Having registered fairly recently, I'm spending more time than ever on Pistonheads so thought I would chronicle my first car experience by pasting together posts I made on another forum. I should warn you that nothing really happens in any of this text and the photographs aren't very exciting either.
The story starts with a gold metallic Porsche 924 which I have vague recollection of. It lived on a road nearby, with a gaudy blanket thrown over the back seats, adding to a sense of both neglect and adventure. This wasn't my only early influence however, as some close friends had one of those lovely 7 seater Mercedes estates, compared to my Dad's XR4x4 at the time, it was in a different class.
Well, fast forward to December, with my 21st birthday looming and the promise of £1000 for my first car, courtesy of my Mother. I should point out this was very political, I was half way through my final year of University and doing very well, receiving no financial support from my parents for the past two and a half years. Meanwhile my sister was given money which she squandered, before dropping out to work fulltime in McDonalds and live at home again. So as I received the money I felt entrusted to purchase a sensible first car suitable for a student. People often reminisce about their first car, as such I knew it had to be just what I desired.
I spent a few minutes putting my criteria in order of priority and came up with:
Le Mans competetitor
Tape deck for my selection of all Rush mixtapes
Rear wheel drive
At least as old as me.
Whilst the Mercedes 190 was a consideration (ignoring the Le Mans part in lieu of the DTM cars) I had a ride in a W123 which killed it for me. And at the time I was living with annoying hipster house mates who didn't welcome me into their Clio to fight the mainstream. I realised at this point I had no friends/interest in carrying passengers. The Porsche 924 was the obvious choice. (The MX5 being too new and not connected to any early childhood memories)
The first car I went to see was advertised on this very site for £750, titled “PORSCHE FOR FIESTA MONEY” With my optimism ignoring the slogan and capslock, I got the train to some hideous town far away to find it broken down in a car park. Conversation opened with “Do you have breakdown cover mate?” It was apparently working fine before I arrived, but now it was backfiring with such force that I'm surprised it didn't actually fall apart. Nevertheless, at this early stage I humoured the seller and we went for a test drive. The car stopped 3 times before breaking down properly. Not to worry, the seller quickly phoned his bank, hoping some sort of breakdown cover was included. It wasn't. Eventually I was picked up by a friend of his in a van, who was quick to tell me the car was perfect the day before. Missing the train by minutes, I sat on the platform lamenting my first ride in a 924.
A few days later I saw one advertised on carandclassic for £1150. The seller sounded pleasant on the phone, telling me the wing mirrors could do with repainting. With this important matter made clear, I bought single train tickets from Cardiff to Farnborough. We left on the day when it snowed a lot:
Just 1 of 4 London trains was actually running, so I was standing all the way to Swindon. This influenced the standard of car I'd accept.
Finally getting to Farnborough more than 5 hours later we made it to the car. It was for sale due to a baby, something I can vouch for. Upon arrival a relative greeted us, pointed out the only car on the driveway as the car we had come to look at. He didn't know anything about it, besides, the owner was giving birth in the front room! I tried my best to look like I was examining the car thoroughly, finding a few things justifying a haggle. The mirrors were quite tatty, and the dash was cracked to an amusing degree. And the recent respray meant every surface meant to be unpainted was painted. I called £800 out to the relative, who went inside to consult with the owner. Amongst the cries it was suggested that this was too low. We settled for £940 in the end, leaving me £60 for petrol and the bridge toll. As we were signing the paperwork the midwives came out of the front room, chirping “it all happens at once”. I never met the owner.
The previous owner bought the car a year before for £950 and spent £250 on an exhaust, wheel bearings etc. The car came with 12 months MOT and has 4 previous owners, not bad for a 26 year old car.
There were some anxious moments as my Dad pulled out of the driveway and proceeded to get lost before the M4. But then we filled it up and headed for home, as conditions got progressively worse!
Home at last, with my Dad beaming. The day was slightly tarnished by him talking at me about some TR7's he used to own.
There were no dramas on the way home, the same couldn't be said for a Porsche Cayman, which spun out infront of us going down a sliproad.
