On Being a Porsche Rookie

I’m not one to say I’ve been a Porschephile/P-head all my life, but I can say that my favourites have always been the late 60’s to early 70’s 911’s. I probably came closest, and yet it wasn’t really that close, to purchasing a 911 coupe back in the late 80’s. It was red with chrome wheel caps, believed to be a ‘67 and was gorgeous. But I was just finishing high school and university was calling so this wasn’t really in the cards.  

Like many, my first car was given to me when Dad was ready to move on to something else. It was a ’79 VW GTI. It was the car I drove regularly in high school and then came with me to university. It was small, light, 5 speed and very basic. It was the most fun car I’ve ever owned, until…

It’s funny how quickly life moves along and priorities change. The manual transmission car is sold when the wife gives up on the training lesson in the middle of a busy intersection. Then without even blinking, somehow the car becomes a minivan. Wow, I didn’t see that coming but the practical needs of a growing family took over. And as boring as the minivan was, the superior functionality of it led us to a second one. Minivans really offer an incredible amount of space making it easy to haul lumber and drywall for the house projects, four big guys with golf clubs and more luggage for family vacations than you can imagine.

Yet there really was no pride in driving the minivan. I yearned for something more. A good friend who owns a ’95 Guards Red 968 always reminds me that life is short and not to have regrets for simple pleasures like the car you drive. Then a work colleague and I were discussing vehicles; she had recently changed from a minivan to a VW Atlas. Her rationale was that driving a minivan was a soul killer. While I knew she was right, forking out $50K plus on a new vehicle is also a wallet killer.

So the search was on. Four door pickup trucks are too big for my style. I thought I would end up in an Infinity QX50 until the ride and performance ruled that vehicle out. I didn’t want to blend in with other vehicles on the road and so vehicles like the Explorer and Pilot were out. Then I saw a 2013 base Cayenne for sale at the local VW dealer. After taking it for a test drive, I was sold on the vehicle, but not that specific one.

Internet searches through Autotrader, Car Gurus and Porsche dealerships became a daily norm for many, many weeks. I thought I would end up with an “S” model. Then I saw the GTS. Emotionally, I was hooked the first moment I saw it.

Internet searches through Autotrader, Car Gurus and Porsche dealerships became a daily norm for many, many weeks. I thought I would end up with an “S” model and then I saw the GTS. Emotionally, I was hooked the first moment I saw it. I told my wife that this was the vehicle I was looking for and she didn’t bat an eye. It was a little older being 2009, but had relatively low mileage and the price was well within my budget. In fact, I would have maintenance money left in reserve. It was sold ‘as is’ without warranty and the price of the optional warranty was half the price of the vehicle and made no financial sense.

I tried to remain objective. I had done my homework on the model through extensively reading the forums to learn what to inspect for and to understand what preventative maintenance and potential repairs could be coming up. The GTS was from a reputable Audi dealership so that was a good start. I had them deliver the car to a nearby Porsche dealer for an independent inspection which came back with positive results. It was now time to make the 900 km journey to Montreal. The test drive did not go well as the roads were snow and ice covered from a winter storm the night before. Objectivity went out the window and before I knew it, I was driving my new (to me) Porsche home.

Getting into this vehicle was relatively easy and economical. The biggest hang up was the local Ontario licensing office struggling with the ownership transfer from the previous Quebec registration. Everyone at work was drooling over the car, who can blame them, and they are surprised when I give them the details. Having done your homework, Porsche ownership does not need to come with a cost barrier.

I was like a kid in a candy store, and 7 months later I still am. This vehicle is like nothing I’ve driven before. Yes, it looks great, it is incredibly fast and sounds awesome but most impressive is the handling.

I was like a kid in a candy store, and 7 months later I still am. This vehicle is like nothing I’ve driven before. Yes, it looks great, it is incredibly fast and sounds awesome but most impressive is the handling. It feels like the outer suspension stiffens through corners and even has a small degree of four wheel steering which of course it does not. While I’ve driven many fast cars like Mustang GT’s, Camaros and various BMW’s, nothing has handled quite like this GTS does.

My first real test driving the Cayenne GTS came soon enough. It was the end of January and I had to travel from Chatham to Tiverton, ON. I was a little concerned as my winter tires were not installed yet due to the rims still being re-finished. So I pressed on with the new Continental Extreme Contacts that were just installed on my summer rims. One of my father-in-law’s life lessons is to avoid driving distances with less than a half tank of gas because you never know if you will get stuck in traffic on the 401 or stuck in snow and almost out of fuel. I filled up in Goderich before driving on to Kincardine for the night. Leaving Goderich, the police had closed Hwy 21 as a winter vortex had made the road impassable. I drove further inland hoping the roads would be in better condition. It was night, the blizzard brought many whiteouts with high winds and lots of snow, the roads were completely covered and the temperature was a -40°C wind chill. I was making mental notes of every house with lights on that I passed in case I got stuck and had to walk back to safety and at the same time thankful that I had that full tank so that if stuck I could also keep the engine running to keep warm inside. Amazingly, the Porsche brought me through and I arrived at my destination a little late, very relieved, and thrilled with experiencing the handling of my new ride in these conditions. I am certain that my previous vehicle would not have gotten me through. The Cayenne is an incredible winter vehicle.

Everyone reading this story likely is or was a Porsche driver. Think back to your first time behind the wheel and the rush that you had. This is my turn to experience the same thing. Yes, I’m a rookie Porsche driver and owner. I’ve gone through the owner’s manual front to back and referenced sections multiple times trying to learn everything I can about the car.

My friend with the 968 urged me to join the PCA. I figured this would get me some good magazine reads and so I signed up. The PCA-UCR club recently held a DE information meeting in Chatham so with a mix of hesitation and optimism I registered. The fellow owners I met there and knowledge of the guest speakers were fantastic. I was surprised to learn that PCA clubs not only offer DE for owners, but also offer street survival training for the owners’ kids. I’ve participated in my first HPDE at Waterford Hills, MI and am looking forward to exploring more DE events throughout Ontario and Michigan. The class room training, safety preparation and driving instructors were all so professional. I had the only 4-door Porsche on the track but the performance of my Cayenne GTS surprised the other drivers and instructors. Thanks to my driving coach that day, some of the 911 and Cayman owners have a new respect for the larger Porsche model. And for those who have not tracked their cars, this is an experience I highly recommend. In a very safe environment I was able to drive my Porsche the way it was built to be driven. Wow, what a feeling of exhilaration!

I won’t be a rookie Porsche owner for long, but I have no doubt that I will be a Porsche owner for life. </>

Story and photos by Chris Deline, UCR Member

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