I was approached recently by someone wanting to buy his first ever Porsche 911. He didn’t know much about them but had looked around and decided that a 996 was the car for him.
Perfect, until he told me his budget – £12,000.
Sure, he could buy a Porsche 996 for that sort of figure, or even less. I’m not going to say that it would be rubbish at that price, as I’ve seen decent 996s for very little money, but it would be an early, high-mileage example, and perhaps a little scruffy around the edges.
It would also be a gamble, as there’d be a fair chance that some money would need to be spent on the car at some point soon. Of course, that applies to almost any Porsche 911 but what worried me about this buyer was that he was sinking all his funds into the car, without keeping anything in reserve for the inevitable maintenance.
This has been the downfall of many good Porsches over the years – they reach a price that is within reach of people who like the idea of owning a car with the Stuttgart crest but can’t really afford to run one properly. I’ve seen it happen to the poor old 944, the Boxster and, now, the early 996. It’s a downward spiral that leads to the cars becoming neglected, worth even less, and being bought by people with even less cash to spend on maintenance.
Now, I’m not saying that a Porsche is expensive to run, far from it – buy a good one and it will be surprisingly affordable. However, you need to be aware of the fact that it’ll cost more to keep on the road than, say, a Ford Mondeo. Tyres alone are pricey and that’s one thing that super-cheap 911s often need; it’s no good skimping on rubber (as the actress said…).
So what could my chap do? For his budget I could have just about got him into a half-decent 911SC but, chatting with him, I came to the conclusion he simply wasn’t a classic 911 man. He wanted a car that would replace his BMW 325i and be used for a modest everyday commute; and an SC just wouldn’t tick those boxes. Besides, a 911SC needs love and attention at least as much as a 996, so he’d need to have some cash left over for that, too.
He asked about a 964 Carrera 4 he’d seen for £11,000 but I quickly steered him away from that. At that price, it would unlikely be much good and, again, I don’t think it’s a car he’d have been happy with – it would be too much of a compromise after the Beemer.
In the end, I persuaded him to go away and save up his pennies until he had about £15,000. That would get him behind the wheel of a reasonable 996 that would give him a pleasant introduction to the legend that is the 911 and, with luck, kick off a lifetime of Porsche passion.
I’ve long championed the cause of affordable Porsche ownership. You can find out more about how owning a Porsche can actually cost you less than many lesser cars in my eBook. Also, do please subscribe to my occasional newsletter by filling in the form on the left.