Porsche makes cars to be driven and enjoyed, with the GT and RS models crafted by the passionate engineers in Weissach standing at the pinnacle of this ethos. It is thus very sad that the rising values created by the current speculators market has resulted in many of these great drivers’ cars being locked away as appreciating financial instruments.
Luckily that is not true for all these cars, and Singapore-based Dr. Kee Lin decided long ago that the enjoyment he gets from regularly exercising his 964 RS far surpasses any notional value the car might have were he to ever sell it. In fact selling the RS has never crossed his mind from the day in 1992 when he took delivery of the car from the official Porsche dealer, beginning a partnership that has lasted to this day.
When the RS first entered his life, Kee Lin was no stranger to either the Porsche marque or the subtle eccentricities of 911 ownership. Like many Singaporean Porsche owners of his generation, Kee Lin had previously owned an Alfa Romeo or two, and would only consider owning a car that delivers good performance and an involving driver experience.
“Back in 1972 I had an Alfa 2000 GTV from the second shipment to reach Singapore and liked it so much I kept it for three years after I bought my first Porsche in 1990, a manual Carrera 2 Cabriolet in Guards Red,” he recalled.
“Where there was only a manual with the G-Series 911s, when the 964 arrived with a Tiptronic option almost all Porsches in Singapore were ordered with this because of our city driving environment. But as a keen driver I definitely wanted a manual,” Kee Lin explained.
Karsono Kwee, the effusive owner of Eurokars Singapore, the local Porsche distributor, takes the trouble to get to know his clients and give them good advice. He certainly did a great job selling cars when the world economy tanked in the late ‘80s, and Porsche’s future was uncertain.
“Karsono asked me several times if I was sure I really wanted a manual. When I confirmed this he told me it would have to be a special order and went about sorting it out for me.”
Then in 1991 Eurokar’s General Manager showed Kee Lin a fax about the planned production of the 964 RS. “As Eurokars had to order two cars for homologation I was given first refusal on one of these. I looked at the colour chart and chose Rubystone Red. The owner of the other car chose Grand Prix White.
“The idea of a lighter, lower, manual only car with a bit more power and a single mass flywheel was right up my street,” he said. “I looked at the colour chart and the Rubystone Red hue really caught my eye, so I put my name down for that car.”
“However, probably due to some discussion between the factory and Porsche Cars GB, who were the largest right-hand-drive country importer, the specification for the RHD RS ended up different from the LHD cars,” he continued.
“Like all RHD cars my RS came with power steering, but having discussed the pros and cons of Lightweight versus Touring specifications with Karsono, I went for the Touring, which came with air-conditioning and a dual mass flywheel. You could mix and match to some extent and I specified the single mass flywheel from the Lightweight.”
“I took delivery of the RS in early 1992, and was immediately impressed with its build quality,” Kee Lin recalled. “It felt immensely solid and the interior trim was simple but very high quality, and this has lasted well until now despite showing signs of wear around the edges. It definitely seems tougher than later models like the 996 in particular, which has comparatively flimsy cabin trim.”
However, he noticed that the car had been delivered with normal thickness side glass rather than the thinner glass peculiar to the RS. Karsono was surprised and uncomfortable that the factory had made a mistake and set about having it rectified.
Kee Lin fell in love with the RS from day one. “It is fast and very engaging, and I knew I had made the right choice the very first time I drove it,” he recalls. In fact he drove it a lot, taking part in the ‘car park races’ organised by the SMSC (Singapore Motorsports Club) and setting a few FTDs along the way. He also journeyed across the Causeway to Malaysia for the occasional trackday at the now defunct Pasir Gudang Circuit in Johore, and further north to Sepang, home of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
In the ‘90s the North-South highway to Kuala Lumpur was quite new and there were mainly B-roads in Malaysia, which were very entertaining in a car like the RS. Boredom with the urban situation and low speed limits in Singapore saw Kee Lin driving the RS across the causeway every Sunday morning to blow off steam, and this regular foray northwards is the main contributor to the cars high mileage.
When the RS had covered about 40,000km, Kee Lin had an accident in Johore. “I was travelling with some of the Porsche Club guys in heavy rain and the car aquaplaned on a stream of water flowing across the road,” he explained. “I spun out and caught the front and rear corners on the Armco barrier. Luckily the shell was not bent but the car was off the road for a while.”
Other cars? While he drives the RS regularly Kee Lin also has a C63 AMG and a Lotus Elise. It is pretty clear that at the tender age of 72 years he is still showing all the tell tale signs of a hard-core enthusiast.
In fact, despite the tropical heat and humidity in the region and although the car has factory air-conditioning, when he is not driving in traffic Kee Lin prefers not to use the air-conditioning if he can help it. Especially so on those fast cross-country runs in Malaysia on Sundays when he leaves Singapore at 0500hrs and the air is still cool. “I really only use the air-conditioning to stop the windows fogging up when it rains,” he says.
As you can imagine the cost of servicing and maintaining the RS in peak condition has cost Kee Lin a small fortune since 1992. “The car has always been looked after by the official dealer, so not only is it the highest mileage RS in the world, it is also probably one of the few cars of this age with a full Porsche dealer service history from new,” he says.
Because the RS covers such a high mileage Kee Lin is extra meticulous about logging exactly when the oil, air filter and other wear and tear parts were last changed. To underline this he showed me four fat ring binders full of paperwork that told their own story of this RS’s busy life.
One of the things you will see when inspecting the meticulously clean engine bay is the date and kilometres when the Mobil One oil was last changed painted on the filter housing. And the exact kilometre when the air cleaner element was last changed is written on a strap on the air box.
Given the wear rate 911s impose on their rear tyres I jokingly said to Kee Lin that he should own shares in tyre companies. He just laughed and replied that this had given him the ‘opportunity’ to ‘road test’ a lot of tyres from Bridgestone, Michelin and Pirelli, all to Porsche N0 specification of course. “However, I have never been in favour of using Cup tyres as they are too soft for our tropical climate, and wear very rapidly in road use,” he said.
The RS came with the normal Porsche metal badge on its alloy bonnet. “The quality of the enamel of recent batches has not been impressive and I have had two replaced within a short period due to production defects,” said Kee Lin.
Asked what he thinks of the high values now being placed on 911 models like the RS, Kee Lin is philosophical. “Yes, the RS is an iconic car, but there is no price tag on mine,” he says. “I like the compact size of the 964 model and think the new cars are simply getting too big and too technically complex as well.”
“I wash the car by hand myself and continue to drive it as often as I can. As far as I am concerned its so-called classic car value in today’s market is an abstract number, and I am not interested in selling it anyway,” he says.
“You can call my love affair with my RS ‘emotion beyond reason’ as we say in the Porsche Club here in Singapore, but that is exactly the point. There is nothing I can think of that I could replace it with that would deliver such a satisfying analog driving experience.”
When I spoke to Kee Lin in late 2016 his RS had covered around 460,000 km from new, making it the highest mileage RS in the world by a significant margin. Shortly afterwards I discussed this intergalactic mileage with Dieter Landenberger, the then curator of the Porsche Museum, and he confirmed that he had never come across an RS with anything like this mileage under its belt.
Discussing the rapidly approaching half million kilometre mark again in mid-2017, Kee Lin floated the possibility of shipping the RS to Germany with the aim of crossing the magic 500,000 km on the German autobahn near the Porsche factory.
In the event, time constraints of his busy life meant it was not to be, and the highest mileage RS ever stayed at home. As of March 2018 its odometer is showing over 507,000km. Maybe it is time to apply for that Guinness Book of Records certificate?