By on December 13, 2016


$99,180. For a four-cylinder, two-seat car. This isn’t unprecedented; Lotus charged eighty-one grand for its Esprit S4S way back in 1995, a pricetag that would be equivalent to $129,000 today. But the Esprit was a sleek supercar that could run with Ferraris on the road and beat them in SCCA races. The 718 Cayman S, by contrast, is a squat toad of a car, suspiciously similar in appearance and performance to the decade-old Cayman S that your down-the-street neighbor has had listed on eBay for $17,995 since June, with no takers.

And yet I’ve voted for this car with my wallet, so to speak, having purchased a couple of entries in the Porsche Club of America’s Fall Raffle. I did this because I didn’t read the rules very carefully, as you’ll see below. But there’s still a chance for me to make lemonade out of a lemon — assuming I win said lemon.

The question is: take the car as they’ve built it, or take the money and run?

Many of the previous PCA raffles have been for a Porsche and x amount of options, x usually being $10,000. If you know the Porsche order book, you know that it’s hard to tell the difference between a Porsche with $10,000 worth of options and a Porsche with no options whatsoever. And I’ve heard some back chatter from folks who are vaguely “in the know” that the post-victory configuration phase of the PCA raffle is a genuine hassle for everyone involved. Most of the time, the new owners either don’t really want the car, or they want to load the car up with extra options at their own expense, which causes everybody involved no small amount of bookkeeping hassle.

Still, if there’s one fellow out there who will take a low-options Porsche, it’s your humble author. Sure, my Boxster was the ultra-loaded “550 Spyder” edition, cocoa leather and all, but my 911 has just five or six option codes on the under-frunk sticker, and I’ve never complained. So when I bought my raffle tickets, I figured I’d get a car to match my 911. Grand Prix white exterior, grey interior, a couple of performance options. We’d use it as a set of track day training wheels for Mrs. Baruth. Slightly after the close date of the raffle, however, she bought something that will blow a 718 S into the weeds, backwards. So maybe it would be my bad-weather commuter car.

The response to the PCA raffle was very good; it almost always is. Typically, they start off by raffling-off one car then they up the ante as more entries come in. This time, the PCA bumped the prize all the way to three brand-new Caymans, all in “S” trim, plus $25,000 cash per car. They also upped the spec of the cars.

A plain-Jane 718-S is $67,350, but the raffle cars are nearly half again as expensive. You can see the complete options list here. They will all be Miami Blue, a $2,580 option that has gained a lot of cachet lately from having been rare, meaning unwanted at the time, on 993-era Porsches. They will have the $2,520 vinyl-cloth seating. Most of the other options are take-it-or-leave it stuff — $575 for “tinted taillights”? — but there’s one that grinds my gears, literally, and that’s the PDK transmission.

I don’t care if you don’t have enough starch in your stalk to operate a clutch pedal, but I object strenuously to being denied a manual transmission in what is supposed to be a sports car. You can babble all you want to about how a PDK is faster around a racetrack than a stick-shift, but that’s besides the point and quite deconstructive besides: a Corvette is faster for the same money and a Nissan GT-R, which could surely be had from a dealer for the near-as-dammit six-figure price of this Cayman, would be faster still. Those of us who buy Porsches are never really looking for the fastest way around the track, unless we are buying a 962 for vintage racing. We want purity and character of experience, immediate feedback, a feeling of connection with the road or track that exceeds the rapid but slightly disconnected interaction available from a Corvette or even a BMW M3. Or at least that’s what we’d like to think.

So while the Miami Blue Cayman with the automatic transmission might be just the ticket for the average PCA member, it’s not quite right for me. I cooked this up instead:


It’s $19,000 cheaper, but it’s still very well-equipped:

  • Plain white with grey interior
  • Manual transmission
  • LED headlights
  • Keyless entry (yes, it’s standard on Fiestas but it’s an option here)
  • 18-way heated and cooled seats
  • Bi-zone climate (yes, it’s standard on the Accord LX but it’s an option here)
  • Black door handles, for the hell of it
  • 718 badging, because I hate the “Cayman” name and always have
  • Fire extinguisher, to meet some trackday requirements
  • Smaller steering wheel
  • Burmester sound system. This is the big, unforgivable, $5,000 option. But I’ve driven a few Caymans with the option and it’s worth the money, insofar as anything on a Porsche could be.

You can visit my configuration here. If I win the raffle, I’m going to humbly request that the Porsche Club of America save itself $19,000 and give me the car I want.

