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issue 133

Duke’s Pass, Stirling, Scotland

We’re up north this month in one our favourite countries: Scotland. We’re in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, driving the Duke’s Pass.

Strictly speaking, it connects the tourist stop-off of Aberfoyle with Kilmahog, 16 miles away towards Callender, but the section we’re focusing on is the first six and a half miles from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine.

The route’s origins stem from the Duke of Menteith wanting to get around his estate easier, leading to him building a pass in the 19th century. In the Twenties, local roads were reclassified.

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The A81 was decided as the main route from Callendar to Aberfoyle, and the A821 the quieter back road. Shortly after this, the Forestry Comission acquired the land, and it was opened to the general public after beefing it up to cope with the tourist traffic created after Walter Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake’ opus about Loch Katrine.

In terms of character, it basically is the antithesis to a motorway. Pick a direction, bend angle and altitude, and the Duke’s pass pretty much has it. Starting from Aberfoyle, it passes the large Forest Visitor Centre in a series of rapid, rising sweeping bends.

After this, the altitude climb lessens – a little – and sight lines open out as we arc through bracken-lined hillsides. On the right, there’s a turnoff for the picturesque Three Lochs Forest Drive; a six-mile-long route through the forest and the promised Lochs.

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We press on, and through fantastic, close by scenery we eventually appear lochside to Loch Achray. Follow the signs off the A821 to Lock Katrine, and gently tootle to see what Walter Scott was on about.

Locals probably know every inch, and where to push past tourists or vomiting travel-sick passengers, but as a route to enjoy a 911, this is fabulous. There’s so much to work the vehicle against, you really will get a good workout, arcing one way then the other, repeating and repeating. Due to the road surface and all those bends, you’ll be at legal and sensible speeds too.

Get the Lady of the Lake boat to Loch Katrine and ride a bike 13 miles back down to the pier you started from – if you can leave that 911!

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Sales debate: How has GT3 and RS tuning been affected by rising values?

The GT3 and RS models are meant to represent the pinnacle of the Porsche 911 line up. However, some customers will always want more. Luckily for them, there are a number of companies willing to modify GT3 and RSs to extract ever greater performance from these flagship models.

In recent years though, since the introduction of the PDK-equipped 991 GT3, prices of the venerable 996 and 997 examples have rocketed. Has this had a knock-on effect on the tuning companies?

“What were once fun track cars are starting to get parked back in the garage,” explains SharkWerks founder, Alex Ross. He agrees that there may even be a time in the near future when people won’t want their GT3 modified at all, “especially a 3.8 RS in rare colours”.

Parr

Paul Robe, owner of the UK-based Parr (a company that has worked extensively on GT3s and RSs over the years) feels that car price isn’t the only factor in people’s changing attitudes towards tuning: “As the latest generation GT3s became more capable – they have massive brakes, the transmissions became stronger – it definitely cooled people’s attitude toward doing a great deal of work.”

Instead, on top of some exhaust work, Parr predominantly finds itself carrying out what Robe likes to call ‘practical tuning’. “We still fi t lift kits and things like that because they can’t drive over speed bumps,” he explains.

For those who have already made the jump and modified though, Alex at SharkWerks has been pleasantly surprised by his cars’ residuals.

“Only a couple of 3.9s have ever changed hands but the sellers have always made back at least 50 per cent or so on the mods meaning that that a 3.9 costs more than a normal one. I’m pretty chuffed with that to be honest,” he explains.

Both Ross and Robe agree that any modifications carried out should be ones that are reversible, with the latter explaining that “the market wants originality”.

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As an investment, without the benefit of significant media exposure, tuning a GT3 or an RS can harm values, with a definite change in attitudes to tuning as prices have risen. However, keeping to reversible changes (such as SharkWerks’ exhaust, suspension and wheel tweaks) does help to protect residual values.

What’s more, as Alex also points out, some of the modifications “actually fix and address a few issues (like the coolant pipe problem),” meaning that, if you’re not afraid of the modified moniker, some tweaks can bring significant real-world benefits.

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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Six driving gadgets that you need now

Modern Porsche 911s are already packed full of electronic wizardry. However, that doesn’t meant that you don’t need a few more motoring gadgets to help you out while on the road. Here are six of the best:

AlcoSense Elite
AlcoSense

20 per cent of drink-drive prosecutions in the UK happen the morning after. Keeping an AlcoSense Elite breathalyser in your pocket should prevent any trouble with the law however.

Complete all UK and Irish limits, the Elite gives an accurate blood alcohol reading with a clear ‘Don’t Drive’ warning if you’re still over the limit. There’s even a self-clean function to ensure improved longevity and accuracy.
Price: £59.99
alcosense.co.uk

Lifeline digital tyre pressure gauge
Lifeline gauge

As we explored in issue 115, not all tyre pressure gauges are born the same; often no two gauges will provide comparable readings of the same tyre.

With Lifeline’s digital gauge, the Parallax error that creeps in with traditional dial-faced gauges is eradicated and, with an accuracy of just +/- 1 per cent, this must-have tool for any garage should ensure that your tyre pressures are always where they need to be.
Price: £45.70 (ex VAT)
merlinmotorsport.co.uk

Road Angel Halo
Road Angel

With insurance claims becoming ever more disputable, it is no wonder that the popularity of dashboard cameras has risen rapidly.

This latest offering from Road Angel films forward at 720p HD with a rear camera capturing all the action at 480p. With a built in G-force sensor, it can rapidly turn on to capture perpetrators even when your car is parked up.
Price: £199.99
roadangelgroup.com

EE Buzzard 2
EE Buzzard 2

Providing a WiFi connection inside your car, the EE Buzzard 2 is ideal for those long road trips with your kids in the back seats.

