I’ve spent the last two weeks waiting for Porsche North America to send a more detailed communication to the 190 US car buyers caught up in the engine recall I detailed in my last post. I’ve done lots of speculating and commiserating with other impacted folks on various forums, going through what-if scenarios and trying to decide what it would take for me to want to just walk away from the deal.
Porsche had committed to a second email with clarity two weeks from the first email which left me expecting something by Saturday at the latest. Those Germans are so precise…it was two weeks almost to the minute. I woke up early on Saturday and picked up my phone to see if anything had come through. There it was, an email titled “Important: Updated Information Regarding Your Porsche”. I was a little afraid to open it. Not after reading it. I was pleasantly surprised to see how comprehensive the communication was. They had specifics for the fix, compensation details and the timeline all nailed down. Here’s the summary:
A new factory built engine. All fears of a rebuilt engine are gone, Porsche will be building new engines in the factory and shipping them to be swapped at the dealership. It’s pretty common to have to remove a Porsche engine to work on it so I’m not worried about this job being done well. Phew…dodged a bullet.
Certificate of engine exchange to show it is a matching original engine provided new with the car by Porsche.
8 year warranty for the engine (an extension of 4 years). This was a bonus I didn’t expect and certainly helps with peace of mind.
$4k discount on this Porsche or another.
$1k voucher for a Porsche Experience Center or Porsche Track Experience Day.
The downside is still the delay in getting my car. I should be driving it home next week but Porsche will be doing these engine swaps between June and September. Given COVID, chip shortages and supply disruptions, I have no reason to complain, they are moving as fast as they can. They are working in order of original planned delivery so I’m not sure where mine will land yet. I’ll likely miss most of the driving season this year but I still feel like Porsche has gone above and beyond to make up for the mistake. This is a great example of a customer first approach because they didn’t have to do anything other than apologize for the delay and fix the cars. I don’t know of any other car manufacturer that would be taking such a customer friendly approach. Thanks Porsche…now get me my damn car!!
I’ve owned old and new Porsches and there are many things to love about them. One of the biggest advantages is you get super car like performance, street livability, a fun track car and a level of quality that no other performance car company can come close to. You can take a 600 horsepower Turbo on a cross country trip and feel confident that you won’t break down along the way…not something most people would try in a Ferrari or Lamborghini.
Sometimes even the best screw up and this time I hit the unlucky lottery. Up until recently, everything about my order has been trending early. On or around March 17th, we started to hear rumors of a stop-sale order issued by Porsche. These aren’t common but there have been a few recently. One recent one was due to possible emissions and extra steps the US was taking on import…most people felt about a one to two week delay. There is another stop-sale impacted cars where a suspension bolt needs to be replaced which is also being handled quickly and isn’t an invasive fix. The rumors we were hearing for this recent one were different…possible issue with the 4.0 engine used in the Cayman/Boxster GTS, the GT4 and the Spyder. Uh-oh. Rumors spread like wildfire and you can see from this growing thread on Rennlist that without clear communication from Porsche, many of us filled the void with anxiety and angst (this thread is up to 1200 posts and 90K views as of 4/11)
On March 29th, an official recall notice came out by Porsche through the NHTSA:
It was confirmed and my car is impacted. Porsche had discovered an issue with the connecting rods used in a specific range of cars that can result in catastrophic engine failure and fire. This is very similar to an issue that happened to 991.1 GT3 engines that also resulted in a massive recall. In this case it is 190 cars in the US and ~800 worldwide.
On April 3rd, while my car sat at the Port of Houston, I received an email from Porsche confirming that my car was impacted and that it would take 3 to 6 months for me to receive my car. More information to come.
Simon Kuhnimhof was nice enough to take a video call with me the following Monday and I was able to express my frustration and concerns with the lack of transparency in how they were handling this. Simon was as helpful as he could be and I really appreciated his willingness to at least meet and listen. He committed to additional details in the next few weeks so I’m hoping to know more by the end of this coming week.
What I know so far. Out of the 190 US cars impacted, 19 had been delivered to customers already. These cars clearly represent the biggest risk to Porsche since the issue may result in engine self-destruction and fire…not a good look. As expected, Porsche communicated faster and with more clarity to this group offering a loaner car, $2K/month for lost time and depreciation, a trip to one of the Porsche Experience Centers and they will be swapping the engines for new factory built engines within 1 to 2 months. There was 1 additional person that had already fully paid for their car and they eventually included this person in the delivered group with this same offer. This is a crappy experience for this group but Porsche is ensuring they get made close to whole.
