Audi A4 Blog: Sold!

Following a change of the fleet (see the final post in the 911 diaries), and a new car being purchased in the shape of a Mini (running report coming soon), the Audi is now surplus to requirements. A friend of mine recommended Gumtree as a great free way to sell cheap cars.

I put the Audi up for sale, detailing its problems, and the phone was like a hotline for several days. I had a lot of offers, but they were too low and I chose to wait for a little while longer (although the local scrapyard offered £160, which I found surprisingly good).

And a few days ago, I had a visit from a young chap who immediately liked the car, despite its issues with the breaks and the vibrating type noise from the front wheels. The car was up for sale at £350, and we negotiated to £300.

It will be collected next Tuesday, so I’ll give it a quick wash and clean in advance of that. I’ll post again once the deal has been done to close the A4 blog, but as of this moment, the writing is on the wall for the Shedlife blog. But fear not, readers, the Mini will be starting up a new blog in the very near future. Stay tuned for more updates, and of course, plenty more reviews of sports and supercars…

My Mini Adventure – Starts here!

Mini Convertible in Hot Orange

Mini Convertible in Hot Orange

And so, here we have it, the latest addition to the Motorcloud fleet; a 2004 Mini One Convertible – in orange!

Over the past 6 months or so, whilst contemplating what to do with the fleet as we approached 2015, I started to think that I was missing something in motoring-life by having not owned a Mini. My Dad owned one ‘back in the day’ and everyone of his generation seemed to have owned one too.

This, then, is the Mini of the new generation – my generation I guess and the more I thought about it, seeing so many of them zipping about here and there, the more I wanted one. Once I’d decided to sell the 911, this became the next car of choice. The Audi wasn’t running right and I wanted to run two cars for a while, rather than three to make the driveway look a bit neater (I’ve never been a fan of ‘full’ driveways, it just looks so untidy – some weird OCD going on there I’m sure). Plus the cost saving is always a bonus.

Going Used.

With the 911 gone, it was time to go shopping. We looked at a couple but nothing really jumped out as ‘The One’. Initially, yellow was the colour my wife wanted but she preferred the dark-yellow of the newer models, to the sunshine colour of the older models that we were looking at. There are a lot of untidy examples out there with clutches carrying a resistance equal to that of concrete.

Checking out New.

Inevitably, scope-creep always comes into play as a petrol head searching for a car. This started out as a two-grand runabout just for giggles and quickly became a four-grand convertible. I then looked at the price of new ones and looked at the option of leasing one as a company car – which looked to be a great deal; good residuals, cheap running costs, low company car tax.

I knew that Mini had launched a new MK3 version so wanted to see what it looked like in the metal, before investigating the company car option further and so we headed to the Mini Dealer in Leeds. First impressions on the new model? Bulbous is the word that sprung to mind. Like a Mini with Botox. But that wouldn’t necessarily put me and my good lady off the purchase if the rest of it was decent – and it was. The interior is lovely, and the clutch was nice and light. But it wasn’t any more practical than the old one – and the sales lady at Leeds Mini wasn’t great either. I was honest with her about the scope creep, starting at £2k, then £4k and then potentially a company car. She confirmed that at that low price, there was nothing she would be able to sell to us – and that they don’t deal with company cars. So, having immediately boxed this off as being nothing that would make her any sort of money she promptly disappeared, leaving some of my questions unanswered and had me wandering around the dealership trying to find her several times to see what my options were on a new car.

Granted, I might have been something of a ‘timewaster’ to her, but the dealership wasn’t exactly overflowing with customers (there was one other customer but clearly the tea-and chat back-office with the rest of the sales team took precedence). But I was buying into the brand – potentially a new car, or possibly a full retail customer in future either as another purchase, or servicing – and my mind wasn’t in any way made up. Could she have stolen a sale? We’ll never know. But if you are planning to buy new in the local area, head to Mini Wakefield – their service is streets ahead.

The Chosen One.

We left with a brochure and went back to the classifieds, convinced that the cheaper, older alternative was the way to go. The lack of extra space in the new car negated the extra cost given this is an occasional car. After a few days of checking out the Auto Trader, we found our ultimate purchase: A 2004 Mini One Convertible in Orange, with a huge option list of extra’s, chiefly the Orange dashboard and striped half-leather interior attracted our attention the most. The colour was different and striking – always a winner in our household – and my wife said that this really looked like the one she wanted – no others to date had really struck a cord like this one did.

