Friday, 1 March 2013

ME AND MY CAR/MOTORCYCLE #11

Johnny Tipler joins in the fun this month in this 11th 'Me and my car' feature, and tells us how he fell in love with his Porsche 911 (964) C2, or 'Peppermint Pig' as he likes to call it. Johnny is a well-respected motoring journalist and author of the first-ever Veloce book Alfa Romeo Giulia GT & GTA (first published in 1991), going on to write four more books for Veloce: Alfa Romeo Berlinas (Saloons/Sedans), Fiat & Abarth 124 Spider & Coupe, Mini – The Real Thing! & La Carrera Panamericana. All are sold out and hard to come by now. Good news, though: in 2013, Johnny is back! A revised & enlarged new edition of the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT & GTA book will be published by Veloce later in the year ...

We've seen all sorts in this monthly feature and it has become an enjoyable part of our blog as we simply love the enthusiasm our readership has for anything on wheels that's a little bit leftfield. Please keep your entries coming in, and you never know, it could be YOU in this space next month!

"The Peppermint Pig is a 1991 Porsche 964 C2, bought in 2005 from Roock Racing at Leverkusen, north of Cologne. I’d gone to interview Michael Roock, patron of the eponymous racing team (GT2 winner at Le Mans in 1995, etc) for 911 & Porsche World magazine, and studiously avoided eye contact with the mint green 911 centre stage in his exotica-packed showroom. After the interview I couldn’t resist taking a closer look at what I’d assumed from its low-slung demeanour was an RS, and noted it had a sunroof and rear seats, which are normally absent on RSs. Only then did I look at the windscreen blurb, and was pleasantly surprised to read it was a regular C2, albeit one with attitude. The pound was strong, the euro weak; Roock offered to repatriate my LHD 3.2 Carrera, which I’d arrived in, and the deal was done.

It had been love at first sight, and though plaudits are manifold, the mint green hue and black Cup wheelsaren’t to everyone’s taste. A common reaction is, 'how could someone paint a Porsche that colour?' though it was on the standard colour chart in 1990 and 1991, and not even a special order. Plenty of people like to have their picture taken with the car, though, and I’ve overheard boy racers discussing its merits with surprising gravity.
In winter I run it on Nokian tyres, though it’s mostly on Continental ContiSports. Three years ago when I first started using the winter tyres I converted to 16in D-90 alloy wheels rather than the 17in Cups, and found the car’s behaviour transformed: its handling is much more vivacious and entertaining, and during a brief spell back on the Cup wheels I couldn’t wait to refit the (slightly) smaller wheels and tyres.

The Peppermint Pig served on the school run for several years, a daily 80-mile round trip, mostly on B-roads and country lanes, a duty rendered pleasurable because of the Peppermint Pig. I’ve also driven it to countless Continental race meetings I’ve been covering, such as Classic Le Mans, Monte Carlo Historic Rally, Mille Miglia, Nürburgring Old Timer and Ennstal Classic, plus feature venues such as Ruf near Munich and a succession of Abbeville trackdays, not to mention visits to UK circuits and specialists. We have a house in Portugal and it’s taken us there too, suffering the indignity of a top box en route! All that added up to 315,000km (196,000 miles), and the engine was starting to use a lot of oil. I’d been impressed by the methodology and dedication of 911 Motorsport mechanics tending their patron’s 911s at the Abbeville trackdays, and booked the car in for a major overhaul. The task was carried out over four weeks by Mike van Dingenen, who handed over a pristine 964 with virtually a brand new engine. The transformation was amazing: it was now much more responsive, with a sharper engine note; acceleration was instantaneous rather than lethargic, and though it’s still running in, it’s obvious that its original performance has been restored.
Every journey, near or far, the Peppermint Pig is great company, and now there’s a new spring in its step."
Johnny Tipler

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