Overtaken Icon


I did something significant yesterday. I test drove a car. Not just any old car either, but one of my personal icons. A Porsche 911.

I had set off to Pitlochry to look for a pair of kilt shoes (but that's another story) and had absent mindedly gone thro Perth by mistake, Finding myself passing the Porsche garage I stopped for a look at the new 911, having just read CAR magazine eulogising about the Carrera 4, and damned handsome it is too. Salesman comes up, and out of the back of my mind I remember this garage advertising two older 911s below the magic figure of 20,000, so I asked if they were still there. They had two near identical cars, the slightly cheaper of the two being an 89 Carrera 3.2, in mid blue metallic with ivory leather seats and matching carpet. Private plate (but F reg), 71,000 miles on the clock, full service history, forged alloys, and in lovely condition. 19,995 on the windscreen. Nice.

I had a sit in it, and was about to call it a day when a mutual friend's name entered the conversation. Never fails. Having established the foot in the door, it was easy from there on. We started the car to warm it up, and much to the salesman's embarrassment the first thing it did was to fill the car with blue smoke. Seems a mechanic had spilt oil on the heat exchangers! Undaunted we drove literally 200 yards across the road to get petrol, and even in that space of time, I knew I liked the car. It sounded right, it felt right. We headed up the A9 and I was immediately impressed with how totally effortless the car was. Surprising quiet, well damped firm ride, very comfortable, and 80 or 90 seemed to whistle up in no time, with no effort at all. Ah how good it is to have a small vehicle with a lot of power. We turned off and did a few miles up some open country roads, the salesman giving it some stick, and passing a few cars. From the passenger seat this felt extremely fast and controlled. So far so good.

After about 6 or 7 miles he stopped and invited me to take it back to the garage. I didn't refuse. Boy that clutch seems awful, but the chap said, don't use all the travel, just a little bit. I did so and the pedal was transformed. Good, now lets play. All the same feelings of ease and power and solidity were there, but when I came to gun it past some traffic I was in for a surprise. What had felt so quick from the passenger seat, turned out to be nothing of the sort. Now lets get this straight, this is a quick car, but it was only just a bit quicker than the CRX, and of course slower than the bike. Hmmn. An easy cruise down the A9 (and you can guess what a temptation a 911 would be for the speed cops) was relaxed and easy, but then so is a Metro at 70mph.

I handed the car back and set off again on my way in the CRX, feeling somewhat perplexed. I had driven one of my last remaining icons, I had not been disappointed ... but, but ... but! I was struggling to come to terms with it. Sure it had been good, sure it had been quick, I had somehow been looking for a very special magic, that wasn't there. Maybe in a long weekend of testing I would find it. Maybe if I bought one I would find it after 6 months. Maybe I never would. Maybe it didn't exist. Maybe it did exist, but it had been overshadowed by all the other things I have driven since?

That last one is the truth. The 911 was good, but others have caught it up. Cruising up the A9 in my Honda, I realised again what a splendid little car this is. I bought this CRX more because it was there than anything else. It has taken a while to truly get to like it, but just of late I am beginning to realise what little cracker this is. I recently put two new front tyres on it, the superb new Pirelli V5000 Vizzolas, and had the tracking re-set, which has made a huge difference to the steering . As anyone who truly understands cars knows , you have to have a car with absolutely top drawer steering feel if it is really going to get to you. Well my current CRX, with lowered suspension, Pirellis and vintage Momo steering wheel has just about the best steering feel I have ever come across. No exaggeration. Add to that that it is effortlessly quick, good looking, cheap, has ABS, fits me like a hand tailored glove, and is not so outrageously fast that I am tempted to get into trouble and you see why I was perplexed.

I have a G reg CRX with 66,000 miles up. If I could have the F reg 70,000 mile 911 for roughly similar money, I would take it. It is not as good in some areas, but I could enjoy the little idiosyncrasies, and I have no doubt I would love it. The same would apply if money was no object, or if it simply didn't come into it. But it does, oh boy it does. Lets do some rough figures. I paid 7k for the CRX, 8k for the Prelude, and 7k for the K75s. That a total of 22k. Sadly if I sold them all tomorrow I'd get about 15k for the whole lot, which would leave me 5k light of the Porker. So is this 911 worth all my current vehicles plus another 5,000 ... not even close, not an earthly prayer, no chance, no way Jose .... No, Nyet, Non, Nein ... Negatory Good Buddy!!!

So there you have it. The day I drove an icon, and came away enlightened.