Early Z, Front Engine Porsche, or Idiot?

So, I've got a severe craigslist addiction going on. I should probably be looking to pick up another car of some sort in the next 4 to 17 months.

Sure, there are a bunch of somewhat sane yet jalop choices out there that will get a solid YES from the community. For example: fox body mustang, volvo 240, mercedes 300d, z32 300zx, vw tdi, miata, cj-5, samurai, etc

There are two VERY appealing choices in the $5k range that really are sticking out to me for some reason. That would be the early Datsun Z cars, from 240z to 260z to 280z, and the Porsche 928 and 944.


The Z

The Z cars are a bit older, so they have that working against them in terms of being a suitable DD. A $5000 example in this area is usually a "driver" condition car that needs some TLC, and has some cosmetic blemishes. That's fine by me, as I would intended to drive the car (either car) and do a mild, period correct restomod as time progresses.

The Zs seem a lot more modular to me. From what I understand, you can swap a lot of newer nissan parts in without too much trouble, and s30 parts will pretty much all swap no problem. Parts and parts cars are somewhat easily found in the area, so that's a plus. Also, the design is more familiar to me. The L-series is a typical old inline 6 with a timing chain, manual choke, and carburetors, which is the kind of tech that makes me most happy.

Ze Germans

The 944 and 928 on the other hand are actually a bit cheaper in my area. $5000 seems to get you a real nice car. You can find sketched-out parts cars fairly readily, but it seems like nobody has just parts. I think it would be easier to get a good 944/928 than a Z, but harder to find good used parts to keep it alive.


A few of the design elements of these Porsches turn me off a bit. Any timing belt with a 40k mile service interval gives me the chills. Also, the whole "torque-tube" setup seems unnecessarily complicated as a mere observer. I've heard that these cars are very solid and reliable when maintained, but that they suffer from a relative parts scarcity, and that the wiring on them is a bit complicated. Of course, when buying a Porsche 944, it seems fairly hit and miss as to whether the car is going to have had diligent upkeep, or if it's just going to have been kept mostly functioning.

Now what?

If you had to DD one of these two cars, which would it be? Assume that the hypothetical I/you would have a cheap backup car for winter and for when its broke, but you still wanted the car to be drivable 98% of the time. Also, consider that the hypothetical I/you is already used to keeping his car stocked with tools, fluids, and spare parts. Cost of ownership would be a consideration, but only a minor one unless the Porsche decides to take a mechanical crap to the tune of $600 every other month.


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