Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, August 2015

Porsche 911 Turbo

Brake upgrades and accident repairs - an eventful month for the Turbo.

It’s never fun writing about bad news. As I write this, the Turbo has been in the care of RPM Technik for the last couple of weeks, firstly while they upgrade the brakes with Performance Friction pads and fluid as I mentioned in my last report, but also while their bodyshop works to repair the damage inflicted by a truck driving into the side of the car on the motorway.

I debated long and hard about writing about the accident at all. With the values of manual 996 Turbos slowly appreciating at the moment, why mention that mine got dented by a Belgian lorry driver who wasn’t paying attention? It might have a negative effect on the car’s value when I come to sell it on, if the prospective purchaser reads this article or knows someone who does. However, I’m not one for hiding a car’s history, and it does give me something interesting to write about in this month’s report!

I’m very lucky that the accident, such as it was, wasn’t serious and no-one was hurt. I was driving in the middle lane of the M1 through some roadworks at precisely 50mph when a Belgian–registered lorry on my left wandered out of his lane and into the side of my car. The noise of the lorry scraping down the side of the car was terrifying, and I immediately swerved out of the way but with no hard shoulder available and narrow lanes due to the roadworks, I had nowhere to stop. I was surrounded by other cars, with no way to signal to the driver of the truck that he’d hit me, and I had no idea what damage might have been done to the car so I had to leave the motorway at the next exit to assess if it was safe to continue driving.

I pulled over on the slip road and watched the truck continue along the motorway, blissfully unaware that he’d hit me. It took a while to notice the damage on the passenger side of the car – initially I only looked at the front of the car and saw no damage, but then realised that the broad hips of the Turbo meant that only the rear of the car had come into contact with the truck. The rear wheelarch was dented and scraped, and my newly-refurbished wheel was trashed. Luckily, there was no damage to the tyre, and after a close inspection I decided to drive home – slowly!

I was very glad that I was on my own in the car, and that I was on the opposite side of the car to the impact. It wasn’t a serious accident, but it still left me shaken. Once I got home I parked the car on the drive and immediately called the police to report the incident. I was told that this sort of thing happens a lot, especially with left-hand drive trucks; the driver probably thought he’d strayed onto the cats’ eyes lane markings and had no idea he’d collided with another car.

The morning afterward, I called Richard Tipper of Perfection Detailing to get his advice on repairs to the bodywork and he very kindly freed up some time in his diary to come and take a look at the car. As you can see from the photographs, the wheelarch and wheel looked pretty bad with all the road grime, paint transfer and rubber marks, but some solvent and elbow grease from Rich cleaned up the area so we could assess the true extent of the damage.

With all the dirt and paint removed, it was clear that the wheelarch would require quite a bit of work to pull the dent out, the wheel would either need refurbishing again or replacing altogether, and the entire rear quarter plus the rear bumper would need a respray. Ouch.

Rich suggested booking it in with Porsche Reading’s bodyshop to get the best possible repair (they do know their Porsches, after all!) but their quote was eye-watering, to say the least. Fortunately, I happened to run into Greg from RPM Technik at a recent trackday and he suggested I talk to their bodyshop who came back with a more wallet-friendly estimate. With no exchange of insurance details since I wasn’t able to stop the truck after the incident, I’ve opted not to claim on my policy due to the effect it would have on my premiums. This seemed like a good idea at the time, though I may come to regret it when I get the final bill from RPM.

I dropped the Turbo off with RPM a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been staring forlornly at the empty space on my driveway ever since. RPM’s workshop manager Craig has been emailing me updates on the repair, and I should be able to collect the car this week. I’m looking forward to having it back in perfect condition again, and with improved braking too.

This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of GT Porsche magazine.