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Adrian Thompson 11-30-2004 01:21 PM

What to buy (long, I mean really long!)
OK, this is a little premature as in reality I'm not going to be in the market for a car for at least another two - three years, but I'm driving myself crazy. My plan is/was to buy a Porsche, probably a 911, although my wife (better half/boss/financial analyst) loves the look of the Boxster. The problem is which one. Multiple use of the Search function on this site and (sshh) the Rennlist 964 and 993 forums has left me more confused than ever, not to mention constant prayers that my boss (real one not the wife) doesn’t really want that assignment just yet because I simply must finish reading some thread plus the three others that were linked/quoted in it! I also think I'm now quoting Anderson in my sleep, but all to no avail, I'm simple more confused than ever.

So what do I really want? First and foremost a three season daily driver in SE Michigan, Detroit suburbs. It will do approx 10-12K miles a year in mixed traffic and road conditions. It will hibernate during the salt season or really bad weather, but it will see rain as well as shine. I'd see this semi daily driver status for lasting 5-6 years before it could become a true weekend only car. I will also do a couple of DE's and a few autocrosses each year, but I'm not interested in a harsh no compromise race car, BTDT hated the results in more than one car, I've learnt my lesson the hard (harsh?) way. I'm now a believer of tracking a car close to stock, I currently swap track pads into my car but stay with street tires for track events, I just can't see the benefit in R tires these days when it's for fun not trophies. I will do all service and maintenance myself, but because I have a family with kid's I can't live in the garage. I'm finding the potential cost of ownership frightening with school tuition, collage funds, retirement accounts and other minor incidentals tugging at the purse strings

What I really want to know is what is the real cost of ownership of the various models. From reading the forums, personal web sites, talking to people at the local 356 group (lot's of 911 owners as well) I'm more confused than ever. I'd be looking to spend $22K-$30K, preferably near the lower but the right car, or a strong case for a type of car could push it to the upper limit. I don't want to be purchasing something and plan on having a $4K bill 18 months down the road, obviously a PPI will be a must. The thing is for each type of car I've seen information that makes me believe it's both dead nut's reliable and the worst idea since my first marriage.

The cars/years on my mental list in rough order are:

1. 87-89 G50 Carrera coupe, probably the most DIY friendly but getting old. Even though they
seem to be reliable, a few years down the line everything will probably need replacing, bushings, door seals, glass etc, etc from simple old age, on top of what ever mechanical work is needed. Plus it's a simply an old design with iffy heat/ac, no ABS and marginal brakes. On the plus side a great example should be available possibly with some simple upgrades (SSI's, exhaust SW chip, decent shocks/alignment) completed.

2. 92-94 964 C2 coupe. By getting a 92 or up the early problems of leaking heads, 2 pot rear brakes etc are sorted out. I'd make sure I found one that had the flywheel/clutch replaced, distributor vent done, and I assume that any enthusiast would have removed the engine under tray years ago. It also has the advantage of big brakes, 3.6L torque, ABS etc. The thing is I keep seeing the 964 referred to as the highest mantinacence of any 911, yet assuming it's a later one I just don't see why. Why is the 3.6 inherently more expensive to work on than a 3.2? Also I would have thought that if anything the coil spring suspension would make that easier to adjust/align/lower/maintain than torsion bars. If I needed to change the clutch/flywheel I'd do it myself for the cost of parts. Where are the sky high costs of this car? I'm assuming these cars are really nice daily drivers as well. The other 'issue' is that the front bumper just doesn't work for me, it looks like it's got a fat lip. The Carrera works, the RUF style bumper works but the factory 964 bumper just looks awkward to me. But because of its poor reputation it looks to be the bargain of the bunch.

3. Any 993 coupe, great daily driver and the pinnacle of air cooled development etc. Fairly young and fastest of the bunch (excluding 996). Other than the blocked air injection ports and consequent top end rebuilds what are the weak points of these cars? I do see horror stories of excessive tire wear and expensive alignment issues, but why? I do know a guy who sold his SC to get a 993 then realized he'd made a mistake as he preferred the SC, but this was as a weekend car not a daily driver. Unfortunately he sold all his toy's to get married before I met him so I didn't get to sample them.

4. Long shot Boxster S. Already in the low $30's and probably easily obtainable in my price range in a couple of years as the new models coming out. Wife like's it. I'm assuming reliable as long as it's post RMS issues dates. New, quick, topless, what's not to like? Oh yeah, it's not a 911.

5. Longer shot 996, again should be in my price range two years down the line thanks to the 997 and should be able to find a non RMS victim. A little soulless by all accounts, but could this be the best bet for long term ownership due to its youth? But how's the wet sump engine for track use?