What is still uncertain, is how Porsche will handle the undelivered cars. In the similar situation with the GT3 fiasco, Porsche replaced all engines with factory built engines. My spidey sense is telling me that Porsche is considering a repair instead of replace strategy for the undelivered cars. Check my last post for a video of Porsche manufacturing an engine and it starts with connecting rods going in. For this 4.0 engine, any repair will require removal of the engine and a complete tear down of it, splitting it open to replace the rods before it all gets put back together. While I mostly trust Porsche to do this to the highest levels of quality possible, doing it outside of the factory, either at Port facilities or at the dealership, is less than ideal. I’m waiting to hear official word from Porsche before making any decisions but I am highly unlikely to pay for a new car that has a day-0 engine rebuild without substantial compensation to account for the time and “story” these cars will carry with them. I’m still counting on Porsche doing the right thing and replacing these engines.
Photo from the Porsche factory:
My worst nightmare (not that I expect this but still…)
My attempt at a Porsche engine rebuild with my first 911 and a patient father:
Now that I settled on and submitted my final build to my Sales Associate, Porsche needs to do their thing to build the car and ship it to me! I enjoyed watching this process unfold when I ordered my 2016 Targa and now I get to do it again with the Spyder.
Jan 31st, 2021 – Build finalized with my Sales Associate
February 26th, 2021 – Planned build start
Late April – Estimated delivery to Porsche Oklahoma City, my dealership for this car
After Porsche finishes building a car headed to the United States, it gets moved to a port at Emden, Germany. Cars are loaded onto specialized vehicle carriers where they are shipped around the world.
In my case, Porsche beat all of their estimates. The car was built early and was ready to ship out from Emden, Germany on March 5th on the Goodwood vehicle carrier with a updated arrival estimate at the dealership for April 16th but trending early. Thanks to the internet and sites like MarineTraffic.com, obsessed buyers like myself are able to track the progress along the way.
Getting ready to leave Emden, Germany on March 5th, 2021:
Arriving at the Port of Houston, USA on March 29th (multiple stops along the way):
Here is a video of Porsche building an engine along the assembly line as an example of what happens behind the scenes. Pay special attention to how involved this process is…it will come back in my next post 🙂
I already talked about my decision to sell the Turbo and buy a 718 Spyder and provided some background on the heritage behind the Spyder, so in this post I’m going to go into more detail about the actual car that I ordered and the reasons I configured it the way I did. The Porsche online configurator is so much fun, and you can daydream about the perfect stripped down GT3 or the most decked out new Turbo. They keep improving it…my dream would be if they would add historic models with the options back in the day to play with.
The fun and games stops when you move from daydreaming to actually having to lock down the spec you want to order. Almost all Porsche’s are custom configured. Even cars that are for sale on dealer lots have been customized by the dealer. The only real exceptions are cars that are pre-configured special editions, customized by the Porsche Exclusive group. When a customer is ordering a car, they take on the fun and the stress of deciding what the perfect car is for them. It’s a long process of research, watching videos, making decisions, second guessing and then you repeat this until the day your Sales Associate tells you it must be locked so the car can be built 🙂
Some decisions were pretty easy:
Manual Transmission – One of the main reasons I wanted to make this move was for a more engaging driving experience so the manual transmission was an easy one. Free choice…winning.
Color – Never black, ever again. I was tempted by a bright skittles color and would have loved to do a paint-to-sample but that is complicated and expensive. None of the blues did it for me and python green or speed yellow screamed mid-life crisis more than I was willing to own. I have always loved white cars and I think the white and black two-tone look matches the Spyder beautifully. I went basic white over metallic white because to me it looks more sporty and the metallic white is too cool, I like the warmer tone of the basic white. Also free…win.
Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes – An expensive option but I have them and love them on my Turbo. These are basically lifetime brakes for a non-tracked car, are much lighter for less unsparing weight and have zero brake dust. I debated painting them black but really like the PCCBs in yellow as they are intended to be so that will be the one splash of color in the build. This was not a free option…
2-way Sport Plus seats – Again, have them in my Turbo and love them. Easy, simple and very comfortable. I don’t see the value in paying thousands for heavier 18 way seats and I’m too big to live with the bucket seats on a daily basis. Free…so much winning.
Satin black Porsche logo for the white/back theme and rebadged otherwise.
”Downgrade” from track oriented Cup2 tires to high performance summer times to get my favorite tire, the Michelin PS4S, perfect for Seattle and the type of driving I do.
2-Zone climate – I love the set it and forget it feature.
Heated seats – Yes please in the Northwest.
Carbon Fiber interior trim and lighted carbon fiber door sills. I love the look and it holds up better than the aluminum finishes.
Light design package – Here Porsche, take an extra $350 so I don’t have to explain why this car doesn’t have light up visor mirrors like every other car in the world
Bose and Apple Car Play
Choices that took a bit longer:
Leather or alcantara wheel and shifter. I have always had leather but given the other alcantara in the interior, I went that direction this time.
