Not all that long ago I had eight cars. Eight! The decadence. Whenever anybody asked me why, I never really understood the question. They’re cars. Why wouldn’t I have as many as I can handle?
Well, those days are gone. Now I’m down to a measly four. First of all the Peugeot 306 GTi-6 lost its reliable custodian Lars, and with the best will in the world I am not cut out to deal with 1990s French electrics. When the headlights started flashing like indicators whenever I locked the car, I decided it was time to give it away. It was a great car, when it worked. But it had to go before I drove it off a cliff in frustration. Well, *pushed* it off a cliff. Wouldn’t like to rely on it starting.
Then the Evo. We’ve talked about that car on here already, and three engine blow-ups is enough for anybody. That was an *awesome* car. You could drive like an utter tit in that car and still not die. Which is more than can be said for the car. So that one had to go too. When I sold the remains I crunched the numbers and found that while I’d had it (2001 to 2013) it had cost me a net £77,778.82. Holy fucking shitballs. I’d be minted if I wasn’t into cars
Next to go was the Capri. Ah, the Capri. I did so enjoy toodling around in that, enjoying the fart of the V6 and the universal friendliness it engendered. But clearly not as much as I thought, because I was only doing a couple of hundred miles a year in it according to the MOT certificates, and that’s just not good enough. So I decided to let somebody else enjoy it before it rotted away. Pleasingly it’s worth three times more now than when I bought it, so this became the first car ever that I’ve sold for “a profit”. Well, not really, because of all the running costs, but after doing the sums and carrying all the necessary digits it appears it cost me about a grand all told, over 14 years of ownership. Remarkable really.
And then we come to the Porsche 996 Turbo. Ah, the Porsche. I was so rosy-eyed when I bought it, thinking it would be an appreciating asset that I could use for everything – shopping, social events, track days – and would keep until it was worth enough that I could retire on its value.
Ha! How naive I was. The reality was very different.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first few months of tickling around in the car, breaking it in on my 40th birthday track day and gradually exploring what the car could do, wrinkles started to show. Firstly I was stunned by the frankly simian design of the bonnet release, that needed power in order to access a flat battery (!!!!), then I took it to the Ring whereupon it expired. To cut a long story short, Porsche Koblenz lied about doing a compression test that they hadn’t done and tried to extort more than €30,000 from me as a result. When I took it to my UK guys (Lakeside Engineering – great guys), they took the engine apart on the basis of the compression test and found that it was just a spark plug that had failed. So, still intending to keep the car for a few years at that point, I had all the things done that you do when the engine’s on the workbench, so I ended up paying £17,000. Ouch.
So, you can imagine I was not best enamoured with the teutonic titface at that point, having borrowed money to buy it and then much, much more to fix it. I started using it properly on track days, determined to learn how to drive the thing and stop it feeling like a jet-powered dustcart. I didn’t enjoy Silverstone, during which I described it as a “sack of crap” due to its point-and-squirt handling characteristics. It’s *fast* … very fast … it just felt like a Cobra through the corners off the gas and an Audi RS4 on the gas. By which I mean no fun at all. And the fucking brakes were overheating after two pissing laps and it was underboosting. This is a Porsche, for fuck’s sake! It’s *supposed* to be used on a track!
I did take it to a couple of other track days … I hated it at Spa and was relieved when the brake warning light came on so I could send it home with Mike and use the Teg for the rest of the track time. Then came Donington, where *finally* I started to gel with it – getting the hang of using the weight to get the car turned in, which in turn lets you get on the power before the apex … it was all starting to come together…
… and then the front brake pad sheared when I hit the pedal at 130mph and the pedal went to the floor.
I shit you not, I had genuinely picked the spot on the wall that I thought I was going to crash into.
Fortunately it was only the right-hand pad that had sheared, and I wasn’t braking particularly late, so it was undramatic in the end and I still made the chicane … though any swell of fondness I’d built up for the car that day had ploughed straight on head-first into the barrier, never to be seen again.
From that moment it was just a formality, I knew the car had to go. It’s quite simply not fit for purpose. It’s a road car, it’s hopeless round a track and it costs far more to run than any road car ever should. My Porsche fling is over.
When the nice man Ashley Nickells from Millennium Heroes dropped me off at the station and drove away in the car for the last time, I did as anybody would and stole a final glance at the car as it growled away.
Did I feel a pang of sadness as it parped out of the station? Did I feel the urge to run after it and say, “Stop! I’ve changed my mind!”…?
No. What I thought was, “Bugger. I left the GB sticker on the back.”
Says it all really.