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Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

How to buy a classic Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2Jeremy Clarkson once declared that “you can’t be a true petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo”. Not for the first time, though, Jezza was wrong. With a few recent exceptions, modern Alfas are just gussied-up Fiats. And the classics, while bursting with brio, are less dependable than a Southern train..

No, if there’s one car every enthusiast should aspire to own, it’s a Porsche 911. This quirky, rear-engined coupe has evolved – and occasionally revolved – over more than five decades. Fast, fun and engineered with typically Teutonic thoroughness, it has inspired an automotive cult all its own: witness the number of dedicated 911 magazines in newsagents. And it’s still going strong: the millionth example recently left Stuttgart, and special editions, such as the 911R, sell out before they even reach showrooms.

Video: Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 

Convinced? Now for the bad news. We’re not alone in this view, and used Porsche prices have risen sharply over the past decade – outpacing even the already-buoyant classic car market as a whole. Still, even if Brexit bites and the stock market takes a nosedive, good 911s – particularly earlier, air-cooled cars – are likely to remain highly sought-after

If you want the full, 100% proof 911 experience, you need one the original pre-1989 cars; and they don’t come much better than the last-hurrah Carrera 3.2, now available from around £30,000. The lovely 1989 example tested here was kindly supplied by Canford Classics.

How does it drive?Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

The classic Carrera isn’t an easy car to drive, but that’s key to its appeal. You need to engage your brain, exploit its strengths and work around its weaknesses. And learning those takes time.

Despite being shorter and narrower than a new Porsche Cayman, the original 911’s cabin doesn’t feel short on space. Well, not unless you’re squeezed into the toddler-sized rear seats. It’s comically sparse by 2017 standards, though, with controls scattered seemingly at random and floor-hinged pedals skewed towards the centre of the car.

Ergonomic eccentricities are soon forgotten when you fire up that trademark air-cooled flat-six, however. It whirrs, rumbles and churns: not musical, but deliciously mechanical. And the howl it makes at high revs will reverberate inside your skull for hours.

The 911’s unassisted steering and spindly gearlever demand measured, deliberate inputs, yet positively fizz with feedback. It feels lively and light-footed, effervescent even. Those characteristic front wings bob up and down, following the contours of the road, while the all-round disc brakes offer confidence-inspiring bite.

You never forget this is a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive car – one with no electronic safety aids, no less – but the Porsche is hardly the ‘widowmaker’ of urban legend. It simply requires respect and a certain degree of restraint, especially when it rains. A new hot hatch will be quicker whatever the weather, but you’ll be having more fun.

 

Tell me about buying onePorsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Chris Lowe, lead technician at Canford Classics, is a big fan of the Carrera 3.2: “It has better brakes and a more powerful engine than the 911 SC it replaced, and larger wheels make it more drivable day-to-day”, he explains. “Plus, it’s still air-cooled, so it doesn’t stray too far from the original formula. Overall, they’re just super-cool cars.”

The 3.2 was sold in three body styles: coupe, convertible and Targa. Coupes are generally considered most desirable, although the removable-roof Targa is now firmly back in fashion. A ‘tea tray’ rear wing was optional as part of the Sport pack, along with stiffer dampers and shapelier seats. Alternatively, buyers could go the whole nine yards with the 911 Supersport: a 3.2 with the stretched wheelarches and beefed-up brakes of the 930 Turbo. 

Rust is the fatal foe of any classic 911, so Chris advises checking bodywork carefully: the roof pillars and sills are the main trouble spots. Take a fine-tooth comb to the paperwork, too. “Originality is key to value,” says Chris, “so ask for the Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche, which details the original specification – including any options fitted.” Also, be prepared to budget for mechanical maintenance: “Many 3.2s are due engine or gearbox rebuilds, and the same goes for suspension. Bushes will usually need to be replaced.”

It’s also worth noting that the post-1987 G50 gearbox – as fitted here – is slicker and more user-friendly than the original 915 unit. As such, G50-equipped cars tend to be worth more. 

VerdictPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Is the Carrera 3.2 the ultimate retro daily-driver? Perhaps, even if the aforementioned rise in values means most owners now reserve their cars for sunny Sundays and special occasions. 

In truth, the G-Series 911 felt a little dated by the mid-1980s, yet it has aged remarkably well. To drive, it feels raw, vital and life-affirming, while its essential robustness stands in marked contrast to the flimsy over-complication of many modern cars.

