Friday, 29 December 2006


Here's a snap of me driving the first 5 metres out of the dealership!

Thursday, 28 December 2006

First Impressions Count

Well K-day is here and I picked up the car this morning. :-) :-)

Collecting the car from the OPC was a nice efficient process, and 30 minutes after arriving I was driving out of the showroom in my pride and joy.

Some thoughts, notes and impressions based on the first 25 miles:

  1. The seats looks great in Alcantara – even the ‘leatherette’ is of reasonable quality, especially compared to the lousy leather Porsche use.
  2. I have to say it looks very good in white; I particularly like the way you can see the front wings as you drive. I hope its warm enough for a bit of Zymolling this weekend!
  3. I graunched the front spoiler on the company car-park up-ramp, but I parked it on the roof so I can see it if I wander over to that side of the building. I’ve only done this twice so far!
  4. I came up from the OPC on the long and winding road route, but there are too many slow moving numpties around to make any progress. However I did give chase to a British Gas Fiesta (!!!!) van that saw me in the mirrors and was off on a mission; 85mph on a greasy, wet ‘B’ road up from Chobham wasn’t too shabby.
  5. Gears are new-stiff, but the ratio’s are nice and close
  6. ‘Sport’ button really changes the car’s rhythm; you have to change gear faster – I discovered this crashing 3rd gear in front of a Ferrari garage!!
  7. I still can’t believe its mine and can't get this wretched grin off my face
  8. Did I mention it looks bloody good in white? AFM Guildford had it in their showroom when I arrived, just one white and one yellow Cayman in a sea of grey, silver and black Porsches
  9. Ride is fine, almost gentle, even on sh*tty tarmac; this is the spec. my mate Mr S should have gone for (he didn’t; he picked 19”’s and no PASM and returned his after three weeks before it damaged his spine)
  10. Cold new tyres + slimy roads + roundabout = horrible understeer + near coronary within 750metres of collecting the car
  11. Driving position great. Although I did have an ‘Oh God’ moment at first. I’d set the driving position as I wanted in the car in the dealer's showroom. But driving away it felt really weird. That confused me as the demonstrator fitted like a glove & now the bloody seat is too high. Then I remember that Mrs SS7 had tried my car for size afterwards, & sure enough, she’d fiddled with the adjustments. Phew, it still fits like a glove; seat on the floor, wheel high & close, just like Mr Priaulx and I like it.
  12. The engine is as smooth as a spun silk crooner in the chill out room at the Velvet club in Smoothsville Arizona
  13. It feels meaty enough up to the 4000-ish rpm I’m currently using
  14. Did I mention I love the colour? Even Mrs SS7 is warming to it.
  15. It really feels solid; no rattles, creaks, groans or bangs.
  16. I need to paint the wheels high gloss black. It’s a shame the roads are so slimey as they will be black within a week anyway.
  17. The secretaries saw me arrive at work so now everyone knows I’m a rich bastard/menopausal disaster area (take your pick)
  18. It had 5.5 miles on the clock when I picked it up.
  19. It took a few churns of the starter to get it running this morning – presumably it had just been moved a little way last night and had cylinders full of fuel.
  20. Brakes are a little spongy, I imagine they’ll come good with use
  21. It whistles in 6th. Only reached 6th once so need to check this out
  22. I haven’t turned the radio on yet, but I have used ‘Sport’, PASM & ESP off
  23. It has the Bridgestone tyres
  24. The salesman asked me if I was going to use if for trackdays as the spec. was great for that. The look on Mrs SS7’s face says “No”.


Wednesday, 20 December 2006

My Car List

The complete list of my drives since about January 1980:

Lancia Fulvia 1.2
MGB Roadster
BMW 2500
Ford Escort xr3*
Ford Escort RS Turbo*
Renault 5 Turbo*
Peugeot 205Gti 1.6*
Peugeot 205Gti 1.9*
Lancia Delta 1.6 HF Turbo modified*
Peugeot 405 1.9*
Vauxhall Cavalier 4x4*
Citroen XM 2.0t*
Renault Clio 16v*
Mini 998
Honda Civic 1.4
MGB Roadster modified
Caterham 1.6ss
Porsche 964 c4
Porsche 968 coupe
Citroen BX Gti
BMW 535se
VW Golf GT TDi*
Audi A2 1.4 tdi
Caterham 2.0 zetec
Porsche 944 turbo
Lancia Integrale Evo1
Golf Mk3 Gti
Westfield SE 1.6 Kent
BMW M3 E30
Audi A2 1.6 sport
Porsche 968 Clubsport
Porsche Cayman 2.7
Porsche 924S trackday mods
Honda Civic CDti
VW Touran
Golf mk3 VR6 Highline
Golf mk5 GTI (DSG)
Porsche 911T (1973)
Porsche 911 (964)
BMW R1200GS Adventure

* Company car

K Day

I just heard from the nice man at AFN Guildford.

