If you’re entering classic Porsche ownership for the first time, it’s important not to look at air-cooled cars through rose-tinted spectacles. There are excellent cars to enjoy, but all that glitters is not gold, and you don’t want to find yourself the victim of false economy by paying the minimum now, only to face unvoidable expense later...
This issue of Classic Porsche highlights some of the aircooled Porsches available to those working with a modest budget. It’s good to know there are still Stuttgart-crested classics out there within a reasonable price bracket, but before you part with your hard-earned cash in exchange for a 914, 912 or even a 911 SC or Carrera 3.2, it’s of paramount importance you consider how these models were viewed in years gone by. The four-cylinder cars in particular were often maintained in a fashion commensurate with their former values. In other words, in the here and now, it’s not unusual to encounter a classic Porsche which looks great and fits within a buyer’s available spend, but shortly after taking ownership, they discover the purchase price equates to little more than a down payment for a full rebuild. You must always keep in mind it’s almost impossible to get a lot for a little when it comes to classic Porsches, especially if there is a dealer involved. You’re better off stretching to the maximum your budget will allow and, if possible, borrowing money for extra spend in the interests of securing a really good example of whichever car you’re considering. Drawing on my extensive experience in these matters, I can tell you shelling out more at the point of purchase is likely to save you a larger amount of money in the long run.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but buy with your head, not with your heart. You may have dreamed about owning an air-cooled Porsche for many years and are now in the position to see one on your driveway, but it’s important to ensure you commission an inspection with a recommended marque specialist to know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. Put it this way, a few hundred spent on evaluation of your prospective purchase could save you tens of thousands in expensive repair bills. It is, quite literally, a small price to pay for peace of mind, allowing you to make an informed and considered car purchase. Besides, buying and living with a classic Porsche is to be celebrated, not something to regret. Realise your dream, but do it with eyes wide open and you will be rewarded accordingly.
And what reward! Air-cooled Porsches are engaging cars. Even a 1.7litre 914 is capable of bringing more joy to an enthusuiast than, say, a 996 Turbo. After all, small cars going fast can be more thrilling than a heavy car not realising its full potential. If you’re heading further up the air-cooled food chain, a 911 SC or a Carrera 3.2 is an excellent choice. Forget what you may have heard people say about the SC being undesirable — Porsche hasn’t made a bad sports car, and an SC will give you a huge amount of fun almost immediately. Additionally, these 911s aren’t particularly expensive to maintain or service, providing you exercise caution during the buying process and don’t find yourself in charge of the proverbial money pit.
Talking of which, take care if importing an aircooled Porsche unseen from overseas. We’ve all heard stories about sun-kissed cars enjoying the warmer climes of California, but not every Porsche in North America has spent its life in The Golden State. Believe it or not, it does rain in the USA, regardless of what sales spiel tells you! At Prill Porsche Classics, we’ve recently been working on a lovely-looking imported 911 brought to us by a customer. When replacing spring plate bushes, we discovered the car’s ‘kidney bowls’ have been repaired with copies of the New York Times under presentable underseal. I’m not kidding. Go carefully.
ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET A LOT FOR A LITTLE WHEN IT COMES TO CLASSIC PORSCHES