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issue 132

Llanberis Pass, Snowdonia, Wales

There’s a very old joke about the weather in North Wales: “Summer was great this year, it was a Wednesday”. Cruel perhaps, but sadly there is some truth to it.

On a great day, it is a superb place to be, with far-reaching views in every direction. On anything but a clear day, it is a different story. A mountain guide I know jokingly refers to Snowdonia as ‘Mordor’; be warned.

But we’re forgetting ourselves, because the terrain that shapes the weather provides plenty of features for roads in the area. That is a good thing. This time, we visit the Llanberis Pass, or the A4086, past Snowdon.

Llanberis Pass PCM

Unlike many of the headline routes in Wales, famous for long, sweeping moorland circuits, the Llanberis Pass is almost diminutive in comparison, but equally fun.

It may only be six miles long, but it really is in spectacular scenery, surrounded by attractions. If you’re looking for a road to make a weekend of in family company, this is probably the one.

It isn’t a fast one though, nor is it billiard-table flat, so is more suited to the older model 911. We reckon a sorted 964 would be glorious here, in third gear up, and second downhill.

We start at Llanberis, by the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The first mile or more is slow past houses, but shifts into plenty of bends and a rising gradient. Past the attention-seeking roadside boulders, the road changes character, becoming a well-sighted, ricocheting scar up into the road summit, eventually passing by the Pen-Y-Pass Youth Hostel.

Llanberis Pass GTS

This section reminds me of the Isle of Man mountain section, where you’ll get a glimpsed sight line up the road as you weave around certain bends. At the Pen-y-Pass, we descend around a very scenic Armco edged bend with open views down to the Pen-Y-Gwyrd hotel, and Llyn Gwynant on the right.

Our top tip is to drive this at sunrise or sunset, when you’ll have it to yourself. Once done, walk up Snowdon via the Pyg or Miners Tracks (or the cheat’s way via the railway from Llanberis).

Food-wise, what better than to enjoy lunch in the evocative Alpine Room in the Pen-y-Gwyrd, with its ceiling signed by Everest Summiteers?

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Sales debate: Where is the Porsche 911 market heading?

Recent auction results suggest that the crazy price surge seen in the Porsche 911 market over the last 24 months has finally slowed down. Where does this leave those looking to buy into the 911 market in the next six months? We consult the expertise of Paragon, Maxted-Page and Autofarm to find out.

While Mikey Wastie, proprietor at Autofarm, feels “there is less panic buying” than last year, causing prices to stagnate, Paragon’s managing director Mark Sumpter explains that the current plateau is only because of a lack of top-quality cars (especially at the recent Monterey auctions).

“If someone says, ‘These RSs have run out of steam, they’re now being reduced’ it’s because the discerning buyer wants a matching numbers, never crashed, full history car – only 20 per cent are these top division cars,” Sumpter confirms.

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Lee Maxted-Page, director at Maxted-Page, points out that going forward, “when a really exceptional car comes to the market, it will always make a slightly higher number than the average market price,” suggesting that the 911 market still has further growth left for the right examples.

“We’re going back to a more normal regime where the rarest of the rare and the exceptional cars will continue making spectacular results, but the mediocre and more common cars will sell for mediocre money,” continues Maxted-Page.

Sumpter concurs: “I don’t think a 911T should be anywhere close to a 911E or S. When they were all cheaper cars, the price difference between a really good one and really average one wasn’t a lot. The division between the top cars and the second division cars (a car that doesn’t meet our criteria) is going to be half the price.”

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All three experts agree that the next six months is still going to be a good time to buy a 911. As Wastie points out, “The activities in China and the stock market mean that at present, classic cars remain stable. I doubt any shrewd investor has all their worth in classic cars though.”

However, buyers need to remain wary, especially with the number of second-rate examples on the market. “Do your homework. Find someone you trust and listen to them, if you can’t work it out for yourself,” Sumpter implores – a perfect piece of advice for the next half a year.

For market advice on any generation or style of Porsche 911, check out our full selection of sales debates, where we ask the 911 experts the pertinent market questions so you don’t have to.

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Porsche 996 Turbo S: the forgotten Turbo

Few could have feasibly predicted it beforehand, but 2015 has undoubtedly been the year of the 996. Historic stories of the generation being unloved are plentiful, though after values of the 996 GT3 RS and both GT3 generations rocketed north in 2014, enthusiasts this year turned to the Turbo as the last bastion of affordable Mezger-engined thrills.

