You might be surprised to learn the legendary folk songwriter John Prine owned a Porsche. You might be even more surprised to learn he bequeathed it to Sturgill Simpson upon his passing.
But after five decades of paying dues and all that hard work paying off, John Prine chose to treat himself to his dream car—a Porsche 911 Turbo in 2019. It wasn’t a brand new model mind you. It was a 2008. But it was said to be in mint condition, with barely any miles on it. If you’re having trouble picturing John Prine in a Porsche, you’re not alone. In fact, according to his wife Fiona, “…neither he nor I could get in or out of [it].”
That really didn’t really matter to John though. In typical John Prine fashion, it’s what he wanted, so he bought it, right around the time Dave Cobb came by Prine’s house with an engineer to capture the final song Prine ever recorded, “I Remember Everything” that is currently up for a Grammy award. Dave Cobb says the purchase of the Porsche “tells you where he was at. He was still ready to raise hell.”
Sturgill Simpson first revealed the story behind the car when he appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on November 10th, 2020. “I just recently became the new owner of his 2008 Porsche 911 turbo,” Sturgill told Colbert. When Colbert was taken by surprise by the idea of Prine owning a Porsche, Sturgill assured, “Oh he’s a total car guy. He had a bunch of old Cadillacs. The 911 was his bucket list dream car. It’s only got about 20,000 miles on it. It’s showroom.”
Sturgill understood this wasn’t just a Porsche 911 Turbo. This was John Prine’s Porsche 911 Turbo. “I like music and cars that go real fast. But I have three children, and I feel like I just had a fourth with the responsibility that comes with this thing. It’s bittersweet, but it will be something I treasure the rest of my life.”
Prine and Sturgill both shared an office together in Nashville in the same complex that David Ferguson’s The Butcher Shoppe recording studio was once located (closed now). The two performers were also close friends—close enough to where when John Prine passed away on April 7th, 2020, he bequeathed the Porsche to Sturgill Simpson.
But up until Friday evening (3-12), we’d never been allowed to lay eyes on the “Prine Porsche” as it will surely be known henceforth.
“I’ve put off posting about/sharing this for a long hot minute for various reasons, most of them falling under ‘personal life,’” Sturgill said. “But a lot of folks have asked for the deets after Colbert spilled the beans so who am I to deny you from such bad-assery?!? With generous help and assistance from Porsche Nashville, Ive spent the last five or six months (and a small fortune) restoring/refurbishing the ‘Prine Porsche’ to brand new/show room condition…complete mechanical/engine overhaul & steam cleaning, fresh paint & ceramic clear coat and bra, front lip spoiler, interior reconditioning/replaced leather, powder coated wheels, etc.”
Though the Prine Porsche was originally sold to us as being in mint condition, it appears Sturgill decided to go for The Works anyway. After all, the 2008 911 Turbo Cabriolet 997, Generation 1.5 is much more than just a Porsche. It’s John Prine’s Porshe, now owned by Sturgill Simpson, which will surely make the value of the thing spike, and ultimately land it in the category of a musical heirloom—and at some point perhaps in the future—a museum piece.
“Got this whip lookin’ like its about to go on a stealth mission bombing run,” Sturgill says. “John would shit his britches..and so would you if you were riding shotgun.”