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12 Mar 2021

I’ll stand by you: A long-lasting loyalty

In a globe-trotting career, Neil McDonald has stayed true to the Porsche Club GB for 30 years. He explains what Porsche and the Club mean to him

My first ‘introduction’ to Porsche was seeing a glorious purple 911 S take off from traffic lights on a sunny Sunday morning in the mid-1970s. Interest piqued, I read about the marque in car magazines and fell for the 935 and 962 ‘poster cars’. But it wasn’t until a passenger ride in a 930 Turbo that I knew I just had to have my own Porsche.

Several years later, the 924 Le Mans was an affordable entry point. The handling and balance appealed and it was a usable daily driver. I traded in a Ford Fiesta 1.4S for it with a specialist dealer in Glasgow. It turned out to be surprisingly roomy for skis, bikes and bags and gave us some memorable drives across the Highlands.

I joined Porsche Club GB soon afterwards. The discounted insurance deals on offer through the Club paid for the first year’s membership, and Porsche Post was useful for finding specialists for parts and was full of good advice to keep the car on the road. The magazine and Forum are worth the annual membership alone!

Since 1992, I’ve lived mainly outside the UK. Porsche Post has been a continuous connection to the brand and Club activities as I moved around from Nigeria to the US, then to the Czech Republic, Ireland, back to the UK and, more recently, to Thailand and Shanghai in China, where I currently live. The Clubhouse team bends over backwards to make sure you stay in touch and will post the magazine and other correspondence to a non-UK address.

Variety and tolerance of other opinions have always been at the heart of the Club, with members united by each individual’s enjoyment of their Porsche in their own way. In Thailand, I have a good friend with a lovely collection of Porsches and the extra insights that Porsche Post offers and members’ comments about their cars are always a good conversation starter.

I’d always wanted a 911 ,so once we left Nigeria and moved to the US I started looking. I homed
in on the 3.2 Carrera due to the better engine/power compared with the SC, and at the time it was better value than the 964 or then-new 993. I bought it in 1995 – before I’d found a permanent home in the US – as a 10-year-old car with one previous owner and 25,000 miles on the clock.

My wife Laura collected it when I was on a business trip to Germany, so her name was, and still is, on the ownership documents. It’s part of the family and was our daily driver for two years while living in the US come rain, shine or snow.

The 911 came with us to the Czech Republic (great roads and enthusiastic locals encouraging full use of the car), Greece (sunshine and twisty tarmac, including the ‘hillclimb’ to our house on the outskirts of Athens) and Ireland. We didn’t take it to Asia because the shipping and registration are too complex.

When I’m away, it lives in Scotland in the garage, battery disconnected, fuel tank brim filled. Before we return home, a friend reconnects and charges the battery. If it’s the summer, they take it to a local garage for its MOT. I arrive, drop my bags, check the tyre pressures, fire it up and go for a 30-mile circuit in the Perthshire countryside. The family knows what to expect and the engine note (Dansk sport system) tells the neighbours that I’m back!

I’ve had so many fantastic Porsche driving experiences while living abroad. There was the time in 2000 I entered northern Germany from the Netherlands, en route from The Hague to Prague, on a national holiday to see the derestricted speed sign and an empty dual carriageway stretching into the distance…

I drove from Prague to Athens, travelling down through Italy and stopping in Modena to visit the Ferrari museum before taking the ferry from Ancona to Patras and then on to Athens. And I used the 911 regularly to drive from Prague to Vienna on business trips, rather than flying.

There was also the time I took the Gotthard Pass in Switzerland on a day when I did 800 miles from Ancona to Belgium, including a wonderful fast run through France and Luxembourg as the sun was setting in the company of a Boxster.

If I could take the 911 on a dream road trip, it would be a long one. From Scotland, I’d go south to Greece taking in Prague and Vienna and then the Balkans, finishing up in Athens. I’d travel back via the south of Italy (getting the ferry from Patras to Bari or Brindisi), then up through Italy, across Southern France, a loop into Spain and then up the Atlantic coast of France to Brittany. I’d take the ferry from Roscoff to Cork, up through Ireland and finally back to Scotland from Larne, Northern Ireland, to Troon. If you’re going to do it, do it properly.

I’m in the process of relocating back to the UK. Hopefully, there will be more international trips in the not-too-distant future, but for now the 911 will be braving the Scottish winter and getting more exercise than it’s used to!

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