Realising the Cayman would miss out on the automatic six-month MOT extension by just one day - its current ticket expired on March 29th - had me calling around the local test centres to find almost all fully booked, presumably by people in the same situation. I managed to get a cancelled slot at a garage that was already doing full isolation, meaning I left the keys in the ignition and waited outside rather than enjoying the ambience of a waiting room filled with six year old motorbike magazines. The Cayman passed, but with an advisory that the rear tyres have minimal tread - and with some graunching noises from the front brakes on the way home reminding me that they were close to the end as well.
I couldn't do much about the tyres by myself, although I have already made arrangements for fresh rubber once lockdown ends. But the brakes were another matter. Knowing they were on the way out I'd already started to think about replacing them, and had got a scary-looking £900 quote from a specialist for front discs and pads. While I was sure a bit of ringing around would have allowed me to do better than that, here was an opportunity to make a much more significant saving by doing it myself.
Like many people I used to do a fair amount of work on my own cars - always out of poverty rather than choice - but it's been years since I wielded a spanner in anger. Yet with a reasonable stock of tools and an obvious requirement for work, there didn't seem to be an excuse not to. A set of Brembo discs and pads plus a fitting kit from design911.com was £288.68 all-in, and arrived two days later.
One thing I well remember from the far-off days when I used to regularly sport a mechanic's suntan is that most time is always spent on solving unforeseen problems, so I tried to minimise those. Having previously suffered from the seizure of the total seizure of the screws that secure discs to hubs I'd dug out an old impact driver, and felt suitably smug when this defeated the rusty screws in short order. The rest would be a doddle, right?
Ha! Porsche's Brembo calipers feature a pin which locates the pads and secures a spring-clip that stops them from wandering. On the Cayman, these put up an extraordinary fight. On the YouTube how-to videos I'd consulted the smiling hosts knocked them out with a couple of delicate taps with a punch and hammer. Between them mine took the best part of an hour of sweat and swearing. By the time they were both out I'd bent one punch and snapped another, although the state of the pads suggested they'd been in there for some time.
Once that battle was won, the rest was easy. The Brembo four-pot calipers are much better designed than the horrible sliding single-pots I remember from my youth, and the pads aren't handed, making it impossible to misfit them. Everything slid together with commendable precision, and it was just like the line they used to love in Haynes manuals: reassembly really was the reverse of removal. I even got to use my torque wrench for the first time in nearly 20 years to make sure everything was appropriately tight. By the time the car was back on its wheels I had the sense of satisfaction of a job ticked off the list as well as a good crop of aches and pains.
I'd saved a bit of money, too - although probably not at main dealer service rates. An experienced tech could probably have done the whole thing in an hour, it took me nearly four. Having bedded the pads and discs in on a shopping trip - delivering the eggs pre-scrambled when I returned home - the next question is whether or not to SORN the Cayman 'for the duration.'
Car: 2009 Porsche Cayman S
Run by: Mike Duff
Bought: September 2019
Mileage at purchase: 63,500
Mileage now: 71,873
Last month at a glance: Breaking in new brakes
Mike's Cayman S joins the fleet
To warranty or not to warranty