Contrast stitching color. Yellow, red or silver (white really)…I was on the fence about this the longest. Yellow to match my brake calipers or silver for a better two tone look. In the end I went with silver because I found the yellow to be a bit busy and thought silver reinforced the two-tone look I wanted. A bit boring perhaps.
Headlights. I upgraded to the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) but didn’t go all the way to full LED. I like the look of the blacked out Bi-Xenon headlights over the full LEDs and they work great. A little form over function here but it also saved money on the build.
Color – Okay, I know I said this was easy, but every time I see a Miami Blue, a Python Green or a Yellow Porsche, I can’t help feeling like I should have gone more bold with my build.
Way more detail that anyone likely cares to know, but that’s true for this whole blog 🙂 Here’s my official Porsche build code where they maintain all of the options I picked although I don’t know how long until they recycle these numbers – Final build.
Here are some configurator photos…a far cry from the real thing but they give you an idea of how things will look when it all comes together.
Note – If you want to download any of these photos, you can find the full resolution files here (the ones on my blog are reduced to shorten page load times) – https://adobe.ly/3r6B76f. Feel free to repost these photos to social media but please include the following credit or just tag and credit me directly if posting on Instagram – ”Jeff Jones @911maniac on Instagram“
For those that don’t already know, Drivers Skills is an all day hands on car control clinic sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Region Porsche Club. You don’t need to be a member and you don’t need to bring a Porsche. This is a great way for any driver, even the younger ones, to learn more about safely handing a car, van, truck, suv, etc. Working with experienced instructors and volunteers, participants work in small groups to learn more about their cars and themselves over the following sections:
Accident avoidance (my personal favorite)
No racing and no timed competition. Just fun practice in a low risk high reward setting. By far the best $140 you can spend and that includes a hot lunch. Don’t hold me to that price…prices change but my old blog posts don’t 🙂 You can learn more at www.pnwr.org and you can register for upcoming events online at the PNWR section of the MotorsportReg site – PNWR on MSR.
My first experience with Drivers Skills was as a student in my 2016 911 GTS Targa. This time, I was there as a volunteer (cone shagger was my official title) but mostly I was there to try my hand at motion car photography. Karl Noakes I am not, but considering this was my first time trying and considering it was raining most of the day, I’m very happy with the results. I’m even happier that I got the chance to get out and meet new people, see such an eclectic mix of cars at the clinic and laugh with other volunteers as we did the old man run/jog/walk to shag cones at the slalom course. In terms of metrics, I ended the day with 2736 photos to process, 82 keepers (maybe a dozen that I really love), 15,000 steps, 1 bbq sandwich and 4 Advil, 6 if you count the two this morning. A great day by all measures.
We started the day in the dark, chatting and taking some photos as folks arrived:
Group photo once everyone arrived (I used my Jeep as a makeshift ladder):
Volunteers make this event possible and the instruction participants get comes from years of experience. Lunch was really good as well considering we are operating under COVID safety measures and can’t do the normal lunch options. Everyone seemed happy with their BBQ sandwiches all ready to go.
In no particular order, here are my favorite motion photos from the day (looks best on a larger display):
Here are my second favorite motion photos and it shows the wide variety of vehicles that attend Drivers Skills…bring anything and learn more about how it performs at the limits:
I wasn’t sure if any of these panning photos were going to come out, so I made sure to take a few standard photos throughout the day and here were my favorites:
My favorite of the day. I just low how the motion turned out in this photo, I love the reflection of the car and the pop of color from the helmet and brake lights. More luck than skill but I’ll keep practicing!
The weather in Seattle from late November to March is great for skiing and having fun in the Jeep off-road, but not so great for sports cars, mountain drives or car shows. So what is a 45 year old car enthusiast that still acts like a 12 year old suppose to do when not skiing…play with models of course!
First up is a 1:43 scale model of the 718 Spyder that I’ve ordered and other than the caliper color, it is a perfect match for my spec.
Next, Shep and I finally got around to building one of his Christmas presents, a complex 1700 piece Porsche RSR race car. We got a freak snowstorm with over a foot of snow so while the kids were playing and Meg was busy making a huge snow family, I had some fun taking photos of the model.
The last model was a Lego build as well, but this time I bought it for me! When it arrived, Shep got all excited thinking he got more Legos but he quickly learned that this one was all Dad’s. Okay, he got to help build it and helped me find some pieces along the way…my old eyes need the help. This lego build allowed you to create an early 911, either a 930 Turbo or the 911 Targa. The Targa build is a near perfect match for my first Porsche so the choice was obvious. The only struggle was whether I should buy two kits and build them both!
According to my research, the first time Porsche used the Spyder name was for the 550, a beautiful race car made between 1953 to 1956. The 550 had a mid-engine mounted air-cooled four cylinder engine. Mid-engine, meaning the engine was mounted forward of the rear axle, was in contrast to the 356 (and later 911s) with their rear engine layout. The 550 Spyder got off to a strong start for Porsche, winning the first race it entered, and continued to be a successful race car throughout its run.
