YOU AND YOURS
Whilst it hasn’t always been Porsches in Mike Calvert’s world, it’s safe to say that it’s mainly been cars from Stuttgart. Starting with a 924 in the ’80s he’s had the full gamut including a Carrera 3.2, 964 and even a 928. Today he owns a 924 Carrera GT
Mike Calvert and his Techart 996 Turbo and 924 Carrera GT replica
Recently retired Mike Calvert hasn’t been exclusively faithful to Porsche over the years, but nevertheless he’s done more than his fair share to promote the Stuttgart marque. And besides, the cars he’s had as well as, or instead of, Porsches are models that mark him out as a true and inquisitive car enthusiast. His first ever car was a tuned Mini 850 that he shared with his mother and took hillclimbing.
There followed an MGB, Triumph GT6 and a Reliant Scimitar GTE. A limited edition TVR 3000M ‘Martin Lilley’ proved quick and wild and interesting. And his first two company cars were Ford Sierra RS Cosworths, of the ‘winged wonder’ variety. Mike wishes he’d kept his original Audi Quattro, and he worked his way through three generations of VW Golf GTI as well as a VR6 model. While living and working in the US he was the proud owner of a Chevrolet Corvette C5, a Jaguar XKR convertible and a supercharged modern VW Beetle; his fleet over the years has also included an Audi TT, Mercedes-benz SLK and a Citroën DS. His current everyday ride is a V8-engined and all-wheel-drive Audi S4. As you can see, Mike likes his cars – at the end of the 1970s and into the early ’80s, he even helped run a Formula 2 team.
And then there are the Porsches. Lots of Porsches. ‘I bought my first Porsche, a secondhand 924, registration JEO 924X, from Parker & Parker in 1985,’ Mike recalls. ‘It was a great car to drive and on the strength of that I soon signed up to Porsche Club GB – I’ve been a member ever since. While I was in the States I also joined Porsche Club America, and I remain a member of that, too.
‘During the time that I had my 924 I also got to have the occasional drive in a friend’s 924 Turbo – that really was a fabulous car, but although I would really have loved to have one, at that stage its price was out of my league. By 1988 my 924 sadly had to go – our children were beginning to complain about the lack of legroom, so I went for a Sierra Cosworth company car.’
As seductive as the RS Ford’s turbocharged wallop was, it didn’t stop Mike hankering after another Porsche. ‘In 1995 I bought my first 911, a white 1985 Carrera 3.2 that I got from Shirleys Garage in Solihull – I later sold it to Frank Nutt who 911 & Porsche World interviewed for the You & Yours feature in issue 281. Following that was a red 964 Carrera 4 that I kept for five years: it was another of those cars that I regret selling. And during that time my wife also owned a (986) Boxster.’
Having scratched the 911 itch, Mike swapped over to the 928 range, starting off with a rare 1988 Club Sport, and moving on to a 1991 GT. ‘The GT was a fantastic car,’ enthuses Mike, ‘and I held on to it for several years. Then in 2007 I moved to the States for work and put the GT into storage. But I didn’t like the idea of it not being used so in 2008 I sold it – yet another regret! Still, it was bought by a really great guy who I’ve stayed in touch with and uses the GT to this day. And it’s now worth about
three times what he paid for it…’
With American (Corvette) and British (Jag XKR) muscle at his disposal in the US, you might imagine that Mike would have had no need for any more sports cars in his new life abroad. But that didn’t stop him buying another Porsche. ‘I found an 86,000-mile 996 Carrera 4S for good money and as a precaution had the IMS bearing changed – I needn’t have bothered as there was nothing wrong with the original. When I left the US I sold the C4S to a police superintendent who still owns it: somehow I always manage to keep in touch with the people I sell my cars to.’
Anticipating his imminent return and retirement to the UK, early in 2015 Mike began putting in place a couple of Porsches for his homecoming. ‘I bought a Techart 996 Turbo from (specialist) Sterling and had it put into storage for when I got back that August. I bought it unseen, but had it inspected by a Porsche main dealer: I was therefore a little dismayed when I later had it checked over by Dove House Motors who discovered leaking dampers. Dove steered me towards the helpful chaps at Bilstein who not only refurbished the damper units but also fitted GT3 inserts. And all for half the price a main dealer would have charged.
