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ALONGKMA Spyder

I’ll NEVER UNDERSTAND how I missed it. How was it possible that a Porsche nut, then driving his second Boxster, avidly reading Provinz, Panorama and everything Porsche, was oblivious to the amazing 2015 and 2016 Boxster Spyder? I was well aware of the coupe version, the GT4, but there I was in the late summer of 2016, ignorant of the convertible until I heard someone enthusing about it in a casual conversation. Making a mental note to check it out, the opportunity soon arose when we held a UCR monthly social at Porsche Centre Oakville, where to my delight, a gleaming Boxster Spyder in Carrera White Metallic sat centre stage for all to admire — and admire it I did. I’d been impressed with the 2011 Spyder, but this one was quite simply love at first sight. By then I had swotted up on the car, reading all the articles that I had inexplicably missed, and which universally acclaimed it as brilliant. Something told me I should get serious about this, so I made an appointment for a test drive.

It’s become a bit of cliché to talk about a car putting a smile on your face, which I suspect is often just a way of saying that it gave you pleasure. But as I drove alongside the QEW on an empty stretch of the North Service Road, allowing my foot to twitch a little on the gas pedal, I realized that there I was alone in this fabulous Porsche with a big, stupid grin on my face. It was that good, I loved it and I wanted it. Hold on a moment though, I’m no impulse buyer. I had to do my due diligence on this car, check out any others on the market and work out the math. Well, there were very few Spyders for sale anywhere in Canada and none within driving distance, so it looked as though Porsche Centre Oakville’s car would be the one. Within a couple of weeks of my test drive we had settled on the price, so all that remained now was to fix another appointment for Pam to take a drive in the Spyder and then deal with all the paperwork and admin, and payment. After leaving a message to say I’d like to bring my wife to the dealership and finalize the deal, I clicked on the E-mail response later that day, only to learn that the car had been sold. Sold from right under my nose, not the first time for me, either, so why hadn’t I applied what I’d learned — if the first car you see checks all the boxes, buy it now!

It turned out that “my” Spyder had been the Porsche Canada press car and was just about the last new second-gen Boxster Spyder for sale in Canada. So guess what happened next, any cars to be found at dealers were all “used” and no longer for sale at MSRP. The law of supply and demand was clearly at work, so I decided to stay out of the market until those two factors were in better balance, but that never really seemed to happen. So just over a year later in November 2017, I walked into Porsche Centre North Toronto and asked for confirmation of the rumours about a next-generation Spyder. Yes, they said, it’s possible that Porsche will build a new Spyder, but we don’t know when. I didn’t care when, but I wanted one, so I put down a deposit and secured my place in line, not first, but quite close.

Then came the long wait, the rumours about engine type and horsepower, which parts it would share with the GT3 and when it would be announced. It was a frustrating time, but actually quite fun, too. As time went on, and rumoured announcement events came and went — not at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, well maybe the New York Auto Show. No. So what comes after that? Ah, the Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England, and now the rumours were beginning to carry more weight. At last the announcement came at the end of June while we were cruising high in the Arctic Ocean, at times beyond the reach of Internet satellites. After the impenetrable sea ice turned us back south, my sporadic Internet connection brought me news about the car and that it would indeed be launched the following week at Goodwood. That in itself was great news, but the timing of the launch also confirmed in my own mind what I had been secretly hoping for — that the new Spyder (and GT4) would also appear live, in the flesh, for real at Porsche Parade a few weeks later in Boca Raton, Florida. I just knew that Porsche wouldn’t miss an opportunity to unveil it and present it to 2,000 PCA members. Sure enough, just three weeks later, as I entered the massive banquet room at the Boca Raton resort, I could see two shrouded profiles in front of the stage. Towards the end of dinner our guest speaker, Klaus Zellmer, then Porsche Cars North America CEO, gave the signal for the great unveiling to reveal a Carrara White 718 Spyder and a GT4 in Racing Yellow, prompting a rush of members from their tables to the front of the room. As everyone oohed and aahed, jostling for position to view the cars close-up and take photos, I couldn’t help just casually slipping in the comment to anyone who would listen, that I’d had one of these on order since November 2017.

Next came the first test-drive reports from Scotland where Porsche had chosen to provide both models for journalists to experience track and normal road driving. They may not have bargained for cold wet weather in July, but that’s what they got. So although the reviews were highly positive, they were a little restrained by comments that the weather had prevented drivers from testing the cars’ full capabilities. For the next few months all I could do was read the reviews again and again and watch the Goodwood Festival YouTube video of Porsche GT project leader Andreas Preuninger waxing eloquent about the new cars. It didn’t matter how many times I watched it, he was still vague on some points and didn’t answer all my questions.

I thought it must be time to call my dealer to firm up my order, but in September 2019 they still hadn’t been notified about availability timing and their particular allocation. I’d been patient for a long time so I’d just have to hang in there a bit longer. Surely, it can’t be long now. Then in October I got the call I’d been waiting for — Porsche Centre North Toronto had received their allocation of Spyders and GT4s, so would I like to come to firm up my order and spec the car? Er, yes please. In fact, the only part that really mattered at that point was confirming the order, so that Porsche in Zuffenhausen would schedule my car for production.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me the unique style of the manual top flowing into the streamliners makes the Spyder one of the prettiest Porsches ever, top up and top down, too.

