Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Porsche”

Porsche Cayman – Driven and Reviewed

Porsche Cayman front quarter I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon or anything here but, to be completely honest, I didn’t care much for the original Cayman. Visually I found it, well, a little half-baked – it’s slightly awkward lines were reminiscent of a convertible adorned with one of those domed, all-weather hard-tops – a Boxster with a hard-hat if you like.

Porsche badgeThe ethic of the Cayman could never be questioned though. The 911 will forever be Porsche’s icon, and quite rightly so, but it’s no secret that with the engine hanging over the back, it’s something of an engineering nightmare. With the Cayman, Porsche had a clean slate to design a true sports car with the engine in its ideal position – just behind the driver; no rear seats to worry about, and a roof to keep things as solid as possible – something obviously lacking in the Boxster.

So, it was just the disagreeable looks that let the Cayman down a tad then.

Porsche Cayman sideWhat we have here then is the latest model, and just look how the ugly duckling’s turned out. Porsche aren’t where they are today by getting things wrong (well, not often, anyway) and with a few tweaks here and a couple of bulges added there, they’ve created a truly attractive car whilst not straying away from the original ethos behind the project.

Porsche Cayman air scoopThere’s undeniably hints of the 918 Hyper-Porsche in the Cayman, most noticeably being the more severe air intake behind the doors – bigger air-scoops always add a touch of purpose, don’t you think? But it’s the remodelling of the whole silhouette that makes this latest Cayman succeed in the looks department where the previous model failed. Just look at the angle of the roof-line – note how the incline it follows is shallower, terminating at the very back of the body and flicking back up into a little duck-tail spoiler – Porsches always look good with duck-tails. Now compare this with the Mark 1 which had a roof that finished in the middle of the rear wheel arch, directly above the wheel-hub. I can see why Porsche might have been keen to avoid this shape in the first place as it’s definitely more 911 than it was before, but at the end of the day, it still differs just enough from its big brother to avoid poaching sales from the more expensive model, and it works.

Porsche Cayman rear quarterMuch has been written about the ‘S’ version of the Cayman, leaving this 2.7 litre model looking a little redundant. So just what can you expect from a sports car with a ‘measly’ 275bhp? Well, 0-62 comes in at 5.6 seconds and it’ll max out at 164mph which is surely enough for most, although it’s not performance to go singing from the roof-tops about. What is worthy of mention though is the claimed 36.7mpg it’ll return on the combined cycle, and the 180g/km CO2, meaning a year’s VED comes in at a paltry £220 (all of these figures are taken from a Cayman with Porsche’s PDK ‘box – more about that later) Admittedly, economy’s surely the most boring reason to buy a Cayman – what isn’t boring though, is that no matter which model you opt for, it comes with what’s possibly the most sorted chassis set up and engine position this side of a McLaren.

Alloys wouldn't be my choice but anything less than 19'' just isn't enough

Alloys wouldn’t be my choice but anything less than 19” just isn’t enough

Negotiate yourself over the door-sill and into the 911- based interior, and you’ll find a view out over the typically short bonnet between the raised wings that makes you just want to point the car and go, without the intimidating feeling that the nose is out of sight and could come unstuck at any moment. The sound deadening in the cabin is just enough to let the mechanical whirr of the Porsche flat-6 behind the seats permeate in when you press-on, and I assure you, you will press-on. It’s not often that cars are set up so well but Porsche have got it just right with the Cayman, making it handle every corner effortlessly without the need for granite-like suspension that’ll mean every other journey’s to the chiropractor as he repairs the powdery remains of your spine.

If I can find fault with the way the Cayman rides, its lack of weight over the front wheels sometimes means it loses its way over our typically undulating British roads; come off a roundabout too quickly and the lip that sometimes exists between roundabout and carriageway feels more like a stunt ramp.

So, it’s beautifully built, it handles superbly and goes well enough, and now it even looks pretty, and all of this for under £40K……….erm…….well…….yes. You can get all of this for under £40K, but I’d wager that you’d struggle to find a Cayman on the roads today that hadn’t had at least some extras added to perk it up a bit.

