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25 Jan 2023

996 Register Anniversary at Cosford

When the 25th anniversary of the 996 arrived, Andy Willis decided to make it an occasion to remember  

In April 2022, Andy Willis spotted that it had been 25 years since the launch of the first 996 back in 1997. The 69-year-old RS of the 996 Register, who is based in Northampton, wanted to make sure that this momentous milestone would not go unnoticed by the Club’s members. When emails from his fellow members asking about marking the occasion started to arrive too, he decided that something must be done and began to plan an event…
From the start, the retired gas engineer knew the hardest part would be finding the right venue. He explains: “I started to wrack my brain for the perfect location. It had to be a central location for as many members as possible to attend and, suddenly, RAF Cosford came to mind. We visited the site on the way home from the Club’s PorscheMeirion event in late May and all thought back then that it was a very interesting place to visit.”

Phone calls were soon made to RAF Cosford, who were still in the process of transitioning out of their COVID-19 protocols. At the time, they had once again opened up to the public after the lockdowns but were yet to open for car club events. Andy explains: “They told me they could not give me a 100% commitment at that point in time, but they promised to keep me informed and I should know within a month or so.

“I thought to myself: ‘Should I look for another venue?’. ‘No’, I soon decided. I felt the venue was well worth waiting for and, as promised, they got back to me in late June, confirming my slot and gave me a date for the event in October. They stipulated that we could have a maximum number of 150 cars inside their venue and mentioned that they also had a large car park available for overhang parking within 50 metres. At the time, I thought this would not be an issue and set about sending out the emails to members.”
With planning well underway, Andy released the tickets. To his surprise, all 150 places were snapped up in one day and a reserve list was created for those who were still keen. “I thought an anniversary event would be popular,” he says, “but we were astonished by the quick take-up. I began to think: ‘Had I shot myself in the foot? Had I let people down?’. It was only when I spoke to George Woodward at the Clubhouse that I thankfully got all the reassurance I needed.”
After a last catch-up with RAF Cosford, the event had finally arrived. On Sunday 9 October, Andy and his wife Marian set off on the 77-mile journey from Northampton to Wolverhampton and arrived an hour early. They were soon followed by Chris, Tarryn and Becky from the Clubhouse, who helped set up the signs, and cars began to arrive just before 10am. “It was a bit of a rush at first to try and greet members and get them parked up,” Andy remembers. “I tried to chat to and thank as many as possible for coming personally. It was all a bit of a blur.”
“There was a fantastic array of 996s from far and wide. We had two members drive all the way from Scotland. I presumed that one of these, Patrick from Aberdeen, would be the winner of the furthest travelled award with 389 miles. But no ‒ a little later on, Pierre Allet arrived after coming all the way from Margival, a small town 70 miles northeast of Paris. Driving 412 miles each way for the weekend is a great commitment and he was duly awarded his prize: a set of Porsche tumblers.

“Everyone attending would have their own favourite 996 present that day, but my personal car of the day was Matt Collins’ 2001 GT2 which was beautifully finished in Oslo Blue. The car was originally silver and was well in need of some engine work, but Matt thought it would be rude not to upgrade things from the standard 460bhp and the 3.6 engine is now running 660bhp. The interior has also had a host of loving details added, which include a full interior retrim with blue Pepita seat centres, little things like the door armrests having extra padding, the handbrake, seats, door cards and steering wheel being finished with blue stitching and colour-coded seat backs and seatbelts. He was also the third furthest travelled for the weekend, with a distance of 309 miles from his home in Scotland.”
But how did Andy feel about his experience at the 996 anniversary celebrations? “There is always good banter going on around the site and it’s great to see so many people happy,” Andy says. “You see a lot of people mingling who didn’t know each other previously but who all have a common interest: cars. It was lovely to see people having a good old natter and making new acquaintances.
“Events like this always highlight the power of the Club. Before you join the Club, you are always apprehensive and scared of meeting new people. However, once you take that leap of faith and push yourself, not only are you going to learn more about your passion – you’ll also make loads of new friends!”
Andy received lots of great feedback about both the venue and cars from those attending, that, in his words, “made everything worthwhile.”

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