‘Dove also informed me that the car’s Techart wheels were fakes. I wanted the genuine articles so got in touch directly with Techart who were extremely helpful in sending me new ones. Meanwhile I’d seen that clever decorative dipping process on Wheeler Dealers on the telly: I managed to get in touch with Mike Brewer – a really nice bloke – who gave me the name of the company that did it. So I sent the wheels straight off to Wicked Coatings in Poole to have a carbon-fibre effect pattern applied.
‘I like spoilers and wings and big wheels and things, and what appealed about this Techart car was that everything was already on it: even the interior had been stylishly reupholstered in two-tone quilted leather. But I have done a couple more things to it. I had Royal Steering Wheels re-cover and thicken the standard wheel; and I thought that the Tiptronic switches on the steering wheel spokes were nasty, so I converted the changers to aluminium paddles sourced through AMG. It’s a popular conversion in the US and the paddles only cost about $100 – I heard about them through the forums and downloaded a tutorial on how to fit them through 911UK. It was a really worthwhile thing to do, because they’ve changed the character of the car when you’re driving it hard.’
Mike’s second welcome home Porsche was a 924 Carrera GT replica, a car that belonged to a friend of his, Adrian Booth, and which he’d always admired. ‘While I was in the States I liked to keep in touch with my mates back in Britain,’ explains Mike, ‘and when I learnt that Adrian and his father, Geoff, were planning to sell the Carrera GT tribute I bought it without hesitation. And the timing worked well with my plans to return home.
‘The car started life as a 1981 vintage 924 Turbo, with a genuine 81,000 miles and a full service history from Gordon Ramsey (no, not that one…) in Newcastle. Adrian sourced genuine Carrera GT front wings and rear arch extensions from a vandalised car; the
Mike’s second welcome home Porsche was a 924 Carrera GT replica bought from a friend
modifications were undertaken by a great family friend, Kim Mather at KSM Engineering in Haydock. (Mather also used to drive one of the F2 cars that Mike worked on in the ’70s and ’80s.) The original arches were reprofiled to accept the arch extensions, which you don’t see on many reproductions.
‘The car enjoyed a top quality respray, the underside was treated and resealed, all the suspension was refurbished, the engine was checked over and the head subjected to some light refurbishment and a new gasket, the carpets and headlining were renewed, and through Southbound Trimmers some rejuvenated Recaro seats were fitted, complete with electric adjustment, heating and cooling. And a set of 16-inch Fuchs were sourced with the correct offsets.
‘It was a beautiful job and the car got its first MOT in October 2005. Unfortunately, after that it didn’t really go anywhere and in 2009 was laid up. In June 2015 Adrian had a new project in mind and the Carrera GT went up for sale: I took delivery in Nov that year and immediately had a new stainless steel exhaust fabricated for it by TW Tyres in Rugby to get it through the MOT.
‘A recurring misfire and occasional backfiring was eventually resolved with help from Paul at Woollies, Paul Hedges at the PCGB forum and Auto 2000 in Bedford – on their recommendation I bought a new programmable distributor and coil from Mittelmotor in Germany, which I had installed by Chris at Clarks Motors in Weedon. It wasn’t cheap but it did the trick, and it also means the engine can now be tuned for more power on a rolling road, which I haven’t yet had time to do.
‘The only other issue with the car was a thumping from what I assumed was from a suspension component – after prolonged investigation it turned out to be a worn steering rack, which I replaced. Adrian began converting the 924 Turbo into a Carrera GT tribute back in 2000, and I’d say the work is now largely complete. Adrian and (his dad) Geoff have been involved throughout the completion process and their help has been invaluable – I’m now really looking forward to getting out there and driving it hard.’ PW
Now I’m looking forward to getting out there and driving it hard
Mike Calvert with one of his Porsche duo – an homage to the 924 Carrera GT
Southbound rejuvenated the interior, tackling carpets, headlining and retrimming the Recaro seats, which are electrically adjustable and heated, too. Very luxurious!
BIG 16in Fuchs fill out the wide arches perfectly and look the business. Carrera script on the front wing all part of the Carrera GT look. Likewise bonnet scoop
Compared to some of Techart’s conversions, Mike’s 996 Turbo is one of the German co’s more subtle makeovers
Left: Carbon effect on Techart wheels is the result of a decorative dipping process by Wicked Wheels. Interior tastefully trimmed with quilted leather. Mike has had the steering wheel rim thickened as per his preference for improved steering feel