It's a Fan's World

It's a Fan's World

Instagram sensation ‘That Porsche Girl’ is inspiring women across the world with her shared passion for all things Porsche

Sometimes it takes just a moment for an impression to last a lifetime. For Lara, A.K.A, Instagram’s @thatporschegirl, the epiphany was steeped in the breaking of convention - an attitude that remains to this day.

“One day after work, my mom asked me if I wanted to go over to her friend Sherry’s house to see her new car. As a child I loved hanging out with my mom’s friends, listening to their conversations,” recalls Lara.

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“On arrival, there stood a brand-new Porsche in her drive; given that this was a single woman, seeing such a dynamic car was a complete surprise. Growing up, I always loved cars and in particular women driving an assumed ‘man’s’ car. Such was the impact of that first encounter, I can even remember the outfit I was wearing. It was like meeting the love of my life for the first time!”

German cars were always a favourite for Lara, driven by their progressive design and close proximity - several friends and their parents drove BMW’s and Volkswagen’s.

“My first three cars were German (VW Bug, Rabbit convertible and a BMW) in fact living in California I see cars as an extension of your personality. Even when very young, I didn’t want to be seen in, say, a Ford, no disrespect!”

Lara’s 1964 6-volt VW Bug was itself a motoring baptism - providing the best and worst of car ownership. “It was so cute, but had every problem possible! Owning that car taught me a lot about car reliability and lack of it in this case, which allowed me to hone my mechanical skills alongside my high-school boyfriend.”

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However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Lara took the Porsche plunge, purchasing a black 2007 Carrera convertible, run for eight years. “I loved every minute of it!”

Next up was a step back in time via a 1982 930 Turbo, followed by 1969 911T, brought back from the dead in conjunction with her current boyfriend of 13 years, which they built from the ground up.

A Boxter also made a guest appearance to be restored, then subsequently flipped, while a Macan S provides practical family transport for away days and adventures.

“I think for me Porsche defines elegance. Cars have personalities and for me Porsche is refined, where, say, Lamborghini, is more exhibitionist. For me, the 911 is the marque’s icon. Porsche has been very careful to maintain its design silhouette, which has only added to its legendary status.”

Lara doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to her automotive addiction. The walk is just as impressive, notably her role as a precision driver working in Hollywood.

“After I started working as an ‘extra’ in TV and film in Los Angeles, I began “standing in” for various actresses, most notably Julia Roberts, Mary Louise Parker, Rene Russo, Jennifer Connelly and Diane Keaton. Because I was on set almost every day, I was also meeting a lot of interesting people, including Eddie Murphy’s stuntman Greg Elam, who was running a small stunt school that featured precision driving courses.”

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As female drivers were in the minority, Lara saw the opportunity to push on, particularly as it meant a chance to secure a SAG (actors union) card.

“I learned basic high falls and fight scenes, but it was the precision driving element that really fired me up. I’d always been a confident driver, which helps immensely, though the role is not about speed, it’s more about technique, stopping on a dime and not hitting the camera or camera man!”

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On set the demands of directors have pushed Lara beyond the standard role requirements. “In my early 20s I was asked to drive a huge box truck, which I accepted. Soooo you could say I learned on the job!”

Given the nature of the role, sometimes Lara has to leave her loyalties to Porsche at home.

“My most recent job was with a rival marque which I can’t mention, but the director asked me to come out of a blind corner hitting about 100mph in a car with 612 hp and head straight for the camera man with a full steadicam rig on his back and had to just pray he would jump out of the way,” explains Lara.  

“Turns out he was actually more committed, avoiding the trajectory later than I’d have liked!”

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Given such a multi-faceted lifestyle, Lara’s Instagram account has drawn acclaim for its inspirational celebration of her life and times, particularly as a Porsche devotee. However, its success came as a surprise.

“To be honest, I didn’t join Instagram with any expectations, however the subsequent reaction has been phenomenal. I see “That Porsche Girl” more as a persona,” reveals Lara.