It was still 3 weeks until my 21st and any chance of insurance. More snow fell in this time, but it still looked pretty from the window.
I'm going to keep pasting in posts now, so apologies for changing tenses, reading it back is weird, as I've had the car 10 months now.
“I stayed up on the eve of my birthday, to see the clock tick over to 00:00 and my insurance commence! In an attempt to remember how to drive, I went out for an hour at midnight with my Dad, which was perfectly uneventful. On my first day I then practised some frequent routes, including the 40 mile round trip to my University campus before driving alone in the evening to my student house. Managing the motorway, driving alone and driving in the dark on my first day was a vital confidence boost! Since then, I've taken it very easy, and a week on, I'm drinking less camomile tea before driving. The lure of 80's Rush has been irresistible, having given 3 lifts so far! I've been careful to put my cassettes in the glove box too, for fear of attracting thieves.
As for the car, it has been fantastic! I'm glad I went straight into it, and as such am not spoilt by power steering, a practical driving position or a clutch that's not weightier than a small child. The car still starts first time and everything that was working is still working. I was hoping to break into the 30's mpg wise, but I guess the town driving is to blame. And sometimes I enjoy 3rd gear at more than 30mph. Of course, a part time job beckons, since the typical student loan doesn't account for Porsche ownership, however, with summer ever closer, it will only get better! I'm intending to take some more technical photos and perhaps even a video when it's not raining, just to further wind up my friends. Here's one from last week, as you can see, the decals are on and it's in need of a clean. I enrolled my sister to help with the decals, even letting her peel off the backing paper once, to keep morale up! It was surprisingly easy and whilst they're not to all tastes, I think they break up the white paintwork well.”
Heavily influenced by Retro Rides, I laid out future plans:
Get some different wheels
Acquire attractive female passenger, possibly hide cassette selection first
I wrote this update instead of working on my dissertation. In the end I opted to ignore my dissertation until 2 weeks before the deadline, with a week for reading and another for writing. I got the highest grade of all my house mates and gloated to the point that they wanted to remove my eyes with a spoon.
“I think I've got used to the car at last and I'm now driving relatively smoothly, equally it may be the Porsche clutch limp that I've developed, with my left thigh being that of a horse. Even my environmentally conscious house mates are warming to the car, with one of them keen point out curious glances and cute dogs. However, as I was giving someone a lift back, “Das Porsche”, as I've Christened her, didn't want to start. I'm guessing it was because she was wet. A quick push and we were on our way without any more moments. By taking the dissertation approach, and utterly ignoring the issue, it seems to have gone away.
Another discovery was made today, whilst driving a house mate to the beach for their project. Remaining diplomatically silent perusing the cassettes at my disposal, they noticed Buddy Holly lurking in the glove-box. After explaining that this particular tape was not a part of my collection, but accidentally included in the sale of the car, it was clumsily pushed into my tape player. Then the speaker balance was tweaked to allow only sound from the right, before copious amounts of volume were then applied. Moments later, with all the houses on the right alerted to Buddy Holly, the two dials were mastered and it was declared that this tape suited the car. Personally, I think such a bold statement will come into dispute when I find an illusive Asia album in a charity shop/skip.
I'm also waiting for a 944 spoiler to arrive in the post. Not only will this bolt on, as I remove the 26 year old screws with ease, it will act as a soft, slightly flexible reminder that the rear hatch doesn't stay open. This way, I won't remove the wiper motor cover with my unsuspecting skull.”
Here's a photo of the car looking good from a slight distance after I washed it:
The early days of my cassette collection:
I should mention that the Eagles was 49p and therefore a compulsory purchase. A girl bought me the Depeche Mode tape instead of petrol. Needless to say, I've not given her a lift since.
“I've churned a remarkable amount of dissertation today, probably about as fast as throwing alphabetti spaghetti onto A4, only slightly more coherent! So, clearly in the writing zone, here's a long overdue update!
Since my 944 spoiler turned up, at a mere £10 posted, some more experienced "car people" helped me out. The old spoiler came off quite easily, with “only” a few screws needing to be drilled out. Since we were there, the recently defunct rear wiper was removed too, the result is a much cleaner looking back end. And, without the burden of the wiper motor, the rear hatch struts can almost lift the hatch!