As such, these too have seen values increase: what was a £25,000 supercar is now pushing £40,000 for a clean example, which places the humble 996 Turbo directly onto the heels of its younger 997 Turbo brethren.

While the 996 Turbo has appreciated, values of the Gen1 997 Turbo have remained strong. Boasting an extra 60bhp and more modern aesthetics, the 997 makes for an attractive option to those courting the famed Turbo experience, even though its forecast as an immediate investment isn’t quite as rosy – for now.

996 Turbo S side

The Turbo market has been squeezed as a consequence, though the upshot is there are currently plenty of options available to a buyer with around £40,000 to spend.

But while flames of the 996 v 997 Turbo debate continue to be fanned by respective owners, there is an oft-ignored yet particularly special car available for similar money: the 996 Turbo S.

Boasting a production run of just 1,500 units, the 996 Turbo S came at the very end of the 996 production cycle in 2005, and was given the fullhouse treatment of options.

996 Turbo S engine

The 996 Turbo S is powered by a 3.6-litre twin turbocharged engine with double overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder and dry sump lubrication, just like its 996 Turbo counterpart.

The engine is fitted with VarioCam Plus, a further development of the familiar VarioCam system, which changes both the intake camshaft timing (by as much as 25°) as well as the intake valve lift.

Fitted with bigger turbos as part of the X50 Powerkit – standard on the Turbo S – power was boosted to 450bhp and the car’s top speed broke through that magic 300km/h barrier, boasting a maximum of 190mph (307km/h) and placing it firmly in supercar territory.

To read our Porsche 996 Turbo S test drive in full, pick up Total 911 issue 132 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery or download it to your digital device now.

996 Turbo S driving

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Porsche 911 2.4S v 2.7 Carrera: the unseen photos

Our recent trip to Finland yielded some stunning photography courtesy of the unflappable Ali Cusick. Our Porsche 911 2.4S vs 2.7 Carrera head-to-head in the latest issue is no exception.

With literally hundreds of images left on the cutting room floor, it seemed a shame not to share them so, in our latest gallery, here are some of our favourite unseen shots from this pre-impact bumper versus impact bumper battle. Enjoy:

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To read our 2.4S v 2.7 Carrera head-to-head in full, pick up Total 911 issue 132 in store now. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery or download it straight to your digital device.

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Porsche 911 2.4S v 2.7 Carrera: changing of the guard

The end of the oil crisis, the Watergate scandal and The Rumble in the Jungle. What do they have in common? All three took place in 1974, the halfway point of the Seventies. While this trio of events may have defined the year for many, Porsche fanatics will remember 1974 as the year that redefined what a 911 looked like.

Two years earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the section of the US Department of Transportation responsible for writing safety standards) introduced new bumper regulations.

However, the legislation wasn’t intended to improve safety. Instead, highlighted by the arrival of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act in October 1972, the changes were designed to reduce repair costs for consumers in the event of a low-speed accident.

White Porsche 911 2.4S

By the time of the 1974 model year, both the front and rear bumpers of new cars in the United States had to be capable of withstanding a 5mph collision without causing damage to lights or the engine.

Like most European manufacturers, Porsche was faced with the prospect of having its cars outlawed stateside if it didn’t make the necessary changes. As with the 356 before it, the 911 had been a perennially successful seller in the US; Zuffenhausen couldn’t afford to not make the changes. The G-Series was born.

Blocky protrusions suddenly sprouted at either end of the smooth silhouette that sports car fans had adored since first setting eyes on it at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Orange Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera

Porsche’s designers, led by Wolfgang Möbius, managed to integrate the new bumpers better than many manufacturers, but the changes still rankled some for spoiling the aesthetic purity of the previous generation of 911s. Yet the updated fenders weren’t the only changes made to Porsche’s flagship car for 1974.

From its introduction in 1967, the 911S was king of the Porsche hill, providing Zuffenhausen enthusiasts with a heady mix of power and comfort.

As we found in issue 120, the 2.0-litre S was an accomplished tourer (though was lacking in big bore thrills), while the 2.2 S of 1970-71 exponentially upped the performance stakes, but could have benefitted from some extra refinement.

To read our 2.4S v 2.7 Carrera head-to-head in full, pick up Total 911 issue 132 in store now. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery or download it straight to your digital device.

Porsche 911 2.4S

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