Lady-Owned and Driven: Portraits of Women and Their Porsches
No, these cars do not belong to their boyfriends or husbands.
Flip through the pages of the last 10 to 15 issues of any popular car magazine (or scroll their websites) and you'll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of stories featuring a woman. This despite the fact that there are countless women out there who are huge enthusiasts work equally as hard and are just as passionate about cars as their male counterparts.
It's been painfully obvious to me for some time now that the stories of these women have been dramatically underrepresented by the automotive media. (If I can be proven wrong, I'm glad; that means we're moving in the right direction.) This alarming deficit in coverage led me to seek out females expressing their enthusiasm, to give them the opportunity to share their stories and to amplify voices that are often drowned out in a male-dominated industry.
Since joining Automobile Magazine five years ago, I've had the honor of meeting a number of fascinating women from diverse backgrounds doing exceptional work in the automotive arena. Being a female is not a requirement to learning and writing about them. You simply need to take a sip of that freshly brewed coffee and open your eyes. More often than not, these women will welcome you in, offer you another cup of coffee, and tell you their compelling stories. It's remarkable how much you can learn from them.
What began as a fun idea about shooting portraits of women Porsche drivers inadvertently blossomed into a special project that I hope will inspire future female car enthusiasts. The women featured in this series drive a Porsche—in some cases multiple Porsches—and have patiently waited for someone to ask about their passion. To be clear, these portraits are not about cute girls being sexy in front of an expensive sports car. Instead, they capture admirable women who work hard and can talk about cars all day. And talk they did about how their lives have been touched and shaped by a shared love of Porsches.
Mailani Deyoung | @deafsushi
I was born into a Porsche-loving family. My dad bought his first Porsche when he was 17, a 1962 356, that he restored and flipped to buy his 1955 Speedster. Growing up, my dad bought, restored, and sold countless 912s. When my dad worked on our cars, I was his tool runner, brake pumper, and his sidekick at all Porsche swap meets and events. Around the age of six, I would sit on my dad's lap to steer and shift while he operated the pedals in whatever Porsche we had at the time.
At 23, I bought my first Porsche, a light ivory 1968 912 Targa for $2,700 when nobody wanted 912s, especially the short wheelbase. I've always loved these cars and never been one to let others' opinions sway my preferences. My most recent purchase is my black 2008 Cayenne, which I use as my commuter car. Legally, the first Porsche I drove was my 1999 996 that I bought as a 30th birthday present to myself.
The 904, also known as the Carrera GTS, is my favorite Porsche of all time. It's an incredibly sexy car. I love how Porsche isn't just defined by one thing. It's about the cars, of course, but it's also a wonderful and diverse community of family and friends. It's a lifestyle.
I've yet to go on a long-distance road trip in a Porsche, but I have a rooftop tent I'm planning on putting on top of my 996 for some epic camping trips.
Amber Blonigan | @amber_blonigan
In high school, a friend of mine introduced me to Porsches. His parents had a 928, and let's just say we had a couple of Ferris Bueller experiences. It was not until another seven or eight years later when I opened my shop, GI Automotive Group [which we recently profiled—Ed], that I really started to appreciate and get into Porsches. In the early days of GI Automotive, most of the work we were doing was Porsche maintenance.
I've owned quite a number of Porsches, from the 1960s 911 to 912s and the current RS models. What I love the most about Porsches is that they are hands down the most reliable and versatile cars. You can track a Porsche all day, do rally racing, donuts, and then drive it home. A Porsche can be your daily driver with ease.
One of the most memorable experiences I have ever had in a Porsche was a cross country drive I did solo during the goldRush Rally. I covered more than 4,000 miles in eight days and drove through snow, mountains, desert, and everything in between. By the end of the journey, I felt so connected to the car that it felt like an extension of me. It was an epic experience and there is no better car to have had it in than the GT3 RS.
Laurina Esposito | @womeninporsche
This is going to sound like a joke, but my father, the great John Esposito, introduced me to Porsche when I was just two years old by way of a fast drive in the front seat of a Speedster. I was "helping" my dad by handing him screwdrivers or holding rubber seals before I was fully walking. The first Porsche I ever drove was a 1967 911S. However, if you want to know the actual first wheel I sat behind of, it was on my daddy's lap while he let me pretend to drive the Speedster.
I used to drive a 1972 911T in the spectacular tangerine color. Today, I own a 2008 Boxster called the "Women in Porsche-Mobile," which I did a lot of the work on and am really proud of. For me, the 356 is my favorite Porsche of all time. I'm a bit of a vintage girl at heart and I love the way the early models embody the old Hollywood style.
The Porsche brand means community to me because it is so inclusive and involved. This car brand knows how to connect people on a different level. Porsche is truly iconic, and its history resonates with so many.
My most recent long-distance road trip in a Porsche was to this year's Monterey Car Week and driving up the coast was just incredible. I enjoyed taking my time, experiencing the road in a new way, and then being around all the other enthusiasts when I arrived, was icing on the cake.
