Wednesday, 29 November 2006

The King is dead, God save the king

My 968 doing what it's best at...

Now my obsession with Porsche’s options list isn’t just the sign of an unhealthy mind; it’s been front-of-mind for quite sometime, and there is a practical reason for my interest.

I’ve been a died-in the wool Porsche-file for quite a few years. Well, 20 at least. And it was probably nearer 30 since I covered the wall of my bedroom with pictures of cars taken from magazines. In those days the awesome 911 turbo was the boss, and my Athena poster took pride of place.

Well maybe not so died-in-the-wool actually, as that would suggest I lusted after, and had owned, a succession of “Arse-engined Nazi slot cars*”, aka ‘real’ Porsches, (or 911’s). The Porsches in my life have tended to have been the front engined, water pumping type, starting with my father’s 924, and ending recently with my lovely 968 Clubsport.

In between, there was a 968 coupe, a 944 turbo, and briefly a 911/964C4. The latter beauty I imported from Hamburg, Germany, when the pound to Deutschemark exchange rate made that very worthwhile. For 6 weeks I ran the car everyday, revelling in the performance and ownership experience, and never walking away from parking it without looking back. Then some light-fingered bunch of scumbags relieved me of the car, the Thames Valley police proved no more effective than the Keystone cops, and most of the insurance cheque went towards building our house.

Of course, the fact that I’d offered up the insurance cheque for the house fund was an excellent ‘investment’. The rising property market and the fact we’d built or renovated two houses meant that 7 years later our equity has increased more than seven-fold. So when we down-sized and moved from the Thames Valley to the West Sussex coast, there was the opportunity to cash in my ‘investment’. My car-needs had changed too; instead of local runs to school and the office, I now wanted something suitable for the 60 mile cross-country weekly run up from Sussex. It also meant that 2 seats would be enough.

I did look at the usual suspects; fast Golfs, BMW’s and Audi’s, but I really wanted a rear wheel driver, and the BMW’s I tried suffered from tragic run-flat ride quality. I’ll admit that I couldn’t see how I was going to get too excited by the thought of owning one of these good-but-not-special-motors. I was also aware that my second ‘fun’ car was likely to moulder in the garage almost all of the time. Recent heavy r and m bills had done it no favours either. So maybe if I combined the house investment funds with the sales of my current daily hatchback and the fun car the field would open up a bit….

In short, I recognised it was my once-in-a-lifetime chance to own a new Porsche – even if it was the entry model.

So I arranged for Mrs SS7 and I to go to AFN in Reading to try their Cayman 2.7 demonstrator. It was a sublime drive. In-spite of what you read on the web, build quality appeared superb and performance was perfectly acceptable – and I was in a tight new car with a 14 stone salesman next to me. Perhaps motoring journalists just won’t get out of bed for less than 500bhp, but by my more modest standards it was quick, with a superb engine howl above 5000rpm.

Now I’m pretty well-paid as things go, but I also have a young family. So even the bottom end of the Porsche range represents a big chunk of money sitting in the driveway - it represents a more modest car and a pretty good extra annual holiday for the family. The ‘Save for a 911’ merchants could do with a better grip on reality. I did try a 4 year old 911 of similar value. It had the interior quality of a KIA and felt like a fast BMW to drive.

Rather speculatively then, I put an advert on for my Porsche 968 Clubsport. I wasn’t very hopeful, although the car was in superb condition it had suffered some accident damage in the past and was listed as Category ‘D’. This means it’s insurers had written it off as uneconomic to repair. It also meant that a lot of potential buyers would be put off and that its worth at least 20% less than an unlisted car. The 968 market looked very quiet with too many cars available and not enough buyers around. Then in an event of pure serendipity; the guy I’d bought the car from nearly two years ago decided his Boxster didn’t really excite him anymore, and what he really wanted was another 968CS like his old one… Within 72 hours we agreed a price and suddenly I had a clear run at a new Porsche.

But I still spent a couple of weeks prevaricating and generally worrying my friends as I vacillated between head and heart.

But on the basis that life’s just too bloody short and these opportunities don’t come around very ofton I thought “F*ck-it” and called my nearest OPC to confirm my order for a 2007 Porsche Cayman 2.7. Its due at the end of the year and I can't wait!


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