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

911 Porsche World - - Market Forces -

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

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