For any motoring journalist, the idea of causing serious damage to a press car certainly ranks at the very top of your greatest fears. For one not-so-lucky journalist, that fear came true – when his son decided to take a brand-new 2010 Porsche Turbo for a short, yet expensive ride through the garage door.
With opportunities in life come responsibilities. In the case of motoring journalists, gaining temporary access to cars otherwise not even remotely obtainable, thanks to their modest salaries, there comes a great deal of responsibility along with the equally plentiful dose of fantastic opportunity when handed the keys to a shiny new press car.
Motoring journo’s realise that when they receive a press car they are being entrusted to return the vehicle in the same condition in which it was received, albeit often with significantly less rubber on the tyres and less brake pad to slow the rotors.
Adding to the responsibility of knowing the financial liability associated with damaging press cars is the fear of embarrassment. Embarrassment that you will let your respective outfit or employer down by earning a less-than-stellar reputation. Embarrassment that you personally will earn a reputation of being a lousy or overly aggressive driver, ultimately and effectively ending your motoring journo career all together.
Luckily for Peter Cheney, the motoring journalist entrusted with a 2011 Porsche Turbo, that retails for around R1.95 million, the massive damage that took place on his watch was not the result of his inability to drive, but instead his inability to say “No” to his eager son.
Cheney is the type of loving father that trusts his son. Cheney trusts him to the point that when his son asked for the keys so he could show his friends the stereo and navigation system from the comfort of the garage, Cheney tossed him the keys without hesitation.
Although Cheney is no doubt an able driver himself, he unfortunately failed to teach his son the basics of driving a manual transmission-equipped vehicle, and as such, his son learned the hard way that a clutch pedal can lead to some seriously sudden and unintended acceleration.
Cheney’s son decided the best way to show off the stereo (well, that’s how the story goes, but wanting to show off the sound of the engine more than the speakers is not out of the question) was to fire the Porsche Turbo up – only he didn’t realise that his father had left the sportscar in first gear while parked. As Cheney’s son let go of the clutch on the now running Porsche, he found his father’s borrowed press car lunging through the metal garage door faster than he could say “oops”.
Just like that, the Turbo received a set of thorough battle scars, and in total, required enough paint and body work to buy a new small car. When the dust was settled, it was learned that Porsche had a R100 000 insurance excess, yet when Cheney offered to pay, Porsche’s local rep said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Even more impressive? When Porsche’s local fleet manager arrived at the scene to assess the damage for himself, the first thing he did was address Cheney’s son, with words we can safely assume no one expected, “Stuff happens,” he said. “We’re glad you’re okay. This is only a car. You don’t need a lecture. You already know.”
When it was all said and done Cheney and his wife decided to let their son pay for their family’s insurance claim and cover the costs of the garage door thanks to a summer job, along with a promise to send him to proper driving school where he can learn how to handle the third pedal, like his father does. Cheney’s son also offered to work for the Porsche fleet manager for a week at no cost.