Ticking the Boxster
I’m falling in love with the joy of driving at the age of 57 thanks to a 986-generation Porsche Boxster S.
Since a motorcycle accident in 2001 left me in a wheelchair I have been driving automatics due to the extreme cost of the driving adaptions required on a manual car. Now I have the Boxster, which has a manual gearbox and came to me when a friend of mine, Talan, also in a wheelchair, was selling it together with £4500 of hand controls [pictured above]. For comparison, push-pull hand controls for an automatic are currently around £600 to £700.
A small lever on the front of the gearstick is linked to an electronic motor that works the clutch, the ring on the steering wheel is an electronic throttle and the lever to the right of the steering wheel the brake. It all sounds quite complicated and it is – it has taken me a good few weeks to learn to drive with the adaptions.
Although I had driven many manual vehicles prior to my accident, learning these controls was quite a challenge, but a very rewarding one. You can’t actually feel the bite of the clutch, so I just go by the dip in revs. Now try to imagine driving this: you can’t release the clutch lever at a junction until you’re rolling, which leaves the other hand taking care of the steering, throttle, brake and handbrake. You very soon find yourself running out of hands… I challenge any of your seasoned drivers to try this!
The sheer joy of driving this car is as close as I can get to the ‘pants off’ feeling of an open road on a bike. You can feel every ripple, bump and pothole in the road, feel
what every tyre is doing, and the raw connection with the car, together with the renowned Porsche 3.2-litre flat-six, is all incredible.
I am also very lucky to own a beautiful 2.3-litre Triumph Rocket trike, professionally converted by Grinnall Trikes, and an AMG C63 softtop, and while I love the grunt of their engines, this little car is just so much fun to drive.
I have never lost the passion for riding motorbikes, though, and have done many trackdays on an Aprilia RSV Mille 1000 bought for me as a surprise 50th birthday present by my amazing wife, Debbie. The bike turned out to be the exact same make and model as the one I had my accident on 14 years previously. Yes, she is most definitely a keeper! I use bicycle-type clips to hold my feet on the pegs, a push button quick shifter for the gears and have friends and family to launch me and catch me when I come in.
But these days I am finding my age (and my wife) forcing me to find new interests and the Porsche is turning out to be just the trick. Paul Airey