Porsche makes cars to be driven and enjoyed, with its GT and RS models crafted by the passionate engineers in Weissach standing at the pinnacle of this ethos. It is thus unfortunate that the rising values created by the current speculators’ market have resulted in many of these great drivers’ cars being locked away as appreciating financial instruments.
Luckily, that is not true for all these cars. Singapore-based Dr. Kee Lin decided long ago that the enjoyment he gets from regularly exercising his 964 Carrera RS far surpasses any notional value the car might have were he ever to sell it. In fact, selling the RS has never crossed his mind since the day in 1992 when he took delivery of the car from an official Porsche dealer. In the 26 years that Kee Lin has owned this car, he has driven it enough miles to have been around the world and to the moon—plus 50,000 more!
When this RS first entered his life, Kee Lin was no stranger to either Porsches 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 a car if it delivered excellent performance and an involving driving experience.
“Back in 1972 I had an Alfa 2000 GTV from the second shipment to reach Singapore,” Kee Lin recalls, “and I 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.”
Early and G-Series 911 buyers typically ordered their cars with manual gearboxes—save for the few who chose the love-it-or-hate-it Sportomatic semi-automatic transmission on some 1968-1978 models. However, when the 964 arrived with the more modern Tiptronic automatic option, almost all Porsches in Singapore were ordered with one because of the city driving environment. But as a keen driver, Kee Lin still wanted a proper five-speed gearbox.
Karsono Kwee, the effusive owner of Eurokars Singapore, the local Porsche distributor, takes the time 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 1980s, and Porsche’s future was uncertain.
“Karsono asked me several times if I was really sure I wanted a manual,” says Kee Lin. “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 964 RS. “As Eurokars had to order two cars for homologation I was given first refusal on one of these,” says Kee Lin. “The idea of a lighter, lower, manual-only car with a bit more power and a single mass flywheel was right up my street.” But what made him pick the unique color? “I looked at the color chart and chose Rubystone Red,” he explains. “It really caught my eye.” The owner of the other car chose Grand Prix White.
However, likely due to some discussion between the factory and Porsche Cars Great Britain, who were the largest right-hand-drive (RHD) country importer, the specification for the RHD RS ended up different from the left-hand-drive cars.
Like all RHD cars, Kee Lin’s RS came with power steering, but having discussed the pros and cons of Lightweight versus Touring specifications with Kwee, he went for the Touring, which came with air-conditioning and a dual mass flywheel. But since customers could mix and match to some extent, he 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 recalls. “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.”
There was one problem, though. He noticed that his RS had been delivered with normal thickness side glass rather than the thinner glass peculiar to the RS. Kwee was surprised and uncomfortable that the factory had made a mistake and set about having the matter rectified.
Regardless of this minor problem, Kee Lin fell in love with his 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 says. In fact, he drove it a lot, taking part in the ‘car park races’ organized by the SMSC (Singapore Motorsports Club) and setting a few FTDs (Fastest Time of the Day) along the way. He also journeyed across the Johor-Singapore Causeway to Malaysia for the occasional track day at the now-defunct Pasir Gudang Circuit in Johore, and further north to Sepang, home of the Malaysian Grand Prix from 1999-2017.
In the 1990s 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 car’s high mileage.
When the RS had covered about 40,000 km (24,855 miles), Kee Lin had an accident in Johore. “I was traveling with some of the Porsche Club guys in heavy rain and the car aquaplaned on a stream of water flowing across the road,” he explains. “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.”
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 so many miles, 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 thick 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 kilometers when the engine oil was last changed painted on the oil filter housing. And the exact kilometer when the air cleaner element was last changed is written on an air box strap.
Given the wear rate 911s impose on their rear tires I jokingly said to Kee Lin that he should own shares in tire companies. He just laughed, saying that this gave him the opportunity to road test a lot of tires from Bridgestone, Michelin, and Pirelli, all to Porsche N0 specification, of course. “However, I have never been in favor of using Cup tires as they are too soft for our tropical climate and wear very rapidly in road use,” he says.
As far as issues with the car, there have been relatively few. When you get down to small details, the RS came with a normal Porsche metal badge on its alloy front hood that eventually needed replacing. “The quality of the enamel of recent batches has not been impressive,” says Kee Line, “and I have had two replaced within a short period due to production defects.”
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.”
You could call his love affair with his RS “emotion beyond reason,” as some Porsche Club members in Singapore say, 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,” he says. “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.”
When I spoke to Kee Lin in late 2016, his RS had covered around 460,000 km (285,831 miles) from new, likely making it the highest mileage RS in the world by a significant margin. Shortly afterward, 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 a million kilometer (310,686 mile) 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.
However, 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, this RS’s odometer is showing over 507,000 km (315,035 miles). Maybe it is time to apply for that Guinness Book of Records certificate?