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Five Porsches to buy right now

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Article by Rob Sass
Photos courtesy Porsche

Vintage Porsches have been arguably one of the most active sub-markets in the overall classic car market of the last five years. Certainly, there’s been some cooling-off of late, particularly among long-hood 911s, but even still, many of the nice ones remain above six-figures. It might be time to pay more attention to the overlooked and the up-and-comers in the Porsche world. Here are five to consider:

Above: Early Porsche 944.

1983 944 — Early 944s have an appeal to them that the later cars lack. They’re lighter and simpler with manual steering standard in 1983 — optional in 1984 — and often wind-up windows. The early interiors (borrowed from the 924) are cheaper looking than the post-1985 cars, but the yellow-faced gauges and the straightforward nature of things have a cool-factor that the more polished, later cars don’t have. Good early 944s can still be picked up in the $6,000 to $7,000 range, and that, my friends, is just too cheap.

Above: Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet (996).

2001-04 911 Turbo (996) — Just two words sum up the appeal of the 996 Turbo — Hans Mezger. Perhaps the greatest engine designer in history. His work is what makes the twin-turbocharged 996 one for the ages. It’s well-documented that the M96-based engines in 996 Carreras can suffer a range of afflictions, from intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing issues to cylinder bore scoring to the infamous D-chunk failure. Admittedly, the vast majority of cars are not affected, but the 996 Turbo avoids all of this with its Mezger-designed engine that is essentially bulletproof. Starting at around $36,000 for a cabriolet with higher miles, the 996 Turbo is one of the greatest bargains in the used-Porsche world today.

Above: 1993 Porsche 968.

1992-95 968 — The 968 was the final development of the very successful 924/944 platform. It introduced such features as a six-speed manual transmission, an available Tiptronic, shiftable automatic gearbox, VarioCam variable valve timing, and some styling updates. With a healthy 236 horsepower and a superbly balanced chassis, the 968, along with the 928 GTS, were the final expressions of Porsche’s transaxle architecture and the last front-engined vehicles they’d produce until the Cayenne. The 968 is also quite scarce. US deliveries exceeded 1,500 for just one model year. Higher mileage coupes and cabriolets are still available in the teens. Don’t say we didn’t give you a heads up.

Above: 1983 Porsche 911 SC Cabriolet.

1983 911 SC Cabriolet — The SC cab was a big deal when it was introduced in late 1982 for model year 1983, the final outing for the 3.0-liter 911 SC. Originally shown in Frankfurt in 1981 (with all-wheel-drive), it was the first truly open Porsche since the 356 went out of production in 1965 and it seemed like one of the official endings to the “malaise era,” a time when increasing pressure from insurance companies and regulators threatened to squeeze most of the fun out of driving. Immortalized in such ’80s fare as the Jeff Bridges film “Against All Odds” and Glenn Frey’s Miami Vice-like video for the song “Smuggler’s Blues,” the 911 cab arguably now languishes as the least-favored 911 body style of the era. Just 1,718 were built for North America, making it a legitimately rare piece.

Above: Porsche 924.

1977-82 924 — Nope, you don’t need to adjust your glasses: A 924 made a list of Porsches to buy now. And the original Audi-engined one to boot. Utter simplicity is the key here.  Its durable (if slightly rough) Audi 2.0-liter single-overhead camshaft unit of non-interference design, lack of power accessories, and good access to nearly everything you’d need to fix or maintain make it an ideal first sports car/first Porsche. Even nice 924s have in the recent past bordered on nearly free (I know of someone who picked up an all-original 13,000-mile car last year for just $3,500). But the simple charms of the 924 are starting to find ready buyers — nice, but not perfect, cars have been selling on Bring a Trailer lately in the $6,000 to $8,000 range. Later is better with the 924 as continuous improvements were made throughout the run. Don’t expect the 924 to regularly crack the $20,000 mark any time soon, but prices for nice ones are certainly on a gentle upswing at the moment. If you want to deal with the added complication of the 944’s interference engine, the 1988 924S is a real sleeper with a lighter weight and more horsepower than 1983-87 8-valve 944s.

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