John Prine Had a Porsche 911, and Left It to Sturgill Simpson

There’s no money in folk music, or so we’re told. But apparently that wasn’t the case for John Prine. Or at least it wasn’t the case for him later in life. From the “Singing Mailman” moonlighting in Chicago poet bars after finishing his routes, to one of the most revered songwriters of a generation, John Prine got to enjoy something many in music don’t before they pass away: a victory lap.

After five decades of paying dues and all that hard work paying off, John Prine decided to treat himself to his dream car—a Porsche 911 Turbo. It wasn’t a brand new model mind you. It was a 2008. But it was 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].”

But that didn’t really matter to John. In typical John Prine fashion, it’s what he wanted, so he bought it in early 2019, 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.” Dave Cobb says the purchase of the Porsche “tells you where he was at. He was still ready to raise hell.” 

After John Prine passed away on April 7th, 2020, he bequeathed the car to Sturgill Simpson. Prine and Sturgill both shared an office together in Nashville, in the same complex that David Ferguson’s The Butcher Shoppe recording studio is currently located, and where Sturgill recorded his latest album, Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. 1. The two performers were also close friends—close enough that Prine would leave Sturgill a Porsche.

“I just recently became the new owner of his 2008 Porsche 911 turbo,” Sturgill told Stephen Colbert on November 10th when he stopped by The Late Show for a performance and chat. 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.”

It appears Sturgill understands that this isn’t just a Porsche 911 Turbo. This is 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.”

And don’t be surprised if it’s something that lifetimes from now isn’t sitting in a museum somewhere, sort of like the motorcycle Buddy Holly gave to Waylon Jennings. It’s not only John Prine’s Porsche, it’s the Porsche John Prine left to Sturgill Simpson.

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