The 911 Years
Ongoing ownership report of a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
I had never really intended to own a Porsche. Back in my teens, I was firmly sided in camp Ferrari. So how come I’m now on my third and would love to own a forth? Good question. We shall come on to that later.
June 20th, my Cayman had been sold and I was on the train heading back home after a mutual hand-over meet point with its new owners. Time for a new car. With the imminent arrival of a new addition, turning this 30-something couple into a 30-something family, the Cayman was no longer a practical car. Three into two just won’t go.
I still wanted a little sporty number and nothing was really taking my fancy other than another Porsche. Within my budget was the 911, or the Cayenne. However, as I’m still young enough to enjoy sporting flair without the stereotypical cliché the 911 was the obvious choice. This car also has small back seats you see, ideal for a small person.
Discussions had already begun prior to the sale of the Cayman, and the 911 had passed through Quality Control (AKA Mrs Paul O) with flying colours. We had decided on a black coloured car this time as the frumpy shape of the 911 looks more svelte in a dark colour, showing off its arced lines neatly.
There were two cars which also made it onto the shortlist. The mind-bogglingly terrific Ferrari 360 Modena, and the outside choice an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The Fez fell by the wayside (for now) due to its size, age and occupancy levels which put together, meant it wasn’t the right car for me at this point in my life. But it will be soon enough. The Aston looks and drives fantastic and my budget allowed for a relatively new model with low miles but again the seats were an issue. I want to be able to use the car for family days out and if I was to sacrifice this for a car that looks special, then the Ferrari would be the front runner.
So, 911 it is. My good lady and I had missed the convertibleness from the Boxster, so decided that a 911 Cabrio would be the weapon of choice for some tarmac thumping fun-goodness. It had to be a 997 and for my own sanity, could not cost the same as a F360. Specification? Well, my dream list went like this; Black, with crested black leather, “S” model, sat-nav, heated seats (an absolute must), cruise control, sports exhaust, Bose stereo.
Beginning the search started with a call to Porsche Newcastle, with whom I had purchased my Cayman 3 years ago. Andy, my sales guy, looked for a car matching my specification but ultimately couldn’t find what I was looking for within my tight budget. I also spoke to David at Sheffield, who had just acquired a blue “S” with some of my toys (including heated seats). The car did look good in blue, but when I compared to a black car it didn’t quite float my boat – particularly with the blue interior. I also tried a black non-“S” Tiptronic model which was good fun; it felt like the Cayman 2.7 in terms of punch – controllable and expected. This would have suited me fine, but without the heated seats it was a no-sale. It was also extremely quiet.
My search ultimately ended at Redline Specialist Cars in Knaresborough, where they had just put a 911 Carrera S manual for sale and was very keenly priced. The specification in the advert was pretty close to what I was after, but on closer inspection it had even more toys than I had realised! Black on black, Satnav, heated seats, cruise control, xenon lights, CD changer, Bose stereo and that hard-to-find feature, the switchable sports exhaust. It also has my favorite wheels on the 911. The Carrera Classic 5-spoke wheels.
And what a difference that exhausts makes! I’d made an appointment to view the car, upon arrival Dan at Redline handed me the keys and said “take it for a spin, see what you think” and invited my good lady into the passenger seat. With just ourselves in the car it gave us more time to reflect on the car in private, noticing any issues with the interior and generally giving us free time to have a more relaxed test drive. Starting up the car you get a real raspy sound as the 3.8 litre engine kicks into life and that exhaust spits out a distinctly aggressive tone. Tunnels will never be the same again! An option I would hugely recommend for anyone considering their car to be a little on the muted side. Of course, you can turn it off at the touch of a button if you don’t want to be quite as noticeable in the morning commute.
BUYING THE CAR
The deal was done, subject to an inspection and a week later the car was mine. There were a few niggling faults with the car which an OPC inspection uncovered and some of these were fixed by Redline, followed by a promise to sort the rest (at the time of writing, I am expecting this in the next couple of weeks – update will follow).
For various reasons, I like to buy my cars with finance and on this occasion I gave Supercar Finance a try. The service was superb – an exceptionally quick turnaround (within a day) and completely hassle-free. They sorted everything with the dealer, all I had to do was sign a couple of forms, email them back and turn up at Redline on deal-day with my deposit. The quotes from Supercar Finance hands-down beat all the other quotes I had from independent finance companies. I would recommend this company whole-heartedly. If you also partial to a spot of finance, speak to Tony (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell him Paul from “Supercar Driver” sent you.
