OT: A tale of two Porsches

_3500448 copy

Earlier in the year, I opened discussion to the floor for suggestions around the quest for a different, tactile driving experience – a sort of cathartic break from the increasingly numb efficiency of modern cars. Most of the responses suggested that as usual, the answer was Miata; Miata is unfortunately not an easily accessible proposition in my country, and especially not a manual. For that matter, there are few manuals available outside the truly woeful econoboxes so bad that the dealers don’t even keep demo cars in stock (think the cheapest cars from the local manufacturers; so cheap that airbags and ABS are marketed as headline features). Needless to say, these did not prove to be pleasant motoring. What I did manage to find, at around the price of a new Honda Civic for the former, and a base 3-series for the latter – were two rather interesting Porsches.

_3500441 copy

First, a quick recap of the criteria: the car had to be enjoyable for the sake of driving; the kind of thing that’s entertaining and engaging enough to be a temporary mental respite for the hour or two you’d take it out late at night or early in the morning, and in doing so, occupy the vast majority of your attention. It should make you revel in the feel of the steering and feedback of the chassis; the engine note should be interesting enough that you don’t miss Tidal and Bluetooth audio streaming. It has to be affordable to run as a second car, or practical enough to be a primary one (and preferably still affordable). This ruled out older exotics such as Ferrari 360s and 430s, even though they weren’t far out of the ballpark. And it ruled out anything vintage on the grounds of availability of parts and expertise.

For the car to meet these criteria, it would basically have to be a) manual; b) passively damped; c) hydraulically steered and perhaps d) naturally aspirated, and of a sporting disposition. A bonus for a convertible top, since we all know that gives another level of direct intimacy with one’s environment (though admittedly, having owned a convertible previously, I found it to be a mixed bag in the tropics).

_3500411 copy

Car number one was a Porsche Boxster. There have been several generations – the 986s suffered from fried egglights, slightly dumpy styling that made the body feel too big for the chassis, and engines with potentially fatal IMS bearing issues. They were cheap, but getting on in age to the point where a lot of the wear and tear items would need attention. At this point, it’s important to remember that maintenance costs are still decidedly Porsche, and in Malaysia at least – these cars were $150k or more back in the day. The 987 generation sorted out the cosmetics, and the midlife refresh (987.2) – the engine issues. My Boxster was a bare-bones spec base model with the 2.9L flat six and a manual gearbox, and nothing else. It got some new shock bearings, rubbers, tires and minor cosmetic touch ups.

I suspect this engine is one of the underrated ones, forever living in the shadow of the 3.4L ‘S’; but it has nice, linear power delivery and likes to rev to its 7,000+ redline. And given the relatively low power – ‘just’ 255bhp – you could also use it all of the time, though beware monstrously long gearing that means 3rd gear tops out at 120km/h or so. You could drive it easily at 8/10ths and feel like a hero; 9/10ths or more would require balls of steel and fast reactions to manage understeer and then catch oversteer if you overcooked it into a corner. But the lack of weight, mid-engined layout and low center of gravity made it a very nimble, agile car; it felt like it always wanted to play and would change direction at the merest flick of the (thin, but telegraphic) steering wheel.

_3500407 copy

The dampers felt pretty soft – but oddly, I think it suited the personality of the car. It never felt like a hardcore sports car so much as one of those ‘traditional’ English b-road roadsters, breathing with the surface changes and remaining fairly comfortable. The stance certainly suggested this – a large amount of clearance between wheels and arches could probably benefited with some slight lowering, though I admit I never had ground clearance issues. I suspect the suspension geometry wasn’t ideal, but there wasn’t a lot of adjustment latitude, either. I also felt the brakes were pretty weak; initial bite at the top of the pedal was, let’s say, gentle. But the depth to which you’d have to press the pedal made heel-toeing very easy, and given the nature of the engine – you tended to heel-toe at every opportunity.

I actually sold the car after a few months because of the roof. On one hand, it was one of the best things about it – driving with the roof down on a cool evening or early morning and listening to that engine was sublime, especially in the higher rev ranges once the Variocam system switched to the second cam profile. That flat six sounded somehow very Porsche; the noise I associated with the various generations of 911 I’d either been driven in or driven myself over the last few years*. On the other hand, my apartment car park has a stray cat problem, whose collective claws present obvious problem for a car with a cloth roof. And the country has a bit of a rain problem, which personally made me feel never 100% confident with a convertible of that age – no matter how well maintained and treated regularly with silicone spray.