It was a private sale, so we went to the owners home to take a look. It looked as good as the photos and the owners were relaxed and accommodating. My mechanic brother-in-law came a long to look past the shiny bling and he confirmed all looked fine, aside from a noise that could be heard from the gearbox when the clutch wasn’t depressed. A Google search showed that gearboxes are known flaws in these cars, but like the 911 and their chocolate-engines, it seemed a hit-and-miss on any used Mini as to whether this would need replacing or not. With everything else looking fine, I decided to take the gamble and with a few hundred pounds negotiated off the price, we had ourselves a new Mini!!


The first drive home was taken by my wife, and a stop at the services I asked how it was going. “Its good,” she smiled “A bit ramshackely, but its nice and easy to drive!”. It is a bit bumpy, and definitely feels like the 911 in terms of suspension hardness (this might be the run-flat tyres, which are known for adding stiffness to the drive), but the steering is lovely and precise. My initial thoughts when I got to drive it later on local roads was that is had the characteristics of a sports car – real point-and-squirt stuff. Being a small car, it definitely feels like a go-kart and, although you feel like you are pressing on in the same way you can in the Porsche, but a look at the speedo indicated I wasn’t near the speed limits of my chosen roads. Fantastic! A real interactive experience in which you won’t loose ones licence. No wonder they are so popular.

And so with this as a second car, just for fun and short journeys, I’m looking forward to our time with this car. I’ll keep the blog updated 🙂

A few photos below of the car from the sale advert. Notice the two little cars in the boxes? They were photoshopped by someone on a car forum for me with the reply “Here, I found the box for you!”. haha! 😀

The 911 Years: The end of an era

This all looks like too many words, Paul – just give me the Summary!

OK! And so, after ten years of Porsche ownership, the 911 has been sold this weekend. It has been a long, almost impossible decision at times, of pro’s and con’s as to what to do – and where to go next – but lots of smaller factors led to the 911 leaving our stables in search of a new home this weekend. Care to know more (it’s a bit wordy…)? Read on…

First world problems.

So, why was it sold? Well, a few things. At the start of the year I was quite ill with an Asthma flare-up, which then turned to Bronchitis and ultimately Pneumonia. The cause of which was never fully realised, but partially attributed to stress. Now, I am a bit of a workaholic. I love a new challenge, which is why as well as a ‘regular’ day job which requires lots of overtime, some weekend working and being called out any ungodly hours, I also run two rental properties, two side-line businesses, an estate management company, a residents committee, write for a magazine, co-organise an annual charity car show as well as spending as much time as possible with my family and a few other bits and pieces on top. And when the opportunity came up to be the editor of another magazine, I initially jumped at the chance for a new challenge. I can’t seem to help myself.

But all of that culminated into a full stop earlier in the year after a few months of being able to walk twenty yards without needing a rest and that seriously made me look at life priorities. And that priority is simple: stop working so much and chill out.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t any kind of sob story – working like a trooper brought with it some very nice remuneration. But life isn’t all about money, right? Right? I think that’s right. Anyhow, I decided to offload some of life’s stresses and unproductive work over the next two years and that ultimately means bringing in less cash.

But the car is already here, in the garage, so why sell up? Well, another issue is that the next car I want – the car I really, really want is a Ferrari. But all the while I have owned depreciating Porsche assets, Ferraris have increased in value – in some cases by 50-100%. With less money coming in, and my Porsche value going down whilst the Ferrari value is going up, the gap is getting wider and more expensive in real terms every month.

As much as I enjoyed the 911 – and it has been fantastic, we’ll come onto that reflection in my final post, later this month – I just don’t use it enough for justify something that is loosing money. It’s averaged about 3,500 miles per year and I’m now at the point where I need to do a few more long distance commutes. The 911 – a fun car by nature – is the very opposite of fun in stop-start traffic on the M60, and I didn’t want it to lose its enjoyment doing this hateful journey. So, I was using my Audi ‘shed’ instead – an experiment that I have enjoyed (running an old car, spending nothing and documenting it). But after several years, running a noisy, uncomfortable shed of a car worth about £300 whilst a £20+k car sits in the garage is making less sense. Mrs Paul O has also said if I buy a new toy that she likes, I can use our Evoque as a daily. Winner.