By simply plugging the device into your 12v socket, the Buzzard turns into an internet hotspot that your passengers can connect their laptops and tablets to, allowing in-car entertainment all trip long. SIM plans can be bought monthly.
Price: From £19.99
shop.ee.co.uk

TomTom GO 610
TomTom GO

The TomTom GO 610’s huge six-inch touch screen (with pinch, zoom and swipe capabilities) certainly gives a clear view of your desired route.

However, the real trick up this satnav’s sleeve is its ability to tap into your smartphone’s internet connection (via Bluetooth) to provide real time traffic updates. Spotting hold-ups ahead, the device can then reroute you and get you home on time. Also available in five-inch form.
Price: £199.99
tomtom.com

TomTom Bandit
TomTom Bandit

GoPro isn’t the only player in the action camera world. There are a whole host of alternatives now, including TomTom’s Bandit, a fully self-contained unit that can film cinematic quality videos in 4K.

Featuring built in speed, G-force and altitude sensors (as well as GPS), the Bandit automatically notes down any video highlights when film. Combined with the companion app, this allows you to literally just shake your phone to edit together awesome videos.
Price: £299.99
tomtom.com

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Porsche 964 head-to-head: Carrera 2 vs Carrera 4

The year 1989 turned out to be rather pivotal: the Berlin Wall crumbled with the rest of the eastern bloc, Asia began to rise as a global economic force, while in technology, the first unofficial text message was sent.

For Porsche observers, 1989 also brought the introduction of the new 964, a car that, with Porsche claiming it was 85 per cent new, was the company’s most radical revision of the 911 ever.

The internet was in its infancy then, a website typically only lasting 200 days, but nobody could have predicted the debate that Porsche’s new all-wheel-drive take on the 911 would impact on forums hosted on it. Thousands of pages on motoring websites still exist about it today, the 964 sparking a dispute that runs right through to the current 991 series 911: which is better, Carrera 2 or Carrera 4?

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It is a tricky argument, and one that is unlikely to ever be resolved given the intricacies and differences between both cars and what buyers expect from them.

The Carrera 4 introduced the 964 to the world, Benjamin Dimson’s design not just presenting a smoother aspect thanks to its integrated bumpers, that party trick pop-up rear spoiler and 16-inch Design 90 alloy wheels, but also flat under-body cladding that helped the 964 deliver a 0.32 coefficient of drag figure, as well as more work for Porsche technicians.

The introduction of teardrop mirrors, in place of the large ‘flag’ or ‘elephant ear’ mirrors in 1992 might have improved that drag figure further still, as well as been in keeping with the more aerodynamic direction the 964 represented over its predecessors.

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Even with the red Carrera 4 here featuring those older, larger mirrors, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s not often you get the chance to do some serious miles chasing a 964, but Dan from Paul Stephens is up ahead en route to the photo location in that Carrera 4, and I’m behind.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a 964, and the first opportunity to really sample the 2 and 4 back-to-back on the same roads, in the same conditions, but chasing the 4 from the driver’s seat of the white 2 is a rare treat.

The 964’s styling may have had its detractors, but it’s always been one of my favourite 911s (even as a 993 owner), an evolutionary turning point blending old and new worlds, its significance in the 911’s lineage as impactful as the year it was introduced.

To read our full Porsche 964 Carrera 2 v Carrera 4 head-to-head, pick up Total 911 issue 133 in store. Alternatively, download it straight to your digital device now.

964 Carreras

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Porsche 993 Carrera RS ultimate guide

It was back in issue 119 that we last got behind the wheel of the 993 RS and we were mightily impressed by the combination of rawness and purity on offer. That shouldn’t really come as any surprise as this last of the air-cooled Rennsport cars is a special model indeed, and that makes it incredibly sought after today.

Launched in 1995, just 1,104 were built – with 227 of those produced in more hardcore Clubsport trim – and only 38 examples arrived in the UK in right-hand drive form.

It’s a rare beast and a bad one will be an expensive mistress, so as values climb it’s vital to meticulously investigate the history before examining a potential purchase any further.

Porsche 993 Carrera RS cockpit

Naturally, the paperwork should all stack up with no question marks over maintenance record or mileage. The market is also seeing more cars returning from abroad, especially Japan, which can make understanding the history that bit more difficult, so it pays to be cautious.

If you’ve any doubt whatsoever, seek the advice of an OPC or specialist. And before we get into the detail of these cars, there’s also the matter of its previous usage.

Like many 911s, the 993 RS went through a stage where values were reasonably low, and where owners would have been quite happy to explore its abilities on track. Understandable, of course, given the performance and handling on offer, but it’s worth trying to establish what sort of circuit work it might have seen.

Porsche 993 Carrera RS

It shouldn’t necessarily put you off, but there’s clearly a difference between the occasional track day and a car that spent its early life lapping the Nordschleife – which takes us on to another important aspect, and that’s accident damage.

Some previous paintwork such as stone-chip repairs isn’t an issue, but it’s crucial to ensure that the seam-welded shell hasn’t sustained anything worse after a brush with the Armco.

Proper repairs are crucial and not always easy, depending on where the damage was sustained, and once again, a specialist will be able to spot the tell-tale signs of major panel repair so you know what you’re dealing with.

To read more of our Porsche 993 Carrera RS buyers’ guide, pick up Total 911 issue 133 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

Porsche 993 Carrera RS Clubsport

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