*I have to admit I am not a fan of the 911’s driving dynamics. I’ve tried to like one, but really can’t. I find the weight behind the rear axle to be too noticeable, too dominant. Then there’s the amount of other technology they had to throw at the car to overcome this, leading to unnecessary complexity. All so that it could have four seats, two of which are not really usable for anything other than small children or your worst enemies. I admit I find the 991 GT3’s (either version) powertrain absolutely spectacular, but the way the back pendulums over expansion joints makes me deeply uncomfortable.

_Z728319 copy

Car number two was – and still is – another Porsche; this time a Cayman R. Made for one year (2012) in very small numbers at the end of the 987 generation, the R benefitted from the final run of 3.4L flat six engines without IMS bearing issues and with a bit more power; tweaked suspension geometry with firmer dampers and lower ride height; a whole load of lightweight aluminum parts making it one of the lightest modern Porsches; a limited slip differential and sufficient rarity that values have bottomed and already started to rise again. (Estimates put RHD production in the range of 300 or so split equally between manual and PDK gearboxes for the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Japan; we got our cars from the UK’s production, either new or parallel-imported later). It’s gotten to the point there’s a sort of ‘ideal spec’ amongst the cognoscenti – remember, everything is a paid option with Porsche, keeping them amongst the most profitable automakers. I agree with most of the choices except the fixed back bucket seats; these just don’t work for me ergonomically and give me a backache fairly quickly.

_Z728384 copy

But luck was on my side, and a 17,000km example with manual gearbox, sport chrono, sport (but not bucket) seats, optional exhaust and unhinged AP Racing brakes off a touring car was available. It hadn’t been driven much by the previous owner, and needed some work – total fluid changes, a new clutch, some bushings, a really good polish and removal of a very bad half-body protection film. Let’s just say, first impressions parked up under a car porch, it looked like one of the rattiest modern Porsches I’d ever seen – except the interior was immaculate, and mechanicals unworn. It didn’t speak to me the first time I drove it, but I kept thinking about it and eventually went back a few weeks later. Back to back against the Boxster it was clear that at low to normal speeds you’d gain mostly from sharper handling and feedback (probably also due to the smaller steering wheel, larger tires and firmer suspension) – but noise and limits at higher speeds were something else.

_Z728459 copy

I took possession of the car about six months ago. In that time, I’ve put several thousand kilometers on it. I still find it mind boggling that the previous owner would buy such a focused car (i.e. knowing what he was getting into) and then barely use it, but I’m not complaining. This is clearly a very fast car with limits that I’m still cautiously exploring; limits much too high for the public road and require a track to fully appreciate. It doesn’t understeer at the limit but tends towards neutral to mild oversteer, especially after I fitted a slightly larger front tire for more bite on initial turn in, and increased the front negative camber and toe out. The suspension is firm, but not crashy; and that’s on the old stock dampers before switching to adjustable Bilstein coilovers with camber plates and spherical joints on the toe links. (The Bilsteins, of course, are even better at controlling mass, but with almost no compromise to comfort.) it’s controlled and telegraphic of grip levels that makes the M2 feel a bit like a mattress. It feels controllable because the wheel and your posterior is always telling you what’s happening, but with such a low moment of inertia, my fear is always that it might snap on me – so I’m cautiously progressive with the throttle, but long for the last thousand RPM where the engine sings a tune most turbocharged engines can’t match.

_Z728339 copy

Fortunately, I’ve got those phenomenal brakes to reign in the speed – the pedal is firm, but so easy to modulate that you can scrub off tenths of a kilometer per hour, or lock the tires at will. The Cayman R just feels precise – it does what you tell it to; no more and no less. It isn’t so intimidating for a relatively new driver, but it has the breadth of ability to reward skill. I suppose you could call it a driving tool, in the most complimentary way. Like all good tools – it enables you and inspires you; it’s a car I just want to drive. Put another way: I drive the M2 somewhat reluctantly, but then remember how good a car it is; I want to drive the Cayman R, but always feel somewhat intimidated if I’m not fully in the mood, because its personality requires – no, demands – your full attention. And I think that’s what I was looking for… MT

_Z728182 copy


Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop videos, and the individual Email School of Photography. You can also support the site by purchasing from B&H and Amazon – thanks!

