Name: James Bartholomew
Car: 2006 987 Porsche Cayman S
Owned since: February 2020
Previously owned: RX8 PZ, Noble M12, Multiple MkII GTIs, Maserati 4200 CC, Maserati GT, Ultima GTR, Trusty VW T5 Bike wagon
Why I bought it:
"Good question. Being 100 per cent truthful, aside from price - I'm not entirely sure. I have never been particularly interested in Porsches, and I cannot quite put my finger on why. However, having had our little Mk2 GTI head off to storage, I had that all-too-familiar itch to procure something in its absence. Whilst sipping a morning coffee, Facebook Marketplace threw up quite possibly the worst advert I had ever seen. One blurry solitary side profile pic, a listed price of £10k and a description that simply said 'Porsche Cayman'. A pessimistic message to the seller confirmed that this was indeed a 2006 'S', but little more. A further brief phone call with him also revealed that he had no service history for the vehicle and couldn't tell me much about it. Alarm bells were soundly ringing. Naturally, I suppressed the bells of logic and common sense with a large pillow and took a three-hour round trip that evening for a viewing... Fast forward to 12 hours later and we're driving her home having agreed on a very, very, low price. I can still taste the bitterness of the brave pill now.
"So why?! Well, despite declaring not to be a huge fan of the familiar Porsche aesthetics, I have to confess to loving the sound of a Porsche on full chat. The flat- six sound is a joy. I had intentions of viewing, purchase and perhaps to move on after some light restoration - but the test drive revealed that I had seriously been missing some mid-engined fun. The mechanical grip, torque, poise, sound and presence had me hooked. And that, most likely, is why I bought it.
What I wish I'd known:
"I knew all about the ever-present risks of bore scoring, noisy hydraulic lifters and erroneous temp gauges, but it certainly puts you a little on edge to say the least. A light puff of smoke on start-up was enough to have me convinced it was about to grenade. In truth though, yes - the motors are susceptible to those woes, but my 'take' is that there are enough still running that you may as well enjoy your time with the car, regardless of longevity, and thrive on the fun of keeping an eye on such maintenance and mechanical quirks."
Things I love:
"Considering my short time of ownership, it's a moderate list founded upon some fledgling drives, spannering and general running. The exhaust note is lovely. Yes, this may be a baby 911 to some, but with the addition of a Topgear exhaust and cat delete, it's opened up the bellows a little and makes a great sound either bimbling or wide open. New headers would even emulate (to a degree) that sought after GT3 sound. However, this is no GT3, and I must remind myself of that.
"Secondly, the handling - of all the fast cars I've owned and driven, this may just be the best handling number of them all. I've replaced most of the front-end suspension components during the 'Covid months', which has really refreshed the pinpoint handling. I'm looking forward to exploring more of her capabilities when safe to do so (on track).
"Hasn't it aged well? I'm finding myself warming more and more each day to the looks. For a 2006 car, there are only minor items that let it down, primarily the interior dials and console, but externally the 987 still turns heads. I've lowered the car subtly on Eibach springs, widened the track profile 10mm on each corner and added some other subtle aesthetic touches for personal preference.
"Finally, and this may be my favourite aspect, I've loved working on the car. Yes, the engine bay is cramped, but everything so far has enabled me to learn, adapt and resolve. I feel that this era of vehicle produced some of the last to enable the home tinkerer, seasoned pro or the have a go hero to work with some confidence that they would not require a plethora of dash lights to be cleared. I may be biased and genuinely incorrect there, but I've massively enjoyed all aspects of working on the Cayman (though ask me again in a month!)."
Things I hate:
"The small niggly little voice of common sense at the back of my mind constantly reminding me that a Cayman could be very, very expensive, should it need major heart work. I tend to drown that irritating noise out with the exhaust note.
"Also, the spoiler. It's silly. When up, it looks lost, but when down - I feel it needs a little boot spoiler. Personal preference, but it makes me laugh every time I put it up for cleaning. Finally, and this is more humorous than a 'hate', but people asking me if it's a 911, or a Boxster, or finally - upon revealing it's a Cayman - said person telling me a story about how their Mum had a Cayenne too. D'oh...
"Not too bad. £480 a year to insure (34 years old, zero NCB as that's in use on other toys, driveway parked, rural village, fully comp) and £28.34 pm tax. I went through AIB who were advertising on PH and they welcomed modifications etc.
"Running costs are manageable. I work from home so ultimately I'm never massively interested in mpg, but the dash enjoys telling me that I see an average of 22mpg when out for a jaunt. Accurate? Likely not. Oil is the killer; the flat-six likes a drop or two due to the mileage (see concerns about it going pop). I'm keeping an eye on her and topping up when necessary, but its usage is similar to my old RX8 PZ - make of that what you will!
"Parts: now this is where I have been genuinely surprised. I refreshed the front-end suspension (bar dampers) for £680, which I thought was reasonable. Although not OEM, the parts had favourable reviews and so I took that route. However, OEM parts are surprisingly cheap for the most part. GT3 braking ducts set me back a mere £32 delivered, for example. There's a huge variety of OEM distributers and aftermarket companies too, which is a bonus. The exhaust was £600 delivered, springs and spacers another £280 and, fitted, the total came to £1460. As the car stands now, it's set me back £11,054. That's suspension done, the aesthetic modifications, wheels refurbed, tyres all round, map, oil & filter changed, brake bleed and Motul RBF600 replacement, short shift kit, exhaust, springs etc. Could I have bought another Cayman for less? Yes. Would it be what I wanted? No.
"I'll touch upon the engine as a negative; should the engine need a bank of lifters replacing, that's £4k gone. Bore score deemed terminal? Goodbye £10,000-£12,000. If, and that's a big if, the cheaper £10k option was required, that would be £2,250 more than what I paid for the entire car..."
Where I've been:
"Bloody Covid coming along and ruining all our fun. I've only done about 1,000 miles in the Cayman since purchase, so sadly the most exciting adventure has been our local Haynes Breakfast meet. However, we have Bruges planned (whenever that may be), the Nordschleife and some track days to stretch some legs. I've met a new friend in Nick Portlock, who's handy in a Caterham, Cayman GT4 or just about anything, so he's kindly offered to advise me on my next track adventure."
"Track time; I'm itching to give it hell somewhere. Aside from that, likely some touring miles as mentioned above. Is the Cayman a keeper? I'm unsure at present. Right now wouldn't be the time to sell, for obvious reasons, but for me I feel the car has awakened a newfound respect for the Porsche brand and I'd love to get behind the wheel of some of their other offerings. GT4? I'd love one. The alignment is due next, and then I'll be replacing the air oil separator and starter motor. After that, I'm convincing myself to leave it be for a bit and just enjoy getting out and about when safe to do so. I'll be documenting my first track outing though, absolutely, however that may go. Thanks for reading!"
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