Three decades hence, when scores of present-day ‘991’ 911s are festering on scrapheaps with undiagnosed software gremlins, one suspects the classic Carrera will still be going strong. It’s a sports car icon, both of its time and timeless. Buy one now before prices get even crazier.

Many thanks to Canford Classics (01929 472221) for the loan of this immaculate 1989 911. The car is currently for sale, priced at £55,000.

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Porsche builds its one-millionth 911

Porsche builds its one-millionth 911The Mazda MX-5 may be the world’s best-selling sports car, but the Porsche 911 is the most iconic. And today, after 54 years in production, the company built its one-millionth 911.

Dr Wolfgang Porsche unveiled the milestone car in Zuffenhausen, where it begins a promotional world tour that includes the Scottish Highlands, Nurburgring, USA and China – ending up as part of the collection at the Porsche Museum.

Porsche builds its one-millionth 911The 991 Carrera S has a distinctly retro theme, with many details that evoke the 1963 original. Spot the Irish Green paint (a special order colour since 1965) chrome window-surrounds, old-style Porsche bonnet crest and – oh yes – gold badges.

Inside, there’s liberal use of mahogany on the steering wheel and dashboard (no, us neither), plus ‘Pepita’ houndstooth trim on the trad-911 ‘tombstone’ seats. A plaque marks this car out as number 1,000,000 off the production line.Porsche builds its one-millionth 911A visibly proud Dr Porsche said: “Fifty-four years ago, I was able to take my first trips over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with my father. The feeling of being in a 911 is just as enjoyable now as it was then. That’s because the 911 has ensured that the core values of our brand are as visionary today as they were in the first Porsche 356/1 from 1948”.

Although the 911 is easily outsold by Porsche’s Macan and Cayenne SUVs today, it remains core to the German brand: a halo car that shines brighter than perhaps any other. Porsche builds its one-millionth 911

Amazingly, more than 70 per cent of all 911s ever built are still on the road, and over half of Porsche’s 30,000 race wins can be credited to the car, too.

We don’t expect this very special 911 will be racking up the miles – it’s already too valuable for that – but devotees can buy an Irish Green Porsche Design watch, with a strap using the same leather as the 911’s interior. 

Classic Porsches on show at Autofarm for MR Retro Live

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Autofarm in Oxfordshire is a mecca for disciples of the air-cooled and the rear-engined. The company has been fixing and restoring Porsches since 1973, and its huge wooden barns are stuffed with classic 911s. Where better, then, to hold our second MR Retro Live event – this time catering for Porsche enthusiasts.

And so it was that, one brisk Sunday morning, a group of Porsche fans gathered at Autofarm, chatting cars and supping coffee to a flat-six soundtrack. The Motoring Research team was there, too: Peter in his 964 Carrera 4 and Andrew in a Cayman GT4 nabbed from Porsche’s press fleet. Here are some of the highlights.

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS

Yes, before you ask, it’s a real one. The Carrera 2.7 RS is the most iconic 911 of all, with the best examples today costing seven figures. Designed for motorsport homologation, it boasted a fuel-injected 210hp engine, stiffer suspension and bigger brakes – not forgetting that trademark ‘ducktail’ rear spoiler.

This ’73 RS belongs to one of Autofarm’s customers and was in for a service. It was restored about 10 years ago and remains in flawless original condition.

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911S

Speaking of originality, Chris Knowles’ stunning 2.4 S looks exactly as it left the factory in 1972. The Signal Yellow bodywork has been resprayed by Autofarm, but the interior has never been retrimmed.

Interestingly, 1972 was the only model-year where 911s had an oil tank access flap on the side of the car. However, some owners filled it with petrol, so Porsche wisely chose to relocate it under the engine lid. 

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Ruf 964 special

Remember the Ruf CTR – star of the 2017 Geneva Motor Show? The German company has been modifying Porsches for decades, including this unique 964. Based on a 3.6 RS, it packs a twin-turbo engine from the later 993 Turbo.

Ruf also fitted its ‘electronic foot’ clutchless manual gearbox. And the eagle-eyed will spot the wide-arched Turbo bodywork has been de-seamed – just like an old Mini.

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche Cayman GT4

Not a 911, but equally as cool, the Cayman GT4 is a modern Porsche destined for classic status. MR’s Andrew had this Guards Red example for the weekend and kept finding tenuous excuses to run errands in it.

