Porsche 996 C4S road trip: flat six on the French Riviera

Beep, beep, beep… groan. It’s 4:00am on a Saturday, shouldn’t I be rolling in from a particularly good night out, instead of trying to drag myself out of bed? I’m pretty sure that four hours isn’t enough sleep, but I actually feel strangely motivated to get on with the day – probably something to do with what lies ahead…

After years of thinking about it, years interspersed with a few fun cars (TVR, NSX, M3 etc) I finally bought my first Porsche in September 2018. It was on a whim, as you do. I’d dabbled with the idea of a Cayman (you drive a lot of cars in this job and I’d enjoyed every Cayman I’d ever tried) but I knew that deep down it really had to be a 911 – you know, a real Porsche. I feel safe writing that in a magazine called Total 911.

A friend needed to move his 996 C4S on quickly so he could get into a Ferrari he’d been offered at a knockdown price (first world problems, huh?), coinciding happily with my having recently sold a house.

I knew the car too, said mate having owned it for a year or so, and I was enamoured by the spec – a lovely deep metallic blue, full black leather, Sports exhaust and short shifter kit making it even more focused as a driving machine. Furthermore, promises were made (and delivered) to have it looked over prior to sale and anything necessary be sorted – that promise eliciting a bill just short of £3K. Good for me. We’re still mates, by the way. 

So the deal was done, and on a sunny Thursday I picked up ‘my’ 911 for the short haul back to Essex from Kent. The Dartford tunnel proved the ideal sound chamber to test the aural attributes (windows down, of course), while a few local back roads elongated my trip home showing that all the uniquely 911 dynamic attributes I’ve always loved were present and correct. This was going to be a blast.

And while it was used little through the grotty winter months that arrived shortly after purchase, a few Sunday fun drives and – in particular – an epic weekend jaunt to Wales with some mates proved the mettle of the car, and that my instinct was right. You see, I’ve always believed that the thing you simply have to do if you’re lucky enough to own a 911 is a big road trip, ideally with the nose pointing south to sunnier climes.

It’s that combination of robustness, compactness and practicality alongside imperious driving dynamics that makes a 911 – for me – perhaps the best car in the world for a road trip involving serious miles on serious roads. It’s something I’d planned to do since well before I bought one, now it’s time to tick that box.

Yep, I think I’m going to pay for that lack of sleep later; good job I put my girlfriend on the insurance. But for now I’m in autopilot, jumping out of bed, boiling the kettle and scooping up any luggage we hadn’t stuffed into the car last night. Coffee quaffed, we’re rolling by 4:30, bound for P&O’s finest 7:25am crossing to Calais with perhaps a little more time in hand than anticipated – damn it, I really could have used another 30 minutes shut-eye.

No matter, there’s always something a little bit special about being on the road before the sun’s up, and we’re treated to a glorious sunrise as we cruise down the M2 motorway. The port beckons bright and early and we roll on as one of the first cars. 120 minutes of broken sleep later, we’re in France: now the trip really begins…

For our full road trip feature along the French Riviera, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 188 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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