The Canary Islands are volcanic isles located off the north-west coast of Africa, just a half-hour flight from the Western Sahara Desert. I first visited the Canaries in 1993 and instantly fell in love with the islands and the people. I have since returned here many times, visiting each of the islands over the years, but Gran Canaria remains my favourite.
The locals say that Gran Canaria is like a mini-continent. Divided by a mountainous centre, the south gets most sunshine, so is where the resorts are. In the north is Las Palmas, Spain’s ninth biggest city and the islands’ governmental centre. 850,000 people live on this island, including many extranjeros (immigrants) from across Europe, Africa and Latin America. This Irish immigrant has spent the last seven days here and as always, it has been a pleasure.
Thanks to beautiful weather all year around, a huge working sea port and a very busy airport, Gran Canaria welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The mix of global influences has earned GC a reputation for tolerance and an openness to many cultures. This has certainly been my experience. I have made some good friends in Gran Canaria and am interested in possibly owning a house here, hence my frequent visits in recent months. We will see how that goes.
A Lesson in Spanish Philosophy
Canarian history goes back thousands of years and each island is truly unique in character, but today the Canaries are a part of modern Spain. Here we speak español (small e) and follow the rhythms of Spanish life and culture. There is little point in rushing anywhere, as you will only catch up to the bloke in front. Make time for life and life will make time for you is how things tend to go.
Catching up to slower moving people reminds me of the famous Spanish philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, who believed that a person was the combination of both life and circumstance. “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” as he put it. To Ortega y Gasset, circunstancia meant those things forced upon us. He saw life as a constant tug-of-war between the freedom we were born with and our dictated fate.
In the fight between freedom and fate, Ortega y Gasset’s concept is the start of all art. We accept that fate will befall us but inside that acceptance, we select a destiny. Some become part of what the philosopher’s 1929 essays call “The Mass”, while some select a different path.
“The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated.”
To escape this fate, Ortega Y Gasset believed that a person must make an active decision to live a life of effort. “For me, then, nobility is synonymous with a life of effort, ever set on excelling oneself, in passing beyond what one is to what one sets up as a duty and an obligation. In this way, the noble life stands opposed to the common or inert life, which reclines statically upon itself, condemned to perpetual immobility, unless an external force compels it to come out of itself.”
The concepts of Ortega y Gasset and others were at the heart of a lively bilingual conversation I enjoyed with my friends Rafael and Jorge over coffee last night. Rafael – a Doctor of Philosophy – is a former consultant to the Swedish government and has just completed another PhD, pondering the practical applications of preventative psychology. His lifelong friend, Jorge, is a Porsche restorer. Both are living “a noble life” that Ortega y Gasset would be proud of.
Pons Vintage Cars
Based just outside Santa Brigida, here in Gran Canaria, Jorge Pons takes the idea of Porsche restoration to the nth degree. While most of the Porsche restorers I have met and worked with add their own touches, that is not the way of Jorge. Pons Vintage Cars believes that, if it is not in the manual, it is not on the car.
The Dalmatian Blue (Oxford Blue) 1973 Porsche 911 2.4T Targa seen here is a perfect example. And I mean it is a perfect example. Restored over ten months from start to finish, this superb 2.4 T Targa is immaculate inside and out. I had the pleasure of a short drive in this 911 around Jorge’s family estate and it was a delightful experience.
All of Jorge’s 911s are completed to an exacting standard. The ’73 Targa is the seventh car in as many years to come from his wonderfully pastoral workshop. Set amongst the mountains overlooking the wild blue Atlantic and surrounded by palm trees, a group of four much-loved donkeys (burros in Spain) follow progress in the glass-walled garage through wise and appreciative eyes. As a donkey- and a Porsche-lover, I think it is perfect.
Dalmatian Blue Porsche 911 T Targa
Dalmatian Blue is one of my favourite Porsche colours but it is not very common. I have only seen one other 911 in Dalmatian Blue and that was a hot rod built by my friend Gib Bosworth, eventually finished by another good friend. How many Dalmatian/Oxford Blue Targas were ever built in the final year of early 911 production (and how many matching-number examples remain) is anyone’s guess, but it can’t be that many. This could easily be the the best one available.
Anyone seeking a well restored example of classic Porsche engineering should contact Jorge Pons to discuss this car for sale. Gran Canaria is just a plane ride away and shipping is easy. Pons does not ask a fortune for his work – the projects are not about the money – but the prices are not negotiable. This one is up for €125,000, which seems reasonable, given that some dealers in Germany are asking more than €150k for similar cars that will not have taken ten painstaking months to restore. I m back in Essen in april and I have no doubt that cars this good will be into the €160k+ bracket.
Now finished the 911T Targa, Jorge has switched to a superb Irish Green 1970 Porsche 911 T Coupe. This car recently returned from the paint shop following an incredible bare-metal restoration, all recorded on camera. It is beautiful: the paintwork is a joy to behold. I leave Gran Canaria tomorrow, but am very excited to see what progress will have been made when I return to the island in May.