Provinz: Driving Porsches in Winter

Story and Photos by Derek Cheung, Provinz Digital Editor

Drive our beloved sports cars in winter? Oh my!

Throughout the fall months, you may have noticed Cars and Coffee conversations shift away from discussions about upgrades and spirited drives. They begin to revolve around which type of wheel chock to use, what would be the best brand of fuel stabilizer, and what tire pressure to leave your prized Porsche at – all for the purposes of winter storage.

In Upper Canada Region, this is normal practice for many of our members given the climate we live in. Furthermore, road salt is widely used in Ontario – while this keeps our tires grippy and roads safer after snowfall, the slushy stuff we drive through creates an ideal environment under our cars for rust formation. The possibility of collisions also dramatically increases in inclement weather. Many of us who take pride in the condition of our Porsches are quick to remove them from such potentially harmful scenarios. Like a yearly ritual, we wash and wax our cars, pull the battery or install a battery-tender, and cover them up with care to hibernate until next driving season.

Yet some would argue that putting away a machine based on weather considerations is entirely unnecessary. Porsches, after all, were designed and manufactured out of the factory to be driven every day, for any condition, so long as they have been properly maintained. Danny Chik, UCR member and owner of this 996 generation 911 Turbo, has always stood by this philosophy.

Coming from a family of Audi fans, his two previous cars were MK1 and MK2 Audi TTs which he drove ev­ery single day to and from his office. His confidence in his methods are hardly unfounded, as he is an Automo­tive Engineer by trade, and has had a hand in compo­nentry design to many iconic production cars through­out his career. His love for the slightly flattened Beetle vehicle shape has only grown since, and in early 2015 he was ready for an upgrade – in the form of a Porsche 911.

Originally searching for an older Porsche to enjoy, Danny considered acquiring a mid-nineties car – either a 968 or 993, as his entry point to the brand. However, as he consulted shops and more experienced UCR members, he realized that while they were great machines, they would have fewer creature comforts than his previous beetle-shaped daily drivers. These aging machines would also require more effort to prepare for all-season use. He then considered the 996 generation 911, specifically the Carrera 4S (C4S), as he loved the way it looked, “with a wide body, minimalist aero, and how its distinctive rear red reflector ties visually into the brake lights!” Unfortunately, a thorough read­ing of technical documentation sparked concerns about the M96 engine’s longevity when tasked to handle cold weather. At this point, the plan for a 996 C4S was off the table as well.

Weighing considerations such as performance, ameni­ties, driveability, safety, maintenance and cost (and raising his budget to accommodate), he decided to focus his efforts on the 996 generation 911 Turbo (996TT). Specifically, Danny sought an example with low mileage and in pristine overall condition – his hunt was ulti­mately fruitful, as can see from these pages his beautiful and extremely low mileage 2003 Seal Gray 911.

“While the Turbo model is higher in price, the extra power from the twin turbos and the peace of mind of owning a tried and true, bulletproof Mezger engine was more than worth the price difference [versus a 996 C4S] to me.”

Danny’s car has more than just a casual dose of extra power over the 320hp C4S. While his 996TT is not option-heavy, the previous owner invested in the X50 power kit option – with larger turbochargers and inter­coolers, revised ECU and free flowing exhaust, bumping the power up from the already hearty 415 hp from the regular 996TT to 450 hp.

So how does a 15-year-old sports car with high horsepower fare on slick roads in cold weather? Danny took me out for a drive on a cold December afternoon. Riding on a handsome set of OEM BBS two-piece wheels wrapped with winter tires, the 996TT sits purposeful and ready to take on the slushy roads. As Danny took off, I made a conscious effort to evaluate the level of grip and the way the car felt, and registered no difference in ac­celeration, grip level, or the characteristic flat six burble of the engine note. The only (barely noticeable) quirk of the car in winter mode was the slightly more compliant ride, a likely result from the installation of narrower, softer compound winter tires. Even as Danny in­tentionally late-braked into an unplowed right turn, the 996TT bit into the snow and slowed itself down quickly, and once Danny got back onto the throttle, his car pulled straight out without even a twitch. I was thoroughly im­pressed.

Even if you are one of those people who choose not to drive your Porsche through winter and would cringe at anyone who does, I would wager that you cannot help but admire the dedication owners such as Danny have to their Porsches – their courage to brave the ele­ments year after year; their focus to keep up-to-date on maintenance items; but most of all their singular focus on enjoying their cars all day, every day – rain, shine, or heaven forbid, snow.

If you see this gray bullet fly by on the snowy roads this winter, remember to wave to Danny!

Provinz: Jan 2019

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