We are also on Facebook and there is a curated reader Flickr pool.

Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. As an Elise driver I can only agree with your post 😉
    I really like the way you used the light for the Cayman pictures !
    (last picture of the Boxster is also very well composed)
    Would you have some time to do a quick post about car photography, in particular static?

  2. I have have the 986s. LOVE iT. My feeling is that 1st gen cars have a styling appeal that gets lost in later models. The AUDI TT is a good example of this. The 1st gen has unmistakable styling cues, and the later versions look like they could have been made by KIA. Sure, there is an argument for performance upgrades that most of us will never have the opportunity to use in everyday street traffic. Who does 0-60 in a 35mpg zone anyway? Every car no matter how well conceived, has a flaw. The 1st gen TT’s looked like s##t from the direct side view. Like a pregnant baby duck. But the front, rear, and 3/4s were perfect.

    I will admit, I do slobber over the new Caymans, where the aesthetic is beyond anything in it’s class, but…. when in a porsche, there is some extra excitement to be had in the auditory dept when you have the top down in a Boxter. Not sure if the Caymens come in a drop-top. The Cayman doesn’t suffer from aesthetics at any angle. My 986s had, as you said, the ugliest of porsche eyes ever conceived… but… since it isn’t a garage queen, it’s well worn and battle-tested, I silicone-glued some fiberglass overlays I bought on Ebay, and now… they don’t look like shiity shit, but they do have some aftermarket Mercedes DNA in them… which might actually disgust porsche snobs a little, but I am no porsche snob. I didn’t buy the car BECAUSE it had a porsche badge on it, I bought it because no other car I’ve ever driven gives me the same performance thrill with each drive. Headlights are easily replaceable, but that eff’d up design didn’t really leave a lot of aftermarket headlight designers inspired to tackle it, I guess. The new Cayman headlights are what should have been on the Boxter from the beginning.

    The mid engine is crazy nice. My TT had it in the front, and the cornering performance is far better/fun in the mid engine porsche, even in everyday traffic.

    • Probably because the first gen is the closest thing to the concept car; later generations work off the already diluted version.

      A Boxster is a Cayman with a drop top (or vice versa, a Cayman being a hardtop Boxster, since it came later only in the 987 generation). IMHO the current 718 generation looks a little diluted again; the 981s were pretty good except for the headlights (square?!) with very nice detailing around the rear light/ spoiler area, but the 987.2 remains a rather nice balance that’s aged very well indeed.

      Never been a huge fan of the way Audis handle, personally – the have the mass far too up front, often over or ahead of the rear axle even…not good for direction changes, and higher than it needs to be for the drivetrain to clear the front axle components. Porsche got it very right handling-wise with their mid-engined cars, just too bad they were held back to preserve the 911 hierarchy – it’s clear the chassis can take far more power than it was ever given, and the handling is even better with a damper and toe angle change…

  3. Drive a 981 Cayman 6 Speed myself coming from two generations of the M3. No regrets. No substitute.

    • Which generations of M3, out of curiosity?

      • E36 M3 and E46 M3. Didn’t like the F82 “M4” due to it feeling really “digital” and imbalance. The Cayman’s mid-engine, balance, lightweight, and analog feel felt better to me. I also track my car so there is that.

        • Agree on the F82 – it’s very tail happy compared to earlier ones. The E90 didn’t do much below 4000 RPM and had plenty of issues with bearings. The E46 CSL remains one of the most impressive cars I’ve driven…

  4. Such beautiful photos of beautiful cars!

    • Thanks!

      • Thomas Hardy says:

        Nice cars and great photos as usual. You say these cars are priced similar to new Hondas?

        • In my country they are…a new Civic 1.5 Turbo is RM130,000 or so. The 2009 Boxster was the same. A Cayman R is a bit more of a rare beast though, and is priced accordingly (though relatively underpriced for a Porsche with that low production compared to a 911-variant).

