CAYMAN2.9: GINGER CAT AND BLACK CROC
Who would have thought it, but running a cat is clearly more expensive than running a Porsche, as our man Fennelly discovers, with just moderate expenditure over his four-year dalliance with the Cayman
In early January the insurance renewal for the Cayman fell through the letter box. Looking out the previous year’s documents, I found myself leafing through several years of Cayman service invoices. Over fifty months and 33,000 miles I added up that, excluding insurance, RFL and MOTS, I had spent a grand total of £2756 on the junior Porsche. Considering that included two services, two intermediate oil changes, three tyres and £300 odd for a wing mirror and housing it struck me once again that Porsche motoring does not have to be expensive. That’s a third of the rate of expenditure on my 993 which, admittedly, was a far older car requiring more intensive servicing. However, a recent poke around while the Croc was on the ramps showed that the (second) water cooled generation is not immune to the vicissitudes of ageing: corrosion around some of the exhaust pipework is now visible and, if not yet lifeexpired, some of the clips will need renewal in the next couple of years. There was happily no sign of oil seepage anywhere and the rear brake discs won’t go much beyond the next MOT, but otherwise I seemed to be in the clear. Then at the front, a dark patch on one of the a/c condensers revealed itself: these front radiator assemblies are very exposed and if allowed to fill with detritus which then retains moisture, corrosion sets it. Regularly cleaning out these crannies, though fiddly, has avoided the latter, but alas a stone has evidently punctured the matrix. The upshot is that suddenly I am looking at a bill of about £700 for two new a/c radiators (“We normally renew both sides when we do these, sir”), their various pipes and clips, labour and increasingly costly a/c gas.
After four years I thought such expenditure was par for the course, but then a larger and totally unrelated domestic bill materialised: our ginger cat suddenly shot through his catflap with such speed that the flap disintegrated, landing several yards away. It was pure Tom & Jerry except that he was trailing blood everywhere. Someone, possibly a fox, had had a serious go at his tail. Several visits to the vet later including amputation of his previously rather splendid tail and we were staring at invoices amounting to £1100. This was quite a shock: our hitherto low-maintenance mog has required only love, food and a sofa or preferably lap to sleep on. It certainly put the cost of running the Croc into perspective.
I must have been preoccupied by this distressing episode when I climbed into the Cayman not having used it for a fortnight or so. After ten minutes, I realised I my gloom was beginning to lift and it took a moment to realise this was the well-known Porsche dopamine effect. The response of the steering, the engine, the precision of the shift and the control weights, the ergonomics – that combination of dynamic virtues you miss driving other cars and a reminder of why I always take the Cayman in preference. I was interested to read recently in the Autocar that Andrew Frankel could find only one ‘substantive’criticism of the 991, namely that, satisfying though it is, “you have to be pushing (very) hard before it will do what it does best.” You could say that of all modern Porsches, but at least with a Cayman, there is plenty of excitement to be had lower down the register. Although it is clearly not in the Exige class, it does feel like a sports car at quite legal speeds, an experience I indulged fully again the other week cutting across Lambourn Downs en route for Gloucester rather than the conventional M4-A417. It took longer and the roads were intermittently mucky, but you can’t put a price on the joy of tackling such a variety of bends, hills, dips and short and long straights with almost no other traffic. Going the longer way doesn’t always work, but more often than not, with the Cayman I have fun.
The intentions for 2018 will as ever be just that, necessary travels, but making something of the journey, too: Alsace on the routes départementales before Easter and southern Germany in the summer, plus a couple of track days to name the major fixtures. The only development that could bring a fifth happy year with this Croc to a premature end is 981-itis, which I have had for some time: this worsened considerably after an afternoon in a Cayman 2.7 981. Although it looks so similar to the 987, response, engine and cabin finish are in another class; then Mr Seume did what I had done in 2013 and swapped his air cooled El Chucho for a Cayman 981. Once again I was scrutinising the classifieds to see just what I’d have to spend. Perhaps though I’d better wait to see what Mr Mog’s insurance premium is going to cost next time round… PW