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Poorly car. Poorly bank balance.

Had to take my car in for its annual service (a minor one) and four new tyres this week. bunn calls my car Percy*, but the name hasn't stuck as much as "Helga" has for her Saab 9-5.

Anyway, while four new 18" Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tyres aren't cheap (a little shy of £800 fitted), a minor service shouldn't have been too painful. Long term readers of this journal may remember that in true Chartered Accountant fashion, I bought this car only after creating a complicated annual cost of ownership spreadsheet.** A big plus for the 911 is the low servicing cost compared to similar cars like Maseratis or Aston Martins.

Unfortunately, my car is now very old (thirteen years and counting) and very high mileage (well over 100,000). And bits have started to corrode. Not big bits, but small and expensive bits. After some pretty effective haggling to reduce the labour rate by 50% (!) and only doing the things absolutely necessary (while leaving the "advisables" to a later date), we got the cost down to £2,440 including the tyres. That's quite a financial blow for someone on my income. Nevertheless, the car is running much better now, and I'm encouraged to think that there's no reason I shouldn't be able to keep this car running for several years. Maybe one day, it'll be a classic 911.***

One silver lining is that for the three days they had Percy, they loaned me a brand new top of the range Cayman S PDK with pretty much every option. They had an identically-specced one in the showroom with a list price of £61,500, so that's quite a generous courtesy car. For the uninitiated, the Cayman is like a 911, but with the engine in the middle rather than at the back and with no rear seats. Anyone who has tried to sit in the back seats of my car may argue that the 911 doesn't have rear seats either. The S is the faster model with a 3.4 litre engine (291bhp, 171mph, 0-60 5.1 seconds). However, what I really loved was the PDK gearbox. PDK is Porsche's 7-speed flappy-paddle gearbox ("Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe"). I've driven a Porsche Boxster in the past with the old "Tiptronic" flappy paddle, but wasn't massively impressed. PDK is completely different. High-revving when you want it to be, but still torquey at low revs and with almost instantaneous manual selection with a flick of the paddle. I'm a convert.

My colleague random once suggested that Jeremy Clarkson was a strong influence on my life. This is true up to a point, and there are many issues on which Mr Clarkson and I agree. However, he is wrong about two things:
1. The 911.
2. Flappy paddle gearboxes, or at least the PDK.

The other thing that this Cayman had was the optional switchable sports exhaust. Press a button and the exhaust is LOUDER. (Why you'd want it to be quiet is beyond me - it sounds glorious. I'm sure the bloke I overtook on Dartmoor**** thought the same as I blasted past him.)

* Percy the Purple Porsche.
** Here's the chart. The current annual running cost even accounting for this service is rather lower, mostly because we're now on the flatter part of the depreciation curve.
*** The 996 model of the 911 is perhaps the least sought after of all 911s (which is how I could afford it in the first place). This is because it was the first of the 'new' 911s with water-cooled engines and sensible interiors, which makes it less attractive to people who want a more 'pure' classic air-cooled 911 and not as good as the more modern 997 and the new 991 models.
**** I've got a shiny new Cayman S PDK to play around with, so I'm going to take the fun road rather than the dull dual carriageway.