With added aero, a stiffer chassis and brakes from the 911 GT3, the 385hp GT4 is a serious driving machine. It also comes with a six-speed manual gearbox – something that wasn’t available on the GT3 at the time.MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera RS

Regular readers will recognise this car – also Guards Red – from our Retro Road Test last year. The hardcore 964 was the first 911 to wear the RS badge since the 1970s. Thankfully, Porsche did it justice, with more power, less weight and a close-ratio gearbox.

This car was recently for sale at Autofarm and has been expertly restored in-house. MD Mikey Wastie reckons it’s one of the best 964s he’s driven. We were equally effusive, saying: “It’s a car you’ll ache to spend time with, to learn its quirks and exploit its talents. The buzz of driving it stayed with us many hours after we reluctantly handed back the keys.”
MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 GTS  

Paul Woods brought along his immaculate 991 GTS, complete with appropriately speedy number plate. We love the primer-grey paint, too.

This first-generation GTS is one of the last with a naturally-aspirated engine. It also came with the Powerkit engine upgrade, sports exhaust and adjustable PASM suspension. GT3 aside, could this be peak modern 911?

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911L

How pretty is this 1968 911L? Another customer car, it was already at Autofarm for some engine work. Note the oh-so-classic Fuchs alloys, as worn by many 911s of the era – including the Carrera RS.

The 130hp 911L was the mid-point in Porsche’s late-1960s range, sitting between the 110hp 911T and 160hp 911S. It also had front disc brakes.
MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Supersport

The Supersport was essentially a Carrera 3.2 with the wider wheelarches and ‘tea tray’ spoiler from the 930 Turbo. Suspension and brakes were also sourced from the flagship car, but engine output remained a standard 234hp.

Porsche also sold the Supersport in Cabriolet and Targa body styles. Today, such cars are rare, as many were cannibalised for race-look RSR conversions. MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS replica

This one is a replica, but a fantastic car nonetheless. It started life as a 1988 Carrera 3.2, then was ‘backdated’ by Autofarm to resemble a ’73 RS.

The paintwork is ‘Aubergine’, an original Porsche colour. And the dashboard was recently backdated, too, giving an authentic look inside and out. Classic style and modern(ish) mechanicals? Yes please.

Porsche 964 Carrera RS

Porsche 964 Carrera RS: Retro Road Test

Porsche 964 Carrera RS

Porsche doesn’t use its Rennsport badge lightly. Or rather, it does: RS models are stripped of excess fat, making them the most focused and most fêted – 911s of all. And, in traditional Porsche style, you pay more money for less car especially when it comes to used examples.

The 964 Carrera RS was the first 911 with ‘RS’ on its rump since the epochal Carrera 2.7 RS of 1973, and just 2,282 were made. Today, a mint-condition 2.7 RS could set you back £1 million, versus £168,000 for this 964 currently for sale at Autofarm in Oxfordshire (01865 331234).

Could this be our most exciting Retro Road Test yet? Time to discover what all the fuss is about…

What are its rivals?Porsche 993 Carrera RS

If you’re in the market for a classic 911 RS, you probably won’t consider much else. These low-volume sports cars exist in a rarefied bubble, scrutinised by enthusiasts and investors alike. And with prices edging ever upwards, there’s no sign of the bubble bursting yet.

Perhaps the 964’s closest rival is actually its successor, the 993 RS. Despite its more aggressive styling (a huge GT2-style rear wing was optional), the 993 is a slightly softer, more road-biased alternative to the 964. It’s also rarer, with only 1,241 made, meaning prices are even higher. Good ones can exceed £200,000.

What engine does it use?Porsche 964 Carrera RS

Porsche 911 engines never look very special. But this air-cooled flat-six is meatier than most, at 3.6 litres and 264 hp. That’s modest by modern standards, but the RS is around 150 kg lighter than the standard car – plus it boasts a lighter flywheel and close-ratio five-speed manual gearbox.

The net result is 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 161 mph; hardly old-fashioned performance. There was also a 3.8-litre, 304 hp version of 964 RS, although very few were made.

What’s it like to drive?Porsche 964 Carrera RS

The 964 RS feels very different to a modern 911. It’s amazingly compact, for starters – shorter and narrower than the current Cayman – and utterly bereft of creature comforts. Infotainment? Dream on.

