The latest from the 911&PW fleet including Jeremy Laird’s 100,000-mile Cayman, Chris Horton’s 944 and Keith Seume’s new Cayman 981
Go looking for trouble and you'll find it. It was precisely that ancient crumb of peerreviewed, placebo-controlled and frankly all-too-obvious wisdom that I flatly ignored late last year as I speared north from Laird Towers in Bath. My destination? The sometime harbinger of doom that is Porsche specialist Hartech in Bolton, near Manchester. The mission? To assess the state of the Croc's cylinder bores.
Of course, it's hardly Hartech's fault that I suffer from Porsche paranoia when it comes to my Cayman's 3.4-litre M97 engine. Indeed, as I've explained in issues of 911&PW passim, if you're going to have your bores sniffed, you may as well have it done by the best in the business. Anyway, my last instalment of the Croc Chronicles back in the October issue of 911&PW was an uncharacteristically upbeat tale of unalloyed driving joy. Time to get back to the misery and moaning, right?
Not quite. The Croc's bores didn't quite come up clean. A mark on cylinder four that wasn't there during an inspection around the same time the previous year made sure of that. But neither was there any unambiguous evidence of the dreaded bore scoring that so often afflicts these engines. At the very least, call it a stay of execution. It was also the kind of slightly inconclusive result that gets you wondering why you bother having the thing inspected in the first place.
After all, what to do if the camera's beady eye spots early-stage bore scoring? Not many would want to buy such a car at anything like normal market value. So selling it isn't much of an option if you're not comfortable punting it on without full disclosure. There's not a great deal that can be done to stop the process of bore scoring once it's started, either. Previously, my philosophy here has involved early warning and the ability that may allow for forward planning. But ultimately the best approach is to start putting some money aside regardless. Put simply, the Croc will need an engine rebuild sooner or later.
With the best will in the world, that eventuality probably isn't too far away. I say that not as a pessimist, but merely because of a certain major milestone the Croc recently passed. It has notched up 100,000 miles on the clock. Admittedly, the engine only has only accrued 60,000 miles thanks to replacement by Porsche under warranty within a month of my having acquired the bally thing, at which point it was showing 40,000 on the clock. But then it's done the extra 60k in just three years.
For the most part, all 60,000 have been a joy. That's been especially true since a number of small tweaks, all previously chronicled in these very pages, have combined to turn this relatively modest 987 Cayman into a really rewarding driving machine. The highlights involve 17inch wheels from a non-s 987, a bigger brake master cylinder and some slightly firmer springs and dampers. The result isn't perfect. But it's now a car I simply adore driving.
Reflecting on the six-digit figure on the odometer is also an opportunity to remember all the good times I've already had in the Croc. It's been to the Alps twice,
along with several other European odysseys. It's survived a few track days and taken part in several magazine shoots, too. But most of all, it's been the countless glorious runs across England's minor roads that I've most enjoyed. Anyone who thinks there's no good driving to be had these days isn't trying nearly hard enough. Keep off the main roads and it's fantastic out there.
Whatever, it's memories of those miles driven and enjoyed that makes the inevitable running costs easier to accept. Given the rate at which I'm adding mileage, those costs come thick and fast. I tend to get through a set of rear tyres in about five to six thousand miles. Fronts last around 8000. Pads are probably good for about 10,000 miles with my driving style, discs maybe double that. Then there's the fuel bill. Ah, yes, the fuel bill.
That's something I'm reluctant to calculate. But here goes. I average just under 17mpg (yes, really). That's 3.75 miles per litre. I'm doing about 20,000 miles annually. I probably pay an average of around £1.30 per litre. So that works out at just under £7000 a year on petrol.
Of course, those are just the regular running costs. I've recently DIY'D all six ignition coils. I also recently damaged the rear undertray and there's some noise coming from the front track rods. Add all that lot to the new coffin arms on all four corners, welded exhaust headers, titanium header studs, failed air-oil separator, borked induction flap, clacking driveshaft and replacement back boxes – not to mention stuff like road tax, insurance, garage rental and so on – and there's a possible overall calculation I positively refuse to complete. It's an awful lot of money, overall.
The upshot of all that is twofold. Firstly, don't kid yourself that using a Porsche extensively is ever going to be even moderately cheap. It ain't. Secondly, when placed into the context of the overall running costs, a circa £10,000 to £12,000 engine rebuild bill suddenly doesn't seem so bad. Given the overall annual costs, a rebuild every, say, eight to 10 years would probably only add about 10 per cent to the running costs.
Of course, you'd still have to come up with a big lump sum and that will always hurt. But when you consider that the rebuild is about the same as a couple of years' worth of fuel it somehow seems more reasonable. At least, it does in the distorted mind of the pathological Porsche enthusiast, one where the crippling selfinflicted fuel costs are deemed an inevitable necessity rather than the result of feeble inability to resist indulging the right foot. Man maths at its very finest, you will surely agree. Here's to the next 100,000... PW
Using a Porsche extensively is never going to be cheap