Buying a Classic Porsche 911 – Some Thoughts!

A classic Porsche 911 between 1968 and 1989 is a fantastic car to own and drive. There are some very original well maintained examples out there and will reward their owners with years of pleasurable service.  However, there are also some very bad examples out there and to the unsuspecting or ill informed buyer these can only turn into a nightmare and financial disaster.

In this article I will try to give you high level pointers of how to spot a bad 911 and hopefully help you avoid making a potentially disastrous purchase.

There are lots of places to look for a potential purchase of a used 911.  Stuttgart Exchange is one such place.  Its is an auction site for all things Porsche.  It is a site run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts and is completely free for buyers and sellers alike.

But before you go shopping, here’s a few interesting things you might consider:

There is an old saying, “there’s no such thing as a bargain”.  Well this is particularly true of buying a classic Porsche 911.  If its cheap or appears cheap, then its priced like that for a reason.  Its probably riddled with rust and endless faults and failures that have been left uncorrected over the years.  Unfortunately, people who fall into the trap of buying these so called bargain, often sell them on again very quickly to another unsuspecting buyer once the full realisation of what they have bought becomes all to clear.  This means these cars stay in the market waiting for their next victim.

My advice would be not to listen to your heart strings when looking at a potential 911 purchase.  Let your eyes be guide and your money the last thing you part with!

With that in mind make sure you are armed with a list of comprehensive questions to interrogate the seller and learn all you can about the history of the Porsche.  If you don’t have the confidence, take someone with you who as both knowledge of the model of 911 your after as well as the confidence to ask the right questions of the seller.

A good well maintained 911 is worth a lot of money.  So anyone offering you a 911 at a fraction of that price must have something to hide.  And they could be hiding quite a lot, including corrosion in the following areas:

  • the battery tray in the front luggage compartment;
  • front wings underneath the headlight bezels;
  • the front wing around the fuel filler cap;
  • the kidney bowls;
  • the rear arches;
  • the inner sills;
  • the front widow area
  • the rear window area

Getting these fixed could easily run into thousands of pounds and that’s after you managed to find a reliable, quality, experienced repairer – but we won’t go into that potential nightmare right now!

Then there’s the engine.  If that’s not been maintained its probably going to need some work.  At the very least a top end rebuild, and again this is likely to run into a few thousand pounds if you are unable to do it your self.

Older 911’s don’t mean cheaper to buy.  These cars are actually climbing value and some of the older 911’s are actually worth as much or more than some of the new used models…..  There are some specials to look out for too.  For example the 1972 2.4S is very rare and a perfect unmolested original example could cost you £65k or more.  The 1974 2.7S is another special and for an equally good one might cost you £45K plus.  The 3.0 Carrera is a bit of classic in the waiting.  Built in only 1976 and 1977 and only about 1,500 units ever built, I feel they are set to become a valuable 911, so get in there earlier if you want to make any gains.

However for a normal 911 like an SC or a 3.2 Carrera you might expect to pay in the region of £10k to £20k.  But even priced correctly, doesn’t mean they are trouble free.  You still need to look for all the traditional trouble areas.

Authenticity and history are two very important areas to consider.  A genuine enthusiast who loves his or her 911 will have all the history of the car.  Take time to read it.  Maybe contact some of the people who have worked on the car and get their opinion.  Make sure you check the numbers on the car and engine match.  Porsche will tell what they should be.  They will also tell you what the original delivery spec was for the car.  See if that is still true or if its changed.

“Genuine Reason for Sale”.  Everybody seems to say they have a genuine reason for sale.  In my opinion you shouldn’t take too much notice of this.  The seller is highly unlikely to be telling the truth anyway.  If the 911 is a complete disaster zone they are very unlikely to tell you this is there genuine reason for sale…..

We all like to think we find a bargain.  There’s nothing wrong in haggling over the price once you have found the right car.  Anyone who knows they are selling a good one though is unlikely to move their price very much.  But like I said at the beginning, there really isn’t such a thing as a bargain or a cheap 911.  A good quality well maintained car, with lots of history at a fair price is the way to go.