  5. Hello Ming
    I like SUVs and would like to drive Macan or Jaguar. Unfortunately, I always have loads of equipment to shuffle between our house, our stationary camper in the mountains and various campsites around Europa. So two cars only, the smaller being VW California. And it is necessary, since my gear is voluminous. Especially since I last year “broadened my horizon” with MF. Anniversary of the unboxing nears, I think it was February 11. I am still happy with the Hassy and thankful. I hope you do not miss it too much. Take care!

  6. You write well. Your style is informative and entertaining. I found your blog while looking for reviews of the 2.9 litre Boxster.

    • Thanks.

      • You seem to have a few kindred spirit hanging around here. I too like my cameras and cars, but do not rely on either for a living. I’ve just bought a 2009 Boxster like yours, for much the same reasons. I wanted an analogue car, to remind myself how badly I drive. Newer cars laden with tech flatter the average driver too much.

        • Cars and photography seem to go hand in hand – it’s probably rooted somewhere in an appreciation for mechanical objects and things that give back proportionally to the skill of the user – or at least that’s what I tell myself!

          Fully agreed on newer cars: they flatter the average driver, but also put them closer to a position beyond which physics takes over and electronics can no longer save you. Conversely, a good driver will often feel frustrated at the lack of information coming back from the car…

  7. “On the other hand, my apartment car park has a stray cat problem, whose collective claws present obvious problem for a car with a cloth roof.”

    Amongst my pictures from my only trip to your general neighbourhood are a few from the national museum where a cat – presumably stray or a regular guest – is napping on the soft, leather-looking roof of a vintage car (parked in front of what seems to be a Proton). I joked at the time that Olympus should have added a “lolcat” scene mode to their cameras: something that Robin might have approved of, too, given his fondness for cats!

    “And the country has a bit of a rain problem, which personally made me feel never 100% confident with a convertible of that age – no matter how well maintained and treated regularly with silicone spray.”

    Having had a far more modest vehicle (an early 1990s Mazda hatchback whose headlights were at least the same as the MX-5) with what turned out to be an aftermarket sunroof, the virtues of silicone spray are not unfamiliar, but it’s arguably best to avoid any situation necessitating its use.

    • Ming, the cats are a real pain. I bought my 2003 MX-5 with 45,000 km in 2017. It still has “new car smell” and the leather on the wheel/shift knob/dash plastics still look new (living in a snowy climate, many people park these cars in winter to spare them from road salt), but the previous owner had a cat who liked to walk along the bonnet. There are 1000s of small, deep scratches on the nose cone that drive me bonkers. The paint is otherwise perfect. Bloody felines.

      • I don’t notice the gouges as much since the front was shot blasted with stone chips by the previous owners, but the long parallel climbing-type scratches drive me nuts. And given it’s the lowest car in the nearby vicinity, it takes the brunt of things because it’s the easiest one for them to climb 😦

    • Cats are probably tolerated or preferred due to this mass national intolerance for dogs due to…complex religious issues and misunderstandings.

      There is only so much silicone you can use before the roof starts looking shiny! 🙂

  8. No sure about the cars! a bit of an ego trip I suspect but the lighting for the photographs, that is good! well done. How about telling us how you did that?

    • Depends if you enjoy driving or not. An ego trip is a 911, every other Porsche carries zero cred. You buy them to drive. Lighting setup is very simple in all of these: bare speed lights and fast shutter to knock out the background. Just pick your angle carefully.

      • I which case I seem to be on an ego trip with my 911S convertible ( 3.with the 3.0 twin-turbocharged engine) 😄. Before the 911 I had the Boxster GTS, when I still was a modest person 😜.

        • Definitely, haha!

          Here…the 911s have a not so good association (partially true), just as the others are seen as for people who can’t afford a 911 (also true)

  9. Time to update that recommended gear list? 😀

  10. I have owned my 2000 Boxster for 8 years and it is still running strong with 129,000 kms. I would recommend this car to anyone who is interested in a great handling sports car and likes a little excitement on the track. Repairs and maintenance costs are a little higher than your for a regular run of the mill car but you get what you pay for in quality and as you said, you get to say you drive a Porsche.