There is another option. Per the contest rules, I can forego the $100,000 car and the $25,000 cash to just take $80,000 in a lump sum. I know that the average TTAC reader would invest half of it in low-risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to his friend Asadullah who works in securities, but think of what a functioning male human being with a species-normative T level could do!

  • Mustang GT350R and Ducati 1298 Panigale
  • Base Corvette Grand Sport and Kawasaki ZX-10R
  • A used Radical SR3
  • A NASA NP-01 prototype
  • Some raggy-ass Cessna 152 and a complete skydive rig for the day it just quits on you in mid-air
  • A whole month in Vegas with all the cocaine you can snort, all the women you want, on the top floor of the Vdara
  • Four good solid seasons of Ignite Spec Karting
  • Any number of Class III full-auto weapons
  • …and the list goes on

Hell, you could just sack up and buy a 993 like mine; I don’t think they’re worth what the market wants for them but I also think you’ll get your money back when you go to sell it. Since I already have a 993, and a race car, and a track car, a fast car, and a fast motorcycle, I think I might be tempted to consider another sort of mid-engined street car. The Lotus Evora 400 costs about what the PCA Cayman S does, but you get a pair of seats for your children, a more charming engine, better handling, more exotic looks, and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve chosen the driver’s car instead of the four-cylinder puffer-fish.

Seasoned TTAC readers know that I’m unlucky by default; rarely is there a possibility for failure, disaster, or mayhem in my life that doesn’t go ahead and manifest itself with all the depressing predictability of a roulette wheel landing on the color I didn’t choose, so I don’t think I’ll have to choose between the car and the cash in this instance. Shame, really. We’ll see what the actual winners pick. If one of the eventual winners is reading this, however — could I interest you in a nice used Boxster?

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81 Comments on “Trackday Diaries: Cash Or Prizes?...”

  • avatar

    Bi-zone climate control is a necessity in a 2 seat Cayman? Seems like that money could be spent on something more useful, like a leather wrapped engine cover.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    I bought a couple tickets myself. I personally love Miami Blue but, if I win, I’m may do just like you and take the cash.

  • avatar

    The biggest problem with high value raffle prizes is paying income tax on them. If you have about 33 grand available, no problem! Most people are better off taking the cash, and sending part of that to Uncle Sam.

    • 0 avatar

      yep. that’s the dirty little secret about these things, whether it’s a raffle winning, Oprah give-away, some TV show giving a down-on-their-luck family a house, or whatever. Often times “gifting” someone something expensive just leaves them in even worse financial ruin.

      so I’d also take the cash. and not let the ‘member berries lead me into the embrace of the alt-right where I actually worry about my “T.”

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I dunno. Rarely are these upper-five-figure and six-figure prizes a loss for the winner. Even if it bumps you into the next tax bracket, you still profited. Indeed some prizes include what would be a reasonable amount of money to pay the taxes for the whole prize, but if they don’t, you could still sell it, pay the taxes, and profit.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Maybe that’s why there is $25K in cash associated with the car as well, to cover the tax burden.

      “Here’s your 25-grand. Now, before you get too excited, you take that big manila envelope, stuff ALL of it in there, and mail it to the IRS. It’s good to be a winner.”

      Winning a brand new Porsche would seem like a dream for the average middle class guy, until I received my first service and/or repair bill, then I would wish I had taken the $80K in cash. Or, sold the Porsche immediately, whichever would have gotten me further ahead. And yes, I would invest it. I could then use some of my own discretionary income that didn’t now need to be shoved into retirement for some travel and maybe a VW GTI if I was feeling really wreckless. But then my T-level must not be species normative.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s why they are throwing $25k on top of the car. They want to make sure that whoever wins doesn’t have to immediately turn around and sell the car to pay the taxes. Use the cash to pay the tax, and now go enjoy the car you just won.

      The lower cash-only option is meant to encourage you to take the car. Since you’ll be paying tax on the $80k without PCA’s help in that case, it doesn’t seem like a great way to go, ultimately.

      Perhaps the best option, even if you don’t really want the car, would be to take the $100k car + $25k cash. Use the cash to pay the taxes. Then sell the car for $80k (or more) free and clear. Surely it wouldn’t be that hard to find a buyer for a heavily discounted, brand new Porsche.

    • 0 avatar
      Sgt Beavis

      If you take the cars, you also get $25K in cash to help with taxes.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    Would sell and buy a manual 360 Modena. In ten years you will have been happier for driving a Ferrari and the car will have gone up considerably in value. The Cayman will be worth about the same as a Mitsubishi Mirage in said time.

    Depreciating assets are for suckers.

    • 0 avatar

      Considering the cars that have come out since, I wouldn’t think a 360 Modena, manual or otherwise, would be an appreciating asset.

      • 0 avatar

        Each successive iteration of “Mid mounted V8 Ferrari” that has come since is progressively uglier than the last. The 488 looks like it has an abscess growing on its hindquarters.

        I would wager the 360 still hits the sweet spot, especially in manual guise, and that in 30-40 years will be collectible and desired.

      • 0 avatar
        Turbo Is Black Magic

        360’s have bottomed out, manuals are going back up already.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The Cayman Islands are my second favorite place to visit – I tied the knot there – so the name alone would be enough to get me into the Porsche version.
    Though given the specs listed, I’d probably opt for the cash. Buy a low mile used Cayman S and use the rest by taking another trip to my favorite place to visit.

  • avatar

    “•Some raggy-ass Cessna 152 and a complete skydive rig for the day it just quits on you in mid-air”

    Good luck getting out of a 150/152 in mid-air. It’s an exercise in human origami every time I fold myself in two getting in or out of the 150. And, for the record, unless the aircraft is on fire or has suffered a major structural failure (never heard of that happening with a 150 in the normal flight envelope), there is no reason to exit the airplane, fly it all the way to the crash as the late, great Bob Hoover used to say.

    By the way, my avatar is me standing in front of N95117 (a 152) on the day I soloed.

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC the Aerobat version of the 152 has door hinge pins on a lanyard that can be removed in flight in case you need to get out. Having said that, a fellow Jack’s size needs something bigger than a 152, especially if he wants to take a passenger.

      Also, I don’t think you’d want a full on skydiving rig if you were planning on flying the plane, there are emergency parachutes made for that usage.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      This is all true; I considered buying a 152 in the late Nineties when they could be had for $15k in good shape but the experience of flying one looked suspiciously similar to what you’d get if you drove a Chevette off a high cliff.

      • 0 avatar

        If you wanted to go the aviation route, you can get a pretty nice Grumman Tiger for $50K. If you really, really wanted to jump out of it the canopy slides back for easy access. But, a $50K Tiger is not likely to let you down.

        If you’re wanting something with a parachute, the Cirrus with the airframe parachute is the way to go, but that’s an entirely different realm of coinage, makes Porsche prices seem positively Kia-like.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          Used Cirrus prices have actually normalized quite a bit in recent years. Right now on is a low-time 2002 SR20 with a four-year-old CAPS repack for $135K.

          Granted, that’s still not cheap – nor is it a Turbo SR22 with the latest Garmin glass inside – but it’s still a high-performance airplane that’s newer and more advanced than most Cessnas you’ll find on the rental line.

        • 0 avatar

          How ’bout a nice RV-4/8 built by someone you trust and inspected by someone you trust even more?

      • 0 avatar

        You might be over the weight limit with a chute on anyway. The good news is they barely go fast enough to kill you.

        You can still get some basic ones with low engine time for $25-30K.

        I think you could get out OK normally, but it would be tough with a chute. I had the door pop open climbing out and it was easy enough to push it open quite a bit to slam it shut again. Then there was the time I had a wild animal run out in front of me as I was flaring at Madison and . . .

        • 0 avatar

          “Then there was the time I had a wild animal run out in front of me as I was flaring at Madison and . . .”

          Always fun. I was on short final at my home field, fixated on the numbers and when I looked up to flare, I was looking at a line of wild turkeys crossing the runway right at my touchdown point. That taught me a valuable lesson.

    • 0 avatar

      I did my entire private license in a 152. I am not a small person, but my instructor was sorta. Even still we were probably over gross by 50 lbs with full fuel. My instrument instructor was much bigger. It made upgrading to the 172 mandatory, which was a better instrument plane anyway. But it was $10/hour more!!

      The Udvar-Hazy museum has a 150 as a hands on exhibit. I climbed in for fun. So small and simple. And yet at one point in my life, it was the biggest, most complicated thing ever. That was 6000 hours and two type ratings ago.

      The Aerobats did have “fall-away” doors, but it was hard enough trying to extract yourself from a 150/152 on the ground, I couldn’t imagine doing it airborne with a chute.

  • avatar

    “Since I already have a 993, and a race car, and a track car, a fast car, and a fast motorcycle, I think I might be tempted to consider…”

    Jack, you were supposed to end that sentence by naming one of the non-car choices that bottomed out your list. I was favoring the Class III weapon, but there are certainly a multiplicity of options.

