Your clas­sic Porsche 968

PORSCHE 968 SPORT

Classic Sports Car - - Contents - OWNED BY Cae­sar Bar­ton FROM Wilm­slow, Cheshire FIRST CLAS­SIC Mk1 VW Golf GTI DREAM CLAS­SIC Porsche 944 DP Cargo shoot­ing brake

“Is it a 944?” in­trigued ob­servers fre­quently ask me, quickly fol­lowed by, “Is it a 928 then?” It’s un­der­stand­able, be­cause the Porsche 968’s styling com­bines a side pro­file in­her­ited from its 944 pre­de­ces­sor with 928-like cir­cu­lar pop-up head­lamps and a rounded rear which was clearly in­spired by that model’s Rube­nesque rump.

While the ap­peal of the vastly more pop­u­lar rear- and mi­dengined Porsches isn’t lost on me, there’s a brawny phys­i­cal­ity to the front-en­gined transaxle mod­els – 968s orig­i­nat­ing from the Club Sport pro­duc­tion line (of which the Sport is a Uk-only de­riv­a­tive) es­pe­cially – that causes them to res­onate with me more than even the most revered Stuttgart steeds. Nat­u­rally as­pi­rated, rear-wheel drive, with a man­ual ’box and light on ex­tras, the recipe dis­penses with un­nec­es­sary ad­di­tives to cre­ate the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of Rein­heits­ge­bot, the Ger­man beer pu­rity law of 1516. At the heart of the ap­peal is the undi­luted na­ture of the con­tact points: the hefty clutch, beefy gearchange and ana­logue steer­ing feel – and I love the styling, es­pe­cially in Speed Yel­low.

On twist­ing, un­du­lat­ing rib­bons of Tar­mac – epit­o­mised by my favourite lo­cal road, the A54 on the Cheshire/der­byshire bor­der – it’s a largely sec­ond- and third-gear­wring­ing joy. From get­ting the mo­bile rear step­ping out just-so on sec­ond-gear in­clined bends to near redlin­ing in third on a suc­ces­sion of sweep­ing arcs, the high-revving Var­i­o­cam en­gine sounds like heavy-duty card­board be­ing torn by a cir­cus strong­man.

Then there are those oc­ca­sions where I’ve left a gig in the city cen­tre after dark on a fine evening, when I’ve found my­self in no rush to leave the neon-lit streets and Var­i­o­cam vigour is ex­changed for sec­ond-gear stealth. The labyrinth of art­fully graf­fiti-clad rus­set brick­work and nar­row gin­nels of the city in­spired these pho­tos, taken in Manch­ester’s North­ern Quar­ter. With six years of con­sec­u­tive 968 own­er­ship un­der my belt (I’d pre­vi­ously owned a near-iden­ti­cal and even more spar­tan Speed Yel­low Club Sport for three years), I can at­test to its res­o­lute ro­bust­ness when dili­gently main­tained. The so­lid­ity of the dash­board and vault­like way the doors close feels more durable than suc­ces­sive Porsche mod­els – tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of cars rolling off the pro­duc­tion line at Zuf­fen­hausen at the time.

For body, paint and trim is­sues I’ll al­ways used Cheshire Ac­ci­dent Man­age­ment in Chea­dle – run by the con­vivial Paul Moore – while dealer prin­ci­pal Ja­son and his staff at Porsche Cen­tre Wilm­slow (with a spe­cial men­tion for parts man par ex­cel­lence Ge­off) have al­ways been the paragon of hos­pi­tal­ity.

I love the fact that this car dove­tails per­fectly with my own ethos: go your own way. I don’t drive it to im­press any­one – I’ve al­ways re­jected the hol­low cult of ‘sta­tus’ – but sim­ply revel in the tele­pathic tac­til­ity of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the classy lines, stun­ning colour and the fact that it has pop-up head­lamps. You just have to love an old-school ana­logue Porsche with pop-up head­lamps!

Ex­te­rior mods in­clude a chin split­ter, front cool­ing ducts (in lieu of foglamps) and clear front in­di­ca­tors. Above right: Bar­ton with his pre­vi­ous Club Sport

Dash qual­ity owes ev­ery­thing to Zuf­fen­hausen pro­duc­tion

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