  11. David Cecil says:

    I’d like to think that my 1962 gunmetal grey 356B 1600 Super has maybe a little DNA connection to your Cayman R. Apparently in 50 yrs the rear seating hasn’t changed substantially either! Really nice color yours, BTW.

    • Probably more with the Boxster – I really thought they did a good job evoking the right lines with the roof down. But yes, the overall lineage is there…and the rear seats are totally useless 🤣🤣🤣

  12. I have both a Ferrari 308 QV and a Boxster ( my wife’s ) and find them plenty fast for my congested area ( Massachusetts ). Stopped counting my speeding tickets. I would think your island is even worst on congestion ( big, big, population+crowded roads? ). Maybe you can enjoy 0-60mph, 60-0mph stopping and on and off highway ramps? Or just cruising by a beach on a Sunday afternoon/evening.

    • You might be confused with my geography…I don’t live in Singapore or Penang. Kuala Lumpur is quite sparse and in a valley about 100km from the sea (and the beaches aren’t very nice). The upside is we do have a lot of nice hills and associated roads…

  13. That (in)famous Boxster understeer got my friend and myself (as passenger I should note) into a crash! Nothing major but damn you had to be careful cornering.

    I think a flat 6 is a must for that tactile experience – the Cayman you have seems a fantastic choice, the 3.4l gives you a really nice bit of oomph over the 2.9l. I also agree with your assessment on the 911, the older ones are better but that opens up a whole other can of worms.

    Why the new clutch? 17k km isn’t much…..

    • I had no idea that was a known handling trait. The understeer I experienced was definitely an “oh crap” moment. Fortunately had enough road to correct, but still made me weary afterwards.

      In some ways, the 2.9 sounds better than the 3.4 – the top end note is a bit purer and more typical ‘flat 6’ – but that might be because my 3.4 also has induction side modifications like plenum, air box and throttle body and there’s a lot more air flowing through.

      Clutch: I suspect the previous owner couldn’t really drive, or used the clutch pedal as a footrest, or was in a LOT of stop and go traffic. Either way, a good excuse to upgrade: carbon race clutch now 😀

      • I know you don’t like 911s, but the “base” C2 motor of that era (either 3.4 or 3.6, can’t remember) is lovely. Prefer it to the C2S motor in the 997.

        • I thought the motors of that generation were generally thought a bit fragile due to IMS and bore scoring issues? Though not sure how much is truth and how much is scuttlebutt. It seems Porsche motors alternate a generation between indestructibility and frailty…

  14. 17.000 kms and needed a clutch change? Is it normal in this type of car? (curiosity here, not a criticism)

  15. Steve Gombosi says:

    ’88 944 Turbo S here. I’d love a Cayman, but it’s not big enough to transport the wife *and* the dog at the same time. 😉

  16. Stephen Syrotiak says:

    The headline grabbed me.. this 86 yr old guy has been flogging his 2009 Cayman for years and never a single problem.. There’s not another car for me. PDK transmission’s the ONLY way to go Quicker and smoother than the six speed manual. (are they even available ?)

    • Congratulations. I hope I’m still enjoying driving as much as you are when I’m 86.
      I have a Corvette, which I suppose a lot of Porsche owners would sneer at, but I enjoy it just the same. It’s actually good fun on the little back roads of south-eastern France.
      I hope you have many more years enjoying your car.

    • The PDK is definitely faster…I just like the interactivity and tactility of the manual shift. I have the M2 for outright fast and easy. And yes, I hope I’m still flogging mine at 86! 🙂

  17. Brilliant purchase, and what a colour!

    MX-5 owner

    • Thanks!

      • Ming, you have the M2 and the R? Very nice! Life must be treating you well – I thought cars like this faced egregious tax rates in your home country. Either way, glad to see someone who appreciates them getting to have both. Does Mrs. MT have something equally fun or does she have a normal car? There was a time when my Dad was driving an NA1 NSX and my Mum had a Civic for shopping and the school run. Nowadays that would be considered spousal and child abuse for not having your family doing those things in some enormous SUV.

