22 Mar 2013

Speedmonkey Fleet - A Porsche 924S is bought

Matt Hubbard is Speedmonkey's owner and editor, and buys an ancient Porsche 924S - but not before consulting the wife.

Our household cars consist of a 1998 Land Rover Discovery V8, a 2004 Audi S4 Avant and a 2003 VW Golf V6 4Motion.  Then there's the Triumph Street Triple which is a year old.  Scratch that - I sold the Golf three weeks ago for £1500.  V6 4Motions are an absolute steal, go buy one while they're cheap.

So I had £1500, in an envelope.  What to do?  The usual thing.  Spend every spare moment studying the classifieds.  It was definitely going on a car.  It had to be kept separate from other household expenditure.

Three weeks and much thinking later I had a plan.  I was going to buy a Clio Renaultsport 172.  I told my wife.  She reminded me I'd always wanted a Porsche and that I'd be stupid to buy a Renault.  Yes, I did, didn't I, and yes I would wouldn't I.

£1500 doesn't buy a 911.  It buys either a 924 or a 944.  The 944s I found generally had a few issues.  One even had a full replacement fibreglass body.  Not that it had been in a crash or anything, oh no.  The 924s were a mixed bunch.  Some were in pretty good condition.  I decided on a 924.  A poor man's Porsche?  Maybe.  But with only £1500 beggars can't be choosers.

So I bought the best one I could find, a 1986 model from a chap in West London.  Importantly a 924S.  The 2 litre would be too slow.  The 924S has the Porsche-built 2.5 litre 4 pot, 160bhp, weighs 1200kg and does 0-60 in about 7 seconds.  Ace.

My first drive in the 924 was a revelation.  The S4 may be 8 years old but it's still a thoroughly modern machine.  The 924S is a 29 year old back to basics sports car with a brown interior, slightly cracked dash (they all do that) and missing drivers door handle clasp (you have to open the door via the passenger side then run round and get in the driver's door) but otherwise is in top condition.

The receipts file is huge.  It's had recent suspension, brakes, timing belt, mass airflow meter, tyres and regular servicing at a Porsche specialist.  And it only cost me £1300.  The previous owner had been a Porsche nut who'd doted on it.

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'm probably going to strip out the interior, install a rollcage and use it as a track car.

One stoops down to get into a 924.  You sit down low with legs stretched out in front - perfect.  The steering wheel doesn't adjust in any direction, the seat only goes forwards and back.  But it's easy to get comfortable due to that legs out front position.  All cars should have deepset bulkheads so you can stretch your legs.

The controls are basic, the wipers and (electric) windows are slow and the windscreen squirter is operated via a random button aft of the gear lever.  Oh, and the handbrake is between the drivers seat and the door.

I haven't had so much fun driving a car in ages.  Never mind the £100,000 Mercedes SL63 AMG that I didn't want to give back, the 924S gives you direct control of the car and direct contact with the road.  Every input, carefully calibrated via mind and body, is transmitted to the tarmac.  The bonnet, long and sleek, is pointed where you want to go like an arrow.

But the ride is silky smooth.  Even 29 years ago Porsche could build a machine that combines razor sharp handling with a decent ride.  It's something of a revelation and a trick many of their competitors are still in the process of learning.

My wife loves it.  She even posted so on her Facebook page.  Wow.  She knows a little about cars and is a better driver than most men on the road - plus her car history would shame most men of my age with Capris, Range Rovers, an Austin Minis (that her father killed when he filled it with aviation fuel), Golf GTIs and her current V8 Discovery.  OK, and a Skoda Estelle but that was a long time ago.

My son loves it too.  He's not normally a car nut.  He's 10 and hasn't yet succumbed to the delights of petrol fumes.  The S4 is just dad's estate car.  The 924S however is dad's Porsche.  It's a low riding sports car with bucket seats that makes him look cool when he's dropped off at school in it.  And he likes the noise.

Ah yes.  The noise.  My 924S has a new stainless steel exhaust which makes it sound like a 70s MG, only more German.  Modern inline 4 cylinder engines sound crap.  This doesn't.  It's got an unmistakable bark.

It's safe to say my wife was right.  I did want a Porsche.  But now, despite liking it herself, she says I'm having a mid-life crisis.

With so many vehicles in the household I've downloaded an app on the iPhone called iPetrolhead.  You  register your various vehicles in it along with dates for insurance renewal, MOT, tax etc and it reminds you when they're approaching.  Pretty handy little thing.  I've not been paid to say that by the way.  It's genuinely useful for someone so forgetful as me.

I'll soon be reporting on two events.  The first is that we're selling the Discovery and buying a newer one.  Probably a Discovery 3.  We've also hired a Jaguar E-type (the one you see at this link) for a weekend in April.  I'll have it for 24 hours and am massively looking forward to having a go in it.

I'll come back from time to time with progress reports on the fleet, but mainly the Porsche.  A mechanic friend and I will be stripping out the carpets, seats and whatever trim we can remove, and trying to source a rollcage on the cheap.  It might take some time though as it's a brilliant car in it's current form.