Martina Kwan | @martinakwan
Porsches had always appealed to me, but it wasn't until 2011 that I bought my first Porsche 911. I am now an FIA-licensed race car driver and one of the race cars I drive is that same Porsche 911, which was converted into a race car with Vision Motorsports. The first Porsche I got behind the wheel of was a GT3 at a track day at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado. I currently own a Porsche GT3 RS, Porsche 911 race car, and Porsche Cayenne S. I previously owned a Porsche Panamera.
My favorite Porsche model has always been and still is the naturally aspirated GT3 RS. Last fall, I was finally able to buy a GT Silver GT3 RS, and it just won the SC-2 Current Competition category at the 58th Concours d'Elegance of the Porsche Club of America Los Angeles.
Porsche is an iconic German brand, and with German brands, one can expect precision in craftsmanship and function. I also love how the Porsche brand represents a community of Porsche lovers. Porsche drivers take great pride in their cars and have a special affinity toward them. My personal favorite thing about driving a Porsche is racing with the Porsche Owners Club, it is club racing at its best.
Last year, I drove from Los Angeles to Monterey Car Week for the first time in my Porsche 911—when it was still street legal. I drove up with a group of 100 supercars on a drive called "Fuel Run." Driving a great car is even more enjoyable in a group of other car enthusiasts.
Vinita Khilnani | @omgvinita
Growing up, I loved really fast cars. In fact, when I was born, I was brought home in a classic American muscle car—a '74 Camaro. My first cars were European, and I knew one day I wanted the ultimate German car, a Porsche. Every time I caught the sight of a Porsche on the road, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had one of my own. Six years ago, I saved up and finally bought one.
Initially, I fell in love with the first-generation Panamera and took it for a test drive. I loved everything about it, but it was too big for me at the time. Then I got behind the wheel of a Cayman, and the second I sat in the driver seat, I knew it was for me. It was my first time behind the wheel of a mid-engine car, and I loved how balanced the Cayman felt. Currently in my stable are a 2015 Cayman in black and 2018 718 Cayman in white. The 991 Turbo S is my favorite Porsche model, the curves are so sexy, and this car speaks to me.
With Porsche, I love that I can drive down the street and wave at another Cayman owner and they get it. I love the history of Porsche, the details and uniqueness behind all of their models. After purchasing my 2015 Cayman, I joined the Porsche Club of America Los Angeles, and am ecstatic about all of the new Porsche friends I have gained.
We took the Cayman up to Monterey, California, last year. During that trip, I feel that I really bonded with my car and we shared a connection. The ride was smooth, sporty, luxurious, and not to mention, the gas mileage surpassed my expectations.
Mariana Small | @marianasmall
Like with many friends, nostalgia played a big role in my relationship to the Porsche brand. Growing up, my dad was into cars and Porsche was always revered as the ultimate in design and engineering. The first Porsche I got behind the wheel of was a manual 1991 928 GT in white. While living in Brazil, this gorgeous 928 became available and I couldn't resist buying one. It was the only 928 in Brasilia and it was so much fun to drive. When I moved to the U.S., my heart broke to have to sell it, but a few years later, a friend bought it without knowing it had been mine. At least now I know it's in good hands and sort of still in the family.
My stable currently includes a 2013 991 Carrera 4S, which is my primary; a 2009 997 convertible for some weekend fun in the sun; 1996 993 Carrera 4 cab; and 1988 944 that is primarily driven by my husband. Previously, it also included a 2009 997.2 Carrera S, a 2004 996 C4 S, and a 1991 928 GT. There truly is a Porsche for every mood and lifestyle, but my favorite is the 904 GTS, the design and performance at that time was astounding.
Porsche is a brand I consistently see respected across the board by aspiring, new, and existing owners. The design is instantly recognizable and even with the evolution of the models, they've managed to retain the essence and spirit of the original design.
One of my most favorite road trips in the U.S. was driving Route 66 from Texas to California, after picking up the convertible 997. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the stops in between made for an incredibly fun trip.
Lara | @thatporschegirl
One evening, my mom took me to her friend's house to check out her new car. It was a brand-new Porsche and she was a single woman. I was 12 years old and this was the first time I had seen a woman driving a sports car that wasn't her husband's. At that moment, I knew I wanted to own a Porsche, too. I thought she was so cool, and I wanted to be just like her. When I was 22, my boyfriend at the time had a red 1990 Carrera 2 Targa (964), and it was the first Porsche I ever drove. From time to time, he would let me take it and it changed me.
The first Porsche I bought was a 2007 Carrera convertible. It was the day before Valentine's Day in 2010 and my boyfriend and I had just broken up. I had been serious about buying a Porsche for a while, so I went to a used dealership in Newport Beach, California, and asked about a silver convertible they had on their lot. The salesman turned out to be a complete jerk and I headed over to Newport Beach Porsche and said, "I want a black-on-black convertible Carrera, do you have one? You have five minutes because I might change my mind." We took it on a test drive, and I walked out with the car that day. I drove it for seven years and loved it.
