24 Feb 2014

Matt's Diary - The Porsche and Triumph Come Out Of Hibernation

We sometimes write Speedmonkey updates called "Speedmonkey Fleet" in which the progress of Colin and my vehicles are logged.  This time a diary seemed more appropriate.

The BMW and Porsche in the drive just prior to being cleaned

Over the course of the winter I had various press cars in the drive.  December saw a Honda Accord Tourer, Jaguar XF and Infiniti QX.  All fine and worthy vehicles but none other than the XF provided any thrills.  The XF may have an image problem ('old man's car', and if you need to ask then maybe it doesn't have an image problem) but it's one of those cars that is more than the sum of its parts.  Something about the Jag saloon makes it feel almost magical.

All through December the Porsche 924S had lain in our neighbours drive.  Over the Christmas break I started it just once and used the BMW E36 323i SE Touring as a day to day car.  The Porsche will run in any weather but suffers from condensation, which was particularly bad during our spectacularly wet winter.

Come January and a Volvo XC60 D5 arrived, followed by a Range Rover SDV8, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Outback and Toyota RAV4.  Again all quite worthy cars but only the Range Rover stood out.  And stand out it did.  The new Range Rover is magnificent and you should buy one - if you have £80k.

And then, once all the shiny new metal had gone back there was a space in the drive.  A Porsche 924S shaped space.

The second weekend in February saw a miraculous break in the clouds.  I trotted round the neighbours with the Porsche key.  It hadn't turned a wheel in 10 weeks and had only run for 3 minutes in all that time.  Add in the fact it's done 137,000 miles and was built in 1987 and I was slightly nervous that the old girl would start, and if it did it would have seized brakes and drag half a ton of gravel out of the neighbour's drive.

I opened the door and climbed in.  The inside was thick with water on the windows, roof, dash and rear seats.  The sunroof had a minor leak which dripped down on to the back seats.

I mopped up the condensation and turned the key.  It fired up first time. Sounded healthy and no smoke other than an initial white puff of cloud from moisture sitting in the exhaust.

The Porsche vibrates quite a bit at idle but increase the revs to just over 1,000rpm and everything smooths out. The 2.5 litre inline-4 allied with a stainless steel exhaust system makes for an aural treat.  Grunty and growly at low revs and a sharp, crackly bark at high - with infrequent explosions when changing gears right at the limit.

I engaged first gear.  Gearbox tight and accurate, clutch nice and light.  Hurrah!  The brakes were free and we rolled out of the drive.  I couldn't resist a run.

I drove the car for half an hour around the local back roads.  After two months of SUVs, ECO buttons, electronic handbrakes and too many diesel engines it was pure joy to burn some petrol and ping the light and low Porsche between the hedges, to drift around corners and to feel the feedback from the chassis through fingers, bum and brain.

I got back home and, enthused by the weather, went to fire up the Triumph Street Triple.  Nothing.  The battery was dead.  I sat the battery on my bench and plugged it into the charger.  After 24 hours it was apparent that not only was the battery dead but so was the charger.  I ordered a battery (£40) and new Oxford charger (£25) from the internet, they arrived in the week and I made sure the bike would be ready for the next sunny day.

The next weekend saw even better weather so the BMW and Porsche were thoroughly cleaned.  I even tried to fix the Porsche's leaky sunroof by soaking the seal in sunflower oil.  This may have worked.  I haven't seen any drips since but then again the biblical rain has pretty much stopped.

And so to the bike.  Sunday was sunny.  The battery was fine.  I kitted up, cocked a leg over the seat, fired up and rode down to my local garage to fill up and check the tyre pressures.  £10 and 10 lb (of air in the front tyre) later and I was off.

An hour later I returned, exhilarated.  Nothing, not even the fastest super cars, can match a 100bhp, 150kg motorcycle for thrills and spills.

0 to 60 takes about 3 seconds but only if you're brave with 100bhp going through only one wheel and changing up at 14,000rpm via a close cut gearbox.  You never forget how to ride.  Lean in to corners. Not going to make it? Don't panic - lean some more.

Mind you after an hour's riding I was freezing.  It must have been 5°C and after a while my fingers started to go numb.  By the time I got home and wrapped my poor, frozen digits around a hot cup of tea I could hardly feel them.  The pain as they warmed back up was agonising.  Worth it though.

My resolutions for 2014 are to drive more interesting cars, use the bike much more often and go on more trips.  Oh, and try and prise some press bikes out of the manufacturers.

This is starting well with various things on the horizon.  I'm taking delivery of a Jaguar F-Type V8 S press car this week.  I'm seriously looking forward to experiencing the F-Type for a week.

I've just come back from a trip to Morgan Motors in Malvern but this article was written before the trip so I'm sure to tweet and write about what should prove to be a fantastic visit and a drive in the 3-wheeler.

Also in March are a trip with Audi to the New Forest to chew the fat over a fine dinner and a few beers before spending the next day driving the new S3 saloon and A3 convertible, and two days in Geneva with Castrol.  Now that is going to be good fun.  The first day involves a presentation of the new Castrol oil technologies followed by a tour of CERN and I'll spend the next day at the Geneva Motor Show.

So, in motoring terms, the year has started well.  I have no press cars booked other than the F-Type.  I'm aiming for more sporty cars but they are much harder to come by for a blogger than hatches, SUVs and front wheel drive saloons and estates.
The Porsche 924S just after its first run in 10 weeks

The BMW lives 'outside' the drive, the Porsche 'inside'

Biker selfie.  Freezing

The Triumph after a run. Filthy

A lot of our local roads are like this. The BMW will wade through 12 inches

See, filthy

By Matt Hubbard