On the Road Again Cruising the Gut

Mike Morris loved cars long before he and his wife, Kim, started Morris Carpet Cleaning. As a child, Mike sat outside of the restaurant his parents owned in McMinnville to watch cars drive by and point out the ones he wanted.

Mike has owned up to eight Porsches at once but currently owns three. His gray 1970 911T Porsche is the most valuable to him, but not just in a monetary sense. This particular car has had two owners before him, all friends near nad dear to the Morris Family.

Delane and Sandy Smith, longtime McMinnville residents and original owners of Smith & Co. Painting, bought the 911T Porsche when it was brand new in 1970 for $7,800. In the early 1980s, Mike was working for a fire restoration company that contracted with what was then called Smith Painting. His friendship with Delane and Sandy began there, as did his appreciation for their Porsche when he first saw it in their garage.

In 1981, the Smiths sold the Porsche with 70,000 miles on the odometer for $10,500 to David Yamasaki, a friend living in Portland. Mike and David were also good friends because the two often ran together and participated in the Hood to Coast race. Although David owned the car for about 20 years, he didn’t drive it a lot and decided to sell it back to the Smiths in 2001 with only 75,000 miles.

In 2006, after more than two decades of admiring from afar, it was finally Mike’s chance to buy the Porsche with 76,400 miles for $22,000. Mike drove the car occasionally, careful to never to do so while it was raining. However, in the last five years, the value of the care has skyrocketed, deterring Mike from driving it as often.

“I love owning it but hate driving it because it makes me nervous,” Mike said. “partly because of the nostalgic element and the friendship I have with those guys [the previous owners].” The other reason Mike hesitates to drive the Porsche is because it is entirely original. From the seats to the radio, nothing in the car has ever been restored. It also has an air-cooled engine, a part Porsche stopped installing on its cars in 1999.

However, Mike usually takes his Porsche out of the garage once a year. Every August, during the annual Drag the Gut celebration in downtown McMinnville, Mike drives his Porsche on Third Street with his grandkids and other family members in the seats beside him. Drag the Gut has become a sort of reunion for Mike’s friends and family, and this year they had their biggest party yet.

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