For a long time the “cheap 911” did not exist, due to soaring values of the air-cooled models. But now, with numerous early 996s on the market, the affordable rear-engine sports car is making a reappearance, David Sutherland reports
Welcome back the four-figure Porsche 911! It’s been probably 15 years since you could buy Zuffenhausen’s rear-engined legend for under £10,000, but now in the UK the likes of Auto Trader and ebay are beginning to creak under the strain of them, while Craigslist in the US has plenty, too. And bear in mind that £10,000 back then equals around £14,000 now.
Opening the October 2003 issue of 911 & Porsche World reveals that no one was predicting the current frenzy over any air-cooled 911. We find a 150,000-mile, 1981 911SC coupe with a rebuilt engined offered at £8750, a 1972 911T at £7950 and even a 911S at £4750, due to rust on the wings, doors and sunroof. The 996-series 911, then in its last year of production, would cost at least £35,000 – but of course it’s this very model that is now the budget priced 911.
For a while now Porsche has been treating 996s as classics, and has begun resupplying some discontinued parts, and Porsche specialists understandably try to talk the cars up. For example D&G Porsche in Tyne and Wear was asking £28,500 for a 24,900-mile, 2003 Carrera 4, a price almost intruding into the lower end of the 996 Turbo market. However, the firm’s Dean Mcphee openly concedes that higher mileage 996s in less than special condition are struggling to find buyers, hence prices are sliding. ‘Frankly the whole Porsche market is stagnant at the moment, I think it has burst its bubble,’ he tells us.
On budget, £10,000 996s he has this to say: ‘There are two sorts of cars. The first has been owned for a lot of years by one owner and has been looked after. The second has had lots of owners and has been taken to various specialists and told it needs this or that done, at which point the owner has sold it on.’
And of course, the bore scoring and IMS issues that afflict many 996 engines (and early Boxster units, too) are well known. ‘You buy a 996 for £10,000, you need to be prepared to spend another £5000 on it,’ says Dean.
Health warning out of the way, what is £10,000, or slight more or slightly less, going to buy you? The cheapest we saw was the presentable looking dark blue 2000 Carrera Cabriolet at Brooke Car Sales near Basildon in Essex, the 160,000-mile manual stickered at £7995. ‘It’s clean and tidy and absolutely fine,’ said proprietor Stuart Brooke. ‘People ask if it’s had the bearing done – it has its service history but it doesn’t mention that.’
We get the strong feeling that coupes, especially with manual rather than Tiptronic S transmission, are more sought after than cabriolets, and among the cheapies advertised, £9995 was the lowest price we could find, this for a 2001 manual Carrera with 134,100 miles and offered in a private Auto Trader entry in London. Probably the most desired regular 996 variant is the Carrera 4S, a Turbo lookalike introduced at the 996’s 2001 facelift and using the larger, 3.6-litre engine; this is unlikely to be a £10,000 Porsche, the cheapest on sale a 2002 Tiptronic S with 130,000 miles for £14,000 at Martyn’s Car Sales in Chertsey, Surrey.
While 996s generally appear on the mainstream selling platforms, they are increasingly being entered into classic car auctions, and prospective buyers attending Anglia Car Auctions’ midJune sale in King’s Lynn in Norfolk could pick from three cabriolets. The cheapest, an automatic 1998 Carrera showing 98,000 miles and coming with a factory hardtop and some service history including a bill in 2015 for almost £5000, made £10,176 including buyer’s premium.
At £10,812, a bidder took home a 2002 Carrera 4 manual with a recorded 72,400 miles and which had been stored for six years, while £11,600 secured a seven-owner Carrera Tiptronic S, also with a hardtop and service history. The July sale at Historics at Brooklands saw a 996 Carrera 2 Tiptronic S Cabriolet change hands at £14,500 (just over its lower estimate), this higher than normal 996 auction price no doubt reflecting the low, 69,500 miles and one-owner status.
While scanning asked and paid auction prices, we couldn’t help but notice that some air-cooled 911s did not go as high as might have been be expected, and indeed that sometimes they can still be bought for “normal” money – provided the new owner is prepared for some elbow grease. A 1976 911 2.7 Targa with quite a good number, 9962 DD (but without a V5C document), sold for just £13,780. The catch was that the 911, showing only 99,425 miles, was believed to have been off the road since the late 1980s and looked it, both inside and out.
Given the near deity status of the 993 we were at first surprised to note that a 1994 Carrera Tiptronic S with 116,000 miles could muster only £22,640 (nearly £2400 below its estimate) at Historics, but as we read on the reason emerged – its insurance repair status. ‘If the car had not been subject to a “Cat C” repair around 2002 it would be estimated 30 to 40 per cent higher,’ the auctioneer noted.
It seems that across the 911 market there’s been a respite in price inflation. So that 911, be it a cheap 996 and or an air-cooled Carrera 3.2 or 993, could be a more realistic prospect than you dared hope. PW
Brooke Car Sales, 2000 Carrera Cab manual, 160K miles. At £7995, the cheapest dealer 996 we could find
Anglia Car Auctions, 911 2.7, £13,780 Martyn’s Car Sales, 2002 C4S, 130K miles. £14,000 Anglia Car Auctions, 1998 996 Tip Cab, £10,176 Historics 996 Cabriolet, £14,500
Anglia Car Auctions, 2001 996 Tip Cab, £11,600