The pedals are offset sharply to the right in this left-hand-drive car, with the clutch positioned dead-ahead where you’d usually find the brake. UK cars came with power steering, but this Spanish RS does without, so manoeuvring between parked Porsches at Autofarm is a bicep-busting effort. A lumpier cam (the only engine modification) also makes it embarrassingly easy to stall.

Escaping onto the Oxfordshire lanes, it’s time to let the RS off the leash. The mechanical clatter of its flat-six hardens to a visceral snarl as the revs rise. Below 4,000rpm it feels merely quick – then all hell breaks loose and it explodes to the 6,800rpm redline faster than you can grab the next gear. It’s uncouth, uncompromising and utterly fantastic.

The brakes require a firm shove, but all the controls are deliciously analogue. Riding on 40mm-lowered suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels, the 964 feels totally tied-down – like a Carrera Cup racer with number plates. Perhaps less really is more, after all?

Reliability and running costsPorsche 964 Carrera RS

The Porsche 911 is famed for its bulletproof mechanicals. And the RS produces just 11hp more than a standard 964 Carrera, so its engine isn’t unduly stressed. You need to judge each car on its individual merits; some have been worked hard at track days, while others have led pampered lives in air-conditioned garages. Originality is ultimately more important than mileage, as bespoke RS parts – such as the thinner glass and aluminium bonnet – are rare and expensive.

With any luck, other running costs, such as maintenance, insurance and road tax, can be offset against the car’s increase in value. Fuel bills won’t be cheap, of course, but this isn’t a car you will drive every day. Or is it?

Could I drive it every day?Porsche 964 Carrera RS

We’d shake the hand of anyone who does their daily commute in a 964 RS, but such owners are few and far-between – soaring values have seen to that. We could live with the heavy steering (not an issue on UK-spec cars, as noted above) and lack of air-con, but the ride is only borderline acceptable on broken British bitumen. What feels taut and agile on Sunday morning could be tiresome and annoying by Monday morning.

Better to savour the RS as a car for special occasions. A car to drive just for the hell – or indeed heaven – of it. On narrow lanes in Wales or the Scottish Highlands, the diminutive Porsche could keep pace with many of today’s bloated supercars. And its driver would have more fun, too.

How much should I pay?Porsche 964 Carrera RS

You probably won’t find an RS for less than six figures, such is the demand for this classic Porsche. Expect to pay from £150,000 for a well-cared-for example, with the very best cars advertised at nearly double that. Not bad for a car that cost £61,000 in 1991.

This particular ‘matching numbers’ RS has covered 77,000 miles from new and has just benefited from a £50,000 Autofarm renovation – including a respray in the original Guards Red. As such, it looks decent value at £168,000.

What should I look out for?Mikey Wastie

Mikey Wastie is managing director at Autofarm and an acknowledged Porsche expert. Here are his five tips for buying a 964 RS:

  • Some have been used as track day cars, so check for brake and suspension wear
  • Authenticity is key. Has it got the correct numbers on the engine and chassis? History is important, too – you need to know what it’s done and where it’s been
  • Has it still got the correct magnesium wheels? Keep an eye out for poorly refurbished ones or spider blistering
  • Gauges are prone to the printed face delaminating – a problem on all 964s
  • Check for front boot floor damage. Accident repairs should be easy to spot here

Should I buy one?Porsche 964 Carrera RS

The 964 Carrera RS is the Porsche 911 in one of its purest forms. Raw and unfiltered, it distils all that’s great about Germany’s sports car into a shot of pure petrolhead adrenalin. It’s a car you’ll ache to spend time with, to learn its quirks and exploit its talents. The buzz of driving it stayed with us many hours after we reluctantly handed back the keys.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford one, go for it. There are few better investments in the world of classic cars than a 911 with an RS badge. The only problem is, you’ll never want to sell it.

Pub factRUF CTR

The previous owner of ‘our’ 964 fitted various upgrades from Porsche tuner, RUF. These included spoilers and an innovative ‘Electric Foot’ EKS clutchless semi-automatic gearbox. Autofarm has since returned the car to standard ‘Lightweight’ spec – as it left the factory.

The 911 pictured is the famous RUF CTR Yellowbird, a turbocharged 964 that starred in the famous ‘Faszination on the Nurburgring’ video (look it up on YouTube), driven by Stefan Roser.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Is this the lowest-mileage classic Porsche 911 Carrera in the world?

