OK, I know how this looks. It looks like I’ve been enjoying a Porsche 911 for three months. And you’d be right – I have.
But during that time our 911 for 2011 motor has been having some work carried out in an attempt to make it even more saleable.
For those of you that need one, here’s a quick recap: For 15 months we traded up from £0 to a Porsche 911 in aid of automotive industry charity BEN. It took 12 cars and some interesting moves along the way, but in October we managed to secure the Porsche – a very early 996 R-Reg model – from a dealer in Birmingham.
Service history was a little patchy and there were a few issues that needed sorting before we put R97 RRK up for sale, so a pleading phone call was made to Porsche GB. Our friends in the press office took a little while to give our request to take a look at the old girl the nod, but to be fair they eventually did.
However, before agreeing to do any work they wanted to get the 911 into their workshops at their Reading HQ for a once over. Porsche offers a 111-point check for £216 which, when passed, can mean the 911 is eligible for its extended warranty scheme. The thorough inspection takes two hours and our car was eventually described by engineer Darren Pannell as ‘a good ’un’. There were a few issues that needed addressing though, a couple of which were given immediate attention.
The engine was topped up with Mobil 1 and it was noted the brake fluid was a little old. The windscreen scratching was highlighted, a 75-amp instead of 80-amp battery noted and the Goodyear tyres weren’t N-rated (Porsche’s preferred tyres).
However, the biggest problem was spotted when the car was put on the ramp. A peek under the engine revealed a small oil leak from what looked to be a breather pipe. And finally the reversing lights weren’t working.
After a test drive Pannell said: ‘It’s in very good condition for the age and mileage. It’s stood the test of time well. It doesn’t creak where others can do and the interior is in pretty good nick.
‘There is a slight knocking from the front which I think is a joint on the suspension. We can investigate that when you’re back. Overall I think you’ve done well – maybe you should give up the day job and buy cars!’
Pannell then drew up a list of suggested remedial work, which was submitted to Porsche’s press office for approval. Three weeks later we got the nod to take her back and they even lent us a spanking Panamera 4S while the work was carried out. Nice.
As Porsche were doing us – and BEN – a huge favour, we weren’t really worried how long it took (especially as we had the Panzer to enjoy). So, three weeks after I dropped R97 RRK off we went to pick her up. Shining and with £2,500 worth of work to her name, our 911 was running like a dream. And with a Porsche GB stamp in the service book we’d hopefully added a few pounds to the price tag.
The big problem with 911s of this age is that most buyers are worried about their provenance. Service histories get patchy as owners scrimp on bills – these things are expensive to look after – and with those missing stamps, worries in buyers’ minds creep in. Hopefully with this work carried out by the experts we won’t have to worry about that.
So what did Porsche do for us? Well, the major cost came from replacing the rear main shaft seal. We’d been told this had been done by the dealer we bought it from, but the engineers could find no evidence of that and changed it anyway. This requires the engine and gearbox to come out, which pushes the cost up. The non-standard battery was replaced with a new one, the knocking from the off-side front suspension fixed, and the fans sorted (they were only blowing on the second setting). The remedial work was topped off with a service, including new oil, brake fluid and the replacement of the rear exhaust pipe clamps.
WITH the car now in tip-top condition mechanically, thanks to Porsche GB, we headed to Autoglym for a full makeover. The clean team professionals at the firm’s Letchworth HQ never offer their cleaning services out to the public, but as a special showcase for BEN they threw open their doors for us.
There we met Barney Dobbs who teaches members of the trade all about Autoglym’s impressive range of cleaning products. After inspecting our car and noting the swirls deep in the paintwork you could see he was actually excited about getting started – it was clear Dobbs loved his job and saw our 911 as a challenge.
We only got to spend a couple of hours watching Dobbs work, but after a simple clean and hose down, it was already looking stunning.
We returned the next day and after nine hours’ careful attention the difference was simply staggering.
The paint looked like new. A clay bar had been used to remove all impurities and the surface polished and buffed back to showroom condition. Inside it was just as incredible. Car Dealer Dog’s hairs had been removed, the leather smelt fresh again and the dash was shining.
The transformation Autoglym managed to achieve really was incredible and we’re convinced their hard work has added a few hundred pounds at least to the price tag.
Once the clean had been completed we delivered the car to 911Virgin.com. Specialist Porsche dealer Henry Firmin, based near Uxbridge, has been following our progress closely in the magazine and when he spotted we’d finally completed our mission, he offered to help us sell the car.
Firmin sells around 300 Porsches a year and was confident he could get a decent return for ours. We bought it for £9,900 but were hoping the work we’ve put into it will make it even more valuable – the target is £11,000, which we’ll hand to BEN.
‘I’m sure we’ll do better than that,’ said Firmin, when we dropped the car off. ‘They’ve done a great job cleaning it and the work by Porsche GB will certainly help. All we need now is to get a warranty put on it and it’ll fly out the showroom. You leave the selling to me and get on with your scribbling.’
We like his confidence. At the time of going to press the car was about to be advertised on the 911Virgin.com site. Now we’ve got everything crossed it’ll sell quickly – and for a decent amount. Wish us luck.
WITH THANKS TO…
Porsche GB, porsche.co.uk
911 Virgin, 911virgin.com