Porsche Cayman rear lipOur test car came with options that pushed the price up over ten grand to a not inconsiderable £50,603, but just how much of that extra 25% do you need to spend, and how much is just someone getting carried away with the online configurator? Well, there’s a couple of tech bits like parking sensors that you could probably live without – there’s £1K knocked off your bill straight away. Bi-xenon lights are another grand and they could probably be deleted, the silver paint isn’t standard but there are four perfectly good colours including black and white that come for free, so there’s another £558 – this is easy! Hmmm, ok, the wheels fitted to our test car wouldn’t be my choice personally but the Cayman undoubtedly needs at least 19” to fill the arches so I can justify that £1K hike. Nav’s £2k – that’s necessary, and I’d even say that climate control is expected in a car of this nature – there’s another £518. This isn’t looking so simple all of a sudden.

Porsche Cayman sports modes

Every car should have every one of these buttons……

What’s absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, unquestionably needed on the Cayman is Porsche’s excellent 7 speed Doppelkupplung (PDK) gearbox. I can’t quite believe I’m saying this as the demise of the manual ‘box causes me much heartache and this is one of the few driver focussed cars that still comes with one, but once you’ve experienced PDK, you’ll feel the same way too. The way it seamlessly changes gear into exactly the correct ratio for any given situation is hard to believe; it seems to instinctively know what to do, way before the chemicals in the driver’s brain have even got close to mixing together, weighing everything up and deciding on a gear. Approach a corner at speed and step on the brakes, and the ‘box immediately changes down, and down again, and down again if necessary, giving a delightful little blip on every change – leaving you feeling like a driving hero.

Porsche Cayman sport steering wheelI’d also feel I was missing out slightly if I didn’t opt for the sports steering wheel with paddle shift, the sports exhaust that adds a real rasp in the sound department (follow this link to experience that rasp for yourself; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8l_WTgJB0sk) and, perhaps most importantly – the sports chromo package. Sometimes these different driving modes are a little indistinguishable from one to the other – not so Porsche’s. Left in standard, the Cayman is placid enough to use every day without a second thought; crank it up a bit into sports mode and the instant increase in revs and noise will let you know the car’s ready for more serious business; go for the full-fat sport plus mode and all of a sudden, this ‘standard’ Cayman feels like a world-beating track monster, holding onto first and second gears like a particularly determined limpet. I don’t want to come across all liberal and boring here, but if you have been enjoying sport plus mode, I’d remember to deselect it when driving around town etc, as it really sounds like you’ve forgotten how to change gear, screaming and howling like something that really has no place on public roads.Porsche Cayman sport plus steering wheel

To conclude then, the Cayman in standard guise is sometimes forgotten these days, mainly because of the stunningly brilliant ‘S’ and ‘GTS’ models. It’s important to remember that you get the same fabulous driving experience and looks in this variant, all for under £40K – whether you decide to spend more is entirely up to you.

By Ben Harrington

Porsche Cayman name badgeSpecifications; Porsche Cayman, Engine – 2.7l flat 6 NA, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, LayoutMid engine, RWD, Power – 275bhp, Torque – 290NM, Emissions – 180g/km CO2, Economy – 36.7mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 164 mph, Acceleration – 5.6s 0-62mph, Price – £39,694 OTR, £50,603 as tested





p.s. – on a more practical note, £120 worth of grocery shopping does fit into the Cayman – here’s the photos to prove it:

Porsche Cayman front boot Porsche Cayman rear boot

Porsche Macan – First Drive

Porsche MacanBelieve it or not, Porsche‘s assault on the SUV market started over 12 years ago with the somewhat divisive Cayenne. This is the Macan (Ma-Caan), and what’s perhaps more pertinent with this model is that Porsche have been making sports cars pretty much since the genre was invented. Confused? This is the all-conquering marque’s latest model and their debut entry into the ever-expanding and highly lucrative compact SUV sector, but Porsche are very keen to stress that the Macan should be regarded as ‘less of a small Cayenne – more of a large 911’.

Initial evidence to back-up this claim is tenuous to say the least. It doesn’t take an expert to notice that it’s got five doors, a proper boot (500l – 1500l with rear seats down), and the engine isn’t stored in aforementioned boot – it’s in front of the steering-wheel, just behind the headlights.