The 550 is perhaps most well known for being the car that James Dean died in. He had nicknamed his car “the little bastard”. Dean had been ticketed for speeding just two hours before his fatal accident. The accident involved a collision with a Ford sedan…the little Spyder didn’t stand a chance. Thankfully, Dean’s passenger and the driver of the Ford survived although if you believe all of the stories, the little bastard was cursed and continued to wreak the kind of havoc that you will only find in a Stephen King novel. Dean’s passenger later died in a drunk driving accident and the driver of the Ford of died of lung cancer. The car body and the drivetrain were separated. When unloading the body, it rolled off the trailer and crushed a mechanic’s legs. A thief broke his arm trying to steel the steering wheel. A race car that had the engine of the 500 crashed killing the driver and during the very same race, a different car that had the transmission crashed, severely injuring the driver. While on display, the body rolled off a truck again and broke the hip of a nearby student. After that, during transport, a truck driver lost control of the truck and was thrown from the vehicle, only to have the 550 fall off and kill him. Apparently while in storage, the building burned down and the only thing left was the car, untouched by the fire somehow. It is likely that some, maybe even all of this is nothing more than legend, but it makes for fun research.
Porsche followed up the successful 550 with the 718, a race car built between 1957 and 1962. It improved on the 550’s aerodynamics and suspension and continued with an air-cooled four cylinder mid-engine layout. The 718 was made in a number of configurations throughout the years and had a very successful racing history for Porsche. To the best of my knowledge, there are no known cursed version of the 718…let’s hope that trend continues with the one that I’ve ordered.
Clearly Porsche wanted to send a message when it named their new race inspired street car the 718 Spyder. With such a rich racing heritage, this new car has a lot to live up to.
Personally, I’ve never been strongly drawn to the smaller, mid-engine Cayman or Boxster, at least not enough to overcome my total obsession with the 911. The 911 is the most iconic design in the car world, going all the way back to the first 356. It is the top of the line in the Porsche lineup, the lower cost mid-engine siblings have always been held back a bit. The 911 has the engine in the back and uses 60 years of sorcery to overcome that fact. Hell, my site and Instagram account are 911maniac! So what swayed me? Enter the GT4 and Spyder. Both are 420 horsepower, 6 cylinder naturally aspirated mid-engine sports cars you can get with a manual transmission…perhaps the last of a dying breed as we reach the end of the internal combustion engine. The Spyder checks my most important boxes better than any other car at the moment, performance and design. It has become “the next one“.
Performance...check. Previous modern Spyders were nicely optioned Boxsters. The Boxster is a great car and the Spyder design made it that much more special, but it lacked the full GT car performance and suspension. That changed with the 718 Spyder. Honestly, a more accurate name for the car would be the GT4 Spyder because it is a GT4 in all ways, just with a removable lightweight roof. Same performance, same engaging driving experience, same GT3 race derived suspension, same gearbox…it is a convertible mid-engine race car and a legitimate product of the Porsche GT division. I fell in love with the GT4 the first time I saw it and this has all the benefits plus open top motoring.
Design…check. Wow, just wow. In my opinion, the 718 Spyder is one of the most beautiful cars you can buy right now at any price. Porsche nailed the design. The flying buttress wings on the top, the streamliners on the rear lid, the aggressive and beautiful front end, the functional aero diffuser in the rear. Porsche describes it as “perfectly irrational” but I just call it perfect. You can clearly see elements of the original 550 and 718 and it reminds me in many ways of a baby 918 Spyder, Porsche’s latest hyper car. It is impossible not to fall in love with this car and it looks just as good with the top up as it does down, something that almost no other convertible manages to do. Silver is clearly the throwback color but Seattle is gray enough already so I’ll take mine in white please.
I’ve talked in the past about my answer whenever someone asks what my favorite car has been…I always answer the next one. I’ve been loving this Turbo so much and fully expected to own it for many years…maybe even a true forever car. A few things converged to change that sooner than expected. First, I’ve always wanted a true Porsche GT car, a special line of track bred cars designed by the GT division of Porsche. Second, I really missed open top motoring this summer….all of my previous 911s were targas or full convertibles. Third, as fast as the Turbo is…and it is crazy fast, it isn’t all that engaging to drive. It’s a great car, but all it really asks of the driver is a willingness to pay for speeding tickets. Lastly, I ended up with a rare opportunity to secure an allocation for a 2021 Porsche Spyder, a limited production car that is not easy to find. I worked out a great trade for the Turbo to a dealership that wants to sell it, not just wholesale it out and custom ordered the Spyder. Just like that, I’m on to the next one.
I’ll do a more detailed post on the Spyder, a bit of history and my configuration but here is a “photo” from the Porsche online configurator: