An Ode to 2 great cars - Nov 2016
Over about 2 years I did over 10k miles in the Mk1 GT3 and most of that mileage comprised two enormous European road trips all around the Alps. I had alot of fun in the Mk1. It''s a stunning looking machine and a fine drive as well. The steering, feel and feedback was never less than sensational, the engine was full of pedigree and she was an absolute joy to drive fast on the more technical roads.
On balance though, the Mk1 was far from perfect and was lacking in a few key areas. First of all the feel of the gearshift left a lot to be desired and the gearing was a little over long for road use. Secondly, the brakes really were not very good at all and simply not commensurate with the performance and speed of the car. Finally, the acceleration, particularly low down, was a little wanting given the high ability of the chassis and the mechanical grip on offer. It's no surprise that these last 2 points were rectified in the mk2 version which had much bigger 6 pot calipers and a fair amount more grunt through the rev range. The looks though ... what a beauty the Mk1 is, seeing these pictures now has me questioning my decision.
Truth be told some of these shortcomings can be fixed with some modifications and they weren't the sole reason for me selling the car but they certainly did contribute. I suspect that if it has been a 996RS then there is simply no way I would have got shot of it.
I am not certain if my time is truly done with the 996 GT3. I think I probably still have it down as the greatest watercooled GT/RS car that Porsche have ever created; it simply has so much feel and connectivity especially when compared against it's more polished relations in the 997 range. So maybe one day I will return.
The other car we have to say goodbye to is the F10 M5. Stolen straight off my driveway at 4am in the morning I really had no choice in the matter ! The M5 was a beast of a car, a true 600bhp+ super saloon with a generous dose of luxury and equipment and one of the most amazing drivetrains of its day. Was it actually good fun though ? Well here's what I wrote back in 2015 to someone who was struggling to decide whether to buy one over a 991 GTS:
"The subjective feel of the car won't be up to a good sportscar of course. It does not have the intimacy, the precision, the delicacy nor the "instrument-like" quality of a good 911 for example. It's heavy, very large, a little blunt and lacking in real feedback but for a weighty modern car of this type my feeling is that it manages pretty well and BMW have been able to engineer quite a bit of character into the car, especially so in the drivetrain.
So opportunities to really stretch the beasts legs or trascend its limits are few and far between and many journeys can be a fairly sober lesson really in restraint. I tend to offset that though by using the gears a lot, enjoying the sound, the whip cracks on upchanges and and downchange blips and kicking the tail out here and there for giggles; it definitely is fun to potter around in. Moreover, the car has a ton of presence, some special character in its DNA and is a hugely desireable halo object to posess. These things, and the mere fact that it's an M5 and is about the most masculine machine out on today's roads perhaps become a bigger part of the ownership pleasure than the out and out driving. It is fun though, for sure. Just a singular type of fun."
Another case of unfinished business for me then. I never got the chance to take it to the circuit or an airfield and having a day using all that power and old school M dynamics to destory a set of tyres was something I had planned from the get go. I probably would have taken it to somewhere like Austria as well to see just how it fared on the big empty roads you get out there. It would have been a complete riot at the ring as well with all that torque.