Ironically, I forgot my camera! So here's a few borrowed mobile snaps of the action.
Another rookie mistake of mine was to bring this rocky road cake* as sustenance. Not ideal with no plates, cutlery or napkins for the aftermath!
- brown sludge with littered with marshmallows”
My Grandmother gave me £50 for breakdown cover, which I decided against, grabbing these bargainous Zender Sport wheels for £65:
Being a piece of 80's German tat, they match the 924 perfectly!
And another photo of my car against a small modern hatchback:
“With the spring weather arriving, I've had the sunroof out too. It's a bit temperamental, to the extent that I can't remember the sequence of events to actually get it to release, so end up pressing buttons and turning keys for about 10 minutes. It's fantastic fun though, as if the car wasn't unrefined enough, with a hole in the roof at 60mph it's somewhat optimistic to hold a conversation. Mild weather also means no more in-car jacket, which in turn allows for the questionable OMP Vintage style driving gloves I bought last year. Personally, I find them a crucial part of the overall aesthetic, even if comparisons to Alan Partridge are made.”
“I purchased a Europe cassette for a mere 15p. Upon receiving it my first reaction was: “What? They did other songs apart from the Final Countdown”, shortly followed by the realisation that they are all rubbish. Several months on I have to say Rumours is the most played tape. I'm not sure if that's boring, but one can hardly appreciate the musical intricacies of Rush with the sunroof panel out. And I'm alone in admitting to liking Rush publicly.
A friend also helped give the car a service recently too. All the filters, plugs & oil came to £42, not too bad for an old Porsche I thought! It was great to be shown what to do by someone more familiar with it all, and now I'm confident I can change more than the air filter! That said, I have fixed two problems myself. The radiator fan kept staying on, which in turn flattened the battery. I wielded my adjustable spanner, clumsily knocked the pop-up light assembly a few times and then changed the thermo switch for a mere £2.27 Another day, at the petrol station, the handbrake decided to come apart, by which I mean pop into small, unfixable pieces, each of which scattered into awkward places. Fortunately, the remainder was held on by two bolts and I swapped it for one from a breakers yard costing £10. Running costs are now totally taken care of (In hindsight: HAHAHAHAHA) as I'm working as a dish washer one day a week.
I photographed a 924 Turbo lately, which has been upgraded for fast road & track use, with a new paint job too. It was a real inspiration for me, I wouldn't say I detailed my car afterwards, but I did spend a bit of time cleaning it! It also encouraged me to drive my car more enthusiastically than before. Relatively speaking in my short driving career, that means going over 4k rpm.
Today we had a bit of a moment, leaving sunny Newport to return home with the roof panel out. Just as we were exiting the M4 it began to rain, so we stopped at a bus stop, opened the rear hatch and then put the roof back in like a veteran 924/44/68 owner.
I've bought the upper half of a drivers seat from eBay for £6 this week, and once that is bolted on, I'll have an interior free from rips, only slightly faded. Lastly, and this will sound incredibly perverse, although one passenger agrees, being in the car with shorts/skirt on with one leg leaning on the warm, carpeted transmission tunnel is strangely comforting. Needless to say, I'm totally smitten by the car and hope to keep it for ages!
Here's a snap of my clean interior, removing the mats to find the 26 year old carpet in that condition was a surprise!
And here's my little old car on the cover of the 924 Owners Club magazine, a publication so niche, it could be on Have I Got News For You, so the general public and 911 owners can despair at it's very existence!”
“I've had a very productive day, getting up early to drive to Weston-super-mare where I bought a 924 Turbo bonnet, with NACA duct for extra cool points.
Fitting it wasn't too difficult, and the colour isn't way off either.
And then I fitted my replacement seat back, getting rid of the tatty one which was in there.
I'll add that pop-up lights are not necessarily the key to girls hearts, amongst other things. Recently I passed by my car on the way to a girls house, keenly pointing out the NACA duct. Later, I assessed the situation, choosing to make a cup of tea before going back home.