And then there was the endless nagging feeling of potential IMS issues, RMS issues, scored bores, air condensor problems and all the other shyatee that Porsche just can’t get right in their cars. It did play on my mind I have to admit.

And finally… I fancied a change. 🙂

The sale

So that’s how it came to pass, that yesterday afternoon on a very pleasant winters day, I found myself signing on the dotted line at the booth. I can hear you eyebrows raising from here, but remembering the fact I am looking to simplify life with less stress, this was by far and away the simplest, most straightforward transaction I have ever done in the history of car sales.

Car Sale Day

Car Sale Day

The guy was incredibly friendly, remarked how exceptionally good condition my car was in, ignored the fact the Air Con didn’t work, and the wheels were a bit scuffed and just noted down the front end stone chips. A complete no pressure sale. And 30 minutes later, my 997 Carrera S Cabriolet was sold and I walked away with £17,100 on the hip.

“17 Grand? Holy cow that’s cheap. I’d have bought it for that!” some might say. But no-one can buy a car that simply – as attested by a good friend of mine who last month sold his 996 to ‘WBAC’ too. I got the text “Want to buy my 911, I’m at WBAC now and am going to sign it away to them? £4.5k and it’s yours”. I dithered. And dithered. And spoke to a mate who I knew was looking for one. He dithered too. “Too late, it’s sold,” came the text 30 minutes later.

WBAC is simple and it works. All the cars you see in Auto Trader are for sale. They aren’t sold at that price, they are just for sale. I wanted a sold car. I was happy with the price for the stress free transaction and if you are thinking of doing the same, I would highly recommend webuyanycar.

My biggest worry in all of this was my daughter missing the Porsche. She is three years old and absolutely loved that car. She enjoys our trips together and playing about inside the car at weekends. She was steadfast against the idea a few months ago, but explaining we will get something different has eventually curbed her innocent concerns.

Upon completion of the sale, I called home and my daughter answered, “Where are ya?” was the question. “I’ve just sold the Porscha to the Mister,” says I. “Come home,” was the reply. She wasn’t bothered about the car, she just wanted me to come home and play with her toys. In retrospect, the enjoyment was probably more about the time we spend together than the product we were spending it in. I hopped in a taxi with a happy smile on my face.

Where to go next?

Well, money in the bank and itchy car-trigger fingers. A couple of options are on the horizon, but the one likely to be the most imminent is that most alternative of cars to the current fleet – a Mini. I’ve felt like I’m missing something in life by not owning one, and my wife would love one. So that’ll be the new runabout to replace the Audi and I’ll use the Rangie for daily duties.

For the sporty third-car option, I’ll hang on through the winter months and see how things are next year. A Ferrari 360 (or a 348, although their prices are daft at the minute) is the likely contender. But I also like the look of Maserati Granturismo’s. Other interim options are a bargain basement 986 2.5 Boxster, or a 2005 987 Boxster 2.7 Tiptronic in Silver.

So – they are the options, let’s see where the 2015 season of CarDom takes us. In the meantime, my reflections of 911 and Porsche ownership in general will be posted in a shortly along with a bunch of pictures.

Just another number…

In case you were wondering, my mate sold his 996 for… £3,900. The sale of the century, I think you’ll agree.

But that said, would you have bought it on spec without any knowledge of the car, no test drive, history, condition – or in all honesty, would you have dithered too? WBAC, well, they just bought it.

Audi A4 Blog: Another Breakdown

Audi A4 Brake Light

Audi A4 Brake Warning

A few things have gone wrong recently with the ol’ Audi shed, causing me to rethink the long term ownership plans of this car. It started with the remote central locking becoming intermittent, and ended with the car being locked in a car park in the centre of Leeds – with no way to unlock it without the alarm going off. More on that later.

Whilst the intermittent central locking set up something of a warning of future problems, a more immediate issue following a relatively long drive home from Manchester airport after a short business trip to Rome, manifested itself with a flashing red light on the dashboard just as I pulled onto the driveway. A check of the manual showed that this indicates the brake fluid is low. One solution would be to simply top it up, but the correct solution is to find out why it’s used the fluid in the first place.

