Can a car be too good?

9641_4a5a5bd10ed5a-lightboxThis particular process started with a casual glance at Pistonheads in December, when a black / black car appeared for a very reasonable £9K (it was going to be built as a Cup car, but the bloke changed his mind). I was in the US unfortunately, and just missed it.

After toying with a few alternatives (Audi B5 RS4, Renault Clio 197 Cup), I realised I could only really see myself in a black / black 964. Since I live in London, hate washing and polishing and want a car I can use on track, it made sense to find a tatty car that I could just jump in and drive and not have to worry about keeping it pretty (and not pay extra for immaculate paintwork).

This seemed like a simple, not unreasonable concept, but once I started looking, it was soon pretty clear that 964 manual C2 coupes are thin on the ground amongst all the Tiptronics, Targas, C4s and Cabriolets. And in six months, the sum total of black / black C2s for sale was precisely zero. So, I started to consider anything with a black interior (I really couldn’t stomach the cream).

I didn’t do enough research into this subject when I started and didn’t realise the significance of a rebuilt top-end or replacement engine when another abandoned race car project came up. The car was a bit tatty-which was fine-and needed some work doing, but nothing major, and it drove superbly. It also had some Ruf suspension bits and some scruffy Ruf alloys. I got too hung up on the work it needed and passed on it. What was I thinking?

I was making a real dog’s breakfast out of the whole process of buying a car. I’d started to regret not getting the red Ruf car, and the more I looked at, the less sure I was that I’d see the right car when it was in front of me.

My normal car buying process is pretty simple: I rely on cars to grab me in the gut and generally don’t think too much beyond that. But, that’s a dangerous game to play with 20 year old Porsches capable of costing a lot of money if you get it wrong – my head was getting in the way with all sorts of “what if…?” questions.

The situation was aggravated by the fact that I couldn’t afford what I really wanted -an RS- and so on that basis, any car would be a compromise.

At the price I was looking at, everything seemed to have a massive downside. I looked at more cars that needed work and started to lose interest in the whole process. Maybe I just couldn’t afford what I wanted?

Even more frustratingly, there were a couple of nicely modified, pseudo-RS cars at good money, but these were C4s and that seemed to defeat the whole purpose of a lightweight 911.

As much out of frustration as anything else, I thought I’d go see a much more expensive car to see what you got for the extra money. The car was cherished; there seemed little to fault it. It had a few subtle mods and even the odd burgundy interior didn’t look too gauche in the flesh. But, best of all, it had only done 50,000 miles and that answered all my “what if…?” questions. This car didn’t need a top-end rebuild.

So, I abandoned my usual methodology and bought a car with my head.

The car’s fantastic, there’s no doubt about it. It drives superbly, really strong -even though the engine’s stock, it’s been dynoed at 272bhp- and nothing like all the 100K+ mile cars I’d looked at. It’s got about fifty layers of wax on its paintwork and has clearly been looked after…and that’s the problem: is it too nice to use?




Tim Milne