Porsche built their 911’s to high exacting standards.  Examples that have been looked after and maintained at regular intervals will be quite economical to run.  Letting this maintenance regime lapse will only lead you to ne place – disaster.

About Peter Bell

I am a self confessed Porsche-a-holic. An enthusiast from an early age I have spent many years reading about Porsche as well as building my own ultimate Porsche 911. Writing about Porsche has been a hoby since as long as I can remember. I have also created a number of websites for the Porsche enthusiast community.
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7 Responses to Buying a Classic Porsche 911 – Some Thoughts!

  1. Paul Bell says:

    Hello Peter,

    I have a recently restored 3.0 911 1977 and its currently on a French license plate I am in the process of changing to an English plate and am trying to prove where the original VAT would have been paid. Could you offer any advice in how to find this information?
    I would be grateful for any advice. Thank you, Paul.

    • Peter Bell says:

      Hi Paul. I like the Carrera 3.0′s alot. There are only a few ever made and as a result are quite unique. I’d be interested in seeing some pics of the restoration.

      I regard to your question. I would personally first approach Porsche in Germany. I have contacted them before on a number of things and they have also been very forth comming. They will tell you the original spec when it left the factory and who it went to. I think this is the best place to start.

  2. James says:

    Hi Peter, good article. I am in the market for a 84-89 Carrera and have found one where the buyer seems reliable. He tells me it has not had any serious problems. However what worries me is that it has done over 140,000 miles (it’s an 86) without a rebuild. I am worried that I will be stuck with the rebuild. How common is it for these cars to require full rebuilds and should I be put off by this? I plan to have it properly checked out before I buy but I wonder if an inspection will completely put this to rest. The price is not cheap but verging towards expensive and a rebuild would be a shocker. Many thanks!

    • Peter Bell says:

      Hi James, thank you for your comments.

      First of all it great that you intend to get it inspected before Purchasing. Also do a background check to make sure its not been in any collisions or insurance claims. Also, take a good look around at the usual suspect areas that I have mentioned.

      In terms of your specific question on mileage: A 3.2 engine is a fantastic engine and will provide many thousands and years of service is maintained properly. Therein lies the rub. You need to establish the history of the maintenance of the car and in particular the engine. Does the seller have receipts for regular maintenance?

      At 140k miles I would expect that the engine will need(or have had dome already) a top end refresh – Valve guides and piston rings. A sure way to check would be to have a compression check and leakdown test done by the inspector of the car.

      A top end might cost upto about £2k and a full rebuild £5-7k, so its important to be sure before you buy.

      If you have the history or maintenance, the body looks to be in good order and a compression and leakdown provide good results, then I would not be put off by the mileage. But you need to go into it with your eyes wide open.

      Ive been writing some other articles and guides which might be of help:

      Channel P101tv | Porsche Articles and Guides

      Good luck

  3. ian proudfoot says:

    I am looking at a 911S 2.0 made in december 1968 first reg in jan. 69.LHD
    series B as it has the slightly longer wheel base it has a sun roof from new and a exhurst sheild at rear.
    I have been told there was 1080 made of this model is this a desirable rare model ?
    and if so why ?

    • Peter Bell says:

      Hi Ian
      All of the early 911′s are becomming rarer and therefore collectable. The S variant has always been special and in particular rare. The S represented the best on offer of the road going 911′s. If you are able to find an original S from 1968 I would say, subject to price, that it would be a good investment potential.

  4. david breedlove says:

    I have a ’91 911 “Whale Tail” Turbo with 85,000 original miles on it. It’s a “1-owner”, bought new for around $100,000 US. It’s in absolute pristine condition, inside and out. It’s a California/Arizona car, so positively no corosion. Still the original metal-flake Teal paint job, I had the hood repainted for the first time last year as the stone chips were starting to show too well. Original leather interior, motorized seats work perfect, original 1991 Porsche wheels are just finally starting to show their age. I’m retiring soon, and now looking to sell, but very much in the dark about what value it may carry?