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1981 911SC new buyer advice needed

Greetings,
I'm considering purchasing an '81 911SC with 120k miles on it.
I've never owned a Porsche, I have limited mechanical knowledge.
I realize most of these 35+ year old cars leak some oil, this one in particular leaks
a small amount from an unknown origin on the right side. How much of a concern is this? Does an oil leak mean bigger problems down the road?

Also,
Does anyone know how these generation SCís fare in a California smog test?
The car is out of state and doesn't require a smog test, I would need one done.
How difficult is it to get the car properly tuned?

Thank you.
Old 04-05-2016, 10:14 AM
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With limited mechanical knowledge i would highly recommend you get a PPI (pre purchase inspection).
Without disclosing to much info what state is the car in question in? I'm sure someone here can recommend a good shop to inspect it for you. The shop should be able to tell you if all the necessary parts to pass smog are on the vehicle.

The oil leak may be a minor problem.......or not. A good shop will know.

Good luck.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:34 AM
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pete3799

Thanks for the info, car is in NE.
If anyone does know of a good shop to do a ppi in Albion,
I'd be interested.
Thanks!
Old 04-05-2016, 10:41 AM
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Agreed about the ppi and the oil leak. All SCs were sold in the us to meet California requirements. You can check and make sure the catalytic converter is present, but that doesn't mean that some PO didn't gut it. This might have been a common mod in some states. Even the best ppi won't reveal this. But a new converter is only a few hundred. Other common mods are to disconnect the o2 sensor, which is easy to see, and plug some components in the CSI, which can be impossible to see.
Old 04-05-2016, 10:42 AM
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Oil leak could be small/insignificant, or not-so-small, depending on the source. If it's from the right side it could be from the oil cooler, one or more rubber hoses/lines, the tank, the valve covers, or the case itself. A good thing to do would be to try to narrow that down (get your PPI to put the car on a lift, take a picture, then clean it up with degreaser, wait for leak to return and take another picture! Post those pictures here!)

Many/most 911s of this era do have some type of leak.

Smog test CA seems to be hit-or-miss. Make sure it has its catalytic converter intact or you'll never pass until you add one back.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:49 AM
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groovydude

I've confirmed the o2 sensor, and wiring have been replaced on the car.
Looking into the ppi.

Thanks!
Old 04-05-2016, 10:49 AM
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Please understand that the purchase price is one thing, but the cost of ownership is another. With this kind of thirty five year old car, you're going to need to budget money to fix problems as they come up. And they will. The PPI can help you estimate how much you're in for, but it's always a gamble. If you have as much fun tinkering as you do driving, then it doesn't matter much. But if you don't want to do a ton of work on it yourself, you're going to end up in someone's shop, sooner or later, writing checks with zeroes on the end of them. As long as that's okay with you, go for it.
-Tom
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:53 AM
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Careful. While we are here because we love these cars, a small oil leak may be the least of your problems if you're not familiar with these cars. Make sure you ask about the headstuds, or you have the mechanic check on them. When was the last engine rebuild? At 120K, I would think it's been done. How does it shift? Any grinding?

You're not mechanically minded, so make sure you get a Porsche specialty shop to do your PPI. You need guys who know SC's and their foibles. These cars are not cheap these days. $300-500 spent today could save you ten thousand tomorrow.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:59 AM
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Seems the biggest potential can of worms here is getting the car to pass CA smog. Here in Colorado, smog certification is the SELLER's responsibility (don't believe this would apply to an out of state seller though).

If this is the case in CA (the in-state seller needs to cover the expense of getting the car smog compliant), the OP might want to limit his prospects to in-state CA cars so he can avoid this issue.
Old 04-05-2016, 11:28 AM
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PPI for sure

I don't agree that the motor is probably rebuilt by 120K. There are many SC's running around with higher mileage that have never been apart. I would focus on the PPI more than the mileage. I have 150K and good comp/ leak-down numbers and she runs great.
Old 04-05-2016, 12:13 PM
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Best advice I got here was that an 80's 911 is a 20K car no matter what you paid for it. Probably need to revise that to at least 30 now to budget in expected repairs and all that. PPI is really a must do now, but 30K is a chunk of cash to a schmuck like me.

Last edited by gazzerr; 04-05-2016 at 01:11 PM..
Old 04-05-2016, 01:09 PM
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gazzerr
30k budget for cost of ownership, really? yikes!

Unfortunately getting a ppi done in time will be difficult.
For what it's worth the engine has not been rebuilt, however a lot of maintenance has been done by the seller. The transmission, and shifter assembly have been rebuilt.
Carrera chain tensioners, and turbo valve covers have been done.
The catalytic converter is indeed present, and the emissions system in working.
Does this make it any less of a gamble?

Thanks for all the information!!
Old 04-05-2016, 02:06 PM
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Life is a gamble. Good luck!
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:49 PM
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Sorry I didn't mean 30K cost ownership I meant 30K minus cost of purchase to bring it up to snuff and make it a 30K car. Crazy year over year increase in values would probably offset that somewhat.

