The Porsche Cayman 987 – Another Essay on Not Going so Fast…

One of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever owned is the BMW E30 325iS. That 170hp 2.5 liter straight six is smoother than butter. It’s New York Deli whipped cream cheese smooth, and it loves to rev. It’s a car that way too many car enthusiasts abandon in pursuit of more power, not realizing what they had. If you administer truth serum to several car enthusiasts, they will usually confess that the E30 was one of their top faves. Many other say the Porsche 944. Hmmm.

But this isn’t about the E30, we’ll talk about pining for that car another day. It’s about the “base” Cayman 987.1 with a 242hp 2.7 liter six and 5-speed manual gearbox. You can certainly step up to the 291hp 3.4-liter engine with 6-speed box for more power, bigger brakes, etc., etc., but don’t overlook a low mileage 2.7 if you get the opportunity. As with all used Porsches, maintenance and care always trump a bargain.

I lucked out, we were looking for a base Cayman with Tiptronic for Pam, and found the perfect car at Porsche Irvine, in Irvine, California. This little peanut butter cup, finished in Macadamia Brown metallic with beige leather interior only had 16,000 one owner miles! Crazy. A number of calls and emails back and forth were made, and the Carfax revealed that this car had all of its maintenance records, with oil changes done meticulously at the dealer every year – essentially almost every 7 or 800 miles. This must be one of the most lovingly broken in 2.7s ever!

The day before I boarded the plane to pick it up and drive home, the dealer called, informing me that this car was a manual not a tip. In our excitement, we didn’t look at all the interior pictures, so it was pow wow time. As Pam grew up driving an MGB, and had a 73 911S in the early 80s (she sold it for $10,000 to start a business -aaaaah!) the thought of driving a manual wasn’t daunting in the least. So, the deal pressed forward and I did not sleep that night. I caught the first plane out to Santa Ana Airport, where my pal Scott picked me up in his black Macan.

Unlike the local (snooty) dealer here in Portland, OR, the entire staff at Porsche Irvine couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly. While I was waiting, a few of the sales staff confessed that the 80-year-old fellow that traded this car in was a real enthusiast, and was taking delivery on a new 911GTS with manual, of course!

In person, the car was a beauty, and with 16k on the clock, drove like a time capsule car. The only flaws were a worn seat bolster on the driver’s side and a slightly faded front bumper. But all maintenance was up to date, with fresh brakes and tires as well. A couple hours later, I was having lunch with Scott, and headed to Visalia for dinner with another bud and a pit stop for the night before heading home. Unfortunately, I got stuck in some incredibly dense Southern California traffic (no, really I did!) and ended up at Darin’s house around 9pm. This should have been a two-hour drive.

Darin’s first comment on seeing the car was “wow, this thing has some serious wax on it!” He’s got a flawless 997 Cab, and appreciates the shine as much as I do. After an awesome dinner thanks to Darin and his lovely wife CarolAnn it was time to head to the hotel. Interestingly enough, it was prom night (aaah) so I didn’t get all that much sleep. Back on the road again at 6am, it was a quick drive up the I-5 freeway North home to Washington state.

If you’ve ever made that drive, you know it’s pretty boring until you reach Weed, California. From there on, the roads get curvy, with a lot of nice long sweepers that you can easily take between 80 and about 120mph – depending on how confident you feel. As I was making this drive, I spent about 30 miles next to a then new C8 Corvette, and even though his car was way more capable than the Cayman, I stayed right with him through the turns. On the outside at about 110 no less. He seemed amused and after we crossed the state line into Oregon, he veered off at Ashland. (another good road trip story for another day)

Keeping the Cayman’s pedal to the floor until almost Salem, (because that’s where the police are,) is lovely snaking around the turns. Keeping the car very near it’s 7,000 r.p.m. redline in 3rd, 4th, and 5th gear is engaging and stimulating, but not exhausting. The hydraulic steering’s combination of a relatively light touch and tremendous feedback makes this an awesome drive. Not to mention, the Cayman’s very comfy seats. With only two stops to use the litter box, grab a CLIF bar, gas and Gatorade, I’m pulling in the driveway at home just over 11 hours later. Not bad for an 800-mile drive.

This car continues to be engaging between 35 and 95m.p.h., which is where so many of us have to live, offering just enough mechanical sounds to satisfy. Two trouble free years later, the car has just turned over 21,000 miles and is about due for an oil change again. Now that the car gets driven somewhat, I’ve extended the interval from 800 miles to about 2500.  Brakes have been flushed and a fresh set of plugs installed.

On the cosmetic side of things, the bumper was resprayed to perfection from our pals at Refuge Custom Body and Paint, and the crew at Beaverton Automotive Upholstery took care of the seat, replacing only the worn panel with a perfect color match. Finally, the slimy stock radio was exchanged for a full screen, touch panel, CarPlay compatible SONY receiver at Musicar Northwest. If you look at nearly any used Porsche from about 1998 – 2008 they all have those small LCD screens and slimy buttons. Eeew. Musicar matched the bezel size, shape, color and texture perfectly, so it looks factory all the way.

However as fate would have it, the brown Cayman was not the droid for Pam. As it was so well taken care of, I couldn’t bear to see it go. The guys at Porsche Irvine joked that they were happy to see this one go to a car guy, afraid that it was going to end up sold to a bratty high school senior at Irvine High.

I think this one is replacing the E30 for all time fave car status.