There’s a dilemma facing the owner of any middle-aged Porsche in reasonable nick: whether to take it to an OPC dealership and get it to the standards required to pass the 111-point check that unlocks access to the official extended warranty.
It’s not hard to see the appeal of this. It’s available on cars up to 14 years of age, and which have covered up to 125,000 miles and gives some proper reassurance in the event of the roulette wheel stopping on “Bork”. But it also comes at a substantial cost, one proven by a flick through my Cayman S’s service history. A two-year extension in 2017 was £1,190, on top of a service bill of just over two grand. While that total included rear discs and pads as well as a 20,000-miler, at least some of it seems to have been down to the need to prove the near-total originality demanded to pass the official test, including a very expensive new Porsche battery to replace what doesn’t seem to have been a very old non-Porsche one.
With the Cayman S due for another service, the big question was whether I would go down the same route. I seriously considered doing so, as well as peace of mind in the event of something going spectacularly wrong, the official warranty is a nice thing to have in the history file and is transferable if the car is sold privately. Less attractive was the substantial cost of doing so, especially with my 190E 2.5-16’s engine now undergoing extensive and what is sure to be very expensive surgery.
But with no plans to sell the Cayman any time soon, a stronger factor against staying official was just how developed the ecosystem of Porsche specialists has become. One of the best-known and best-respected, Autofarm, is just 40 minutes from where I live, and their quote for a 20,000 mile service was less than half that of the car’s last one at an OPC.
I’d previously visited Autofarm’s old workshop – PH borrowed a 944 Turbo from them in 2016 – but they have recently moved to a far bigger unit south of Bicester. Business consists of both servicing and bigger projects, many of which involve earlier air cooled cars. After hellos with managing director Mikey Wastie and project manager Anthony Wilds I find there’s an immaculate right-hook 2.7 Carrera RS lightweight on the ramp next to the one the Cayman is on; it’s just in for an inspection, apparently – but still a reassuring indication of the expertise on offer. Based on recent auction values, my car is worth about as much as the front six inches of the 911.
Technician Paul Ridgeley is doing the service and has a good bedside manner. It’s always a mild shock to be reminded how much less shiny the underside of any older car looks than the top; my Cayman scrubs up well, but underneath there is plenty of rust and grot. Ridgeley’s appraising eye reassures me that most of this is perfectly normal, although it looks like the clips of several of the heater hoses are close to the end of their lives. The front brake discs are marginal, too – 26.2mm on the measuring callipers, just above the recommended minimum 26mm. The front shock absorber bump stops are also disintegrating and the strut behind is corroded. Nothing requiring urgent action, but a reminder there’s going to be a fair bit more spending in the Cayman’s medium-term future.
There's also a comedy moment as Ridgeley tops up the washer fluid, and the whole lot immediately pours out from somewhere below the bumper. It turns out a pipe for the headlamp washers has popped off, likely some time ago; "you have filled the screenwash before, haven't you?" Ridgeley asks. Well, I thought I had...
Car: 2009 Porsche Cayman S
Run by: Mike Duff
Bought: September 2019
Mileage at purchase: 63,500
Mileage now: 67,330
Last month at a glance: After an "official or specialist" dilemma, Mike opts for the indy route