    Me, I’d take that $80k and buy myself a new Challenger GT AWD, pay off the miss’s Beast, put a little dough into the Tinivan and save it as a backup/loaner/eventual teenage transport, and pay off debt with the rest.

    I don’t know anyone named Asadullah, and I’m not big on investments. My parents had no money saved up for old age, and they’re existing (not quite living…) out their semi-retirement in semi-happiness. That’s good enough for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Closest I ever came to a Class III weapon was getting in a freeway bumper-bender with some guys in a Caravan who were going to a Class III meet.

      We were having kind of a heated discussion about whose fault it was and one of the younger guys started running his mouth about how they had a van full of machineguns, like maybe that would settle it. I was so shocked at this breach of decorum — NFA Title II firearms are supposed to be like Fight Club, you don’t tell people about it — that I got back in the car and drove away. Let the insurance company deal with the drama. Because the temptation to call the ATF and snitch on the jerk was high enough to make me think that if he said one more word I’d be on the phone, and I didn’t want to be that guy.

      • 0 avatar

        The NFA and GCA, in concert with one another, should be textbook case studies in legislative failures.

        When I say legislative failure I mean in the sense of absolutely failed in accomplishing (or even addressing) its stated intent. Not because OMFG GUN CONTROL IS WRONG LETS GO WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY WITH THE BLOOD OF TYRANTS AMIRITE ALEXJONESFORPRESIDENT2020, but because it was based 98.7% on feelings over fact, seemingly written by people who had zero understanding of how and why guns were used in crime, zero understanding of how guns are built and operate, and zero desire to understand either of those things.

        It’s almost like a health care bill that passed somewhat recently…

        If we want to talk politically, it was wildly successful in the sense that it passed Congress and allowed them to check their “Did Something” box.

        It’s almost like a health care…well, you get it.

        *I am not a statistician. I am an engineer. I’m pretty sure somewhere in my job decription there’s a line about basing all of my decisions on Weibull distributions and probabilities that I don’t actually understand.

  • avatar

    Oh I would definitely take the money. Triumph Street Triple R, used predator face GS350 F-Sport, Exocet Miata with the most ridiculous NA VQ engine build the world has ever seen. I’m talking 100mm pistons + Pathfinder crank (for ~4.3L), ITBs, long tube headers, Kelford Stage 3 cams etc….

    Even after all that I’d probably have about $20-30K left over.

  • avatar

    If I won $80k I sure wouldn’t use it to buy a Cayman, which is essentially what you’re doing if you opt to take the car here.

    Lump sum and a clean, used, well-equipped C7 Corvette for me; thanks.

    Stick shift and in the loudest color possible. It’s not “exclusive”. I don’t care.

  • avatar

    Did anybody else think the vertical red letters said “FAIL Grand Prize” at first glance?

  • avatar

    HaHa. I thought it read ” 718 Caymans”. I thought ” Wow! That’s a lot of cars.”

  • avatar

    You forgot one option if you’re going to drive in all weather >

    Rear Wiper

    I learned to regret not having this on a 90 Firebird I use to have. Can’t see a thing out the back when you have such a sloped rear window in bad weather. You may say it does not look “cool” or whatever the current word is. But think about it, how many actually have this useful option and it is an option that will get noticed. It both proclaims that you are a sensible sort and that you had to have ordered yours special since it may be the only one in the US for all they know.

  • avatar


    You mentioned Mrs. Baruth purchased another vehicle but did not provide any additional information. Did she buy the sought after Grand Sport or something else?

    As for the Cayman, I’d rather have a GT350, an Aprilia Tuono, and thousands left over to do with as I see fit.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    In that price range, the greatest reindeer of all would be a new ND Miata and the balance sent to Flyin’ Miata for its LS376/525 V8 swap.

    I would then make time to do doughnuts around my security broker’s 718.

  • avatar

    “the Esprit was a sleek supercar that could run with Ferraris on the road and beat them in SCCA races.”
    The 1995 base Ferrari was the 355 model. I don’t think a four-cylinder Esprit can keep up with that. You’d probably need the eight-cylinder Esprit that came out a little later to do that. Besides that, in 1995 the Lotus Esprit was a twenty year old design getting a little long in the tooth.
    A current Cayman S probably is faster than both on a track. Still, if I wanted a Cayman for that kind of money, I’d look for a GT4.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth


      [email protected] vs. the Ferrari’s [email protected] Admittedly, once you hit 130mph the Ferrari pulls away.