That really is just about where the similarity to its larger sibling ends though.If I was to tell you that, in typical Porsche fashion, they’ve ditched the traditional copper for their battery wiring in favour of aluminium as it saves a whopping 3.6kg, you get some idea of what the Macan is about.

Macan Diesel  011

silhouette is very 911-based

Visually, the Macan has none of the awkward angles and lumps sometimes associated with cars in this class. It’s pure Porsche at the front, with the traditional clam-shell bonnet and raised wings. The basic silhouette is very much 911 based and there are hints of the iconic sports car found all around the Macan, combined with certain aspects of the 918, not least of which being the eye-catching 3D rear lights. Speaking of the rear, this is the angle I found most satisfying on the Macan – its shape is pleasing and well proportioned. Look closely and you’ll notice that the Macan’s tyres are wider at the rear than the front to aid traction and grip – that’s definitely more sports car than SUV – a set of exposed quad-exhausts does nothing to detract from the overall look, either.

There are three models available at launch – two petrols in ‘S'(340bhp) and ‘Turbo'(400bhp) guise, and one Diesel, ‘S Diesel'(258bhp), although there’s apparently scope to expand the range in the future.

Porsche macan rear

quad exhausts. Mmmmmmm….

What’s perhaps more important than the range of engines available, though, is the fact that the Macan comes as standard with Porsche’s excellent PDK ‘box across the range, as opposed to the Tiptronic system found in the Cayenne. Again, this decision is undoubtedly pointing more in the direction of performance, less towards gentle wafting.

Porsche were keen to emphasise the Macan’s sporting pedigree, to the point that it’s launch wasn’t held on some quasi-all-terrain test route, it was held at a race-track. And not just any race-track. It was held at Goodwood – a circuit renowned for its high speeds and lack of run-off points. Oh.

3D rear lights, design taken from 918

3D rear lights, design taken from 918

I drove both petrol variants around the Goodwood track, and what’s immediately evident is the lack of body-roll that goes hand in hand with the engines and gearboxes to give a planted, purposeful feel. You can opt to combine your steel-sprung suspension with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system (standard on Turbo), or even plump for air suspension if you like. I guess it depends on what you plan to do with your Macan, but the way the car handled and reacted to changes in direction and camber was sublime in all three set-ups.

Lightweight battery cables or not, the Macan weighs in at nearly 1900kg, so I was quietly grateful for the reassuring stopping power on offer (Porsche engineer their models so that they can go from 60-0 mph in half the time it takes to go from 0-60), especially when approaching those run-off points. Or lack of.

Analogue clock is part of Sport Chrono package

Analogue clock is part of Sport Chrono package

I drove the Diesel on the roads around Goodwood and, lets face it, the road is where the vast majority of Macans will find themselves. Porsche are predicting a 60:20:20 split in the UK (S Diesel:Turbo:S), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the proportion of Diesel models bought was even higher. It really is that good. It may originally have been lifted from the Cayenne, but in the Macan the Diesel unit really comes alive, especially when combined with the ‘Sport’ mode that’s fitted in every Macan, or the really spicy, optional Sport Chrono package.

porsche macan dieselCouple this performance with 46mpg combined and the Diesel is even easy on both the conscience and the wallet. Scarcely believably meagre fuel consumption is another aspect the Macan shares with the 911, though. Even the Turbo model returns an average 30mpg, although I don’t think our test cars were quite achieving that around the track!

Porsche are understandably eager to grab their slice of the compact SUV market, so much so that, including expanding their Leipzig plant, they’ve invested  £1billion Euro to create what they call the first sports car in the class. On first impressions, they might have pulled it off.


