Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top 10 Porsches that you can actually own and put in your garage…

The last  blog post featured a bucket list of my all time favorite Porsches. Those are some great cars. Something you can be proud to own, that is if you can afford any of them. The problem is, for most of us anyway, we don’t have the checking account balance that allows us to write a check with a bunch of commas and zeros in the CA section. CA section? Ding, ding, ding…it is time for today’s acronym lesson. CAR stands for Courtesy Amount (or the number you write in the little box on a check). That is different from the LA or legal amount or the written out amount of a check. Example: CA = $1,000,000. LA = One Million dollars and 00/XX. Fact is I do not have the CA or LA to write a check for any of the cars listed in the previous blog.

So in the spirit of doing another bucket list, I thought it would be fun to put together  examples of Stuttgart’s finest. But let’s put this list within reason. How about a budget of $50,000 max. That should cover a few cars that are pretty serious, but leave enough in my bank account / 401K to retire at the age of Seventy-Eight. So here is goes…

10. 1970 914-6 (if you can find one) – You may have to buy a conversion, but the fact is the 914 is coming back around. It is no longer just a VW/Audi, but is being seen more and more as the Porsche that it truly is. The 914-6 sported a tiny 2.0 liter flat 6, and many have been upgraded to larger engines. But the simple timeless design is just right 40 years on. There are several examples that can be had in the $30-40K range and the price will just keep going up. Snag one now and hang on to it.

9. 1988-1989 944 Turbo S – I have owned several 944’s (a 1987 944S, a 1986 Turbo and a 1993 968) and I really love this platform. It is balanced and still to this day pretty quick, two plus decades later it still turns heads. And from 1986 on the interior was so elegant in its minimalist simplicity, everything right where it needed to be. And if you are patient, have the right tools and access to a vast amount of internet based knowledge, easy to work on and modify. In 1988-89, the Turbo model was available as a special “S” version (in ’88 it was called the “S”, for 89 it was just a Turbo). It had  250 hp stock and an updated sport suspension. It is the one to have.

8.  1965-1969 912 – Want to own an old 911, but still want that connection to the 356? Than the 912 is for you. It was built as an entry level 911. Porsche saw that the 6-cylinder version was a bit expensive and wanted something that was less expensive, more accessible for prospective Porsche owners. So they put the old 4-cylinder from the 356 in place of the very expensive 6-cylinder and the 912 was born. It was built from 1965 to 1969 and a special one-off year in 1976. They are much lighter, simpler and more tossible than the 911. But prices for good ones are creeping up, better get one soon.

7. 1987-1991 928 S4 – The 928 is such a divining rod among Porsche owners and non-owners. It was futuristic when it came out and when you see on today, it still looks like nothing else on the road (but in a very good way). A lot of “Porsche people” hate it, saying it is fat, ugly and ungainly and it has the engine up front (eek gad!). Funny, these same people say the same thing about the new Panamera. But others love it for what it is, a car so advanced, that some car companies are still trying to play catch-up. The GT and GTS are maybe more desirable, but the prices on them have remained quite high. For the rest of us? The S4 represents the best combination of drivetrain and exterior lines. Better snap one up!

6. 1992-1995 968 – Yeah I owned one. And will probably own one again. The ultimate version of the 924/944 line. The 928 / 993 design elements make this look very distinct, it was the most grown up looking model in the 944 series. What it had was a HUGE 3.0 liter 4-cylinder motor making 236 hp. This was the highest specific normally aspirated 4-cylinder motor ever produced. It also had a 6-speed trans-axle and Vario-Cam valve adjustment to optimize combustion. The problem? When it was introduced, it was very expensive. The Dollar – Deutsch Mark exchange rate killed it. Dark days for Porsche, but you can buy a really nice one for way under $20K.

5. 1978-1983 911 SC – The mid-70’s 911’s with their 2.7 liter motors where know for many case problems. And most of the survivors have case bolts that solved the issues. But the SC’s? They were solid in every way. The SC is way to have an iconic 911 for way less money than late 60’s “S”. It is for many people, the one 911 to own. It was less cranky than the earlier carbureted and MFI (Mechanical Fuel Injection) versions. The newer version? It had CIS or Continuous Fuel Injection, this remained in production for ten years, finally replaced by the fully electronic Motronic. But I digress, the SC has great balance, decent power and so many mods available it is just stupid.