“I travelled over to Coventry too for the 924 National meet up, which was a great chance to meet some more 924 owners happy to share their wisdom. And I left still feeling proud about my cars condition. It was pointed out at the show that I have a small fuel leak, which gradually worsened. Awaking to a puddle of fuel earlier this week, I investigated. The fuel line clip was just a little loose and all is cured! I'll look into replacing it at some point, since it's only £8 for a new fuel line. This doubles as a gracious photo of my rear tyres which are exciting when wet.”
I've been on the lookout for Zender stuff and someone from the 924 club kindly offered their Zender spoiler for free. It needs a little touch-up and I'm planning on spraying it satin black, to go with the Zender wheel centres. I'm happy to enjoy the car standard at the moment, on the other hand, it's great planning all the upcoming tweaks next year. Some Hella spotlights will finish off my homage to 80's naff nicely!
Here it is offered up to a lowered 924 Turbo:
“I moved out of my student house and to my surprise, fitted everything in the car. I placed my hi-fi in carefully, crammed some rotten kitchen stuff in the footwell and threw my modest wardrobe in the back. Then my bike. I've carried it a few times in the car, but it doesn't usually have the company of other rubbish. I drove off into the sunset, my life surrounding me and a brief existential crisis. Having returned home I've opted for the tried & tested immediate argument with family so they leave me alone strategy.”
It's at this point that things start to go awry.
“Later, I was preparing to join the M4 from the A48, progressing up the sweeping slip road, listening to Rush Exit Stage Left. A suitable album, as at this moment the left rear brake pretty much did the same. The armco loomed large, my tan coloured shorts a darker shade. I didn't crash in the end. The rear wheel literally had 5cm of play in it.
I thought it was a bearing at first, but the garage told me otherwise. It's the first time my car has gone a bit wrong and I'm now £216 lighter. However, I am now "sporting" Brembo drums with new shoes etc. The car feels a lot tighter and the brakes work better of course. My handbrake is almost digital, whereas it used to be like the lever on Get Your Own Back.
It's a bit frustrating spending money on drum brakes, but the car has been good to me so far and is now sorted. And the few days without it were maddening!"
Which brings me upto date with everything I've posted on Retro Rides.
Last month I went to the Retro Rides Gathering, which was great fun, with lots of great people. And it was at Prescott Hillclimb, so £20 later I was booked in for a morning session! My first run was more of a cautious cruise, but I got ever more ambitious throughout the day. I regained some sense of mechanical sympathy though and spent the afternoon looking around at all the other interesting cars.
Going up the hill made me appreciate small, light, well balanced cars such as mine and has inspired me to take my modifying aspirations in a sprint direction.
A few days after Prescott, I kept breaking down. At first I thought it was a dodgy electric window. Further investigation showed a previous owner had cut the electric mirrors off, leaving the bare wires splaying inside the metal door. The wiring for the electric windows was routed over the glass, so each time the window moved it spliced into them. This wasn't all sadly. The wiring from the alternator runs by the exhaust manifold and it was this wiring which had both corroded and melted, in turn killing the alternator and dash lights. It was a bit beyond me to change, especially with on road parking, so off it went to the garage. The car now owes me around £1600 in total after about 10 months, but touchwood, it's mechanically very good. I got round to repainting the mirrors too. After the primer, I applied too much paint so it ran. I started again, only for it to then start raining. Eventually, as the final coat of lacquer was drying, the cat sat on them. Having wasted so much paint and time, I ended up lacquering them with my own tears.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment was my favourite waitress from work declining a lift at night, in the pouring rain, saying they were almost home. She'd gone so far as to add me on Facebook. I might want something with a bit more power, like the Turbo, which costs the same to insure even with an extra 60bhp. However, as my car occasionally goes wrong and gets fixed, I'll be left with a very well sorted example, and if I was to change it, I'd only go and buy a 928, which would open up a world of pain. With my insurance cost this year I've learnt a lot about balancing funds between life and cars, so I'll continue to enjoy my 924 for a year or two yet. Sure, there's a few others out there, but this one is mine, and I love it!