Car: Porsche 911 (964) Carrera 4
Owned since: 2011
1972 MGB Roadster, 1979 MGB V8 Roadster (owned for 15 years, it's been tuned and it's a bit of a handful), 2000 Subaru Legacy GT-B. Motorbikes: 1988 Cagiva Elefant 125 (still), Honda VFR750 (still), 2009 Honda Fireblade, 2x Vespa GTS 300s (one stolen, one not so far).
Why I bought it:
"My uncle gave me a little die-cast, green 911 when I was about six years old, and that had me hooked. Back in 2011 I was running a great Subaru Legacy GT-B, which I'd bought for £1,700 and sold two years and 20,000 miles later for a £50 profit - just don't ask about the running costs. I still had that 911 itch to scratch though. I'd been trying to buy a flat and the seller gazumped me, so I ended up with some savings burning a hole in my bank account. My favourite 911 generation had always been the 964, which was deeply unfashionable and cheap at the time - I just liked the way it was still an original small-bodied 911 harking back to the 1960s, but was relatively modern underneath. And it had a pop-up spoiler. Who doesn't love pop-up spoilers?
"Given a choice I'd have loved a black one (after watching Bad Boys as a kid), and preferably a C4 as I do a bit of speed ski racing and I had dreams of driving it out to the Alps with skis on the roof a bit like the Bond Esprit. That's not going to happen now after a 110mph crash at the world champs in March and a broken neck! I'd been vaguely looking around and one day I came across a black 1990 964 C4 on eBay listed for £8,500 and it seemed too good to be true. It had a load of warning lights, a broken stereo, wheels from a Boxster and some other issues, but none were too serious. They must have scared off the other buyers because when bidding closed I got it for the £8,500 reserve. Admittedly I then had to plough a few grand in to fix the niggles, but I think I was pretty lucky.
"I completely agree with the purists that there's no doubt the two-wheel drive C2 is lighter and a better drive, but these were designed back in the 1980s before the days of stability control, so if you overcook it in a C2 you need a lot of skill and a dash of luck to avoid underwear changes. For me I can use more of the C4's performance more of the time (particularly on cow muck covered Suffolk lanes) without having to pick the roads with soft-looking ditches."
"I keep the car on the street in London, and one day I came down to find some little b*****ds had nicked the headlights, foglights and taillights overnight. For some reason Porsche decided to put the screws on the outside and apparently it used to be a pretty common theft. A full set of lights is about £2,000, so it must be a nice little money-maker for Stuttgart. I added security screws, though the same thing happened a year later and this time they managed to prize off the brake lights too. Now I've just drilled all the heads off the screws and put up a security camera and so far it's been fine. I just hope I don't get a blown bulb in the near future..."
Things I love:
"It's got a G-pipe which makes a great sound, though pushed it pretty close to the 102db limit at a track day - special dispensation for being rear-engined was needed to get me through. Despite some upgrades the performance is quick rather than rabid, but it will keep up well enough. It drives like a modern car with a bit more heft; it's relatively small compared to current 911s and always starts first time. 27 years on it still feels tough as old boots, the doors close with a reassuring clunk and it feels like it should last forever. It's even vaguely practical with four seats, a boot and sort of comfortable enough for long journeys. Living outside, it's a bit scruffy and has a patina - but classic cars should be driven, not kept hidden away."
"Apart from the nickable headlights, it's a porky old beast at just under 1,500kg so she's not as agile as she could be. I've upgraded the front brakes and added braided hoses as they're a known weak point too. Also Porsche parts are (unsurprisingly) expensive, and she's got to that age where some of the 27 year-old original components are giving up the ghost. The driving position is a bit offset on RHD cars with the pedals in the centre of the car which can give a dull ache after a long journey. The air-con has also never worked, so I might just chuck it. I've been rear-ended twice in traffic (both times by black Range Rover Sports), though I can't blame that on the car. And in terms of 'first-world problems', air-cooled 911 prices have gone a bit nuts recently so there may come a point when I have to question how sensible it is to keep it on the street."
"Ah yes... 964s do need top-end rebuilds once in a while (about every 80,000-100,000 miles). I made sure it had been done in the past before I bought it, but when I took it to our friendly family mechanic in Suffolk - the excellent Dom at DLF Classic Cars - and mentioned some smoke on start-up it all went a bit downhill. He found several head studs had sheared, all the tinware was rusted away and it needed a full top-end rebuild. Dom and his team did a brilliant job, but it cost a fair bit. A complete set of head studs, piston rings and tinware was heading to £5,000 in parts alone, and it had an unusual clutch (north of £1,000) which it made sense to change at the same time. Dom also fixed some rusty patches on the bodywork which were in need of doing. In the end including the 125 hours labour it took it ended up costing about one and a half times what I bought the car for. Runs like a peach now though, and should be good for another 80,000 miles on top of the 150,000 it's done already.
"In terms of typical running costs I budget about a grand a year to keep her going, but depreciation isn't a worry. Fuel economy is around 25mpg, whether I drive it like a vicar or a villain."
"I've not made any special pilgrimages in it, but I did do a track day with my 66 year-old mum. Back in 2006 she wanted to do a skydive for her 60th birthday, but a double hip replacement ruled that out. So instead I sent her on a track day with her S2000. She loved that, so a few years later we did a track day together in the Porsche. It kept up with its modern siblings, though the transmission does tend to overheat a bit after sustained use and I managed to melt a tyre. A great craic, and one of the more unusual forms of spending a day out with your pensioner parent.
"I plan to head to the Nurburgring at some point, or perhaps a trip round northern Scotland, but it's just my daily driver at the moment for trips to B&Q, the tip and so on."
"It's a bit scruffy so it could do with a respray but mechanically it's now pretty strong. Dom reckons I need a few grand set aside to properly sort the bodywork at some point. With prices skyrocketing, the reality is if I sold it I might not ever be able to buy it back, so it's a keeper for now. That respray will happen at some point, I've just bought some proper Cup alloys and aero mirrors would be nice as well. The front suspension is also set a bit high, so perhaps a fast road set up would be good in future, but while I'm running about London its ability to happily straddle speed humps can't be overlooked. And now the engine's rebuilt I'm tempted by the bolt-on supercharger which adds 100-150hp and 50 per cent more torque. It would be nice to get 964 Turbo performance in a more subtle (and a lot cheaper) package. Lots to think about!
"In terms of another car, I've also been looking out for an RS2 for a while, but they've soared in price recently. Maybe a B7/8 Audi RS4 or 997 Turbo when they come down a bit more, but the ultimate dream one day is a Ruf Yellowbird."
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