a Honda fanatic, you will discover more people who follow the designs of the prophet Soichiro. Are you more from Audi Quattro? You will also find them there. You can follow whoever you want, and don’t forget us, our account is @espirituracer. And mine? For any decent proposition, @javiercostas.
You only have to download the app for iOS (on the Apple App Store) or Android (on Google Play), and start familiarizing yourself with it. It’s better than a Tinder for petrolheads lovers, this is an app for petrolheads fanatics. On there you’ll find routes, photo sites, groups, events, photos of your favorite cars, and people, like you and me, who prefer to squander money on cars and spend less on other things. And how much will this all cost you? Nothing, just gasoline to go from one meet to another, which is up to you.