Let’s talk about mission creep. Not the military use of the term, when a brief hearts-and-minds mission ends up as an unwinnable desert conflict with a ten-figure pricetag. Rather the shonky masculine maths that ends up with the purchase of a sportscar for nearly twice what you originally planned to spend.
The tale of my Cayman S is one of those car-buying stories that, as a great man once put it, escalated quickly. It began innocuously early last year with the realisation that early versions of the roofed Boxster had dropped well into four figures, this being a car I had been threatening to buy for years.
Goaded on by some mates who wanted the unusual sight of me spending money I was soon haunting the classifieds to an obsessive extent. For a couple of months I could pretty much list every sub-£12K Cayman on sale anywhere in the UK and was saying things like “is that the grey tiptronic in Bury or the blue manual with a rear wiper in Somerset?” Before long I was even starting to bore myself.
I went to look at a couple, only to realise that the really cheap ones were unlikely to be long-term bargains. One early 2.7 that looked promising on AT turned out to have averaged an owner a year, at least one of who seemed to have cleaned it exclusively with Brillo pads. Another had left a pool of oil where it had been sat on a dealer's lot for some time. Then there were the oft-reported risks of IMS bearing failure and bore scoring on the earlier 2.7 engines.
But by being picky I was also quickly Venn diagramming myself out of choices. I wanted a manual gearbox, a decent colour, evidence that the car had been looked after and – after driving both 2.7 and 2.9s – I admitted that I really needed the brawnier S. It was soon obvious that sub-£10K wasn’t going to work and – having sold an elderly Audi A6 – top budget crept up to £15K. I would be able to get a nice, early S for that. I just needed to wait for the right one to turn up.
The increase in funds also led to an increase in dithering, and an outbreak of what many PHers will recognise as ‘I could have one of those-itis’. Superficially attractive 996-gen 911s were now in budget, and I thought long and hard about a V8 powered E90 M3 similar to the one that James Drake has added to the fleet. But barring rear seats I realised I preferred the Cayman to the 996, and the BMW fantasy ended with an insurance quote for getting on for twice as much as a Cayman S.
Then one day I found myself looking at a car being offered by Porsche specialist Ashgood Sportscars and making the fatal mistake of clicking the stocklist. Suddenly I was looking at my perfect Cayman – a facelifted 987.2 S with the 19-inch Carrera Alloys, BOSE speakers, xenons and the promise of a recent main dealer service. There was just the small matter of it being six grand more than my top budget…
A deal was done (clearly) on the basis that me and the family can always live on beans for a while. I picked the car up in September and – for the first couple of weeks – was as goofy as a love-struck teenager. The 981 and 718 Caymen might be faster and grippier and plusher, but neither is better to drive than the 987 and its combination of naturally aspirated flat-six zing and what is probably by favourite hydraulically assisted steering of all time. It’s one of those cars that feels properly special even when travelling at everyday speeds and doing everyday things.
The romance wasn't uninterrupted. After less than a month of ownership I fired it up for a work trip to the airport to find the engine management light stayed on and the engine’s normal purr had been replaced by a smoker’s rattle that suggested several of the cylinders hadn’t reported for duty. All those stories of hugely expensive engine faults came back and back off to Ashgood it went.
On the plus side, I got a 997 to tool around in for a few days while the S was given the once over. It returned with a new high pressure fuel pump fitted under warranty. Other owners of middle-aged Porsches have already warned me that occasional intense wallet pain is a near-guaranteed part of the experience. I know that, but I'm still enjoying it.
Car: 2009 Porsche Cayman S
Run by: Mike Duff
Bought: September 2019
Mileage at purchase: 63,500
Mileage now: 66,200
Last month at a glance: Love, fuel pump crisis, love