An internet post – and a call to my brother in law (a mechanic by trade) suggested that the brakes might be due replacement. I hadn’t replaced the rear brakes in my tenure with the car, so assumed these must be due. £39 of eBay magic later and I had myself a new set of disks and pads. I enlisted the skills of my father in law to complete the replacement duties, but he duly informed that both discs and pads are in full tact and don’t require replacement. However, there was a ceased brake calliper, which he fixed, and noted that there was a small leak on the handbrake, so might explain the dip in fluid – which was topped up and the light immediately went out. I’ve also now got a spare set of rear discs and pads for the potential new owner when I come to sell. The brakes are working fine but will monitor closely incase the leak issue hasn’t been fully resolved.

Audi A4 Recovery Truck

Waiting for loading on the Recovery Truck

The final issue to date – which had me cursing furiously, was the remote central locking keyfob failing completely, and being unable to get into the car without the alarm going off. This ended in a recovery truck being called (exceptional service once again from AutoAid) and me considering a change of car in the near future. I managed to eventually get the secondary keyfob working on the aftermarket alarm to unlock the car, and am now using the key in the door rather than risk the same issue occurring again.

So for now, we are back on the road safely, but two recoveries is one too many for my liking, so am on the lookout for a replacement. Watch this space…

Event: October Drive

As we headed towards the back end of the driving season, it was time for a final meet up with good friends in good cars. After an enjoyable drive on the outskirts of Manchester, we all arrived at Stadt Techniq for breakfast and chat. Stadt had opened their doors to showcase their new premises.

A fun morning out – here are the pics. Having sold the Porsche, I accompanied Mike in his lovely blue 360 Spider. At one point, an enthusiastic drag race almost ended the clutch of the 360. You can watch the video here:

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And here it is, making some noise…

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Great fun. 🙂

Evoque Blog: New tyres and stoppers

Freelander Courtesy Car

Freelander Courtesy Car

Following my previous post the Evoque was taken to the workshop for a few items fixing. New tyres and brakes and the hinge on the passenger door has been fixed. No issues to report, and Land Rover Wakefield held good on their promise and price matched the tyres.

All completed for £564.

Courtesy car was a Freelander. I was away on business at the time but my wife tells me it was ‘OK’. It had a bigger boot, but wasn’t as stylish and felt a bit sluggish. So there you go.

Interestingly, I also received an email video from the dealership – it was the workshop technician just reporting that the checks had completed and no issues to report. A nice touch I thought!

Evoque Blog: Minor Fault, booked in.

The Evoque is running well and still returning in the early 30-mpg’s for fuel. On long runs it gets into the higher 30’s but rarely more than that.

It has developed a fault with the passenger front door though, which creaks painfully as you open and close it. Looking closer, it looks like the centre bracket has become a bit loose. The car still needs new tyres and brakes from the service recommendations, so I’ve booked it in today. The list is as follows:

  • New tyres (front) Continental.
  • New brake pads (rear).
  • Fix the creaking.
  • Look at the squeaky boot.

Booked in for next Wednesday, courtesy car reserved.

Also interestingly, Wakefield Land Rover has stated they price match against tyre quotes. I’ve given them the quote I’ve had, so will see if they come good on their promise.

Event: KnightCon 2014

KnightCon 2014

KnightCon 2014

Another year, another KnightCon – and another enjoyable day out. After a few years at Xscape in Castleford, the organisers moved the event to a pay-on-entry full sale convension at Doncaster Racecourse.

The event was bigger than ever and has now expanded far beyond the original Knight Rider car park meet five years prior. Still having Knight Rider at its core, the event now expands to “Star Cars and Heroes”, featuring cars from all kinds of TV shows, like the A-Team and Transformers, to constumed characters like Iron Man, Batman and countless others walking the floor that day.

There was also a stage, where the celebrities of-the-day were present to recount their time on the sets of these fondly remembered shows – including a few of the characters and behind-the-scenes staff from good ol’ Knight Rider. 🙂

Event: Jaguar Factory Tour

Red Jaguar F Type

Red Jaguar F Type

What a fantastic day this was. The ol’ man and I took the 911 down to Castle Bromwich for an indepth tour of this prestigious car manufacturer. Organised by Supercar Driver owners club, the tour focussed on the new F-Type.

upon arrival, we parked up next to a line of other sports and supercars and went inside to the showroom for the meet and greet. Inside, they had a line of the latest models from Jaguar and, after being primed with complimentary tea and coffee, we were escorted to the briefing room where a large cinematic display told us all about the history of Jaguar. This was the start of what was to be a facinating and throoguhtly intersting day out.