By Ben Harrington


Specifications; Porsche Macan S, Engine – 3.0l V6 biturbo petrol, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 340bhp, Torque – 460Nm, Emissions – 212 – 204g/km CO2, Economy – 31.9mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 158mph, Acceleration – 5.4s 0-62mph, Price – £43,300 OTR

Specifications; Porsche Macan S Diesel, Engine – 3.0l V6 turbo Diesel, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 258bhp, Torque – 580Nm, Emissions – 164 – 159g/km CO2, Economy – 46mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 143mph, Acceleration – 6.3s 0-62mph, Price – £43,300 OTR

Specifications; Porsche Macan Turbo, Engine – 3.6l V6 biturbo petrol, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 400bhp, Torque – 550Nm, Emissions – 216 – 208g/km CO2, Economy – 30.7mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 165mph, Acceleration – 4.8s 0-62mph, Price – £59,300 OTR


For full details, go to http://www.porsche.com/uk/models/macan





VW buy Porsche, what’s the big deal?

vw buys porsche logoSo, in a bizarre twist of events, Volkswagen have finally bought the remaining 50.1% shares it didn’t already own in sports-car giant Porsche in a deal that cost VW  a whopping £5.4bn including repaying Porsche’s £1.9bn debt. I say bizarre because in the not too distant past, Porsche were raiding their own copper-jar to amass the funds needed to buy Volkswagen. Confusing, eh?

If you’ve been living on Mars for the last four years, you’ll be blissfully unaware of the changes that have occurred to the global economic climate. Porsche haven’t been afforded this luxury however and it’s this worldwide recession, coupled with tragic timing that has left them in a position of unaffordable repayments on the loan they acquired in order to purchase Volkswagen.

1970's Porsche 914 in green

Porsche 914

So, that’s a brief history of how we came to be in this position but what does this unification mean in the real world? Volkswagen and Porsche have been inextricably linked since a certain German megalomaniac ordered Ferdinand Porsche to build him a car for the people and the VW Type 1 (Beetle) was born. Since then, the two marques have never been poles apart, even co-producing the mid-engined Porsche 914 in the 1970s. More recently, the two companies have shared various components on their Touareg and Cayenne models, along with Audi and their Q7.

This new German ‘supergroup’ contains more than just VW and Porsche however. Volkswagen also bring to the party Skoda and Seat and when you add Audi to the equation, there’s all of their models and, as if we could forget, Lamborghini to throw a bucketload of spice into the mix.

audi a7 sportback grey

Audi A7 Sportback

It has been suggested that there are too many elements here to make up a happy family, that certain models from this amalgamation of brands are competing against each other and will simply take their market share from within the group, particularly from Audi. I’m not sure that I subscribe to this theory however; Both VW and Porsche haven’t proved themselves to be highly resilient manufacturers in tough economic climes without good reason. If we take the models that Porsche bring to the fold, they are very much in a sub-category that shouldn’t affect the rest of the group. As previously mentioned, the Touareg, Cayenne and Q7 have always shared components yet seemed to have found their own niche in the large 4×4 segment. The Cayman is a class above the TT coupe and a class below the R8, both in terms of cost and appeal. The Panamera is too much car for Audi’s A7 to compete and the upcoming 918 Spyder is an unknown quantity as yet that will undoubtedly now be marketed to avoid it detracting from the Lamborghini stable.

1963 porsche 911 in red

1963 Porsche 911

That leaves the Boxster and the 911 which could be argued to face direct competition from the TT and R8 respectively. This is certainly feasible but in the case of the Boxster vs TT, I feel that the different drivetrains and layouts of these models means that they can co-exist in their current guise and with a little tweaking from within the group, they’ll start to drift apart in terms of consumer appeal. That leaves just the 911 and the R8 but the evergreen Porsche with its four seats and rear engine layout seems to offer so many ticks in so many boxes that it’s hard for anything else to compete. This, combined with a seemingly infinite choice of models may explain the longevity of the 911 which now covers nearly 50 years.

What’s pertinent to remember  is that this wasn’t some oil baron buying a football club on a whim. This multi-billion pound deal will have been scrutinised to within an inch of its life and, historically speaking, both marques are prone to making good decisions where others have fallen. In my opinion, both VW and Porsche will profit hugely from their coming together and form a beautiful union. I might be wrong, but I doubt it.

By Ben Harrington

You can’t kid a kidder, even with a fancy car!

Here’s my somewhat early entry into 2012’s ‘stating the bleeding obvious competition’: ‘Cars are no longer simply a means of transport, they are an expression of our character’. There you go, a winner if ever I saw one, but it is true or at least partially. You see, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the gap between the reflection our cars give of our actual lives and how they reflect our idealised lives is widening to astronomical levels.


