Sports exhaust system £1,160.00
OK, I suppose that if you can afford the car in the first place then additional
cost of these “essentials” is largely immaterial. There is the argument is that
they will contribute considerably to the car holding its value in the previously
owned arena and thus reduce a big element of the cost of ownership.
“But” and it is a big “but”, £13,580 or 22% of the original purchase price, is a
shed load of money or it seems so to an impecunious photographer. At over
£5k the “Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes” or PCCB if you are inclined to
acronyms are aimed at the Track Day crowd but everyday motoring in the
South East of England precludes such fun or indeed almost any kind of
Similarly sports chassis and suspension packs would be a good option in a
country where the motorist paid a huge amount of tax which would then be
re-invested in better roads and cheaper public transport( Say France or
Germany). Instead of which in the UK the motorist gets royally screwed and
the proceeds are largely pissed up the wall on a variety of non-transport
schemes that range from the merely incompetent to the brazenly corrupt.
Take your pick from the scandal de jour, there will be another one along in a
Meanwhile the roads in the Home Counties resemble medieval tracks in
places, which is odd considering the staggering amount of wealth generated
in the region, I wonder where it all goes? With the 997 I had to change my
daily route because of badly maintained speed humps in my locality. Which
is long winded way of saying that a less extreme chassis/suspension set up
would be necessary if regular trips to the chiropractor were not on the menu.
Still it has to be said that the lowered car looked really cool.
On the positive side of the ledger the sports seat option would be a winner at
any price, comfortable and supportive, 500 miles in a day was not an issue.
The wheels looked great, the Xenon lights were fantastic and as for the rest,
well if a press fleet car can’t have a few bells and whistles what is the point?
And to be fair to Porsche, the price includes over £11,000 of Value Added
Tax (sales tax for those not in the EU paradise) that will keep another
Quango warm for an hour or so.
Art for Art’s sake, Money for God’s sake………..
Porsche AG have always had a firm grip on the business side of things, they
make a profit; some car companies would have to look that word up in a
dictionary (General Motors posted a $39 billion loss in the 3rd quarter of
Porsche have turned in profits and growth for 13 straight years under the
guidance of Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking. For 2006/7 it was nearly €6 billion pre
tax, a doubling of the previous year’s result. Mind you the figures need a little
scrutiny or so said one of my clients when I was discussing this with him. As
he is financially literate I took him at his word and had a poke around.
A little light spadework on Google turned up some interesting facts, the
revenue for 2006 (€8 billion) and 2007 (€7.4 billion) was roughly the same but
the net income after tax rocketed from €1.4 billion to €4.2 billion. As margins
on car sales have remained static at best, it first appeared that “Danger!
Accountants at work!” or extraordinary generosity from the Taxman must be
the cause, but no it was much sexier than that.
The Financial Times ran the following report:
By Richard Milne in Munich, FT.com site
Published: Nov 12, 2007
Porsche on Monday revealed it earned three times as much money from
trading derivatives as it did from selling cars, prompting accusations it was
acting more like a hedge fund.
The German luxury sports car maker said €3.6bn ($5.2bn) of its €5.86bn pre-
tax profit in the year to July was from share options.
Stripping out the €521m it made from revaluing its 31 per cent stake in
Volkswagen, which it controls, and €702m from its share of VW's profits, it
made at most just €1.05bn from its "core" carmaking business.
"It does look like a hedge fund," said Stephen Cheetham, an analyst at
Another London-based analyst said: "It is a hedge fund investing in just one
On Monday, Porsche's full-year results show how far it has travelled from its
position as a maker of high-priced, luxurious sports cars. It made about
€3bn in options trading in the second half alone, analysts calculate.
It also made no comment on how the credit crisis, which largely developed
after July and the end of Porsche's business year, had affected it or its
"As an investor you are flying blind at the moment," Mr Cheetham said. "My
problem is risk management. As appetite for risk declines generally then
investors will be less willing to tolerate such [trading]."
The markets gave their own verdict on this state of affairs with shares that
had traded as high as €1,865 each in October now sit at €1,227. In fairness
looking at the long-term position, a capital gain of 25.15% was achieved over
the past 12 months and 222.76% over the past five years, heady stuff indeed.
One thing’s for sure even the Cincinnati Kid would struggle to beat these
guys at poker, this performance is the financial equivalent of a 1969 era 917
flat out down the Mulsanne Straight, high wire work without a net, don’t be
around if it goes wrong.
