Would You Own a Car Where You Couldn't See the Engine?

Illustration for article titled Would You Own a Car Where You Couldn't See the Engine?
Photo: Jason Torchinsky
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When I was at the New York Auto Show last month, I was excited to see the latest Porsche 911, because I have a weird thing for rear-engined cars, and it was one of the very, very few rear-engined cars at the show. Eager to immerse myself in the whole rear-engineness of it all, I found one and pulled the little lever to open the rear decklid, ready to peer in there and just enjoy it until they ask me to leave.


When I went around back and opened the tiny lid, I was confronted with a pristine little cavity with two plastic fans, two little caps for coolant and oil, and not a hell of a lot more. I forgot. You can’t see the engine in a new 911.

I should have known, of course. Our very own Kristen Lee explained all this quite well when she reminded us that to see a new 911's engine, you pretty much have to bisect the whole car with a saw. She also suggested that anyone who wanted to see their engine were “nerds,” which brings up some questions: do people want a car where they can see the engine, just because? Does that make us nerds? I mean, even more so than usual?

Illustration for article titled Would You Own a Car Where You Couldn't See the Engine?
Photo: Kristen Lee

I thought a lot about this, and I’m not sure I’d want to own a car with zero engine access. I know a modern 911 engine is hardly likely to have anything I could even work on myself, but, I don’t know, I still like the ability to look at the damn thing.

I don’t mind weird or inconvenient access, either—I’m just happy than an attempt is made. A 911 is a horizontally-opposed engine, so the cylinders and plugs and other fun stuff is all really low anyway, but, even so, I’d have appreciated some sort of access hatch?


Old VWs with inconveniently-placed engines still had hatches in trunks and under seats, much like mid-engined cars and vans like the Toyota Previa or any number of mid-engined Kei Cars. They at least care enough to let the owner dig in there and see what’s up.

But not Porsche.

It’s been this way for a while, on the Boxster and Cayman, and, while I understand the packaging reasons for the lack of access, I just can’t ever really like it. Plus, EVs like the Tesla offer no real access, either, but that’s sort of a different deal.

Do people take their new 911s to Cars and Coffee meet-ups and open that little rear hatch, letting passers-by ogle at how those fans look sort of like aftermarket speakers, or wonder if they could shove a windbreaker or bag of weed in there if they had to stash it away?


Maybe I’m making too big a deal about this, which is why I’m asking you. Is this just how the world is going and I should grow up? Or do you understand the disappointment that comes from a car that hides its nethers even to its very own owner?

Talk to me.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)


911s don’t count. Since day 1, any service to one goes something like this:

To replace windscreen wipers:

1) Remove engine

2) Replace windscreen wipers

3) Reinstall engine.