Rover P6

Until fairly recent times, a car was bought primarily to suit our needs best. If you were young and footloose, you bought a two-seater sports car before the impending requirements of family life hit. Once family had arrived, more doors and a larger boot were deemed necessary so you’d pop down to your local Ford dealership and buy whatever sensible model they were producing at that time, be it the Cortina, Sierra or Mondeo. If you required yet more space, various estate cars were available or you could buy a van. This carried on until old age, upon which time you could treat yourself to either a Rover or a Jaguar, dependent on how financially prudent you’d been in the previous 65 years.

These days however, armed with niche markets appearing in existing niche markets and an almost desperate desire to express ourselves, we can live out our fantasy lifestyles through the cars we buy and most people are.

Littering is without doubt one of my greatest pet-hates, seeing ignorance of this level has the ability to catapult me to hereto unseen levels of annoyance. Recently however, I witnessed some extraordinary discarding of waste that got me thinking about how much we are attempting to pull the wool over each other’s eyes, just with the mode of transport we use. What really got my attention about the moronic, selfish, lout desecrating our streets was the fact that he had wound down the window on his Toyota Prius to do it. That’s right folks, the driver of a car that comes equipped with its own soap box for impromptu ‘I’m helping save the world’ speeches, purposefully ejected his litter onto the street. He thinks that by buying a Prius, he could be mistaken for Leo Dicaprio arriving at his latest premier but the truth is he couldn’t care less about the environment, he’s just tight and wants to save a few quid on petrol.


Land Rover Discovery

When you think about it, this type of masquerading is commonplace on our roads today. The much highlighted abuse of 4x4s is an easy target. Once the reserve of farmers and the Queen, today, no mother could possibly expect to survive the perils of a modern day school run without permanent 4wd, a limited slip diff and bullet-proof glass all-round. In truth, any large hatchback could easily replace 90% of 4x4s on the road but, and here’s the sticking point, they wouldn’t portray the horsey, rough and tumble image that is deemed so desirable.

Sports car owners are just as guilty. You count the amount of young, attractive men equipped with a full head of real hair that you see driving a Porsche Boxster or a BMW Z4. Now tot up the drivers of these cars who want you to think they’re youthful and virile yet in reality smell slightly of wee and swear by sanatogen and cod liver oil. This can partially be blamed on the economy or insurance premiums but no-one forces pensioners to buy two-seater convertibles.


Rod and his Enzo

The examples are numerous and widespread; ‘Hells Angels’ Harley riders who are actually merchant bankers and would cry if they got dirt under their recently manicured nails. New Mini drivers, clinging desperately to their youth whilst simultaneously subjecting their teenage children to years of physiotherapy caused by being shoe-horned into the back seats alongside the weekly shop as the boot is the same capacity as a Samsonite briefcase.

I think the point I’m trying to make here is that we are increasingly putting vanity ahead of practicality which is fine when buying say, a t-shirt, a car should primarily fit your needs and everything else comes second. We need to realise that it might not be cool, but it’s ok to be ‘Mondeo man’. (I wouldn’t have one though – far too boring!)

By Ben Harrington

An Idiot (hopefully) Aboard – The Bucket List (cars to drive before you die)

Having been recently inspired by the hilarious second series of ‘An Idiot Abroad’, I’ve decided that it is my duty to draw up a bucket list with a difference. Instead of a predictable procession of things to do before you die, I feel that what would be far more interesting (to those of a petrol obsessed nature anyway) is a list of vehicles I feel I must own before I die, or the DVLA revokes my licence due to 90% blindness – whichever comes first. Obviously this list is by no means exhaustive and will be updated when I see something else that takes my fancy.

Just to clarify, this is by no means a wish-list of unobtainable, ridiculously priced automotive rarity. Only vehicles which are realistically affordable to the average person are permitted, although I can’t be held responsible for any astronomical running costs that may be incurred.