Folllowing the briefing, we were taken outside to an awaiting bus that drove us across the road and into the factory. As we went down, we spotted a new car being test driven, complete with discuised livery. “err… just ignore that car, nothing to see here” said our host jokingly. On reflection, I believe this was the new Jaguar XE model, that has now been launched. Cool, huh!

We arrived at the factory momentarily and what followed was an hour or so of being led around the factory, seeing in full detail how the new F-Type car was built – from components to full car. What I found the most facinating was the robots – how they all move about with such pricision, even selecting different tools for different jobs as the cars are being built. Truely facinating stuff.

Both my Dad and I thoroughtly enjoyed this day out – a joyous day showing how modern cars are built, how focussed and dedicated the workers are and the geuine passion and enthusiasm of all the staff. If you get the opportunity, this is surely one not to miss for any car enthusiast.

Unfortunately, photos couldn’t be taken inside the room, so here is a publicity shot:

Jaguar Factory Pic

Jaguar Factory Pic

Jaguar factory tour link.


My Pictures:

Feature: Ferrari Garage Test!

Ferrari 360 Spider TDF blue

Ferrari 360 Spider TDF blue

I knew when Mike was close by. Everyone knew. That unmistakable rasp of a Ferrari engine overshadowed and broke the otherwise calm, morning air. Living on a typical UK built-up housing estate, Mike was driving in a quiet and considered manner. Well, as quiet as he could be, he was keeping the revs low but the rumble of the V8 could still be clearly heard from a hundred yards away.

A Ferrari is coming to my house. It’s exciting isn’t it. Even as a 30-something grown-up family guy, a Ferrari coming to my house still makes me feel like that teenager with the poster on his wall. It would have been a dream-come-true in those days but twenty years on, better late than never!

With a bit more hard work and effort, I will hopefully be a position to buy one of these dream cars at some time in the future, but there is a caveat – and hopefully one that Mike will be dispelling today. The mission to fulfil is one of a ‘garage test’ and the size of my garage dictates this is certainly to be a mission.

A Ferrari of some description has been on my ‘to-do’ list now for years, but each time – largely influenced by life factors – I keep opting for Porsches. My stable currently keeps a 911 (997.1) cabriolet warm at night, but today the 360 will temporarily occupy the space ordinarily reserved for the German marque.

Ferrari 360 Spider TDF blue

Ferrari 360 Spider TDF blue

But before we try the prancing horse in my otherwise very tight new-build type single garage, we are going for a drive. As Mike arrives and pulls onto my driveway, it takes considerable effort to retain the limited amounts of cool that I possess and curb a natural instinct to jump up and down, clapping my hands with glee. The gloomy clouds of the morning had parted and now a bright ray of sunshine permeated the sky. Mikes 360 is a convertible ‘Spider’ and perfect for a day like this.

After a short break upon arrival to give Mike the opportunity to stretch his legs and rehydrate – and for me to make sure that everyone local knows I’ve got a Ferrari on my driveway today – we head off to a lightly used industrial estate nearby. But not before being papp’d by the neighbours youngest.

At the far end of this lightly used industrial road, we swap seats and I’m the one in control. This isn’t a track drive. It’s a real world drive and people will see me. People will probably judge me too. It’s the experience you just can’t get elsewhere and this type of attention would undoubtedly form part of any Ferrari ownership experience (for better, or for worse).

Mike gives some instruction on how to move the seat and steering column (I’m very surprised to find my 6’4″ frame can find a very comfortable position) and usage of the F1 paddle shift system. This particular car also has an F430 exhaust system with the noise inhibiters removed. It’s a real screamer, even at low revs.

The seats hug nice and tight and all of the important dials are easily readable, less so the speedo. I love how in a Ferrari it is almost disregarded with indifference – anything below 40mph is just a bit-part at the bottom of the instrument cluster. Conversely the rev-counter shouts at you with large fonts and can be understood with a mere glance.

A fast machine this may be, but the level of noise from that exhaust, combined with the V8 power plant, can make this a fun car even at very low speeds. During town driving, this combination makes it sound like you are pressing on, even when you are within the laws of the land. That’s not always a good thing.

