My mate Dai Davies and I sing from very much the same hymn sheet when it comes to 911s. The want from childhood: the poster of the red SC with tea-tray rear wing, squeezing onto the Porsche stand at late-1980s motor shows, model 911s, the wonder of 911s in the movies with brick phones in the centre console, and that ludicrous black 935-alike in the hopelessly cheesy flick Condorman, with his 911-driving henchmen. In a way, the Porsche 911 has been an integral part of our lives, and as Dai says: ‘I always said, one day I will have one.’
‘Over time the 996 just grew on me,’ he reflects, ‘and I came to love its beautiful curves and compact proportions. It was unloved for a long time, but I think it now looks fantastic, and crucially, I could just about afford one.’
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So early last year the pursuit began for real. ‘The essentials for me were a coupe and a manual gearbox. Ideally I wanted a “2” [rear drive], but would compromise with a Carrera 4 if I had to. Worryingly, I noticed there were fewer and fewer such 996s coming on for around £10,000.’
Eventually Dai spotted this silver C4 on eBay. The mileage was high at 143,000 but it seemed like it had lived a good life, and he was down there before any of us could say ‘what about the IMS bearing?’
‘At that point all the advice went out of the window!’ says Dai. ‘I looked it over in a train station car park; next thing I knew I’d bought it. For £9500. Driving it home all I could think was, “Oh my god, I’m driving my 911.” Followed by discovering the air con didn’t work, and thinking, “Oh no, what have I done?” It was excitement mixed with a bit of fear. Then I found a great stretch of road and thought “Yes!” Knowing it was probably worth £8k in parts was my get-out, but I figured if it had lasted this long it must have something right about it.
‘I put 2000 miles on it in the first week on a driving holiday in Scotland. It was brilliant, warts and all. And now I use it for everything – work, taking the kids to school. It’s done 155,000 now.
‘No, running it hasn’t been cheap. The first service cost £1200, and it failed its MOT on blowing exhausts and a shot damper. I had to find a cost-effective repair but we got there in the end, and I’ve never had a moment where I’ve wanted rid of it. It’s been a bit scary at times: it’s a cheap car to buy but still a Porsche to run.’
Any advice then, Dai, for the fellow enthusiast? ‘I’d say listen to your head. Do your checks. But overall it’s about how comfortable you are with risk – if you’re not, then the horror stories, the wondering about that noise it made yesterday, well, I don’t think you could live with it. But for me, every day I drive it, just walking up to it, knowing I have a 911 – that removes all of the worry instantly. Whatever the journey, I always take the 911: with my car every occasion is a 911 occasion. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like at 200,000 miles.’
There you have it: 12,000 miles of 911-bred smiles in 12 months, for a third less than the price of the cheapest, most basic new Ford Fiesta. I’ve driven the car and it’s a beaut. The ten-grand 911 is alive and well. Get in while you still can.