        • And a long finance lease on the former. The latter is a sort of quasi-investment (at least I justify it that way given the rarity). I think I probably have the ultimate reasonable two-car garage at this point; anything ‘better’ requires a lot more funds and hassle. Mrs. MT has a G20 330i M – she isn’t as serious a driver as I am, but still appreciates something that handles and runs well…

          • Well, funny you mention that because I am about to take a new job and that was one of the company cars offered to me. How do you find it? I’ve only driven the new M340i and I found it just about perfect for a commuter car that is still somewhat exciting. My budget doesn’t stretch far enough to have either of your cars as my secondary, but perhaps in time. I would have a hard time letting go of the MX-5, for purely sentimental reasons, but I do love the new M2 CS.

            • It’s surprisingly very capable. Not far off the M2 in absolute pace if driven in anger, but you reach the limits faster and might not know it. I.e. in the M2 you think you’re going faster than you are, and have plenty of brake/tire/grip left, but in the 330 it’s the other way round – it’s so insulated for comfort (like most of the G series generation) that you feel very little, until you get out and smell tires and brakes. Perhaps not smart as I doubt the intended audience can read the signs of being on the edge of the car’s capabilities and will just think themselves superheroes. I suppose it means it’s possible for the average driver to get much closer to the car’s absolute limit, but have nothing in reserve when you go over. In short – if it’s 99% commuting and 1% occasional fun, it’s a great car – it has most of the insulation of the G12 7 series I had before, and most of the ability of the M2. But if the mix shifts more towards fun or B-road commutes, you’re going to be a bit frustrated by the numbness I think – especially coming from an MX-5. Hell, I feel a bit frustrated with the numbness of the M2 relative to my Cayman…

              • Foo Sze Ern says:

                If I may borrow your photography curve lingo, the M2’s transfer function is linear, whereas the 330i has a bit more of the B&W curve. So when input is 0.6, the M2’s output is 0.6 but the 330i may be already outputting 0.8. So as you push further into highlights, the M2 continue to have headroom but the 330i may soon clip (crash).

                • Um…yes and no. There’s more contrast on the B&W curve, but the same dynamic range is the heel/toe rolloff is more shallow to make up for the punchier midrange. I think it’s actually more akin to one of those LCDs that makes every image look good vs one that’s faithful…

  18. Sweet car man! I have a 987.2 6-Speed 3.4L DFI Cayman with a turbo kit from TPC Racing. I went to a local Porsche Club of America track day event it ran flawlessly. I also have their suspension pieces. You are right – 100% full attention is needed. So far it’s been to six events with no drama. I took off the big brake kit form AP racing and used the OEM brakes with Girodisc (stock replacement) units and it performed better than those heavy big brake ones. Loving the car at the moment! My friends with 911 GT3s gets angry when I pass them all the time! Haha!

    • I really dislike the pedal feel of the OEM brakes – hard to explain why. It’s not stopping power so much as modulation/confidence I guess; more so with heat fade over time. Not that much weight difference between stock callipers and the APs – depends which model you get. Mine are one piece forged and full of holes, so probably quite a lot of mass reduced. The OEM Brembos are quite heavy.

      Any idea how much extra power the turbo gives you? Is it reliable on stock internals?

      • I forgot to mention that I changed my brake lines to Spiegler units and the response and feel improved – left foot braking friendly. Haha! The turbo kit added 100 more whp and same amount on torque at 3500 rpm. Reliable? My car was restricted to 5.5 lbs due to my stock internals. I had it backed down like 10% for track use and I made sure to use some good quality unleaded race gas (VP MS109) for insurance. This summer I will upgrade to flex fuel (E85) and build a stronger bottom end for more power.

        • Impressive. I agree brake lines are must…BF Goodridge steels here. The stock brake feel is…squidgy, at best, even if stopping power is adequate.

          Sounds like a fun project 🙂

  19. Foo Sze Ern says:

    Of the 4 requirements, the FD2 Civic Type R fits the bill. The FWD layout might make purists say nay, but overall it is a car that feels very ‘one’ in the hands. To suit the high revving engine, Honda gave it a final drive of 5.062:1, possibly the highest ever in a mass production car. What this means is, traffic jams and underground carparks are a 3rd gear/15kmh affair. This and the closely stacked ratios means when at 7000-8500rpm, with a manual gearchange to perform (and conscious of the aftermath of going into 2 instead of 4 after 3-many have blown their engines doing just this), there is no more CPU cycles left available upstairs for anything else. Often, not enough to even accomplish an AC switch off successfully. Honda also gave it 22% stiffer springs at the rear to ensure the tail is agile, so beware when overcooking an entry and braking hard. However when it does step out, the interaction between steering, throttle and seat of the pants make it quite intuitive to contain it, provided you’re paying attention to your butt. Its nowhere as fast as many of the modern turbo machines, but on driver involvement, it does engage almost all senses.