“Someone once tried to hit my car with a newspaper!” Mike tells me. “I’m just glad it wasn’t anything more substantial”. Exuberate noise doesn’t do him any favours for neighbour relations either. “A few weeks ago, I was going for an early morning drive. You are supposed to leave these cars running for a few minutes so the gearbox warms up. Whilst I was waiting a somewhat tired and exasperated neighbour came over in a dressing gown pleading ‘Every Sunday! Every Sunday, Mike. Why??’ That claim is an exaggeration though as the 360 isn’t used that much, but it certainly isn’t a car you buy to keep the peace.”

As we set off – gingerly a first, after all I’m in someone else’s pride and joy, I get a little more confident with the controls, the feel of the steering and the travel on the accelerator and brake pedals. It all feels good. Very good, like a giant go-kart.

Ferrari - Loved by all ages!

Ferrari – Loved by all ages!

Reaction from passers-by seems to be one of admiration from petrol heads, and indifference from everyone else. Onlookers who care about such things stop in their tracks and watch the car go by. “If its younger kids who are pointing at the car, I’ll sometimes blip the throttle for them,” Mike informs. “I think back to when I was that age and if an owner would have done that for me, it would have made my day”. I didn’t experience any negative gestures or comments.

As we arrive at the supermarket (Mike has instructions to bring back a disposable BBQ for an impromptu party that night), a young petrol head comes over as we lock up the car. The expression on his face is one of amazement, excitement and delight. “Wooooooaaaaahhh”, is about all he can muster. His expression tells you all you need to know. “Ca…can I take a picture of your car please?” he says, eyes transfixed on the 360. Of course the answer is yes and Mike is accommodating, showing him around the car. “So, do you like it?” Mike asks. “Like it? I want to own it!” the lad replies. Me too, I guess we never really grow up.

Ferrari 360 Spider TDF blue

Ferrari 360 Spider TDF blue

Back in the car and armed with a BBQ in the boot we head back to the house to see if it will fit in garage. A Ferrari is such an event to drive. The feel of the car will be familiar to anyone who has owned a mid-engined car, just a lot bigger, a lot wider and a lot noiser. Oh the noise. The noise. It’s that instant switch at 3,000 rpm when the exhaust valves open and the engine just explodes its soundtrack through those fat tailpipes! It is a continual giggle fest and something I reflected on after fifteen minutes of driving that I hadn’t actually stopped smiling the entire time – and we hadn’t really pressed on other than a couple of test runs on a quiet speed-restricted road – real lough out loud moments those.

When you do firmly commit the loud pedal, this car is just sublime. The noise, the howl, is by far the most satisfying element, closely followed by the wonderfully linear acceleration and – on this dry day at least – confident handling. Even the gear change on the F1 is great. My reference is a previously loaned PDK ‘box from Porsche which is probably the most efficient automatic gearbox ever designed. The shift on the Porsche is immediate, whereas the F1 on this 360 feels more like a manual. There is a momentary delay where you can imagine the auto gearbox engaging the clutch and changing gear, and the result just makes it feels more interactive.

The feeling of driving a Ferrari on the road is totally different to that on track – it makes you feel like a big kid. It is everything that I hoped it would be all those years ago looking at the mad angles and shapes of the poster Ferrari’s and wondering then what they are like to drive and whether I would ever see one in the metal.

Someone once described his Ferrari to me as “silly”. A silly car that always makes you smile because it serves no purpose other than fun. It is totally impractical, expensive, a noise nuisance and at the same time utterly amazing. That same person also told me he always leaves his Ferrari at work, so that after a bad day at the office, he can opt for a drive home in the Ferrari and in doing so, will always arrive home happy.

Ferrari in a small garage!

Ferrari in a small garage!

Back at my house, it’s time to see whether the dream could ever be a reality. The 911 is demoted from the garage and we tentatively coast the 360 into position to see if it will fit. Money matters aside, this will determine whether or not a Ferrari could ever purchased in the future. Mike drives the car in, folding the mirrors as the 360 approaches the doorway. To my surprise – and delight – the car fits without any real problems. It’s a mordern, and typically small, garage and yet the ultra wide 360 can be stored in there without issue – but only if it is a convertible! The downside is that the width of the garage is just too narrow to open the door wide enough to be able to get out, but with a convertible the exit is to simply climb over those low doors and raise the roof once you are out of the car.

So, the Coupe is a reluctant ‘no’, but the spider is a firm ‘yes!’ The downside of the spider means more saving is required as the spiders come at a premium. However, I love the light blue coloured 360’s and the resale market seems to hate them so maybe that will even things out on price. As much as I love red coupes, I couldn’t own a red convertible because I’m not an Italian, twenty-something playboy singleton with a chiselled jaw and rock hard man-muscles. But a blue spider might make me look less of an arse. Hopefully.

