Bringing Baby Home

By Adrianne Ross

Adrianne Ross is a passionate Porsche enthusiast and a friend of MMR. She came to motorsports through American muscle cars. We first met her when she was helping friends raise money for a children’s charity and getting involved with the local Porsche community. While she is quick to admit that parenthood takes a front seat to all else, Adrianne is now involved with PCA at both the local and national level, writes a column for her Club, and tracks her Cayman. Though a Porsche owner for only four years, she has jumped into the motorsports world with both feet. She has never looked back. Her story, Bringing Baby Home, about buying a Cayman on line, is enjoyable and informative.

When I bought my first Porsche, I thought she and I were going to be together forever! I pictured us five, ten, even fifteen years down the road, loving life and getting appreciative looks. Some folks asked if I would track her out, convert her into a racecar. “No, not me”, I responded. “She’s so pretty as a speedster, I don’t want to ruin that for either of us.”

Porsche Lime Rock

I learned so much from my little Boxster. We learned what it meant to be on a racetrack, how good fall in New England can look in a cabriolet, and what summer evenings were meant to be. Once in a while we would beat—solidly beat—a newer 911 through the Bus Stop at the Glen. Sure they could take me on the straights, but somehow we were nose to tail pulling out of that turn. She was a real trooper.

Then, tragedy struck.

Bringing Baby Home

A wince-causing thump began to happen when the car shifted into 4th. There was an unquestionably weird two-part shift to 2nd gear. She wasn’t happy. I limped her home from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and a few weeks later, limped her out to my Porsche tech. He called a few days later. “It’s fatal I’m afraid”, he stated. “Your transmission has big chunks of metal in it.”

Over the winter, a tragic story of a little joy and a lot of heartbreak ensued. Friends rallied round, true heroes emerged, I finally got it fixed, but in the end, even the fix was flawed. Flawed enough to end our once perfect relationship.

Enter the Internet, and the hunt for a new Porsche. I received tons of advice: get a 996… a GT3… a 964! But I knew what I wanted. I started mid-engined, and I was going to stay mid-engined. But maybe faster, yeah, let’s go faster!

I found some Caymans online. I talked to friends. I talked to pros. Love the Cayman, buy 2009 or later.

It didn’t take too long, and I found one on Carmax. Now, I’m not a national chain-car-dealership kind of girl but the price was right, if not the location, and a friend had bought one there. So, I went to talk to them.

Bringing Baby Home

The car, it turned out, was in Indy. They would ship it (for a pretty nominal fee), and I could see my car in one to three weeks. Three weeks?!? I waited. I obsessed over her pictures on the Internet. I annoyed the salesman with questions. I bit my nails and ground my teeth, because, while I think I’m generally optimistic, patient I am not.

At last it came, (about one week in), and I raced down to see it. I knew a lot about her. She came from Texas, was bought late in her model year, and had only one previous owner. In Texas, where it’s hot, hot, hot.

The front tires were, let’s say, baked. They were cracked and dry and it was worrisome. (Funny story side note: Carmax was not going to replace them, because they would have passed a state inspection, but when the sales person told them how I drive, they decided that my description of dangerous was probably accurate, and $500 worth of new tires was maybe a sound investment.)

There was a strangely painted-over tear in the driver’s seat. You know that stuff they sold on TV in the ‘80s to repair leather? Yeah, that stuff, on my driver’s side seat—a lot of it. Who does that to a Porsche? I pointed out these and other weird little flaws. “We’ll fix ‘em!”, they declared. “You can have my money when that’s done.” I replied.

Home to do more homework. My Porsche tech was happy to hear that I would indeed be jumping back on the old Porsche horse. “It’s still under Porsche’s warranty,” I chirped at him standing on the front straight at NHMS.

“Get an over-rev”, he responded flatly. An over-rev? Dammit! Now I need to figure out what that is!

It turns out that there’s a little telltale meter inside of a Porsche that will tell you if someone has buried your engine into the redline. It will tell the absolute truth, you cannot over-ride it, you cannot bypass it, and you cannot erase it. It records on a scale from one to six, with one being maybe brushing the redline as you shift through, and six being flat out on the front straight at Watkins Glen in 6th, missing the shift, and transitioning into 2nd, at 150 mph. Yeah, bent.

Porsche says certain situations on that scale (usually three and above) will void certain parts of your warranty. I should say so!

But I was worried. Would someone who would paint “as-seen-on-TV” junk on a leather seat know how to drive a Porsche the right way? Did they buy it to abuse, and throw around the gritty streets of El Paso? We’re they known outlaws who just bought it to torture it, to hear it squeal? I hoped not, but that seat thing really bothered me.

Three days later, I got my car. I signed the paperwork, traded jokes with the manager, and drove straight to my tech.

A word about pre-purchase inspections. Have them. No matter what. Pay the price, get someone you trust, get it on the lift, and have a look. Three to five hundred dollars now, can save you uncounted headaches in the future. Secondly, mine was post-purchase. That’s how Carmax works. You have five days to return the car, with no questions. But you can’t take it away before you sign on the dotted line.

Back at my tech’s, we put the car on the lift and Matthew got out the flashlight. He carefully ran his hand over the paint, checked all over for indicative little traces of the car being repainted. Magnets for Bondo, fingertips for repair spots. Got under it, pulled plugs, took oil for sampling, and checked and checked and checked. Tugged on hoses, looked at the lug nuts, and felt up the suspension in a very thorough way.

He smiled over at my anxious presence sitting on a set of stacked tires, nervous as a cat. “It looks great,” he said, “it’s a really nice car.”

“Let’s see the computer” I retorted, still uneasy. We jumped in and plugged in. It took the computer a few minutes to sort out what car it was talking to. “Nervous?” asked Matt. “Ya think?” I replied, grinning.

OBD came online, and Matt went through the car. It was all checking out very clean. No unexpected errors, no big deals. The over-rev!” I demanded. Matt hit the key, and it flashed up. Numbers appeared. Numbers I understood because I’d obsessed over this test. 1: -78; 2: zero; 3: zero; 4: zero; 5: zero; 6: zero. Wow! The thing had only thought about brushing up against the redline about 22 times in it’s life. Nothing else. Nothing! Matt grinned at me, “I love my new car”, I beamed at him.

Bringing Baby Home

Happy. That’s what she’s made me. Happy. In three weeks we’ve already had adventures. We’re going to the track as soon as we can to really get to know each other and I can’t wait! It’s been a great ride, and I’m pretty excited about my new little Cayman.

I learned a lot in this process about who to trust, and who not to. I’ve looked at a lot of cars online, and asked a million questions, but it was all so worth it! I found my new Cayman, so far dubbed P-2, and we’re very happy together. I can definitely see us together in five, ten, or even fifteen years…