1. FordCapri280 Brooklands                  Current Purchase Price – Circa £7,000

Ford Capri 280 Brooklands

Ford Capri 280 Brooklands

Having been brought up on a strict diet of various Capris, I can’t even look at one now without going all misty eyed and nostalgic. The sleek Mk111 has always been my favourite, its ultimate incarnation undoubtedly being the limited edition 280 Brooklands. Only 1038 were made, all in metallic ‘Brooklands’ green and signalled the end of the line for  the capri in Europe. Even as a child, I recognised that these were the Capris to own and begged my dad tirelessly to buy one, but unfortunately to no avail. I feel I must right a wrong.

2.  1968 Dodge Charger                            Current Purchase Price – Circa £25,000

1968 Dodge Charger in black

1968 Dodge Charger

Possibly at the limits of my realistic ambitions this one, 12mpg from a 7 litre engine is enough to worry the most committed of petrolheads but, oh my, does that V8 snarl sound tempting. The Charger just edges the Ford Mustang for the title of my ultimate muscle car but it’s got to be a ’68 and it’s got to be black. Slim hopes of actually owning one are only kept alive due to Mrs Harrington also wanting one, although she would insist on it being bright orange with a confederate flag on the roof, can’t possibly think why!

3. Harley Davidson Fat Boy                      Current Purchase Price – Circa £15,000

Harley Davidsom Fatboy Motorbike

Harley Davidson Fatboy

There’s nothing quite like a Hog for fulfilling those Route 66 fantasies and the Fat Boy is the most fantastic. Arnie riding one down a storm drain in Terminator 2 was enough to sow the seed for me and I still can’t hear that distinctive air-cooled, V twin sound without yearning to own a Harley. Fitting a 1.3 litre engine to a motorcycle may seem excessive to us Britons but surely that’s the whole point of an All American Fat Boy – excess.

4. Volkswagen Karmann Ghia                 Current Purchase Price – Circa £10,000

1960's Volkswagen Karmann Ghia in blue

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Here’s a little tale for the romantics amongst you. Back in 2002, I was left in no doubt that I had met the future Mrs Harrington when a conversation I was having with my girlfriend got onto cars. Being a devoted lover of all things Volkswagen and air-cooled, I was left awestruck when she told me, without prompting I may add, that the car she desired most was the Karmann Ghia. That’s right, not the latest Range Rover or the most expensive Mercedes sports but the relatively unusual, chirpy coupe from VW. We promised ourselves there and then that we’d buy one but in the end opted for a more practical Type 2 instead. Got to have one someday – it’s our destiny!

5. Jeep Wrangler 4.0                                   Current Purchase Price – Circa £4000

4.0 litre Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

I think that my passion for no-nonsense engineering is aroused by the notion of owning a Wrangler. They’re so simple and in some ways antiquated yet undoubtedly a design icon that’s never been bettered. Ok, so the 4 litre – straight six can’t exactly be described as frugal and the ride quality may be a little pony and trap but who cares? This car costs peanuts, typifies the American dream and yet has the steering wheel on the correct side and a main dealership in Stockport.

6. Ferrari 355                                               Current Purchase Price – £35,000 min

Ferrari 355 in Red

Ferrari 355

This one’s really pushing my ‘available to the average man’ rule, I know but their purchase prices are creeping down all the time so maybe with a little windfall, this could be a realistic purchase. Running the thing would obviously be a different kettle of fish, more of a money-pit than a kettle if I’m honest but personally, I’ve got to hold onto the dream. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the last truly beautiful car to have rolled off the Modena production line. Its graceful angles and purposeful stance are such a visual treat that I couldn’t really care less if it drives like a complete dog, which of course it doesn’t.

7. Ducati 916                                                 Current Purchase Price – Circa £7000

Ducati 916

Ducati 916

When it comes down to motorbikes, my knowledge is, shall we say, sketchy at best. Sure, I admire some of them, I even own one (sort of) but at 31 I’m still a beginner when it comes down to controlling one and when it comes down to superbikes especially, I’d have to look for the manufacturers badge in order to pick one out of a line up. Nope, when compared to the cars, my emotional attachment to bikes is miniscule. All except that is, for the Ducati 916. As a teenager, our neighbour had one and if he were to start it up in his garage, I swear our house used to shake. Visually, it’s typically Italian – audacious yet delicate. Acoustically, it initially gives you a little shock on start-up but turn the accelerator round a fraction and it gives you the fright of your life. Like all the best Italian operas, both overwhelmingly beautiful and crushingly dramatic in equal measures.

