There are a lot of 911 ought there. Porsche claims that over 70% of the cars it sold are on the road today, which is remarkable. Over course the hype about these cars helps make them economically possible to restore and maintain.
I have been interested in buying one for about a year now and gradually shifted from being a BMW M3 / M4 fan to a 911 enthusiast.
The problem for me is that there are so many good examples, all of which I would like to own, that I get stuck. I decided to list the desirable years here based on my research. (Note, this overview is for base models instead of Turbos and RS / GT cars.) I’m skipping the 996 altogether because I’m not going to buy one and while I like the 991, its just beginning its very steep depreciation curve.
1965 to 1973 (Long Hood)
The original cars have shot up in value the most and for good reasons. They are beautiful—especially the tail. They are called long hoods because the lack of impact bumpers allowed the hood to stretch all the way to the front. These are clean, beautifully designed cars.
Cars in excellent condition will typically go for six figures and even rusty rollers will be in the low five figures. And many of these cars suffer from extensive rust because they were not made with galvanized steel. Restoring these is also extremely expensive so there really are no good deals on these.
That said clean 911Ts, which were a cheaper model and shared the transmission with the entry model 912, can be found in the $50-60ks. I day dream of these occasionally, because this price range will probably disappear soon too.
With this generation, I have a good angel on my shoulder saying “Stay away, you want a car you can drive a lot” but there is also a devil on the other shoulder that says, “Get it. This is the one to have and you’ll never regret it.”
1974 and 1975 (Middies)
The next design of the 911, basically kept the same narrow body as the long hood, but adopted an impact bumper in the front. Middies are the ‘74 to ‘77 G bodies, a model which lasted until 1989.
I cut off the years I consider here to the first two because of emissions controls on the ‘76 and ‘77 years. That leaves the Carrera 2.7 liter, either as a coupe or Targa. I would buy either, though I prefer a coupe.
These cars have long been ignored, but with the prices of other air cooled cars increasing, that has changed some. One common problem with Middies is broken head bolts, as well as the rust problems (Porsche began galvanizing steel in 1975) that the original long hoods suffer.
I would look for cars that have been sorted, but I do think these are worth considering.
1987-1989 (G Bodies)
The next group, I would consider begin in 1987. I personally overlook the SCs (Super Carrera) because of the 915 gear box and skip forward to the introduction of the G50.
I would tolerate slow shifts in older cars and more rare cars, but for a car this new and which isn’t rare, there is no reason to settle for a 915 right now.
The ‘87 through ‘89s look great, are readily available, and are very reliable cars. Again, I’m fine with either coupe or Targa in this generation.
The 964 is one of the most beloved models and for good reason. The Coupe is clean, simple and embodies the ethos very well. I do not like the Cabriolets, which are very affordable. I also would skip the Tiptronic. That leaves manual coupes, which begin at the top end of my price range (mid-$60k). Thus, the 964 hovers just outside of the group of cars I am considering, but if the right manual coupe came along, I would probably go for it.
Side benefit—this can be your Singer Design Porsche some day when you really hit the big time.
The 993 is one of my favorite 911s, especially from the rear view. This also seems to be a consensus pick among 911 fans. For this model, I would consider the Cabriolet, which is often listed for about $45k or so. But, the manual coupes are the way to go. And good examples are selling in the $40-60ks range (much more for a Carrera S or 4S though). I am fairly determined my first 911 will be a 993 C2.
I especially like the Turbo Twist wheels and Turbo body kits on these coupes especially. This just seems like the one sports car you would ever need.
The last group I am considering is the 997. This is the only water-cooled model in my group, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me personally.
The 997 is also the last generation designed by Porsche, which is cool. (In 2011, Porsche attempted a hostile takeover of VW Group, which failed and VW ended up buying Porsche. VW ownership has been good to the 911 as the 991 & 992 are beautiful cars with more spectacular sub-models than I can count (911 T, 911 R, GT2 RS, GT3 Touring, and so forth), but the last Porsche is special.
The 997 is one of the best looking 911s in my opinion. Taking that thought a step further, I think the 997 is the most attractive 911 Cabriolet ever.
Within the 997, I would buy a 2005 or a 997.2. The IMS bearing in the 2005 can be easily modified during a clutch repair and the direct injection cars do not have this problem.
I would skip the 2006-2008 years, because the IMS repair requires rebuilding the top end. I have read enough of Rennlist to know that owners of the ‘06-08s have a more robust IMS bearing and shaft, however, the bearing is still a life time component and is not fed lubrication. I don’t see that as a good bet to take on a car I hope to own while my kids are growing up.
Prices on the 997s are ridiculously low for what the car is. I think they will continue to fall, albeit slowly, because so many 997s were built. Also, as 991 production ends, the market is about to flood with off-lease 991s. Currently, a 997.1 manual coupe can be found in the high $20s and low $30s all day long. A C2S coupe can usually be found in the high $30s.
So that is the list of what I’m considering. I will probably end up with a G-body from the end of the production line, a 993, or a 997.1.
Feel free to correct me if I have any of the information incorrect and if you have any suggestions. Like I said at the beginning, this analysis is completely different for Turbos and GT / RS cars, so I’ll leave that thread for another day.