Car: 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera
Owned since: 2008
Previously owned: Porsche 944 S2 Cab
My original Porsche passion was sparked by a Scalextric Porsche when I was about eight. It had wide arches and was covered in the Martini sponsorship livery. I also had the Escort Mexico but could never see myself aspiring to owning a Ford! I found my car at eporsch in Surrey and part ex'd my 944 for it.
What I wish I'd known
The one overwhelming aspect of what to look for when buying an old 911 is the condition of the body, closely followed by the mechanicals and then the service history. Mechanically they are almost bulletproof, but it's the bodywork that suffers on a car this age and can cost large amounts of cash to put right.
I test drove about eight cars ranging from £12,000 to £16,000 and ended up spending £14,500. I spent £250 early on to get a report done on a £12K car and walked away from it when the report came back. This, however, gave me loads of information on stuff to look for on other cars. I use my 3.2 as a daily driver and in nearly four years it has left me stranded four times. Once because the DME relay gave out, the other three because I left the lights on all day!
EVERY time I open the garage door in the morning I feel like a pilot about to board a sleeping fighter jet that's been sitting in the hanger overnight. If I'm sitting on the M4 at 70 I'll put the stereo on but sometimes I'll just listen to the flat-six humming as I watch all the Euro boxes around me fighting for individuality. A special treat for me is to have an A- or B-road as part of my journey to work. Down come the windows, back goes the sunroof and there's no other car on the planet I'd rather be driving.
Things I hate:
Downsides of owning a late-80s 911 are few. My biggest hurdle is having the time to fix things when they wear out. Over time I've fixed a slightly sticking throttle cable, an indicator stalk, a ratting glove box and a noisy blower motor. Other more serious issues have been to get the rear anti-roll bar re-welded and one of the sills needed attention. I recently had a glass-out respray which left the car leaking in heavy rain. However, I have new seals to fit at some point soon.
I suppose the biggest difficulty I have is people who see a Porsche and think 'boy racer' or 'yuppie' (I know, I didn't think they existed any more!). I usually point out they could be driving one for less than the price of the Golf of Mondeo they're sat in. Then there's the folk who just say it's a squashed Beetle. I'm still working on a short reply for that one.
I can squeeeeeze 450 miles out of a tank, which costs about 100 quid these days but happily average 400. That includes some motorway cruising with a few B-road blats thrown in. Parts are generally cheap enough as there are loads of these cars about and some terrific forums (like impactbumpers.com) can show you where to go for them. I recently needed to get some new window strips to replace the ones that had been bent by a rubbish windscreen replacement company in Cardiff. New they're about £50 a side for the front and about the same for the back. RS911 in mid-Wales, however, were £40 quid for the lot secondhand but you'd be hard pushed to say they weren't straight from the packet. Mark, who runs it, couldn't have been more helpful.
My favourite trips so far are when it's a crisp early morning with nothing else on the road, windows down and the tunes of the engine bouncing of the hedgerows as I blat down the B-roads to work.
I thought briefly about a Cayman but decided the practicality and the personality of my car are too much to part with, so I'm not selling it! I've got loads of plans for tuning the engine, getting it corner-balanced and tidying the interior. I'd like to get some brighter bulbs for the headlights and a posh Bluetooth iPod stereo. Upgraded suspension and poly bushes are all on the cards too but, when you think about it, an awful lot of very talented people ate, slept and breathed this design for a very long time so I don't think I'll be fiddling with it too much!