In all cases except the boxter I'm talking coups only, no targa’s, no cabs. The only convertibles I buy are ones designed that way (hence the boxter)

Thanks for your time.

VincentVega 11-30-2004 01:38 PM

Just buy an SC as your starter Porsche and give the CFO the Boxster.


nostatic 11-30-2004 01:51 PM

all of these cars are starting to get "old". Even 993s are edging towards double digit ages, and they are more complicated than earlier cars. So figure that no matter what you buy, if you drive it, it will cost you money. The good news is that it likely won't depreciate much unless you buy a newer 993 or pay a premium for a super low-miles car.

Depends on what you need in a daily driver. I drive my SC every day in SoCal (as well as at DEs), ripped the AC out this summer, have big sway bars and race seat. Most sane people wouldn't commute in it, but I'm not sane. Realize that any pre-89 car will *not* have excellent can spend a bunch of money and might get decent AC, but it will never be like a modern car. It got a lot better starting with the 964 and 993.

So it really depends on what speaks to you. Some prefer older cars, some newer. Some like creature comforts, some don't care. If you want comfort, you need to look at a newer car (with the Boxster likely being the best in the modern/comfort department). If you want to save some of your money towards parts/repairs, and can deal with it, a well sorted SC or Carrera would be a good choice. Just depends on what you want out of your ride.

Oh, and who says that Carreras have "marginal brakes"?

JCR 11-30-2004 01:51 PM

Find a nice 993 - everyone knows real Porsches are air cooled. I've been disappointed with the interior quality of the 996/Boxsters. Porsche adopted Japanese mass production techniques with models after the 993... and it shows.

I'll offer to add to the confusion - and give you a ride in my 73 911S (that is if we get another decent day around here). Pure unadulterated, hardcore Porsche experience you simply cannot find in anything built recently.

kilodawg 11-30-2004 02:09 PM

Hey if you want to use me as a test case keep in touch over the next few years. I just picked up an '84 with 95K last month. Not a daily driver but a whenever I want to car. Tomorrow I pick up a '96 993 with 67K for the wife. It will be her daily driver. I should have some insight for you as time goes on.

strupgolf 11-30-2004 02:34 PM

I dont care much for the Boxster's. If you look at the latest issue of Autoweek, the new one looks just like the Honda 2000. Wow, Woope,what a ride. I would go for the 911, any year and any type of engine. I just think the 911 is THE porsche, and the look, ride, feel is what Porsche really is.

kilodawg 11-30-2004 02:39 PM

I second that opinion. I have had several different types of Porsches

If you get anything but a 911 it may be a Porsche but it won't be THE Porsche!

soup dragon 11-30-2004 02:49 PM

In the uk the Boxster has the claim to fame of the lowest depreciating production car around (23% over 3 years) The Alfa`s lost 76% over 3 years !
The boxster is a great car but lacks charisma of the earlier 911`s.
Also make sure you drive an early 911 ,my 88 feels very old fashioned (heavy steering odd pedals,crappy gearbox)...but i love it cus its got soul :)

mede8er 11-30-2004 03:19 PM

Having spent most of my time around 356's the 911 is quite modern to me.....everythings relative I guess.....

banjomike 11-30-2004 04:23 PM

Your price point in a few years ought to get a nice 964. The newer models are likely to be better daily drivers. If heavy stop and go traffic is the norm a tiptronic might be nice. On late nights when the bridge is only one lane and it is moving at idle in 1st gear with frequent stops, I often wish I had a Tip. I would bet that the maintenance/upkeep costs will be similar for most galvanized 911s. You seem pretty well aware of the trade-offs. Example, 993s have tire wear but don't require valve adjustments. When I was in high school my friend and I would put on nice pants and shirts (sometimes a tie) and we go test driving. It worked best if we could borrow a parents car. We drove 356s, 911SCs, 911 Carreras, 912s, many BMWs, lots of motorcycles, a Fiat X19, and a handfull of 70s era 527 Cadillacs. So my advise would be to have fun and test drive lots of examples and decide what you LIKE the most. Have fun!

Oldporsche 11-30-2004 04:34 PM

There never was a 911 produced with marginal brakes. I have read of a lot of marginally informed drivers however.

David Duffield

geof33 11-30-2004 04:41 PM


Originally posted by old_porsche
There never was a 911 produced with marginal brakes. I have read of a lot of marginally informed drivers however.

David Duffield

In fact most were over braked. Never been an issue in 911's.

Go for a mid 80's model. Easy to work on, can get in cheap if you do your homework and have a blast.

s2per 11-30-2004 05:49 PM

I've owned early, mid-year, SC and Carrera model 911s and my wife's Boxster . And I have a bunch of friends with P-cars, later models used as toys and daily drivers.

