Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, August 2014

Porsche 911 Turbo

The Turbo gets some detailing TLC.

Before I bought one, I was of the opinion that the 911 Turbo looks at its very best when covered in road grime and dead flies, having just stamped its authority on another autobahn or back road. However, I also have a bit of OCD when it comes to my own cars and can’t stand to leave them dirty for long, so one of the first people I called after collecting the Turbo a few months ago was Richard Tipper of Perfection Detailing.

Richard worked wonders on my old Boxster despite me thinking there wasn’t much he could do to improve it, and so I was looking forward to seeing what he could do to the Turbo. It’s not just about the washing and the polishing, either – Richard has a wealth of experience in assessing the state of the paint finish and bodywork and can give a detailed report of the originality of the paintwork and even whether there’s been some concealed crash repair work done.

I booked him in for a Full Enhancement Detail, which takes a full day and involves everything from the obvious wash and clay bar process, to washing all the carpets in the interior, treating the leather, then a full machine polish of the paintwork followed by a coat of nano sealant on the paint, plastic and glass, and a final coat of wax on top.

Silver cars can always look reasonably clean even after a cursory wash, but after a day’s effort from Rich had the Turbo positively glowing. There’s a subtle blue sheen in the paint that just wasn’t visible before and the nano coating makes it incredibly easy to clean off dust and grime. Ten minutes with a sponge and it’s back to its shiny best, rain just beads and rolls off all of the surfaces, and going on my experience with the Boxster, the finish lasts a very long time.

On the subject of paintwork originality, it seems that my car has definitely had quite a bit of respray work. Richard checked the paint depth on all the panels and with the exception of the roof and the rear, it seems that virtually every other panel has been resprayed at some point. That might sound like bad news, but Richard was at pains to point out that the work was of a very high standard and most likely to have been tidy-up work by a conscientious previous owner to remove scratches and chips. He also inspected the paint on the inside of the doors, particularly around the hinges, which can be giveaway points if a car’s been in an accident or had replacement panels fitted. Fortunately for me, the paint there was original, the hinges are original and the panel gaps and tolerances are factory-spec, so my fears that the car might be hiding some dark secrets were unfounded.

The Full Enhancement Detail costs £650, which isn’t cheap, but I’d budgeted for Richard’s work knowing the difference he can make to a car, and I feel it’s worth every penny, particularly with regard to the paintwork.

During the detailing process, we also took a close look at the exhaust, since the car has had an aftermarket system fitted. I’ve been through the reams of invoices and receipts that came with the car and can’t find any mention of the exhaust being replaced, but this system is definitely non-standard. One the first things I noticed when I went to test-drive the car was the beefy sound it made, and I suspect it swayed my decision to buy the car over a 997. I’d been concerned that a Turbo wouldn’t have a discernible exhaust note, but the bellow that my car makes when you start it from cold definitely puts a smile on your face.

Neither Richard nor I could find any identifying marks, but it’s a stainless steel backbox that looks very similar to a Milltek system. It gives the car a bit more personality to my ears – at full throttle there’s more of the flat-six howl mixed in with the induction roar that you’d expect from a turbocharged engine. During normal use it’s probably a bit louder than the standard system, but no more so than the exhaust fitted to a GT3. It does make passing noise limits at trackdays a bit more of a worry, though. Static tests for 911s are notoriously unfair since having the engine at the rear adds more noise, but a recent trip to Bedford Autodrome had the car registering 102dB on the static test, with the limit for the session ostensibly being 101dB. Fortunately, I was allowed on despite failing the test, with a word of advice from the officials to short-shift around the areas where the noise meters were located!

I’m off to Brands Hatch this month for the GT Porsche track evening and I’ll be interested to see if the Turbo passes the static test there. Much as I enjoy the system as fitted, if the extra volume means I can’t get on track due to increasingly stringent noise limits, I may have to source a standard exhaust for peace of mind.

This article was first published in the September 2014 issue of GT Porsche magazine.