Tips on buying a used Porsche 911

By dpa | 5 July 2022

HAMBURG/COLOGNE: The Porsche 911 has been a sports car benchmark for nigh on 50 years and German rally ace Walter Rörhl summed up its appeal when he once said: "a garage without a Porsche 911 is a dull, empty space."

Owning an 911 is the fulfilment of a dream for many drivers and since a new one costs around €120,000 (RM553,000), many fans on a modest budget opt for a second-hand version - not that a pre-owned Porsche is a cheap proposition either.

The earlier air-cooled 911s have soared in value, with 964s and 993s regularly starting at well over €30,000 (RM138,000).

To recap, the car's heritage goes back to 1948 and the blobby 356, itself a descendant of Ferdinand Porsche’s first-ever Volkswagen. The 911 that we still know today emerged in 1964.

At Porsche, design and the six-cylinder boxer engine form a unique union. "This combination did not exist before and it still represents the ultimate in sports cars for many fans," says Frank Wilke who heads market watchdog Classics Analytics.

Adherence to tradition makes the 911 one of the popular sports cars for Henning Hinze too. "The 911 has technically moved with the times, but still has the fascination of a yesteryear car. It has a sporting feel but is suitable for everyday use," says the editorial director of the German cherished car magazine Auto Bild Klassik.

Planting a six-cylinder boxer engine in the rear of a sports car was an unusual concept decades ago and it still is. The result is unique handling which proved to be a winning concept.

"The 911 is practical in every motoring situation," says Hinze. "With the 911, you can drive slowly in the city and hustle fast on mountain passes".

Adding to the experience is the rasping bark of the engine, the 911's acoustic calling card.

Modern Porsche 911s rarely turn heads despite their desirability, which makes them more socially-acceptable to many owners than more outlandish Ferraris or Lamborghinis.

Yet all of this has its price since driving a Porsche has never been easily affordable and it never will be.

In the case of air-cooled 911s, according to Hinze, G-series models between 1973 and 1989 are a good choice, especially the models of the late 1970s and early 1980s with 2.7 litre and 3.0-litre boxer engines.

The early F-series (1963 to 1973), on the other hand, is for purists willing to put up with the extra expense of ownership and diva-like ownership qualities. The later type 964 (1989-1994) was very expensive to maintain along with the last air-cooled boxer, the type 993 (1993-1998).

The cheapest entry into the world of the 911 is currently offered by the model known internally as the 996. It first came onto the market 25 years ago. Although diehard Porsche fans frowned upon the first water-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine, the type is now accepted.

"Even though the change from air to water cooling was tantamount to the end of the world for hardcore Porsche fans and the egg-shaped headlights were reviled, the 996 still is still sporty and comfortable today," says Wilke.

There's good news on the price front too. According to Hinze, models from the facelift onwards (built in 2001) are suitable for everyday use and offer "a lot of Porsche for the money".

Well-maintained examples are available for less than €25,000 and models with automatic transmission are cheaper because they are less in demand. However, the torque converter automatic is a tad less agile.

After bottoming out eight years ago, prices for 996s are rebounding slightly. According to Classic Analytics, models in good condition (grade 2) are worth around €27,000.

Frank Wilke considers a Carrera Coupé to be a sound buy since only it offers the original 911 shape. With a manual gearbox, inconspicuous paintwork and a black interior, a 996 will always find another buyer if the owner decides to part with it.

"However, just because the 996 is the most keenly-pried 911, doesn't mean it's economical to own. Spare parts and repairs can really cost money with this model because overhauls are complex," says Wilke.

Henning Hinze advises owners to buy the best car they can afford. Models offered at the lower end of the market have often been neglected and will cost a lot of money to bring up to scratch.

"There are no Porsche bargains to be had anymore, all of the cars are in demand," says Hinze. On the other hand, there are plenty of 911s on the market so would-be owners need not feel under time pressure to secure one.

It is always a good idea to have a budget for repairs. "As a rule of thumb almost any fix is going to cost at least €1,000 - regardless of whether you are talking about brakes, tyres, suspension or a defective heating system," says Hinze. An engine overhaul can easily set you back €15,000.

Sound paperwork with details of regular maintenance and repairs is essential with a high-end machine like the 911.

Tyres, brakes and suspension components wear out more quickly on a car designed to be driven hard. Porsche engines are robust, but costly to fix when things go wrong.

If you are not well-versed in mechanical matters, take a knowledgable friend or an expert along to view the car.

Finally, it is worth noting that although running a Porsche may seem expensive, a well-maintained 911 typically has much more inherent value than a standard family car of the same age.