Suffice to say, my love of Porsche and Jenks‘ obvious admiration and affection for the 356 meant I’d always harboured a deep desire to experience one, but it was spliced with a fear that the little car would somehow be a disappointment.
For years I tried and failed to get myself into one, but then the chance came to attend a special weekend event held by Porsche Cars Great Britain. Invitees were members of the UK motoring media who happened to own Porsches (there are quite a few of us, as it happens), and the event took us to Inverness and the epic roads that traverse the Scottish Highlands. We had our own cars, of course, but there was also a selection of current models, from the new Carrera T to the ferocious 991 GT2 RS. To my delight there was also an absolutely gorgeous 356 1600 Super, which had been beautifully restored and looked as cute as a button.
Better, Sports Purpose’s James Turner was also in attendance, driving the family 964 RS with his brother, Charlie, who runs a small motoring pamphlet called Top Gear. You may have heard of it.
Anyway, having spent much of the day in my own 964 RS, and then the ferocious GT2 RS, which happily tore great big chunks out of the Highlands with every squeeze of the throttle, the moment came to drive the 356. It honestly couldn’t have been a better opportunity. Blissfully empty roads, glorious weather, epic scenery and - helpfully - a Cayenne Turbo support car acting as pathfinder for the following peloton of Porsches. Best of all I managed to muscle my way immediately into the Cayenne’s wake, with JT tucked behind us. If there was ever a time to drive a 356 this was it.
The resulting chase was by some margin the most fun I’ve had in a car for many, many years. Thankfully the long-suffering Mrs M is well used to spirited progress (indeed she’s an enthusiastic practitioner herself), so the fact we immediately hustled the Cayenne didn’t come as a great surprise. Faster and faster we went, until the Cayenne was romping along in the distance, allowing me the chance to charge after it in a manner Jenks would have been familiar.
I had a pretty good idea of what I hoped it would be like, but the way this little car went about its business was an absolute joy. Everything felt so cohesive and measured, with a consistency and competence that belied its advancing years. Yes, of course I had to make some allowances for the lack of poke and the more relaxed responses you get from a car with unassisted steering, skinny tyres and modest brakes. But within a mile or two it felt completely instinctive and totally absorbing.