Do you do your own work? I do 80%+ of my own work and upgrading, and anything later than a Carrera kinda scares me with their complexity. A Carrera or a really good SC is a great hedge against depreciation and very reliable, plus you potentially can maintain it yourself.

But for reliability, I'm sold on the Boxster. Sue's car has almost 100,000 miles on it. She drives hers like a Camry (it IS a 5-speed, BTW) and the kids at her school love it. Recently a couple of minor items have failed, and last week, the a/c sprung a leak somewhere. Otherwise, an outstanding car. If it's your easiest sell to the Mrs., you won't be disappointed.

With the smiles it gives you when driving it, it deserves to be called a Porsche.

But it's not a 911.

anthony 11-30-2004 06:01 PM

If you are worried about tuition payments get a nice SC or early Carrera for $12-16K and keep the rest of the budget for upgrades and this or that. You'll take a depreciation hit on the newer cars.

You also don't want to spend the top of your budget and then not having any money left for upgrades, this and that, etc. The fact is that these cars are expensive to repair and while you can have PPIs done and feel good about the purchase, the worst case scenario where you need a tranny rebuilt or a valve job could happen six months later. One needs to be at least mentally prepared for that.

MOMO3.2 11-30-2004 06:01 PM


IMHO, you should probably look at 911 SC's when you are ready to buy too. They are damn fine and have all the attributes you are looking for and more.

I live in So Cal so the heater on my 87 Carrera is more than adequate. Hell, it has been in the 30's during my morning commute this week and I still keep the window down (better to hear my motor sing).My A/C is a joke above 95 degrees.

As for the BRAKES on a Carrera 3.2, you got some piss poor information from somewhere if you think they are marginal. They are frickin awsome! Not having ABS is an issue, but in the right hands (feet) Carrera 3.2's have phenomenal braking potential.

Like you, I am married and have ALL the responsibilities that come with children too. My advice is, don't "wait a couple years". Live large. Find a good example of any of the 911's you listed and pull the trigger. I have not regretted it once over the past two years.


jshape 11-30-2004 06:19 PM

For my drive-it-on-nice-days car (and there are not that many here in West Michigan) I chose an SC because it (a) was relatively inexpensive; (b) is relatively easy for me to maintain if I want to do it myself; (c) is fun to drive; and (d) has a distinct personality unlike a cookie-cutter garden variety 996 or Boxster. This fall I drove a friend's 2004 911 cabriolet and I was totally underwhelmed. Sure it's fast but it was, forgive me here, almost boring. True, I only drove it into town and back, but, it was so civilized that I really didn't care if I ever drove one again. I take a lot of pride in having a 25+ year old car that looks almost new (still some things to go...) and it makes me smile every day. Just my two cents.....

NOH20 11-30-2004 06:21 PM

Buy a Carrera

I live in Oakland Township along with another pelicanite. There are a bunch of guys in SE Michigan on the board.

Here's the deal and the cars I have owned:

1975 911S

Boxster - 2.5L

1997 993 C4S

1986 Carrera.

All of these cars are fun to drive however, I personally settled on my '86 Carrera. The Boxster was fun but it's not a 911, enough said. My C4S was a great car but too much car IMHO. If you want a 993, don't buy a C4S. You will need new rear tires every 12,000 miles! The bottom line is the SC's and Carrera's are fun cars to work on and are classics. No matter what you need to do to the car someone on this board has done it and can walk you through it. You might think the styling is old but I prefer it over the newer cars, especially the 996 which I never liked. Parts for the older cars are easy to find and are more reasonable in price. With a good suspension set up and a few exhaust and engine mods, you can have one hell of an SC or Carrera. Spend the $20,000 your talking about and find a low mileage, well maintained SC or Carrera and enjoy! I found my '86 with 34,000 miles on the odometer, all records and in perfect condition. If you like working on your car and doing the maintenance yourself, do yourself a favor and buy and older car which is much more friendly to wrench on. Just my 2 cents.


Steve87-911 11-30-2004 08:09 PM

What NOH20 said.

I'll add that I loved driving a 993. I may even add one to the stable some day. Great cars. But my first 911 had to be a real 911. And for your budget you can easily get a primo low mileage late 80s Carrera. (You knew that was coming). To me, a deciding difference between the 993 and the 80s Carreras (and SCs before) is that the Carreras and SCs make you feel like you're Sam Pickens riding that rocket in Dr Stragelove. It's like you're riding on top of the engine. Just too much fun to not experience at every opportunity. And the classic lines...

schleg79 11-30-2004 08:23 PM

concur with the sam pickens line....

schleg79 11-30-2004 08:31 PM

oh yeah, almost forgot: I agree with Steve's "classic lines" quote too (stand by for gratuitous photo)...
ps Laguna Seca last weekend

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