Ferrari in a tight garage!

Ferrari in a tight garage!

For now though, I’ve got the Porsche and the more I drive it, the more I love it. But would I change the 911 for one? The 911 looks good, it drives great, it is desirable, relatively good value and can transport the family with ease. My daughter (who has just turned three) loves going out (and playing in!) my “Porsch-a!” and it’s getting a lot of use as our sunny-day car, as well as for the spirited solo-drives should the mood take once fancy. It’s a great all round sports car.

By comparison, the 360 is bonkers. It’s a slightly unhinged, impractical, ridiculously loud, desirable machine that makes people stop and stare.

The quote the old adage, a Porsche is a wife – everything you want and need to be content with life. The Ferrari is the mistress and, as far as cars are concerned, I think I want both.

Time to get a second job…

Photos by Dom Fisher (dfishpix) and used with permission.

The 911 Years: Cleaned Driveway!

Ok, so this isn’t technically anything to do with the 911, but following the post of part-1 of my garage floor refresh, I thought I’d post anyway.

Our home is now around ten years old, and the red paving at the front of the tarmac drive was looking a little tired. Indeed a quick blast with the Karcher jetwash showed just how much grime is on there. In addition, a colony of Ants had taken residence at the top of the drive and had sunken four or five bricks over time.

A chance meeting with a tree surgeon(I need one cutting back in a few weeks time) and noticed his business card advised that he also cleaned and restored driveways. Happy days. I received a quote, which I was very pleased with which also including relaying the sunken bricks and (if the Ants nest was under the bricks) removal of that too.

I came home a few days later to find the driveway fully completed – and significantly cleaner than even the small section I had done with the Karcher – and fully sealed too. Unfortunately, the ants nest wasn’t directly under the pavings and they are still there battling away, making holes in my newly laid sand. But on balance, I’d rather they be at the top of the drive than in my house and if it takes another 10 years for them to sink a few paves, then it will be time to re-clean anyway. 🙂

Regardless, the driveway is now looking fantastic and has led me to thinking about cleaning the tarmac too. It’s possible to buy a tarmac stain which gives it that fresh black wet look that newly laid tarmac has. Decisions, decisions.

Driveway cleaned!

Driveway cleaned!

BMW i3 Review

BMW i3 - Grey/Black

BMW i3

“1.21 Gigawatts? 1.21 Gigawatts!” Those words that echoed in my mind, and refused to leave, the entire time I was in the company of this new electric powered BMW i3. For the uninformed (and where have you been?), those words were immortalised by the legendary Dr. Emmet Brown, whilst trying to work out how to send Michael J Fox “Back to the Future” in 1985. The movie car in question (a Delorean, no less) required a bolt of lightning in order to power the car through time. Mega electric indeed.

This nifty BMW i3 on the other hand, doesn’t require quite the same amount of juice, but then time travel isn’t on BMWs options list either. What the i3 does do though, is allow true home-powered motoring in an incredibly efficient and environmentally conscious package.

The i3’s appearance will divide opinion greatly, but personally I think this is a real funky looking thing. A little futuristic, small on the outside, big on the inside, tall and thin. The diminutive BMW has a very roomy cabin and feels that of a larger car. The narrow front seats and the lack of a centre console really give an impression of more space than you would expect given is external size. It is comfortable, if a little harsh on the suspension and the lumbar support is quite unforgiving. There is lots of glass all around the cabin though and if spec’d with a light coloured interior gives the i3 a really calm and airy feel. Plus, being fully automatic makes the whole driving experience a pleasant one. It comes with plenty of toys including two large LCD information screens and the optional Business Sat Nav is the best navigation system I have ever used.

The construction of the car is carbon fibre with the materials and general ethos of the build being around sustainability. You can spec an all-electric, or opt for a range-extender version (tested here), equipped with a 647cc bike engine. This is used to charge the batteries should you find yourself running low on electric juice. Charging those batteries at home can be an overnight affair from a standard plug, but there are various options available to speed this up, including a rapid charger at public stations which will bring the car to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes.