    • I actually really wanted one of these when it was released in the mid 2000s, but it was way out of my budget then. The examples I’ve managed to find since have all been either heavily (and badly) modified or used and abused; I honestly have no idea what an original example feels like. The curiosity still remains (along with more curiosity about the S660). 3rd gear/15km/h!! The Cayman’s gearing is so long 3rd gear tops out at 150km/h 😛

      • Foo Sze Ern says:

        Same here, i bought mine grey import recond in 2013.

        And yes, most have at minimum a loud exhaust. Mine came stockish from previous Japanese owner save a ducktail spoiler and Blitz coilovers- which died not long afterwards and I’m on an obscure american 1 man shop coilover called AMR Engineering with Swift springs. Rates are 7kg/mm front and 9kg/mm rear, an attempt to maintain the stock F:R ratio of 1:1.3 (4.9:6.5).

        You’re more than welcome to try it though car is now my daily driver and needs a respray and other minor fixes.

        Powertrain is bone stock save lowered seat brackets to sit lower and a short shifter to enhance the otherwise longish shifts of the stock item.

        I also downsized to 17in forged wheels in an effort to increase driving feel (7.5kg vs 10.1kg wheel weight), and it does change the way it feels noticeably.

        3rd/15kmh is at 1k rpm which is calm for jams and parking lol.

        • Sounds like sensible modifications – do you find the suspension hard for KL roads? Shifter – my memory was that the Hondas had some of the nicest stock shifters of any car; must be even better with the short shift. The 17s are probably also far more comfortable than the 18s…

  20. Great! I’m glad to read that you’ve found a car which meets your expectations. It can make a difference in quality of life. I can only hope it’s a long-term keeper…so long-term that you can justify having it painted. Preservationists be damned. Even if it lowers its value.

    • Weirdly enough, I’ve come to not mind it as it is because you don’t feel so precious about it…just use the damn thing, and yes, preservationists be damned. They were meant to be driven and enjoyed. 🙂

  21. I have driven the Cayman and do own a 991.1 GT3. It is a bit skittish over slippery roads, especially when there is water, but that is the tires to some degree (I have the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 which are nearly slicks and 305 in the rear — great on the track when warm; terrible on cold damp roads). However, I have learned to generally control it in such circumstances — despite the rear bias, there is so much grip that it works. Love the suspension and steering, but it has way too much power for public roads. Going to 9k is sweet, however!

    • Michael Waldron says:

      P.S. I am glad you found a wonderful car. In the GT3, I seem to have a bit of oversteer coming out of corners when accelerating too early/hard due to the front end lifting from rear torque — I think the rear end slip is more of a braking thing, so you just have to enter the corner at the right speed…. I also love the PDK. I used to have a ’75 Carrera — that could be an interesting option for you down the road. With the right setup, so light, fast, grippy and easy to move about.

      • When I encountered it, the rear end breaking happened around a relatively constant speed corner but with expansion joints – so both wheels broke traction and the diff was probably open/slipping for that moment until the tires hooked up again. I guess the rear weight bias accentuates this more as the rotational/yaw momentum is higher than with mid-engined cars, since fronts and rears are both taking similar load.

    • The powertrain on the 991.1 GT3 is amazing – you think it’s over and done at 8, but there’s still another thousand to go. The magic all happens there – like it’s got a third cam profile or something. I think if I ever bought one it’d have to be the PDK, I just can’t shift fast enough not to overrev.

      When it gets skittish though, I’m never quite sure what to do – do you let the rear oscillate and settle by itself, or do you have to try and catch it? I live in fear that catching it might lead to worse oscillations, but not catching might land up in a ditch.


  1. […] differently. Sure, there’d be a studio setup of the type I’ve done in the past with the Cayman R, M2 and Z4; but that’s as much me making use of the resources to hand as anything else. All I […]

%d bloggers like this: