A passionate love-hate relationship
Head warped twice, needing milling and replacement head gasket. In fact, the second time the head ended up undersized, so I had a 0.8mm stainless steel shim cut and fitted two head gaskets, one each side of the shim. This finally cured the problem.
Turbo failed - $2000 to fix.
Driver's door internal light actuator switch failed.
Driver's cloth seat needed to be reupholstered at 120,000km.
Engine mount failed mere days after a major service by the authorized dealer.
Jamming heater controls, never really resolved.
Burnt valve, which was the reason I finally sold the car.
Fabulously well balanced car, a true joy to drive at any speed up to 200 km/h. I used it as my daily driver, and also did a little track work with the Porsche Club of Victoria.
At first it appeared amazingly fast, but I was surprised at how quickly this impression wore off. Possibly an illusion caused by having owned so many ordinary low-performance cars.
Buying this one was the culmination of a lifetime dream. What I wasn't prepared for was the high cost of ownership, and when you're paying $1200 for a normal service, even being a successful business owner doesn't dull the pain.
Initially all servicing was performed by Hamiltons, and as the world's oldest dealership outside of Europe I was impressed by their professionalism and know-how. This changed when my business started to falter during the world financial crisis of the early 90's and I could no longer afford their prices. At around this time even Hamiltons came upon hard times, despite also having the Rolls Royce and Bentley concessions by then, and they were taken over by Porsche AG. Much of the major work listed above was thus performed by myself.
Despite being a low-end model the car was vandalized on several occasions. I once caught a young man walking across the bonnet in an hotel car park, and also had a deep metre-long key scratch made on the driver's side on another occasion. There was an attempt to steal it within the first month of ownership; the would-be thief damaging the roof badly in an aborted attempt to pop the sunroof open by bouncing on it. And yet regardless of the passions invoked by the very existence of this car, women seemed to be singularly unimpressed by it, which was something an unexpected anticlimax (if you'll pardon the pun).
The engine and turbo were quite frail, and much money and time was spent on servicing them. I had imagined buying a car that - even secondhand - cost twice the price of most new vehicles, entitled me to expect higher reliability. More fool me!
When sold in 1994 - for AUD8,000 - it had apparently burnt a valve and I was utterly fed up with pulling the head off. And besides, I no longer had access to a workshop in which I could do the work myself, so it had to go.
Major plus point is the body treatment, these cars do not rust easily! When sold as a 13 year old vehicle, I couldn't find a spot of corrosion anywhere. Would probably be a bargain if you can find a reliable unit that has had regular servicing, but there are far better Japanese cars around for the money now.
In summary, owning this vehicle was very much like going out with the girl I was seeing around the same time. I expected quite a lot, loved the looks, but the reliability and performance let me down eventually. And they both had serious head problems.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th June, 2010