Back when I was in the market for an SC (4 years ago) the rule of thumb was that if you paid 15K for it you were going to budget to spend 5K on it. I'd say I'd have probaby 2K in parts in it right now and at least 3K of my own labour.

If the engine needs major work you are looking at 8 to 12K right away if you have a pro do it for you hence the PPI warnings.

You'll never know what you are dealing with until a compression test is done and the rocker covers are removed and the motor is inspected for broken head studs. If the engine has never been rebuilt there's a very good chance it's got at least one broken head stud.

I paid 15K for my car with a worn out CIS system, swiss cheese exhaust and all kinds of wiring issues in the front end. The engine and gearbox had been a complete rebuild 10 years prior with all the good parts. Generally speaking you can count on it that lots of plastic and rubber parts are worn out and will need to be replaced. It's not so much the parts cost but the labor cost for pro help.

If it's a great car you won't regret the purchase. There's nothing else like it. And it's an OK investment too. You'll *probably* get your money back at least.

Last edited by gazzerr; 04-05-2016 at 04:21 PM..
Old 04-05-2016, 04:05 PM
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IMO, take your time and get a PPI. Offer the seller a refundable deposit on buying the car pending successful PPI to show you're serious if needed. If the seller is unwilling to hold the car for a serious buyer to get a PPI done then I'd pass and find another car. The PPI is much more important since you're not mechanically minded. You need to know what you're in for or it could get expensive fast since you'll be paying a Porsche specialty shop to do everything for you.

As someone else said, buying a car in California would greatly reduce the smog passing risk since the seller would be obligated to provide a smog cert with the sale.

Good luck!
Old 04-05-2016, 04:14 PM
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Here's my crappy advice.....

Slow down. Take a deep breath. Read these forums for other posts about what to look for. Watch the market for a few weeks. See what pops up, what sits for a while and what sells fast. The chance that this 81 SC in Nebraska with an engine that's never been rebuilt is the deal of a lifetime, is unlikely. DO NOT BUY WITHOUT A PPI, especially if you don't know about these cars. If $30k sounds like a lot of money for a car that works, how does pissing away $20k on a car that doesn't sound? If you can't afford to wait because you need a car right now, then a 35 year old 911 is not the car for you.

And, if you are filthy rich, ignore all the advice above, buy the car, and if it stinks, sell it here for a deep discount and get a different one.

Like I said, my advice is crappy.
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:26 PM
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OP,

As someone els epointed out buying an old 911 is a bit of a gamble, but you can improve your odds. I was in your position last spring when I started shopping for a car. I bought my car without a PPI, but the way in which I bought it (BaT auction) gave me a lot of information about the car, enough that I was willing to bid on it without seeing it in person, trying to get a PPI done, etc. Again, life is a gamble. In my case it paid off. I got a car that was extremely well-sorted mechanically, had no significant needs, and I have driven it 4000-something miles with no costs other than gas and insurance and about $25 for shift linkage bushings. With limited mechanical knowledge, I agree that you will really want a PPI unless you have a higher-than-average risk tolerance and can afford that. A rebuilt trans, chain tensioners and valve covers are good. i would definitely want to know about the head studs. And if you have to register the car in CA, I would want to know that all of the original emissions equipment is there. It ought to pass if it is all there and in good tune.
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 911Hopefull View Post
Greetings,
I'm considering purchasing an '81 911SC with 120k miles on it.
I've never owned a Porsche,
Then you don't know what have been missing. I say go for it !

Quote:
I have limited mechanical knowledge.
I realize most of these 35+ year old cars leak some oil, this one in particular leaks
a small amount from an unknown origin on the right side. How much of a concern is this? Does an oil leak mean bigger problems down the road?
Oil leaks are common. May or may not be an issue. For ease of mind, get a PPI done. Folks here all recommend that but only some ever did. I didn't.

Quote:
Also,
Does anyone know how these generation SCís fare in a California smog test?
They have no problems passing smog ...

Quote:
The car is out of state and doesn't require a smog test, I would need one done.
How difficult is it to get the car properly tuned?

Thank you.
but you need all the smog components intact.

If it has no major running issues, idles , revs smoothly, it should pass
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I can't afford that.
Old 04-05-2016, 05:42 PM
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Well the price certainly factors in - if it is below 10k and it runs and the body is without rust and accident damage you can get your money back on it. Esp. if it is a coupe and lacks a sunroof.

But there is no getting into these aircooled 911s better than now. I would advise you read "The Used 911 Story" asap and review all "How to Buy an Aircooled Porsche" FAQs.

Good luck!
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:54 PM
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Being an 81, without having any record of the headstuds replaced, I would definately pull the covers to look for that before buying. Not that hard to do...half hour job.
My 78 started leaking at about the same mileage. Another way to tell is by driving it at higher rpm's and listening for the tell-tale sounds of broken studs.
Hope it works out for you.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:03 PM
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