Prior to my dealer visit I went to the Porsche website and started to build my car on the configurator. Wincing at the cost of options, dismissing some as frivolous, while checking the boxes for other, er, frivolous ones, it was surprisingly easy to add over $20,000 to the base price with my essential options. Surprisingly? Well, not really. I’ve been around long enough to know that Porsche is masterful in creating desirable options, even if you think they should be standard. Why don’t they include the latest and best technology headlights as standard? Because they can charge the full price, not the incremental price difference, by giving us a choice of good, better, best. If you’re going to spend six figures on a car, you may as well spec it in a way that avoids any future regrets. For example, “I considered the leather-covered air vents in green with contrasting stitching, but decided they were too expensive and unnecessary. Now I’m going to regret that decision forever. Woe is me.” (Not really, by the way.)

The option selection game is hard, but fun, and the enjoyment can be spread over weeks or even months. You just have to keep telling yourself that the price of an option has nothing to do with what you might imagine its production cost to be, or the value that a disinterested non-Porschephile might attribute to the face of a small dial being painted a different colour. No, it’s all about making the car special and customized to one’s individual taste. I was confused by some of the interior option selections that seemed to duplicate each other, but after at least weekly visits to the Porsche website, I had it pretty much nailed down.

Our last few cars having been black, white or grey, Pam and I (yes, more than any other option, colour has to be a mutual decision) agreed on Guards Red. We stuck with that from October to December, while constantly tweaking the other options, until it was time to make the final commitment, at which point we discovered that we had both been harbouring a secret desire for Racing Yellow. Shall we do it? Yes, why not. So in went the final version of my order, after which I began to receive periodic friendly warnings that it would soon become locked in, with no more changes possible.

When I first inquired about European delivery, I was told it was not available. Having read so many articles about this being such a wonderful experience, I was not going to give up on the idea of our first trip to the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen, taking delivery of our Spyder and driving around southern Germany for a few days in the spring of 2020. With a little persistence I finally managed to get agreement to European delivery, and then at the end of January I was notified that the date had been scheduled for May 15. Now we could choose our hotel, book flights and start planning our tour route. But you can guess what happened next.

With the arrival of the pandemic, the brief shutdown of Porsche factories and so many unknowns, I learned that production of our Spyder was going to be delayed, but only by a couple of weeks. Porsche offered to reschedule our Zuffenhausen visit to the next available time slot, July 1, but it already seemed likely that travel advisories and restrictions would still be in place at that time. There was also a choice to delay the delivery until an even later date, but I had to consider that it would take at least six weeks for the car to arrive at Porsche Centre North Toronto, after we’d dropped it back at Zuffenhausen at the end of our little driving tour. Delaying the European delivery further, even just to August, would mean not getting behind the wheel in Canada until the fall, with not much of the driving season left. With so much uncertainty and interest in preserving our own health, after being lucky to get home unscathed from an aborted cruise in March, we decided to cancel the European delivery and have the Spyder shipped straight to Canada.

Arriving at the dealer, we couldn’t see our vivid yellow Spyder anywhere in the parking lot, nor when we entered the showroom and met with Paul. He had created a sense of occasion for us by placing it at the end of the showroom under a cover, ready for the great unveiling. It certainly was a special moment, pulling back the cover to reveal the spectacular Racing Yellow Spyder.

Our car was enroute just a few weeks before Porsche launched a new online service enabling customers to track the progress of their new car at every step from the factory gate to local delivery. However, Paul Madjarian, our sales executive at Porsche Centre North Toronto, did keep me informed about the Spyder’s progress from the factory compound to the port of Emden, its unloading in Halifax and the final leg of its journey to Toronto. Then came the call that it had arrived, so we scheduled a day for pick-up, July 13, a mere two years and three months after handing over my deposit check. I couldn’t quite believe it was really happening, but picking up the bank draft that depleted my account so significantly erased any doubt.

Arriving at the dealer, we couldn’t see our vivid yellow Spyder anywhere in the parking lot, nor when we entered the showroom and met with Paul. He had created a sense of occasion for us by placing it at the end of the showroom under a cover, ready for the great unveiling. It certainly was a special moment, pulling back the cover to reveal the spectacular Racing Yellow Spyder. What made it even better was that every detail was perfect, for the somewhat obvious reason that it had been built to our precise specification. How often do we look at a Porsche and think it’s nice, but that it could have been optioned out better, to our taste. Well, not this time.

It was perfect, but was still going to be made a little more perfect with a short drive to C17 Media in Richmond Hill for the addition of paint-protection film to the front end and some black vinyl stripes. C17 Media is the printer of Provinz, but also an accomplished designer and installer of automotive wraps. So now, after a first drive of just 12 kilometres, we would have to give up our new toy for a few days. The time seemed to pass slowly, but after two years and three months, what’s a few more days.

Rain was in the forecast for the pick-up day, but no matter, nothing was going to stop us. So there at last was ALONGKMA with its PPF, its black accents and every other detail exactly as we wanted it to be. We were free to take it and drive it wherever we wanted, but not quite. In any other year the 3,000-kilometre break-in distance would have been quickly surpassed with our frequent drives across the border on Zone 1 business, UCR driving tours and our usual social activity. The limitations imposed by the pandemic made most of that impossible, but a Rennsport driving tour in Quebec and two UCR tours certainly helped the period of sub-4,000-RPM driving go by.

There wasn’t much of the driving season left after the break-in period, but enough to experience the joy of hearing and feeling the 4.0-litre flat-six flexing its very capable muscles on some quiet country roads. The power, the steering, the suspension, the gear shifter, the braking and the whole feel of the car are quite superb. Everything you need to touch is weighted perfectly, so that the act of touching is a pleasure in itself. The Spyder is so nimble, so agile, and the rigidity of this convertible sports car feels as good as that of a coupe. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me the unique style of the manual top flowing into the streamliners makes the Spyder one of the prettiest Porsches ever, top up and top down, too. So soon put into hibernation after our brief acquaintance, it must be as impatient as me for the winter to pass, so that that we can get back out on the open road as soon as we see the first signs of spring. </>

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