My car has arrived in the country and is due at the AFN Reading/PCGB headquarters today. Pre-delivery inspections are done at Reading, and cars are then then taken ("on a covered transport") to Guildford.

It should be there on the 28th next week; K-Day!!

What a very excellent late Christmas pressie :-))


Friday, 15 December 2006

From Evo Magazine, 100th Edition, page 68:

My mono-mania over Cayman options lead me to write to Evo magazine after their last edition. In their annual Car of the Year edtion (COTY) they gave the Cayman poor scores. Most of this was because it was hugely expensive compared with the oposition. They published it in the next edition:


I’m not sure which comedian specc’d the £46,793 Cayman 2.7 you used in your COTY test - maybe they left the order form on the kitchen table and didn’t notice their 6 year old had ticked all the option boxes in crayon - but it’s a very long way from being typical. The average new Boxster/Cayman has around £3k of options when it leaves the dealer. So a 2.7 at £39k (with leather seats, small steering wheel, ‘Sport’ pack and 18” wheels) it would have been a lot more of a representative steer.

By the way, the Sports Package gives you a 6 speed box and PASM for £1426, whereas PASM alone is around £1030. Another £396 doesn’t seem much to pay for a feature that would seem to address a large part of your CoTY criticism."

The Joy of Specs

I managed to write most of this on a plane coming back from a US business trip so it has the benefit of spontaneity and inaccuracy (my friend google wasn’t handy to check stuff).

Part of the ‘fun’ of buying a new car is in what the manufacturers refer to as ‘personalising’ – deciding what colours, materials and other options you want included in your own particular example.

I like to think of it as man-shopping, and like the lady kind, its an opportunity to spend lots of time debating the merits of various features with your mates. If you don’t believe me, head over to the forum at , search for ‘options’ and count the hits.

One reason is that there are pages and pages of options for every Porsche in the range. Clearly this is a massive money-spinner for the company - ticking every box on the list easily adds 50% to the price and probably a lot more to the profit margin. However it adds much less to the driving experience and options depreciate like mad, so less is more when is comes to value. To be fair to Porsche, within limits its possible to have your car in boulevardier aka pimp’s wheel’s spec, hard core sportster, every day driver, mobile entertainment system and everything in between.

There’s also a lot of guff talked about “essential” extra’s without which your car will be is practically unsellable in the future. Pundits typically add sat-nav and metallic paint to this list. Well you could order your car for the next owner, but I’d rather order it for me. Also as I was working to a sensible budget I needed to keep things under control, and I’d rather spend money on going faster/driver better that posing. And our £300 Garmin Nuvi does a great job of map reading when we need it.

First off; colour. Painting their cars in all those nice metallic paints on their cars costs Porsche money. I’d estimate about €25. By the time it gets delivered that means £600 added to your bill for a one of the usual metallics, and £1500 for a 'special' colour; usually another exciting shade of grey. In the past I’ve bought whole cars for less than that. The std (i.e. ‘free’) solid colours are red, yellow, back and white. Great choice.

Now it seems to me that almost every modern Porsche you see on the road is either grey, silver, silvery grey, grey-ey silver, black or silvery black. With some dark blue for frivolous variety. In most cases these non-colours don’t suit the cars, and its interesting to see that the lastest, greatest (and £95k) GT3RS is only available in lairy 70’s greens and oranges. Lets hope that heralds a return to more brightness on the roads, but anyway I haven’t ordered a GT3RS.

Of the solid colours, black is the safest, but it’s a bugger to keep clean. And I know - I spent a lot of time in the past washing and polishing a black Ford Escort RS turbo and Porsche 944 turbo. Black cars absorb heat in the summer, and returning to a sweatbox on wheels on a hot days isn’t much fun. Red is a little too mid-life-crisis-sportscar/wannabe Ferrari, and yellow reminds me a little too much of baby emissions. So that leaves white. Forgetting the hopeful ‘white is the new black’ (or silver) hype, the more I thought about a white Porsche the better it sounded. Here are some random reasons for choosing a white car:

There aren’t many around in the UK (vans don’t count, ok?), just a few new Golf Git’s and old minicabs. Even police cars are silver now.
Lots of great Porsche’s are white; from 996 GT3RS’s to the immortal ’73 911 2.7RS.
All the great Piech era racing Porsches were white; 907/908/910/917/961*/956/962 etc.
Its faster because its lighter (see 3. above).
Well OK, maybe.
My dad’s 924 was white

See? It’s a no-brainer.

Well actually it was an agonise-over-for-weeks-er, even the sales guy said it looked great but was the kiss of death at re-sale time, but what the hell, you’re only middle aged once.

