It must be all this talk of four-cylinder Porsches because I don’t usually spend my time pondering the merits of Porkers with two-thirds the usual pot count, much less go overseas to buy one. But of late that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. So I did.
APR 29th 2016
Thank Frankel It's Friday – I've Just Bought A Four‑Cylinder Porsche
When I first started in this business, four-cylinder Porsches were the norm and, thank you for asking, I’m not talking 356s. The first ever comparison test to carry my byline was between a Porsche 924S and a Honda CRX. From there, they just went on getting better: there was the 2.7-litre version of the 944, the wonderful 944S2, the more powerful but less driveable 944 Turbo and then came the 968 in standard, Sport, ClubSport and, for just a tiny few, Turbo S form. I drove a Turbo S and didn’t much care for it, but all the other 968s were wonderful.
Of course I wanted a ClubSport, because they are icon cars, the ones that will always be worth the most but I don’t have £30,000, at least not to drop into a Clubbie, which appears the going rate for nice examples. What I do have or – more accurately, did have - was a chum with a 968 Sport he’s been toying with selling for a while. As is a Sport not just a ClubSport in a lounge suit?
That’s exactly what it is. A Sport is a ClubSport, built with a ClubSport chassis and chassis number whose certificate of authenticity calls it a ClubSport with the ‘CS luxury package’. Of the 1,923 ClubSports made, just 306 were to Sport specification of which only around half are believed to have survived. They existed to satisfy what Porsche believed was a UK-centric desire for a car with the dynamic ability of a ClubSport but some of the creature comforts of the 968, so they had rear seats, central locking, electric windows and mirrors, and less racy front seats. But that was about it and the whole thing weighed about a sack of spuds – 30kg if you’re interested – more than a base spec ClubSport-badged ClubSport and not one optioned up to Sport specification, which was easily and frequently done.
The primary appeal of this particular car is that I’ve known it almost all its life – its immediately previous owner was my brother, who sold it back in 2002 to the same mate who has had it until now. The secondary appeal is that, while it has enjoyed a fastidious mechanical maintenance regime, it has spent at least the last decade on the Isle of Wight (hence having to go overseas) where the sea air makes no distinction between inside and out, so the paint has suffered, as have the wheels, which means I could actually afford it. The tertiary appeal was the colour: actually I hated Riviera blue when these cars were new, but my tastes have evolved over the last 20 years and now the only other colour I’d prefer for it is black.
My worry however was that that same air that has done for the paint would have wreaked havoc with the car’s structure. All Porsches of that era are extremely rust resistant but the red rot can creep into sills and arches, and would be extremely expensive to repair. So I decided to take a top Porsche technician with me who’d know exactly what to look for and where to find it. If the car was sound I would buy it, if not, my friend needed to know.
It was sound. Very sound in fact, unbelievably so given where it’s been these last ten years and now, for way less than you’d pay for a sparkling ClubSport, it is mine! There are some tiny mechanical issues but the big expense is changing the cambelt. It’s already been done once and in a car that’s only done 87,000 should not be needed for a while yet, but if it goes, the engine goes with it, so I’m not taking the risk. A fortnight from now I’m taking it to Scotland to spend the weekend with a bunch of other old Porsche owning mates and I’m already aquiver with excitement.
As for the cosmetics, I’ll decide what to do with them on my return. I might just keep it scruffy and save the money, but if I really fall for it I might just have to tidy it up a bit.
Either way, I am ecstatic to be a Porsche owner again. This will be my third and that slight emptiness that’s been part of my life since I sold my last is now gone. No, its engine is not out the back, it doesn’t have six cylinders and it’s cooled by what you drink rather than breathe. But it’s a proper Porsche and arguably the best-balanced, sweetest handling of them all and I can scarcely wait to get behind its smart, non-airbag ClubSport wheel again.
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