•   Matt Petrie reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Long-term fleet #1986 #Porsche-924 S

    The #924 S has gotten off lightly this month, with very little meddling. This has not been in favour of the blue car, but merely outside factors and, in part, laziness. That same laziness has even seen a reduction in use, only as I cannot be bothered swapping the cars around in the morning.

    When I have been driving the #Porsche 924 the changeable weather has definitely provided some fun. Again this has been partly due to my student-like motivation. I had been very good at resetting the suspension after track days. It is quite easy: take the carpet from the boot, lay on the ground and turn the adjuster on the bottom of the coilovers to dial back the rebound and compression to make the car more compliant on the roads. The thought that I could be heading back to the track sometime soon means I save the small amount of time spent laying on the ground, trying to remember, upside-down, how a tap works, time that would otherwise be devoted to a combination of working, drinking coffee, eating Jaffa Cakes and watching the West Wing. So I have tended to leave the car set in track mode. In the dry months the firmer ride made very little difference, aside from the obvious rattles and bumps. In the wet there is a little more to contend with. The firmer setup makes the car more fidgety on the road as it moves with any imperfections, and where I live there appear to be plenty of sections where the road that may as well have been corrugated.

    There is an upside to the firmer setup, and that is sensitivity. The car may be moving around a lot but there is so much information about what the tyres are doing and what’s underneath them, that driving around the imperfections in the roads and slippery patches is far easier than one might expect. Even for me. With the shocks dialled down I get less information but the car absorbs the bumps, so I ultimately have less of a need to know every little mark in the Tarmac. Another factor with my track setup, is that I have the rear shocks set firmer than the front, in an attempt to dial out some of the understeer, not only does this stop the nose pushing wide but it adds a layer of entertainment.

    Busy times at work mean I have been heading into the office a little earlier these past few weeks; the upside of this is that I quite often have the more interesting stretches of road to myself, and goodness knows there are some dawdlers when I don’t. There is a lovely section of road that dips to a sharp 90-degree left into a short climb. One damp morning I exited the corner in third and applied the throttle a smidge too eagerly, with superb communication through the steering wheel I felt precisely what was about to happen: the rear wheels broke traction and the back of the car slipped gently to the right, no more than about a foot. The feeling from the road to the cabin was such that I could adjust the steering and maintain throttle and the car eased itself back into line.

    That briefest of sideways moments was not intentional but it felt great and I had a spring in my step when I arrived at the office. Trying to intentionally repeat the action at the next corner, while it could have left me feeling full of win, would more likely have seen me into a hedge.

    Interested in the limits of these cars I enjoy looking through Porsche driving videos on YouTube and, more often than not, the better rated ones see drivers drifting gracefully from corner to corner, something which GT Porsche’s Jethro Bovingdon makes look so natural and fluid, frustratingly so, although I like to think there are plenty of unpublished spins.

    I’d love to have that level of ability and confidence in my kit bag, partly for showing off, but mostly to have such incredible car control. In pursuit of that I could well go out each morning and try my hand at taking the corner sideways, but my commute really isn’t the place for such learning. Neither is the road, generally, for fear of damaging mine or other cars and being, you know, not legal. What confidence I do have, if the car gets out of shape, comes from track days. Technically speaking track days are not the place to master the art of oversteer either, but chasing better lap times there is often no choice but to get slightly sideways.

    Some of you may be wondering, other than for showboating and being a nuisance to other road users, what the point is in being able to drive my sensitive little 924 in anything other than a straight line? That is a valid point of view, and there is a lot to be said for driving to the conditions. However I believe there is merit in having a fighting chance of keeping the car on the road when things get out of shape. That applies double for the older Porsches that don’t have the hero monitoring technology of the modern cars. It isn’t always driving too fast or misbehaving that causes the little moments that I have, a big lift off due to some other driver’s antics or, as is more likely around here, Bambi bounding out in front of me, can provoke the 924 S into oversteer, even in standard setup. I should get myself along to Silverstone and take one of the Porsche driving courses as it would no doubt help me out on both the track and road, but for now I will keep on tracking and hopefully staying out of trouble.

    One factor is in no doubt: I will be dialling back the suspension settings before the full-on winter weather arrives. While I may have pretensions of being a handy wheelman I am no born again hooligan.
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