Every Car Has A Story
The Perfect Hot-Rodding Porsche 912
Evan Griffin Christie calls the vehicle the "Best-steering car I've ever driven"
By Blake Siebe July 12, 2023
Evan Griffin Christie is no ordinary gentleman. He’s an old soul, a curator with a penchant for all things antique and special. In both his business dealings and his leisurely pursuits, he takes an approach that’s old world and yet timeless.
Christie is usually decked out in his trusty vintage blue French chore coat, layered over a linen button-up, fine pants, and patinated dress shoes. A native of the Emerald City, Christie’s got a knack for aesthetics that permeates through all aspects of his life.
Touring his office at Evolution Press (a company Christie has owned since 2017 in the Interbay-Magnolia neighborhood), we were welcomed by the natural light pouring in and a distant view of the Ballard Locks. It was immediately clear that an artist resided here. The desks, bookshelves, and walls were adorned with bits of beauty, most of which bore the unmistakable mark of the automotive world.
You can definitely tell Christie is a car enthusiast when you enter his space or if you hear him speak of his well-used Porsche 912. In addition to automotive memorabilia (including an old pedal body with a BF Goodrich livery), his appreciation for good design extends far beyond the motorized world. His space is a treasure trove of midcentury modern delight. The back corner of the warehouse contains several vintage Heidelberg presses from the 1950s through the 1980s, set up for a variety of tasks to create truly bespoke offerings for his clientele.
What inspired your interest in cars?
I was 5 when I was given a yellow Little Tikes Sport Coupe pedal car and it really lit the fire. If you’ve never seen one, look up a picture. Later, it was finding Speedvision [a sports-oriented cable and satellite TV network] on cable. That was the big influence. Learning about the history of Le Mans on Legends of Motorsport (a series of automotive documentaries on Speedvision) and watching Alain de Cadenet sling a D-Type Jag down some wooded European lane on Victory by Design (a series of documentary films showcasing famous automobile brands). They also broadcast F1 [Formula 1) races at the time, so that was huge for me.
What’s the story behind your first car?
I grew up in the jump seat of a silver 1986 Volvo 240 station wagon, so my first car was destined to be a Volvo. My dad bought me an ’88 240GL Sedan in a dark metallic blue, with power windows and a sunroof. I put a Kenwood stereo in it with a removable face plate. It was a memorable car. My sister got T-boned while driving it a few years later and it definitely saved her from serious injury. I pulled the badge off it before it was sent to the scrap yard.
What’s your favorite car to drive and why?
The Porsche 912. It is the best steering car I’ve ever driven. It’s got such an elegantly simple, human scale cockpit layout, a big tachometer right in front of you, and a large, 16 1/2-inch diameter steering wheel with a nice thin grip providing direct and light steering. It also has a 4-speed, H-Pattern box with an early style dimpled black shift knob. The floor-mounted pedals are perfectly laid out for heel and toe. Stock Recaro seats, sans headrest. Skinny tires. It’s like sitting at the dinner table and never needing to reach for the salt and pepper. That’s my recipe, anyways.
What’s a feature from old cars that you wish modern cars had?
I wish new cars were smaller. Also, I wish new cars were less insulated from the outside world. I have to drive new cars with the windows down, so I don’t feel like I’m in a tomb.
If you could have any car throughout history, what would it be?
I’ve always been a lover of Ferrari, especially the early history. I think the early, small displacement Colombo/Lampredi V-12s are the most beautiful engines ever made. If I had to choose, it would be between the Roberto Rossellini ’54 Ferrari 375 mm Vignale, or a 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta.
If you’re brand loyal, which do you prefer and why?
I didn’t know the Porsche history inside and out before I got the 912, but I’ve since learned a lot more and I really appreciate their philosophy of design and development. They tweaked the Type 356 design over 16 years, perfecting it along the way (before discontinuing the line in the early 1960s). They made cars that could win their class at Le Mans or be driven to the grocery store just as effectively. And the build quality is extremely high, as I’ve come to expect from all German-made machines.
When you’re looking to buy a car, what are the most important features to you?
An iconic design philosophy, like Porsche, Vespa, etc., and a manual gearbox.
Is there a classic car from a movie you wish you could drive?
The 1955 Simca Week-End from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 film Band à part (released as Band of Outsiders in the United States). In the film, they drive around Paris in February under all the bare pollarded trees with the top down, in trench coats and hats, play-acting as gangsters. It’s perfection.
If you could introduce any feature to a car you own, what would it be?
A working Blaupunkt (radio) in the 912.
What would be your dream route to drive and why?
I’ve spent some time driving in France and it is a pure and simple joy. If you told me to go from Cherbourg to Rome in a month and use only back roads, I’d take that challenge.
Blake Siebe is a car fanatic, track junkie, and professional precision driver for commercials. His businesses include NorthWest Auto Salon and Right Away Tire, Seattle’s first mobile tire installation, and the app Rallista, which lets users find, create, and share their favorite driving routes.