8. 1977 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II                Current Price – Circa £10000

Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II

Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II

I don’t care that I’d either look like a dodgy second-hand car dealer or I was transporting the bride to her beloved. I don’t care that the ancient 6.75 litre engine would struggle to achieve over 10mpg yet only provide a somewhat pathetic 189bhp. I don’t care that the wallowing suspension is bound to bring on sea sickness. I don’t even care that many of them were sold in delightful colours, the most popular shades being Costume Jewellery Gold and Angel Delight Brown. What I do care about is that for me, the Silver Shadow is the archetypal Rolls Royce. Yes, it’s still as subtle as a sledgehammer but it also has a certain grace that was lost on later models – it’s slightly round at the edges –a look Rolls Royce have reverted to with their recent land yachts. I honestly can’t think of a more rock and roll car.

9. 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera                                 Current Price – Circa £15000


1987 Porsche 911 Carrera

I know I’m forever prattling on about Porsche, this model in particular but no bucket list of mine would be anywhere near complete without this car. Flawed in almost every aspect of its design and constantly looking for new and exciting ways to launch its driver into the nearest large oak tree but still, every inch an icon. Ultimately, mine would be black with a red leather interior although I can be swayed on colour. What is an absolute must however is the oversize, whale-tail spoiler that must protrude from the Porsche’s rump. I’ll even play nothing but 80’s power ballads on the stereo.

By Ben Harrington

Frankfurt Motor Show 2011

Ferrari 458 Spider

Well well well, the Frankfurt motor show opened its doors to much fanfare on Tuesday and I’m delighted to say that it appears to have on show some of the most interesting new models I’ve seen for years. There really is a plethora of eye-catching cars, not always for the right reasons but hey, it wouldn’t be a motor show without the weird and wonderful, would it?

‘All new’ Porsche 911 991

To name but a few of the headline grabbers on display, Porsche left us all dumbstruck with their, ahem, all new 911….wing mirrors.

Ferrari’s decided to take their styling cues from Renault these days by emulating the very clever folding hard top as previously seen on the Wind. Joking aside however, this is one of those very rare occasions when I’m prepared to admit that a car looks better in convertible guise than hard top.

Land Rover DC100 Concept

It was inevitable that this day would come eventually. Some poor soul at Land Rover has finally been tasked with replacing the iconic 67 year old design of the Defender. Re-inventing the wheel seems preferable to me as you’re only going to upset millions of purists, however good the replacement may look, drive or feel.

Ford Evos Concept

Having been brought up on a staple diet of Capris, I was very excited when Ford unveiled their latest design concept, the Evos. As usual, Ford were keen to deny that this would go into production and even more keen to distance themselves from the Capri name. Why Ford, why? Embrace this much loved icon and do us all a favour by dispelling the memory of, I can barely say it, the Cougar!

Jaguar CX-16

Undoubtedly the star of the show for many people, myself included is this car, the Jaguar C-X16. I know I keep saying it but the way Jaguar has been turned around of late is nothing short of staggering. If it performs anywhere near as well as it looks, I can honestly say that if I was in the market for a car of this genre, I would march straight past the Porsche 911’s in their showroom and place my order for one of these, and that’s saying something.

Bugatti Veyron L’Or Blanc

One for those of you who were reluctant to invest in a Veyron due to its abhorrent lack of porcelain, this one’s got it in abundance, inside and out. There you go, your prayers answered. I did say that not everything was in good taste!

By Ben Harrington

Early to Mid Life Crisis – Only a 911 can save me

Nineteen and a half years. Assuming every penny of it was banked, that’s roughly how long it would take Mr U.K. average to earn the amount that I’ve recently valued my life at for insurance purposes. Unfortunately this figure doesn’t take tax or National Insurance into account so unless you live in Switzerland or have an extremely clever accountant, it’s more likely to take around thirty years, with no outgoings, at all.

