Ninety miles of rugged northern California coastline, thousands of acres of vineyards, 24 state and national parks, sublime cuisine, and some of the most scenic and adrenaline-pumping shoreline drives in the country; it’s easy to see why we’d been planning a road trip to Mendocino County for quite some time. Renowned for both its towering redwoods and world-class wineries—over 100 of them—many people have heard of Mendocino but have never made the trip.
The 911 in manual shift is particularly well suited to cruising the northern California coast.
An error we resolved to correct at the earliest opportunity. Plan the route right (never take the “fastest” one) and getting there is more than half the fun—especially if your means of conveyance is one of the last true European sports cars available with a manual transmission; and the only one with a pedigree going back more than 50 years. We’re talking about the iconic Porsche 911, a car tailor-made for carving up scenic coastal routes and hairpin bends, especially the latest generation (aka 992) in upgraded Carrera S trim.
The cockpit of the new 911 is more advanced than ever, but the technology doesn't get in the way of the visceral thrills of driving a stick shift.
The looks are pure Porsche, sharpened over the years but unmistakably descended from the original 911 of 1963. Back then of course they could only dream of the numbers this beauty can clock: 0 to 60 mph in four seconds flat and a top speed of 191 mph, thanks to its 443- hp, 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six. The seven-speed manual is both more work and more rewarding to drive, especially on the hairpins winding through old-growth forests that the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts are known for. This is a grand tourer with guts, with the ability to whip you around the bends with an enhanced exhilaration that those who haven’t learned to drive stick will never know.
The Inn at Newport Ranch in Mendocino is one of the most beautiful boutique seaside resorts in the country. Its dramatic clifftop location is an unending feast for the senses.
Some purists might disdain the newer 911s’ automatic rev matching, which is lightning quick in Sport Plus mode, blipping the throttle much faster than you ever could. Likewise they eschew the adaptive powertrain system as too much tech. But we were quickly won over by the ability to switch between drive modes and the way the car can go from raw to refined in the blink of an eye. With its Guards Red paint job and the sport exhaust button on, we alternately roared through the redwoods and cruised scenic coastal stretches, many slower drivers pulling over in what we can only assume was sheer admiration.
Timber Cove on the Sonoma coast is the epitome of rugged elegance. The 1960s-era resort, recently renovated, sits on 23 acres of glorious coastline and features the delectable Coast Kitchen restaurant among other attractions.
The 911 started turning heads as soon as it was delivered to the stately Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, our starting point for the journey, where it was quickly granted one of the coveted parking spaces directly in front of the imposing entrance. Dating to 1909, the impressive landmark is a neoclassical masterpiece with massive ionic columns and other architectural details, occupying an entire block of Nob Hill. The five-star property, which conjures images of the railroad barons who used to preside over the neighborhood, offers some of the most luxurious hotel suites in the city as well as a signature Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge for those who opt for an enhanced hospitality experience. It’s also home to a JCB Tasting Lounge that can be booked for sampling exclusive wine flights as well as a boutique by Krigler, the historic and legendary fragrance house which created bespoke scents for the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Cary Grant.
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