Being new to this electric business, I decided that the first stop would be the petrol station to make sure I’d got my backup fuel. There is the first surprise – the tank is tiny. Less than £10 of fuel brimmed it. Handing over a tenner – and getting change – is a very good feeling on the forecourt. The i3’s petrol motor will only come to life if you either specifically tell it to, or if you are running very low on electric power – at which point it will cut in and start charging the batteries to keep you moving. Otherwise, you are on electric only.

When in use, the petrol motor isn’t intrusive emitting a low noise hum. You have two fuel gauges – one for petrol, one for electric and there are three different modes to suit your driving style, each extending the range further by turning off non-essential items like climate control.

Being an electric car, you do have to adapt your driving style, but this is something that takes minutes, rather than days to master. When you are not accelerating, the car is braking; there is no coasting function. This means it is quite possible to come to a complete stop – and quite quickly – without touching the brakes at all. Acceleration is a giggle, the power is all there immediately and the i3 takes off very rapidly. Handling is all fine for a car of this size, but despite its low centre of gravity (the batteries are central underneath the car), it did feel rather blowy at motorway speeds.

As a package I think this car is absolutely fantastic. It is different to look at, but not massively so to fall into the ‘weird’ category and it looks a little space-age’y. And charging a car at home has massive appeal. MPG, even when using the petrol extender came in at around 75mpg and running on electric, was the equivalent of 350mpg. Big numbers indeed. With a BIK value of zero, this car really comes into its own as a company car too (the Range Extender model will give you around 200 miles total petrol and electric between fill-ups).

The i3 could be the car that kick starts the electric car revolution into the mainstream. It has that BMW badge on the bonnet and is reasonably priced (starting at £30,680 but then minus a £5,000 government grant). It looks quite funky yet still familiar and it is very easy to drive. It also points to what we can look forward to in the upcoming i8 supercar.

Whilst it seems that you might still require 1.21 Gigawatts to head back to the past, all you actually need to head towards your own future is a 13 amp plug. The future is here, and it’s pretty cool indeed.

The 911 Years: At the point of Depreciation

For some reason, certain cars (or brands of cars) attract a notable dip in value depending on the mileage that they hit.

For Porsches, I think this is 70,000. A car with 65,000 miles might be considered to have strong mileage, but 70,000 would be high miles. Weird huh. Anyhow, I am now but a couple of miles away from that ‘probably difficult to sell’ threshold of 70,000 miles and thought I’d share this landmark point with you all…

Porsche - almost 70,000 miles

Porsche – almost 70,000 miles

And here is a picture of the old girl, still looking great after 9 years and (almost) 70,000 miles…! 🙂

Porsche 997.1 Black Cabriolet

Porsche 997.1 Black Cabriolet

Event: Supercars and Pizza Night, July 2014

31st July was the date set for the monthly Pizza night at the Cadeby Inn near Doncaster. And what a turnout! I arrived just as the UKs first customer Lamborghini Huracan was leaving, and in funky orange looked fantastic!

On arrival to the car park, the amount of people there was really surprising – the place was packed and really bustling. A number of other non-“Supercar Driver” (aka SCD club) cars were also there, including a fabulous Escort RS Cosworth, a classic Rolls Royce and a funky Porsche Boxster in a blue/red combo!

Porsche Sheffield were also there sporting a bright blue Carrera 4S, the latest 991 Turbo S, and a Martini stickered Cayman.

BMW were also showcasing the latest M3 and the futuristic i8 hybrid supercar.

A great evening – albeit expensive drinks (£3.60 for a pint of non-descript cola, made me wince a bit), but the atmosphere, the pub and the cars made it a very worthwhile trip

Here are a few pictures, taken later as a number of cars had left, but shows the quality of the turnout!

The 911 Years: Porsche Festival

A spur of the moment decision for us, it was a lovely day and we decided to head over the the annual Porsche Festival, held this year at Lotherton Hall on 20th July 2014.

It was surprising the number of cars that were on display – rows and rows of Stuttgart’s finest. The event also allowed discuounted entry to the hall, gardens and its bird zoo – a great family day out then! 🙂

There was a 911 (997.1, same model as mine) there in particular which had the modified DRL front side lights. I have to say they do look great on the photos but in ‘real life’ I think they are a little too bling for my tastes. I was considering purchasing a set, but I think I might leave it.

In summary, a really enjoyable day, albeit a relatively short one for us, but I was impressed at the turnout – this being my first attendance at a Porsche Club GB event.