A proper perspective on the relative position of Porsche in the sportscar
scene is that Ferrari, arguably the other great sportscar brand, is 85% owned
by Fiat, while it is on the cards that Porsche will soon assume overall
ownership of the VW Audi Group – a company that builds around 100,000
cars per annum is acquiring a group that builds 6,000,000! In the process
they will own Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini...............
Big Yellow Taxi
Ah yes, cars, cars.
Which brings us to the real point of this fabulous machine, driving the bugger.
Morse and I had a fair amount of ground to cover during his short time in the
UK and thus it was an early call at his Bentley residence. This entailed as
part of the route a run along the notorious A31 or The Hog’s Back. Perhaps
at 6.30am on a freezing December morning there are better places to get to
grips with 310bhp and the alleged idiosyncrasies, particularly in view of the
kamikaze antics of the other denizens of the road.
Sheet ice is a common condition on this exposed route during the winter
months and I was taking a cconservative approach at around 40 mph while
being passed at what seemed twice that level by every man and his dog. Of
course it came as little surprise that along the route I passed at least 3 cars
that were upside down in the hedges either side of the road with their
unfortunate drivers pulling themselves unsteadily out of the undergrowth,
having survived the crash landing; a little ice goes a long way.
After picking up my passenger (who was almost on time) we negotiated the
morning rush hours on the M25/M40. Feeling a little conspicuous in the
bright yellow machine, we stuck to the speed limits, about the only car that
did despite the suffocating presence of radar, cameras and god knows what
other surveillance devices. One thing that soon became clear while driving the
997 is that the Porsche badge brings out the worst in a sub-species of A6
and 5 Series’ drivers who seemed determined to behave badly at every
opportunity; let ‘em go says I.
But that aside the car was great to drive, years of refinement and attention to
detail means that everything falls to hand naturally even for those not familiar
with it, Teutonic efficiency. The transmission was precise and seamless,
quite unlike the last 911 I had driven which required steel toe capped boots to
work the clutch and a third gear that seemed to have a different location each
time it was to be engaged.
Heavy traffic was just as easy in the Banana as my regular 740. As I got
familiar with the cockpit I found a button marked “Sport” which I
prodded…….the engine did feel more responsive, at least aurally; traffic,
weather conditions and a severe lack of ability precluded me from really
pressing on and seeing the difference that lighting the blue touch paper could
On arrival at the circuit and feeling famished we headed to Donington’s
Paddock Café which provided a unique dining experience, at least we both
hoped so, and then it was time for Morse to go to work. The general test day
meant just that with a weird assortment taking to the track together, the
Rollcentre Pescarolo LMP1 out with Club Racing Clios, Formula Renaults
and of course “our” MP4/3.
Conditions were bright but still freezing, so tyre temperatures were marginal
and it was no surprise that red flag periods were frequent as some less
experienced but brave drivers found “the limit”. During one of these interludes
a familiar howl came from the pit box next door, a DFV being warmed up
ready to power an earlier F1 model from McLaren, an M23 in the familiar
Marlboro livery………it was, as I said, a cosmopolitan scene in the pitlane.
Over the Hills and Far Away
Inspections completed it was time to head back to the delights of Hampshire.
Next day we headed over to the workshops where the MP4/3 lives to finalise
paperwork and other matters. As Morse was present something strange
would have to happen and suddenly I found myself as the under-powered
element of a three-car convoy. The other ingredients of the train were a
“normal” road going McLaren F1 and the ex Ray Bellm 1996 F1 GTR, still in
Gulf Oil colours and now street legal. We made a exotic sight on the A3 as
we headed the 20 odd miles to a storage facility, of course one A6 driver had
to get involved but aside from that idiot we were given a wide berth by the
dazed spectators. SCP will carry more on that journey later as the passenger
in #12R was our own Lizett.
As with all good things there must come an end, Liz and Morse headed for
the seventh circle of hell known as Heathrow bound for LAX and I had another
wagon appear at the gaff to retrieve the Banana. Would I buy one with my
own money, simply put, yes. It is a supercar that you can use every day and
with forty years’ development by arguably the best automotive engineering
talent on the planet there is little wrong with it, a cliché perhaps but no less
true for all that. Hell even I looked as if I belonged to the club………on my
last trip before handing the keys back I passed a bright orange GT3 RS going
the other way, the driver lifted his finger in salute, I was no longer travelling
hopefully, I had arrived.
John Brooks, January 2008