So far, I've owned a 2007 Carrera Convertible (997), 2008 Cayenne Turbo, and 1984 928S Euro, and currently in my garage are a 1982 Porsche 930 Turbo, 1969 911T, and 2015 Macan S. Porsche cars are reliable and what I like the most about the brand is that they have stayed true to their design aesthetic. I have always loved the 356 Speedsters, but owning two classics, I'm really in the mood for a newer Turbo or Turbo S.
The last time I embarked on a long-distance trip in a Porsche was in the Macan S from Newport Beach to San Francisco. I don't normally go very far in the older cars. The Macan is always very comfortable and roomy for long trips.
Jeany Zhao | @jeanyqzhao
I have loved cars since I was a kid and have been following Porsche for their performance for a long time. In 2007, outside the L'Auberge Hotel in Carmel, I saw a white Cayman parked on the curb and instantly felt butterflies in my stomach. After returning home from Carmel the next day, I went to the Porsche dealer and drove my first Porsche—the Cayman. Five hours later, I came home with that car and have been a Porschephile ever since.
In my garage are a 2010 Cayman S (replacing my original 2007 Cayman that was totaled by a taxi), a 2017 Macan (a.k.a. "Huskymobile" and daily driver), and a 2018 GT3, my company demo vehicle and weekend fun car. The 2010 Cayman S is now being built into a dedicated track car by MotoIQ. I'm a rule-breaker and don't have one favorite Porsche model. In the classic category, the 550 and 356 suit me. Of the late models, I love the 987 Cayman and RS 4.0, which I had a chance to buy for $215K and passed on. Now I cry about it when I think of the missed opportunity.
I like the Porsche brand for their engineering and no-frills approach to performance. The visceral is the irreproducible feeling you get the moment you're behind the wheel. Just listen to that engine and feel the car connect and move with you. It's a driver's experience that not a single supercar I've driven can provide.
Throughout the year, I'm in Monterey for car events and I often drive from Santa Monica to the Bay Area. The most recent trip in a Porsche was to Laguna Seca in the Macan for the IMSA race. My Macan is just the base-model SUV, but the heartbeat and pulse still run on Porsche blood. I love taking the scenic route along the coast because the winding roads make the hours go by like nothing.
Sara Dakarmen | @ladismantler
When I was 10, my father got a new Porsche and he used to let me wash his car. That's how I got hooked on the brand. Flash forward to 20, my now late husband took me on our first date in a white convertible 930 Turbo. A few years later, we started our Porsche parts company, got married, and had our own Porsche "family" of four girls, who now help me in my business.
The first Porsche driving experience I had was when my late husband, who rarely drank, was tipsy leaving a wedding and asked me to drive home. It was a manual Turbo with a strong clutch and no power steering, but I was determined! I didn't know if he'd give me the chance to drive it again.
There are hundreds of Porsches in my yard, however, I have been lucky to have had owned most of all Porsche models from the '80s to the current models including a Carrera GT, a Cup Car, GT models, Turbos, and Speedsters. Without hesitation, what I like the most about Porsche is the community and inclusiveness. People from different walks of life come together for a common love of the car either at events or on the racing scene.
Two Porsche models that really appeal to me are the 993 Turbo S and GT3, I like a big tail and wide rear. It's been a while since I've gone on a road trip with a Porsche. I used to tell my late husband not to buy me a gift and just take me on the road. He'd always do both.
Growing up in Germany, it was impossible not to notice Porsche. My family drove very simple cars, but that didn't stop me from dreaming thanks to all the eye candy on the road. The first Porsche I got behind the wheel of was a 911 Turbo and it was incredible. The Porsche driving experience is hands down one of a kind.
Right now, I drive a custom-ordered 718 Cayman in graphite blue metallic. This car is smooth and yet agile, perfect for road trips and life in the city. I also drive a Macan for some light off-roading and once I have the extra space, I want to add a 997 to the family.
What attracted me to Porsche besides the cars, is the community of Porsche enthusiasts. I've met some incredible people, and everyone is so kind and welcoming. Of course, it's about sharing the passion of Porsche, but also connecting as people with hobbies, lives, families. Porsche meet-ups are so rewarding.
Having one favorite Porsche model is a tough decision, that being said, a 992 Carrera 4S cabriolet would be hot. I look forward to seeing the new Cayenne coupe in real life, that one may become a favorite, too.
Road trips are my passion. My better half and I try to get out of the city and on the road as much as we can. Some of our favorite trips are to Joshua Tree, Big Bear, Salton Sea, and basically anywhere up and down the coast. Even if you only have a day, there's no excuse not to take your Porsche into the wilderness.