I AM A RELATIVE NEWCOMER to the world of Porsche cars. I grew up in Peterborough and attended all kinds of racing events in the early days at Mosport, including F1 races, watching the three Jackies — Brabham, Ickx and Stewart — giving everyone else lessons in car control. Those demonstrations of skill made a lasting impression.
I discovered sports-car competition in 1998, at the age of 49, when I bought a third-generation Mazda RX-7, known in the Mazda world as an FD. This is the car made famous in the first Fast And Furious film.
About a month after I got that RX-7, I was invited to Mosport (now known as CTMP) by the brother of one of my clients, who was hosting a lapping day. I wanted to go just to watch and really had no intention of driving on the track. Out of my league, or so I believed. When I arrived, the organizer asked me if I had a helmet. I didn’t, so he gave me a loaner, a coach, and before I had time to get nervous, I was driving on the track I had adored as a teenager. This was one of those life-altering moments, where one is suddenly endowed with crystal clarity. I had to do this.
I found the ILR Car Control School online and signed up. Having a patient and knowledgeable coach is essential to any successful learning endeavour, and this was such an experience. The school was growing at that time, and Ian Law was looking for volunteers, so I paid my dues as a cone chaser and flagman, and eventually became an instructor. This is an excellent way to learn. The skills I acquired coaching drivers made me more aware of my own weaknesses, and helped with objectivity.
I started competing with the Mazda Sportscar Owners Club, which had an active auto-slalom program. I cannot imagine a better, or more entertaining way of teaching vision and smoothness, than by running a season or two of auto-slalom events. There are a number of these events run by PCA Upper Canada Region.
We went for a test drive in a 2006 Cayman and before we got to the end of the ramp onto the 401, I said, “We need the S.” So, I had a test drive in a Cayman S and I was sold.
I started competing at the sanctioned level with the Canadian Automobile Sports Clubs (CASC) Ontario Region, in auto slalom, then moved to the Solo1 series, now known as Ontario Time Attack. These events were all held at race tracks, so I got to experience Mosport, Shannonville, Calabogie, Toronto Motorsports Park at Cayuga, and the short-lived track at Dunnville. I had a number of podiums and two series class wins.
In 2011, we sold our house after 35 years in Toronto, and moved to the Niagara area. This freed up some funds, so I went sports-car shopping, since the RX-7 was now 18 years old and parts were becoming a challenge. My short list consisted of a BMW E46 M3, Honda S2000, and Nissan 370Z. I had not considered a Porsche as I thought it would be out of reach. It was hard to find a decent M3 in my target price range. The S2000 was really only available as a convertible, the Club Coupe version was so rare as to be a collector’s item, and the car is really tight for me at as I’m just over six-feet tall. The 370 was too heavy, a friend who raced one steered me away from that car. By then I had traded the RX-7 on a minivan (long story) and pretty much given up finding a replacement.
In the spring of 2012, I threw rational thought to the wind, and called Jeff Pabst at Pfaff Tuning, and he put me onto one of their sales guys, Stuart Drummond. He was a pleasure to deal with. We went for a test drive in a 2006 Cayman and before we got to the end of the ramp onto the 401, I said, “We need the S.” So, I had a test drive in a Cayman S and I was sold. If you are reading this, you probably have already had the experience. First drive in a Porsche sports car and it’s like coming home.
I have a thing about car colours. When I was at Pfaff the first time, I looked up and down the row of Boxsters and Caymans, and asked Stuart, “Do you have any that aren’t silver or black?” He mentioned there was a 2006 Cayman S coming in on trade that was blue, and when it arrived a few weeks later I swung by to take a peek. It was out behind the McLaren dealership, and it had not been cleaned or serviced, so it was a mess, but it was Lapis Blue and I fell in love. It also had the options I would have selected — a six-speed stick, PASM, Litronic headlights and 19-inch Carrera rims. I would not have paid $5,000 for the full leather interior, but it sure smelled nice!
A couple weeks later I had a site visit at the Rogers Centre. I’m a lighting designer and we were redoing the field lighting to meet HDTV requirements. So I took the GO bus to Toronto for my meeting, and then TTC to the last stop, and Pfaff picked me up. An hour or so later I was driving home in my first Porsche. There is nothing quite like that feeling.
PCA has a listing of Porsche colours called Rennbow, you can find it online at Rennbow.org. On the gallery of Lapis Blue cars, my Cayman is the first one pictured.
I joined PCA UCR and was able to find a member selling a set of Boxster S 18-inch lobster-claw rims to fit my car, with used but serviceable Michelin Sport tires. This was perfect, as I could learn the car on lapping days with these tires and not beat up my street tires.
So, after having a couple months of serious fun with my first German, I had some observations.
With about 100 more pounds and 30 fewer horses than the RX-7, the Cayman was not quite as quick.
The combination of the mid-engine arrangement, normally aspirated boxer engine, and the Porsche suspension and brakes made the Cayman S much easier to drive fast than the RX-7.
I had spent nearly 30 years driving various RX-7s where the shift knob is located about three inches above the transmission, so I found the Cayman shift linkage really rubbery. I had Pfaff Porsche install a short-shift kit. A huge improvement and I would recommend that mod to anyone.
The RX-7 had a cat-back exhaust system, and rotaries are known for the unearthly noise they make, so I found the Cayman S a bit on the quiet side. Pfaff Tuning fixed that with a sport exhaust, which I dressed up with Fabspeed tips in black.
I had a few reliability issues early on, these were covered by the excellent CPO warranty. Both cats and the water pump were replaced.
I no longer compete, but I do enjoy the occasional lapping day and charity events such as the Children’s Wish Foundation Day, now rebranded as Make-A-Wish Canada. I have been doing that for about 20 years and I would encourage anyone to support that great cause. Also, it’s usually Thanksgiving weekend, so it’s about the last chance on track for the year, and an excellent way to give thanks for our good fortune.
The car had suffered from an amateur waxing, so there were lots of swirl marks. In 2018, after reading the reviews of the work done by Doxa Detailing in Provinz, I decided to let Joshua have a go at it. Also, the 3M film Pfaff had applied when I bought the car was getting a bit scratched so Doxa removed the film, performed surface restoration, reapplied the film on the entire front, and did the ceramic coating. The improvement was stunning and I believe that shows in the photos.
In September 2013, my car won First In Class (out of two cars) in the popular choice category in the PCA UCR Concours D’Elegance in Burlington. I decided to enter again in 2019, after Doxa Detailing had worked its magic. When I arrived at the location in Burlington, I was a little dismayed to discover more than 16 cars in my class, including no fewer than four GT4s. However, I was surprised and pleased to win Second In Class. I put that down to the refinishing and the Lapis Blue colour.
I subscribe to the theory that you get out of something in proportion to what you put into it. I suppose the current take on that is having “skin in the game.” The year I joined PCA UCR, I volunteered at the Introductory Driving School (IDS) in April at the Driver Development Track at Mosport. So, if you’ve taken an IDS in the past six years then you have probably met me. I strongly recommend an IDS for any Porsche owner, even if you have no intention of using your car for lapping on a track.
In university, I was the copy editor for the school paper. That’s a skill like riding a bicycle, it does not diminish. When Randy Gananathan was Provinz editor, I signed up for proofing, which I am still doing. So I get to see the magazine before most people. And you can probably blame me for any typos that sneak through. (I found some in your own article! —Ed.)
I call this car my First German, which is not entirely accurate. My wife is a Canadian with German heritage, so I suppose the Cayman is actually my Second German. Nonetheless, the love affair continues. </>
Photos by Marilyn Cornwell