Sad news today, as I learned of the death of Craig Moore, a true-blue Porsche enthusiast from here in the UK.
I first met Craig while looking for a 968 to shoot for my readers cars’ series, You and Yours in 911 & Porsche World magazine. Craig replied to my cry for help, and we set up a Sunday morning meet: early, on the high plains of Berkshire. Two hours of pics and one big breakfast later, we were gassing like old friends in a nearby cafe, overlooking the River Thames.
I’ve still got my voice recordings from that breakfast meet – will drag them out as a tribute to Craig in a future podcast. In the meantime, here’s the You and Yours story of Craig’s Porsche career. What a great guy: RIP Craig.
You and Yours: Craig Moore
Four Porsches in five years marks a serious enthusiast. Life’s ups and downs have dealt a Reading man some challenging hands, but through it all he’s stuck with Porsche.
“The first car argument I ever had was with my cousin, over a Porsche,” remembers Craig Moore, Regional Organiser for the Thames Valley section of TIPEC: the Independent Porsche Enthusiasts’ Club. “I was pushing the 911 Turbo as the best car in the Top Trumps deck, while he reckoned the Lotus Esprit Turbo was the one to go for. By ten years old, I had decided Porsches were the intelligent choice! I knew I’d own one some day.
“After the classic red 930 poster on the wall all through childhood, my first sort of sports car was an MGB. Older brother ran an MG, and my sister had one too, so it was a natural starting point. I enjoyed a run of British metal, ending up in British plastic: a TVR 350i SE. When the bonnet rejected the chassis on an owners’ club run along the M3 motorway, its fate was sealed.
“That was 2006. My wife was running an SLK and I had the 350. Her job then changed and meant more miles, so we decided the Mercedes would have to go. Sell an SLK and a TVR and you can just about stretch to a 911. Hey presto: childhood dream realised.
“My first Porsche was a 993: Polar Silver with black leather and a Targa roof. The Targa gave me two bites of the Porsche cherry: it looked like a coupe but had the open top feeling I love. I bought it from a local Aston Martin specialist: he wouldn’t give a penny off the asking price and I didn’t mind.
“Owning the Targa was a dream come true. I bought the car with under 50,000 miles and it was utterly immaculate. I never had a minute’s trouble and it was wonderful to drive, when I could bring myself to use it.
“I started out with new 911-itis. Coming from TVRs where you had to muscle the cars everywhere, I couldn’t relax on the steering wheel. I was overdriving: trying to control every movement of the wheel and not just letting the car have its head. On top of that, I caught polishers’ disease, went crazy anal on condition and barely took the car out of the garage some months. The double-edged sword of a spotless Porsche!
“The Targa had been with me three years, when an opportunity came up to do some property development. I’d thinking about being my own boss for a while, remembered the car sitting in the garage with a healthy price tag and decided I had to go for it.
“The 993 went on the market, selling almost instantly to a great guy who I’m still in touch with. He went off to enjoy his new car, and I went smashing houses up.
“It will come as no surprise that my property stint, early in the recession, was a bit of a non-starter. Thankfully, I managed to emerge with my shirt intact and a Porsche in the garage.
“After selling the 993, I decided I couldn’t face a eurobox to get around in, so I bought a 944. The purchase was emotional and broke all the rules: I didn’t check it out first, didn’t do much of a test drive and assumed the horror stories wouldn’t happen to me. I couldn’t have been more optimistic, or more wrong.
“It was an early ‘90s 944S2 in Baltic with cream leather. Everything that could have gone wrong on that 944, did just that. My independent specialist, Simon Hope at Hillcrest Specialist Cars, was great as always: fixing rather than simply fitting new parts, but I still spent over twice the purchase price fixing problems.
“First the belts needed doing, then we found problems with the cam gears. Then the head gasket went, so the head had to be skimmed. It was a never-ending saga of failures: not the reliability the 944 S2 is famous for.
“Unreliable as it was to begin with, there were definite upsides to running the 944. Because the car had been such a pain in the rear, I often gave it a good telling-off on the road, which turned in some great drives. The S2 also gave me my first track day: an introductory session at Brands Hatch.
“That day started gently, before I discovered that the 944’s legendary balance depended on a level head. While it was fast enough in a straight line, it was not going to set the world alight. As tuned Japmobiles seemed everywhere on my first track experience, I was losing out in a straight line but being held up in the bends.
“No one would let me by, so I took a tour through the pit lane, found myself some empty track and opened up it up. Entering Paddock Hill a bit fast, I enjoyed my first spin! No one saw me do it, but I confessed afterwards anyway. The reputation has stayed with me, but he who never span a car on track never drove it hard enough!
“The 944 ended up great but I missed 911 ownership. A friend and I visited the Husborne Crawley Autojumble and spotted an ad for a Porsche for sale, taped to the window of a BMW. I took the details and left them in the glovebox for three weeks. Eventually I could stand it no more and rang the number.
“The car was a 1974 911 S Targa: black with tired trim, but a spritely late 3.0 SC engine in the back, with SSIs and a Dansk mild steel silencer. Targa roof off, as it usually was, the impact-bumpered Targa made a noise like tearing Tarmac. I was hooked on it: totally besotted.
“The previous owner was a 70 year-old Kent gent who had owned it over 20 years. The car had been imported from Dusseldorf in Germany, back when left hand drive examples were cheap to buy in Germany and sold for less than UK cars here.
“The body looked good from five feet away, but it was by no means perfect. The front wings had a few scratches and a little bit of bubbling, but not a deal breaker. The rock hard clutch was a different story. The previous owner had changed most everything except the clutch cable, so we had that changed and it cured the problem. The deal was done.
“With a 911 coming, I advertised the 944 at the Porsche World Picnic, where it sold straight away to another man in Kent: nine miles from its replacement. We dropped the 944 off, drove five minutes to the Targa and brought that home instead: perfect.
“Even at 37 years old, the Targa was as quick as most cars on the road. Despite its age, and the rubbish people talk about Targas being softer to drive, that car revelled in spirited driving. Every dawn raid and cross-country sprint was an event. I took it back to Brands for another pair of track spurts and had an absolute ball on the famous Prescott hillclimb: some of the best fun a man can have in forty seconds.
“Brands Hatch, Prescott and the open roads of Berkshire were all good fun, but taking the car to Classic Le Mans 2010 was the high point of ownership. Petrol station gatherings of older cars were the order of the day and the Targa fited like a glove. The drives there and back were inspirational.
“After the joy of Classic Le Mans, there was a sudden comedown. The word divorce entered my vocabulary and, almost a year to the day after buying it, the Targa had to go. I’d painted the wings and a few other marks, fitted a Momo Prototipo and was planning a Brey Krause harness bar and an interior overhaul, but it was no good: I couldn’t afford to keep it.
“Once again, a buyer came up quickly and we have kept in touch. It’s exciting watching him take the Targa to the next level, but I do wish it was me.
“For the time being, I’m daily driving this 968: a 1993 Tiptronic coupe with 125,000 miles. Tiptronic suits me fine, as I do lots of miles in traffic and the auto with air con makes it bearable. Hillcrest have been working their way through it – doing belts and so on – but I’ve bought a service kit and will be getting out my own spanners again soon.
“Plans for the rest of the year include a matching set of Continental tyres to replace the ditchfinders fitted by the previous owner, maybe another Brands day, and just driving and enjoying it until I’ve got the wedge to get back in another hot rod 911. Porsche ownership and the social scene around it makes such a difference to my life: I can’t imagine being without that sunshine.”