PORSCHE PROJECTS

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

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

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

What will 2018 bring? If the last three are any­thing to go on, that'll be 20,000 miles and £7,000 in fuel alone

Hard to be­lieve it's a decade-old 100k miler. Here's to another 100,000 miles, just don't think about the bills!

99,999 miles, count 'em! That fig­ure is grow­ing so fast, the Croc could soon be the leggiest 987 Cay­man in Chris­ten­dom

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