I’d always been led to believe that mid-life crises occurred when one hit the big 4-0 but as I approach my 31st birthday, I can only assume that mine decided on an early start. A few years ago I wouldn’t have even contemplated doing something as boring as taking out life insurance, why would I when I was invincible? Yet recently I’ve been struggling to sleep at night in case an errant satellite felled me in the street before my policy details were finalised – how middle aged is that?

It gets worse though. In true ‘Bucket List’ fashion, I’ve decided that it’s time for a long term ambition to be realised, possibly before it’s too late. I’m going to buy a Porsche 911. Since their images adorned my walls as a child, owning an 80’s 911 has been an inevitable event in my life, a box that simply must be ticked. Recently however, this need has escalated from ‘I’ll get round to that one day’ to ‘I’d better start seriously considering that’. My amateur psychoanalysis has reached the conclusion that this is partly due to turning 30 but more importantly is due to the overwhelming terror of my next milestone being 40!

porsche-capI do adore the 911, especially air-cooled examples from the 1980’s with their dramatic styling and big wings. Whenever I see one, I can’t help but take a glance at the lucky sod driving it and this, is I think what’s persuaded me it’s time to take the plunge. For me, the whole image is ruined if I see Bob the scaffolder behind the wheel, well into his 40s and well over a 40 inch waist, light reflecting off his balding pate or worse still, a Porsche baseball cap attempting to disguise said pate. This is certainly not how I want to be seen in my 911. I want young blondes to take a glance and see someone with youth, vigour and his own teeth, someone who’s still in his prime, not incontinence pants. This may be the sad attempt of a thirty something father of two trying to kid the world but as long as I’m convinced, I don’t care.

Of course, deciding to buy a 911 is just the first step, achieving it may be a couple of years down the line as I’ve got to save up the cash. Well I’m not going to get a loan am I, that would be far too irresponsible!


By Ben Harrington

Lotus to expand their horizons?

new-lotus-esprit in white

New Lotus Esprit

Lotus’ owners Proton have recently revealed that they are planning to move the brand  upmarket. Their aim is to produce cars to compete with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari, priced between £80 and £110k.  Put simply, this does not sound like a good idea to me. Colin Chapman’s original ethos was ‘lightweight and simple’, a theory perfectly demonstrated with the Elise and Exige, both of which could easily embarrass cars twice as powerful and twice as expensive. That’s the whole point of Lotus – leaving a 911 for dead and picturing the owner consoling himself by lowering his electric windows or admiring his carpets. Lotus definitely have a reputation for building small, lightweight cars with clever chassis but Porsche et al are a step too far because of one word – Toyota. You see the plan is to develop these expensive supercars whilst still utilising the engines from Japan’s automotive giant. The best way I can explain my issue with this is as follows:- When I first sat in a DB9, I was so disappointed to recognise switchgear from my wife’s ’96 Escort. Imagine then, having just spent £110k on a supercar and constantly being reminded that the engine was made alongside the engine in a 1 litre Yaris. I’m not saying it would be a bad engine, it would probably be extremely reliable but where’s the excitement in reliability? When you see or hear a Ferrari, the racing heritage goes hand in hand with the sometimes temperamental nature, making it almost a treat to complete a journey. If you want an expensive Toyota, buy a Lexus LFA, that’s laughably expensive.

Please Proton, realise where Lotus’ place in the world is. To give us the most bang for our buck.

By Ben Harrington

New Porsche 928

New Porsche 928 picture

New Porsche 928

Hold the press! There are strong rumours abound that Porsche may be in the late design stages of a new model – and it’s not pig ugly! Recent attempts from Stuttgart i.e. the Cayenne, Cayman and Panamera appear to have been taken from the ‘Only their mother could love them’ collection, with their strong sales figures simply highlighting how powerful the Porsche brand is. However, this 928-style coupe’s initial sketches are very promising. It will apparently use the Panamera’s platform and front end, with the rear end taking some styling cues from the 911. Unlike the 911 it will be a front engined V8, making it a GT in the truest sense of the word and allowing it to compete with the likes of the Aston Martin DB9 and Ferrari 599. If this car is as pretty as initial impressions suggest, global domination for Porsche may be yet another step closer.

By Ben Harrington

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