Do motoring journalists trash Porsches?

There was an interesting thread on an Internet forum recently about the pros and cons of buying an ex-press Porsche.

Now, for those of you who aren’t aware of it, Porsche keeps a fleet of cars that it loans to journalists for the purpose of testing. In other words, most of the new 911s you see on these pages – and in other magazines and in television programmes – are from Porsche’s press fleet.

The question asked on the forum was whether one of these cars made a good second-hand buy. The concern being that us journalists will have ‘thrashed’ it time and time again.

That’s an interesting one. Yes, of course the press cars get driven hard – Porsche would be disappointed if we didn’t test them fully – and, unfortunately, there is a minority that abuses the privilege and don’t treat the cars with respect.

Personally, I treat press 911s carefully, as if they were my own. Yes, I drive them hard but I certainly don’t rag them (although I did once have an unfortunate ‘off’ on a remote road…). And I know that most other motoring journalists I speak to have the same respect for the cars they privileged.

I do spot signs of road rash around front ends and rear arches, not to mention interior knocks from carelessly thrown-in camera tripods. And I’m sure the cars are in the bodyshop more often than usual for repairs to minor knocks and scrapes.

The thing is, a non-press car could just as easily have been abused by a previous owner and you’d never know it. The good thing about the press cars is that they go into Porsche’s workshop regularly for a through going over and get additional servicing. They’re also thoroughly valeted every week and are beautifully presented. Remember, Porsche wants journalists to have a favourable impression of its cars, so isn’t going to let a sub-standard example out.

So, should you buy a press car? Well, you’ll be getting a low-mileage car that’s spent its life under Porsche’s caring wing but, on the downside, it’s probably been driven harder than usual. Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much, so long as the car is priced sensibly according to its condition.

Some argue that an ex-press car is always going to be less desirable. That may be so in the short term but, oddly, some older press Porsches seem to take on a celebrity status, with sellers making a virtue of the car’s history and the fact it’s been featured in magazines.

One well-known example of this is a 1989 911 Turbo SE Cabriolet which I remember driving when it had the famous ‘911 HUL’ numberplate. It’s now up for sale at Gmund Cars (www.gmundcars.com) as a ‘piece of Porsche history’ for a cool £70,000, although it once sold for £245,000 in the heady days of the early 1990s.

Who said press cars weren’t attractive?

Comments (4)

  • * Yeah .. I do think journalist are pretty liberal with Press Cars…

    have you seen those Top Gear guys!?

  • Ah, they’re not the norm, though. 😉

  • Dan Silipo

    I agree with PH, whenever you read articles written about cars there are always ‘verifications’ of 0-60 times, how the back end breaks away when driven enthusiastically, how its possible to even spin the tyres in third and how the acceleration really kicks in from 6000rpm to the red band….ummmmmmmmm no thanks I’ll leave those press cars alone! Maybe if its only been tested sympathetically by you Phil, but I am sure you are in a minority, after all we want the cars to have been tested to their limits by enthusiastic drivers-and I agree the previous owners may have thrashed their cars, but not usually day after day on a race track or test circuit!!

  • Andrew

    I’ve often said that folks like Jeremy Clarkson get the best 5 minutes or so out of a car on the test track. For, most of us will never really be able to experience these car’s full potential, nor would most of us feel quite right thrashing our $100k “investments” around.