      In SCCA racing, however, “Doc” Bundy took the ‘raris and the the ‘Vettes to SCHOOL, son.

      By comparison, the manual Cayman S does [email protected]; the automatic computes its way to [email protected] So it is faster than either, although not hugely so. An Esprit S4S on new tires with a good launch might well match it.

  • avatar

    I’d take the car as-is and give it to my wife…to commute in.

    She’d love it and I wouldn’t have to buy something else to replace her 10 year old XC90. Win-win.

  • avatar

    Screwing around on the configuration tool, a base 911 in dark brown with the rear wiper, ‘911’ badge, sport chrono, and sport exhaust is $98.8K.

  • avatar

    Check, please!

  • avatar

    The guy who makes a living writing about all the women he’s fucked and humble-bragging about all the expensive cars he owns calling himself “unlucky” is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for the laughs, Jack.

  • avatar

    Ouch…this article hits home. Not just because I also bought a ticket and had no idea about the PDK option, but because I’m also currently selling a 2007 Cayman…with no takers.

    With the vast majority of these PCA raffles, I’d be taking the cash. The only exception would’ve been the 50th anniversary 911. That one looked right.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      An old friend of mine just tried to sell his 2003 Boxster S, 81k miles, all the right options, brilliant ownership and service history, on eBay.

      For $13,500.

      No sale.

      • 0 avatar

        Used Caymans/Boxster are probably the best used-car deal going these days. When I see what amazing condition my car is in, and what else I can get for the price, I kind of have to shake my head wondering why I’m even selling it. Then I remember that my wife has been street parking for 3 years while there are 2 Porsches in the warm garage.

        • 0 avatar

          Why not just park the Cayman on the street? As you point out, it’s really not worth much and is something you’d prefer to have around.

          Give up a garage bay and let it get a bit scruffy.

          • 0 avatar

            1) Because we live in an urban Canadian neighborhood with terrible parkers and plenty of hail storms, and watching it degrade outside would break my heart. There’s a lot of personal history with this car, and its in immaculate shape, so I’d prefer to sell it to someone who can continue being a good caretaker. While I realize a base Cayman will never be a Carrera RS, I do think these cars will be looked at fondly at some point in the future…especially now that everything is Turbo and/or 4 cylinders.

            2) I need the money to put into a new family car, and there’s no way in hell I’m selling the 964.

      • 0 avatar

        This is making me think. I’ve always wanted a Boxster S and the cylinderectomy performed on the 718 has made that wish a little more urgent.

        Unfortunately at the moment my second car needs to have more than two seats, and I don’t have anywhere to keep a third car.

        Maybe I need to sell the LS460, buy a beater 2008-09 Taurus that I feel comfortable parking on a city street to carry the family over long distances, and put a Boxster S in the garage…

      • 0 avatar

        I’d have to think anything pricey and German would be a tough (or tougher) sell on Ebay, though.

      • 0 avatar

        IMS repaired and everything? If so, the design really hasn’t held up.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I’d take the Cayman + cash, sell it, and probably net out around the $75k mark after taxes.

    Which I could then spend ~$60k on a CPO 911.1S and save $15k for maintenance and gas and such.

  • avatar

    I hate to be “that” guy….but it’s the 1299 Panigale. You may have gotten mixed up with the 1098/1198 from a few years ago. Regardless, awesome bike. I just picked up an end of season 959 Panigale, but if I had the scratch from winning this Porsche, I’d love the new Superleggera.

  • avatar

    A Lotus Evora’s engine (Toyota 2GR V6) described as more charming than the Cayman’s. Ouch.

  • avatar

    I actually did buy a 150 in the late nineties for $18K. It’s worth at least $19K now, maybe $20K after the paint job. So if you have $80K in your pocket, I would be delighted to talk to you, Chevette analogies notwithstanding.

  • avatar

    I think you can get a pretty decent 152 for less than that money, Jack.

    I’d take the cash, get the Vette and call it a damned good day.

    My wife, however, would want to pay down the house loan, which is a far more practical, smarter move. *sigh* She can be so persuasive.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure I agree that’s smarter unless your mortgage is underwater, or it has high interest AND you have bad credit.

      If your house loan has a competitive rate, then you’re not losing much by not prepaying.

      If your house loan has an excessively high rate, and your credit has a pulse, refinance NOW before rates go up even further.

  • avatar

    Take the cash and sink it into some new piece of farm equipment, because “the government’s gonna take it all anyway.” Okay, Dad.

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