“Nothing is bad in her world. She’s always in a good mood and the sun is always shining. Nothing is inauthentic, but you have to remember, Instagram is really just a sliver of life, mine included.”

The overall reaction and engagement via Instagram has been extremely positive for Lara, with the appeal of the California lifestyle, its palm trees, sun-scapes and adventures, together with beautiful Porsches, an obvious draw.

As a woman, and therefore a minority in the Porsche world, the amount of men who’ve sought Lara’s advice on Porsche matters has been surprising, however an unfortunate minority continue to let the side down. “It’s really nice to be considered an equal. However, I also get my share of ‘mansplaining’. A lot of men like to correct the way I drive, the positioning of my hands, what’s happening on my gauges, where I put my feet by the pedals, etc.”

Fortunately, Lara is pragmatic about such matters.

“I’ve only had about three men tell me I’ve no talent and that they could kick my ass on the track. I just figure they must have small dicks and move on.”

Yet the traditional bias remains (only 9% of Lara’s Instagram followers are women), ignoring the fact that 42% of car buyers are women and 85% of all car-buying decisions are made by women.

Style's 'Drive Five'

Most memorable road trip?
Driving across America from NYC to Manhattan Beach, California with all my belongings stuffed in a car when I was 20. I literally had to sit with my legs crossed in the passenger seat because the floor was filled up as well. Second best would be Highway 1 from LA to Laguna Seca. The road is ever changing with stunning views.

Favourite driving route?
Pacific Coast Highway. Either the drive from Corona Del Mar through Laguna Beach or the drive through Big Sur. You can’t beat Pacific Coast Highway. It’s one of the world’s best roads in my opinion. 

Ultimate Road Trip
I absolutely love Italy. My dream is to do the “Mille Miglia”.  But to be honest, I want to tour all of Europe in a car. There is so much to see. I could live on the road.  I don’t need a home. 

Porsche of choice?
Obviously I would want to drive a classic 911 or 356 for the Mille Miglia.  For the tour of Europe I would want a convertible 992 Turbo S. No pressure! 

Ultimate driving partner?
I’m not a great passenger because I’m a terrible control freak.  If I had to, I would go with an F1 driver of course. I would “allow” a technical driver like Alain Prost who is fast but measured and technical in his driving, the great Jackie Stewart or the late, great Stirling Moss. They would all hate the experience.  There would be a good amount of arm grabbing!

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“We are out there, we have opinions and in order to engage us, we need more women’s voices, even if it’s to tell others how great the cup holder is for their Starbucks, where they can store their handbag and how bright the vanity mirror is. Make them a part of the conversation and they will come.”

Despite such barriers, many women are taking matters into their own hands, coming together via social media to connect in real life and share their mutual passions.

“A lot of women are coming together through their love cars and driving. Being such a car nut, I try to stay neutral, because I want to be a part of the car community as a whole, not only the women’s car community. Of course I am supportive of all of the women’s groups and I love that men are always welcome to join the drives. I will always support any woman who is interested in cars.  It’s a rare breed and we need to stick together.”

As for the future, Lara is continuing to spread the good word of Porsche and supports its passionate community. A recent feature in the company’s Christophorus Magazine - “I was completely honoured!” - has further boosted her profile and introduced her to a wider public.

“I would love to continue my relationship with the brand.  I have a lifetime of experience with them and have so much to share.”

There are also ambitions for a further purchase, though naturally Lara plans to eschew convention to go her own way.

“My dream is to own a Turbo S convertible. Everyone gets upset when I say convertible instead of a coupe, but I miss my old one. I live in California where a convertible is a must, if the convertible slows me down a bit, it’s probably for the best.” A wise choice given her enthusiasm.

PHOTO CREDITS

Gabor Stibinger - Instagram: @gaborzerker
Eleonor Segura for Automobile Magazine
Kari Black - Instagram: @kariblackphotography
Linhbergh Nguyen for Christophorus Magazine -- Instagram: @linhbergh
Bart Kuykens -- Instagram: @bartkuykens

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