Second-off interior. Porsche want £700 for leather seats. Except in Porsche’s case the only leather you get for £700 covers the bits you sit on, i.e. not the back of the seat ,which is a petroleum derived leatherette, just like our 1967 Ford Cortina 1.6 deluxe. Leather seat backs come with ‘full leather’ in natural - £2700 - or not-natural(don’t ask me) for £1600. And if you want the whole car interior leathered (like the steering column, centre console etc.) add another £2000 or so.

Most cars get at least some optional skin, but Porsche rummaged around the back of their workshop and found some off-cut alcantara and more 60's vintage leatherette for the tight-wads. So that’s what you get for ‘free’(or £36,500).
Well, it doesn’t burn your legs in the summer, freeze you in winter or slide you off in corners. And they keep your arse off the floor, and are available in black, so they’ll do me fine.

Now the important bits. Some real old Porsche-style engineering has gone into the suspension, they call it Prosche Active Suspension Management or PASM. Its involves electrickery dampers that can be adjusted on the fly, ranging from race-track stiff to everyday comfy - just like the Selecta-ride on cars in the 50’s. Except nowadays the car’s on-board computer can adjust the settings by itself as well, so if you suddenly find yourself in the mood for hooning around a couple of corners it’ll stiffen up, but if the road gets very bumpy it’ll soften up. Of course you can select the hard setting for those rare occasions when you find youself on a quiet one-way street with a smooth surface and interesting bends. In the UK we call these ‘racetracks’. Brilliant idea, a car that changes it’s mood like me. This option is about £1,000. For an extra £400 they’ll throw in an additional gear making, 6 in total just like a VW Polo 1.4 diesel. Or indeed my old (15) 968Clubsport - who say’s there’s no such thing as progress? That’s the first box ticked then.

Next; wheels. There’s a school of thinking that says bigger the better. All the show and road test cars have the biggest available, and I’ve seen poor little hatchbacks bouncing along with the biggest wheels that will (or won’t) fit into the wheel arches. Now modern cars need room behind wheels for big brakes, but other than that its all downsides. Big wheels are heavy, and heavy wheels equal lots of un-sprung weight. Now as the great St Colin of Norfolk would tell you, un-sprung weight is very, very bad. Without getting too technical, it stops the suspension from suspending, leading to a jiggly, uncontrolled ride, an increase in road noise, and takes away steering feel and responsiveness.

Now for some folks, (probably the type who like to be able to throw a Porsche key into the pot at their housewarming party) that’s fine as long as it looks good. For us dwindling band of wheelmen, anything that detracts from the purity of the steer is bad news. Luckily, Porsche throw in skinny little lightweight 17” wheels with your base Cayman.


Except they’re damn skinny, and not only are the Cayman S’s 18” wheels and tyres still pretty light, but they put another 30mm of rubber onto the road at each corner. The demo car I drove had them and rode ok, and they’re easy to clean. So at £700 that’s another box ticked.

I’ll get some smaller ones if it ever gets cold enough here to need winter tyres.

Rather oddly, the standard Cayman steering wheel looks like it came off a Routemaster. Its huge, has an ugly great boss, and a thin rim. Steering wheel feel is are hugely important – mainly because it’s the one thing you’re grabbing most of the time . My old Audi A2 was lovely, but its nasty plastic steering wheel was the single worst thing about it. For once ticking this box is relatively painless at £146, so that’s a smaller, fatter, nicer steering wheel added to the shopping list.

I spent quite a bit of time wondering about the Sport Chrono option. Its most obvious feature is the big stop watch sitting on top of the dash like a “carbuncle on the face of an old friend”. But it has hidden depths. The clever blokes at Wiessach (Porsche’s skunk works) have made it an ADHD** feature; with a button that adds pep to the throttle map, puts the suspension into hoon mode and loosens the corsets of the electronic safety nannies. You also can use the carbuncle to time yourself on the race to work, or on your death-defying Nordscleife laps. This and PASM gives you a real schizophrenic ride to match one’s ever changing moods

Some time after finalising my specification I discovered that these are two of the sporty crowd’s most popular options. Nice to see some validation of one’s choices!

Last year the Porsche car company made €2B. They made 100,000 cars, so on average they made €20,000 on each car built. Ok, I know they have other revenue streams, but that makes them the most profitable car company in the world by about the length of the Mulsanne Straight. They do this by building desirable cars very efficiently and by selling them at a premium price.

They also don’t give very much away. I give you - “Automatic climate control”, a feature that means you set your desired temperature and the system maintains that temperature independent of the car’s speed, ambient temperature, direct sunlight etc. This presumably involves a sensor or two and a bit of software in the heating control system. Its cheap to do, so has been standard equipment on just about every mid-range saloon for the past 10 years. Except Porsche, who want 308 miserable pounds for the same thing. Stingy bastards.

So that’s it: no fancy sound system, no sat nav, no rear washwipe, no xenon head lights, no paint, leather, big wheels, carbon or wood interior trim.

Lets hope it meets up to its billing!
*obscure but I saw it race
** Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; very fashionable amongst the parents of poorly behaved children