So, the bit you actually want to know about. The 997. Is it any good? Of course it is. It is bloomin’ marvellous. Compared to the 996 it is streets ahead in terms of driving feel and build quality. It still has a few rattles with the roof up, but show me a drop-top that doesn’t.
The power is extreme, but being a convertible this power has only been used once to show a friend the acceleration capabilities (as you do). Most of the time, we are cruising along just enjoying the world, passing through to our destination. The handling feels good, but after nine years of mid-engined cars, until I’ve had time to get used to it I won’t be throwing headlong into a corner just yet. I feel another trip to the Porsche Experience Centre might be in order.
I’ve noticed that the 911 has more kudos than the other Porsches I have owned, whilst friends and colleagues think I’m bonkers buying a “nine-eleven”. Having owned a few of them, I feel it is just another Porsche – a different take for people with different requirements. The same bits, same looks; just a bigger engine and wheels. Maybe I am being blazee about it though and perhaps I’m just used to the brand. At a recent Supercar Driver event, the sheer number of cars in attendance attracted a lot of public attention and one lad in particular loved my 911. With his camera flashing away excitedly as were leaving, revving the engine on request created beaming smiles from him and his father. Of course, with that Sports Exhaust, revving this car is one of those moments to be justly proud!
Being an “S” model, it also has the switchable dampers (PASM), you can choose between Normal and Sport mode. This button was pressed once as an experiment and that one time will do me nicely thanks. In sports mode, the suspension is noticeably tough and unless you’re on a track, the ride is too uncomfortable on the British bouncy roads.
The gearchange is stiffer than that on the Boxster and Cayman – more ‘clunky’ or ‘positive’ is perhaps a good way to describe it and the clutch is heaver too, but it all adds to the feel that you have purchased a notable sports car. 🙂
As for baby-seats, I’ll be waiting until my little girl is big enough to face-forward, and she will be treated to her own Porsche pew – a perfect requirement for those pretend rears seats!
So how did I get such a well specc’d car within a relatively modest budget? Well, there has to be a trade-off and in this case the rub is the mileage. The car has clocked up 55,000 miles at the time of purchase. This would have been a very cautious purchase on the back of my 986 Boxster experience, but as my 997 Cayman was so well put together (and selling at 41,000 trouble free miles) I thought I would chance a leggy car once again in this updated version, as the specification was otherwise perfect. I didn’t get the crested headrests, but these are like hens teeth and you can’t have everything can you!
At the beginning of this rambling text, I mentioned that many moons ago Porsche had never really entered my radar when it came to desirable car purchases and yet I now feel pretty much glued to the brand. The reason for this is simple; the experience. The whole Porsche ethos, from racing heritage, to customer service and the exceptional handling circuit at Silverstone makes the brand one that is difficult to move away from. Even the Chrisophorus magazine is cause for a muted inner excitement when it lands on the doormat every couple of months. I like what Porsche stands for, its marketing and exceptional engineering float my boat.
But all of this pales in comparison to the driving experience. These cars are fast, fun and reliable enough to use every day should you choose. As I write this, my new car hasn’t been used for a few weeks now but I have confidence that it will still start when I turn the key in a couple of days’ time (touching lots of wood.), and that should any maintenance be required it won’t eat my salary to get it moving again (touching lots and lots more wood). Whilst other cars will come and go, I can always see a Porsche of some kind living with us at this moment in time.
There is also another tug that Porsche have used on me which thus far has worked very well – driving cars that I don’t yet own. I drove a Boxster and until that point I didn’t really like them. A few years hence, I bought one. Now on the Porsche HQ radar, I was invited to drive a Cayman. Two years later, I bought one. Can you see a pattern here? I have also had a Cayenne on loan and since have absolutely loved them, and one day I’m sure one will make its way onto the Paul O driveway (they are rapidly reaching exceptional value for money prices too!) :smile_anim:
Having being undecided about what would replace the Cayman, Porsche Leeds loaned me a 911 Cabriolet for 24 hours last year. With that in mind, is my latest purchase decision really just a coincidence? Let’s just hope Porsche don’t offer me a go in the 918. That could put me in some major financial trouble…