I wish I’d kept my…Porsche 928

Ex-Scottish Sun editor Derek Stewart-Brown has enjoyed the custody of various exotics, but there is one car he longs for – his old Porsche 928

As a young reporter on The Sun newspaper back in the 1980s, I had money to burn. Before starting a family and business, before I developed any road-going common sense, I took the plunge with a cheap Porsche 928. Not a combination of words to fill the RAC with confidence.

It had more miles under the bonnet than the Space Shuttle, enjoyed less tender loving care than a Spanish beach donkey and offered the cabin ambience of a business meeting with Scarface. The interior smelled as though the previous owner had been a drug dealer. He probably was. He was certainly no architect.

But hell! For a few grand, that smoking engine and dubious interior were mine. I quickly sorted the de-coke, replaced the filters all round and put some rubber on the wheels. Suddenly I had a proper driver’s car on my hands; it was capable of shredding tyres at 20 paces – and, trust me, I exercised that right on numerous occasions.

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For the following six years, that car was hammered around Scotland. It chased Princess Diana from Balmoral to Glasgow Airport, suffered an intensive ‘body search’ from Police Scotland – mainly due to the Irish number plate – and was heavily criticised by Alice Cooper, who, during a drunken breakfast, slurred that it was really an Audi in disguise.

To be fair, Alice did have a point – and as the owner of this re-badged Audi, I felt duty-bound to preserve the car. Even now, the 928 has never enjoyed the credit it deserved. With current low prices (from £1500 for a truly ratty machine), they make for an astoundingly good driving experience.

That naturally aspirated, front-mounted V8 sounded good, but this was never going to be a 911 – and it strangely cost more than its rear-engined brethren. Saying that, throughout a seriously wet, fast run from the Highlands of Scotland to Glasgow, its stout nose handled better than any 911.

Far less twitchy, and therefore far less likely to kill you, it also utilised an interior that was much more user friendly and sophisticated than in earlier 911s. Rather than feeling as though it was stuck in a Thunderbirds film set, the 928 encapsulated how it must have felt to wait in Joan Collins’ bedchamber.

With Star Wars on at the movies and auto exotica at a new low due to a forthcoming recession, the 928 was the Lamborghini Miura or Ferrari of its time should you have been living within the realms of reality. It was a long-legged GT capable of traversing Britain in comfort and style, available on the second-hand market for less than a low-mileage Jaguar XJ.

The innovation was breathtaking for those times. Those polyurethane bumpers that moulded into the body served up a fashion trend that others were fast to copy. Mine certainly absorbed a few hits – walls, photographers, you name it…

The water-cooled V8 may have caused controversy, but for spine-tingling adrenaline nothing came close. I really do miss that car – and to think, I let it go for next to nothing. Just to add insult to injury, I then paid a fortune to replace it with an earlier 911. What a mistake!

The 911 was far less practical, let alone less exciting. The 928’s vast boot swallowed everything from golf clubs to a diving kit, but with a lack of shrouding the large rear glass segments acted more like a window display – as I found out on a return trip from the Hebrides when a few Dundee criminals decided to remove said diving kit with aid of a crowbar. If I recall correctly, back in the 1980s it cost a whole £98 to replace that rear window lock. That’s roughly £300 today.

Servicing commanded Porsche prices – but as a canny Scot, I saved a few quid in the Audi parts department. In terms of consumption the 928 was a bit of a nightmare, returning 20mpg on a long motorway run. Even back when Bonnie Tyler’s hair was large enough to conduct electricity and Kenny Everett ruled the airwaves, this was eye watering come time to fill up at the pumps.

Decades later, I really don’t understand why the 928 hasn’t become an icon. In the past few years, anything wearing that badge from Stuttgart has gone nuts in value, yet the 924, 944 and 928 models have been left moribund until about now.

To be fair, I was offered one just the other day. Largely destroyed, with over 150,000 miles on the clock, it brought back all the memories of my old steed. Casting an eye over its dings, dents and scrapes, and an interior that was more malodorous than sexy, I decided to pass on the £4k asking price despite my heart panging for my lost 928.

Less than a day later I realised I should have bought it – but that’s what we call ‘garage life’. You can’t buy them all, or indeed keep them all. However, of all the cars I’ve ever called my own, I miss that Porsche more than any other.

I’m just away to dry my eyes.

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