4. 2000-2004 986 Boxster S – Some say it’s a girls car. I disagree! The original 1997 Boxster was brilliant! Mid-engine balance, 201 hp and the looks of a show car. And it had two trunks to boot (Get it? Boot…British for trunk). Then Porsche upped the ante and came out with the “S” version. Output was bumped up to 250 hp, it had a six-speed trans-axle, bigger brakes, and an up-rated suspension. The Boxster was so popular, Porsche built ten’s of thousands of them to keep up with demand. They actually had to bring on a second factory in Valmet Finland to keep up. But the point is, there are deals to be had on really excellent examples. Shop right, shop smart and get the maintenance records and you can own one too.

3. 2006-2008 Cayman S – This car is currently in my garage. Gotta say, it is the best Porsche I have owned (so far…). Stock 295 hp (although mine as a few more HP courtesy of mods), fantastic balance and a great interior, it is great both on and off track. So far, I have done about fifteen track events, so I can tell you it is just about perfect. I love the looks to. But for some strange reason, I keep thinking about getting a Lotus Exige, but then I remember the full race exhaust I briefly installed on my Cayman S. It was fantastic, the best sounding car on track. Then there was the other 99% of the time. I think the Exige would be exactly the same thing. I will stick with my Cayman S.

2. 1976-1977 Turbo Carrera (930) – Owned one of these too. Still kicking myself for selling it. Problem is, these are starting to scrape my $50K ceiling and I fear that they will keep going north. So that means only one thing – you should go out and find a good one and buy it right now! Porsche introduced the concept of the Supercar in the mid-70’s, right in the middle of the Oil Embargo too. When it came out in 1975 it was like nothing else on the planet. Of course it was also really scary, many went off the road backwards being piloted by people that did not understand the concept of throttle-off oversteer (also called trailing throttle oversteer). Porsche did not think they would sell enough, but thirty seven later, they are still making them. Yeah people voted with their wallets. The 930 Turbo is one fearsome and incredible car and it all started with the 1976 Turbo Carrera.

1. 2004-2005 996 GT3 – Yeah I know, try to find one under $50K. Well I did, there is one for sale locally for $49,500 and yes I would buy it in a second if the lovely Ms. T gave me the open to buy. Uh, may have to wait a while on that one. This car really gets me going. A race derived motor, no drivers aids, big brakes, track optimized suspension, it is a drivers car pure and simple. A lot of them have been driven on the track pretty hard, but as long as the owner has kept after the maintenance, they can take it. As much as I love my Cayman S, I would replace it in a second with a GT3. Now about that $49,500…

OK, it's been a few years since I wrote this. Prices have gone up. Way up in the case of the 930 Turbo and more recently the 996 GT3. But there are still some values in Porsches.

1. Buy a Boxster. The 986 Boxster is at the bottom of its depreciation curve. A good S can be had for south of $15K. Just make sure you have the maintenance records and an even bigger bonus if the car has had the IMS replaced. Not nearly enough space to explain the IMS issue. Better to Google it.  Point is, these are great cars and at a great value.

2. Buy a 1999-2004 996. Like the Boxster, its at the bottom of the depreciation curve. Turbos are starting to creep up (especially low milage ones along with the X50 package). I'm telling you, you will regret not buying a 996 in a few more years.

3. 944-944S-944 Turbo-944 S2-968. Get while you can. Collectors are starting to focus on these great cars. Look for one that is original, has records and has NOT been modded for track use. Extra points for the 1988-1989 Turbo S. Still love the 968 and hope to buy another one someday before they get out of sight.

And on that exhaust note, see you next time.


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  2. Years have passed already and I wonder how the economical factors changed the price of those models. I wonder if you were able to trade your Cayman S to the GT3. Any update about that? Anyway, I've been enjoying your posts. Those Porsche cars are indeed stunning and very attractive. :)

    Sarah Erwin @ Baldwin Subaru

  3. So, just a bit of an update. It's only been two and a half years since I wrote this post, but ouch have the prices gone up. The cars that have gotten stupid:
    1. 914: prices creeping up into the 20's (forget the 916, they are getting stupid)
    2. 912: it takes 30-40K to get into a decent one.
    3. 930: I am famous for my investments, like when I sold my Apple stock before they launched the iPhone. Same thing with the 930. I sold mine back in 2006 for $34K. Now good ones are going for $150K. Mine was a good one...
    Still a bargin:
    1. 944 Turbo - these can still be had for decent money
    2. 928's are still a decent investment, but they are complicated
    3. SC's are still somewhat unloved, but I see prices getting stupid
    4. Boxsters - dime a dozen, but still a great car
    5. 987 Cayman's, starting to see 2006 S versions for mid-20's, not bad.
    What to invest in:
    1. 968's are still sleepers, but not for much longer
    2. 996 GT3 have stayed pretty consistent price wise, but there are a lot of people that love the purity of these early GT3's.