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

“A Porsche 911 is better than a flat in Chelsea.” So opined a classic car expert to us recently. And while nobody is suggesting you sell the house and squeeze your worldly goods into an old Porsche, the comparison between 911 values and London property prices is a valid one.

Values for the most desirable 911 of all the Carrera 2.7 RS – have climbed nearly 700% in a decade. And just this week, we learned the limited-edition 911 R is changing hands for close to £1 million. Not bad for a car with a list price of £137,000.

Now a 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 with just 4,429 miles on the clock has come up for sale. It’s described by the vendor, Hexagon Modern Classics, as being in ‘timewarp’ condition. So while £84,995 certainly isn’t cheap, who’d bet against it being worth more in years to come?

Last of the original 911s
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

The Carrera 3.2 replaced the 911 SC in 1983 and was the last of the original 911s before the much-modernised 964 arrived in 1989. Its 3.2-litre engine produced 234 hp, giving 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Top speed was 158 mph.

Road testers at the time praised the car’s improved refinement and driveability – the latter thanks to a big hike in torque to 209 lb ft. And, of course, it still had the classic air-cooled soundtrack. It would take until 1998 and the 996-generation 911 before Germany’s greatest sports car went water-cooled.

This particular ‘Garnet Red’ 911 is fitted with the earlier 915 five-speed manual gearbox, which is often criticised for its vague shift action. The 1987-on Getrag G50 five-speeder is a big improvement, if you can find one.

Germanic build quality
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Just look at that interior – zero fripperies or superfluous styling touches, just no-fuss functionality. It was during the 1980s that German cars cemented their reputation for build quality (compare a Mercedes-Benz of the era to one built a decade later) – and the 911 is among the best of the breed.

That said, the Carrera 3.2 is hardly an ergonomic masterpiece. The large rev-counter, red-lined at 6,300 rpm, is situated dead-ahead, in traditional Porsche style. But the minor controls are scattered haphazardly across the dashboard, or awkwardly situated behind the steering wheel.

Traditional ‘tombstone’ black Porsche seats with matching door cards give the interior of this 1985 911 a sombre air. But hey, nobody said you have you live in it…

Driven just 143 miles a yearPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Hexagon says the interior of this Carrera 3.2 is ‘pristine’. And so it should be, with just 4,429 miles under its Fuchs alloy wheels. Over 31 years, that’s an average of just 143 miles a year. Barely enough to keep that famous flat-six ticking over.

Fortunately, the car has a full service history and comes with a 12-month warranty from Hexagon, plus a fresh MOT.

Inside, the new owner will benefit from air conditioning, electric windows, an electric sunroof, cruise control and a Blaupunkt radio/cassette with an oh-so-1980s graphic equaliser. The original handbook, jack and toolkit are all present and correct, too.

Own a piece of Porsche history
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

The 911 Carrera 3.2 was produced in three bodystyles: coupe, cabriolet and Targa, with the coupe being the biggest seller. So while this car will never boast the weapons-grade investment potential of a 2.7 RS or 911 R models, it’s sure to appeal to Porsche collectors. Besides, we rather like the 911 is its pure, unadorned state, without even the optional ‘Whale Tail’ spoiler to break up that classic silhouette.

Paul Michaels, chairman of Hexagon Classics, said: “This is a massive opportunity for someone to purchase a true collector’s item. It is always difficult to find 911s of this era with low mileage – they were built to be used daily after all – but to find a Carrera 3.2 with less than 5,000 miles on the clock is almost unheard of.”

Let’s hope that lucky new owner actually drives it, rather than leaving it in air-conditioned storage fro another 31 years…

Porsche 993 Targa

Porsche 911 Targa (993): Retro Road Test

Porsche 993 TargaFor Porsche enthusiasts, this is as good as it gets. The venerable 911 has been in production for 53 years (and counting), but the ‘993’ version lasted just four: from 1994 to 1998.

The 993 was the last 911 with an air-cooled engine – Porsche switched to water-cooling for the 996 of 1999 – and sleek styling, compact dimensions and superb handling, combined with relative rarity, make it highly sought-after today.

This particular 993 is a Carrera 2 Targa, meaning it has rear-wheel drive and a retractable glass roof. It was supplied by renowned Porsche specialists, Autofarm – and has since been sold.

What are its rivals?

The current 911 has a long list of rivals, from the Audi R8 to the Nissan GT-R. Sports car buyers weren’t so spoiled for choice in the mid-1990s, though.

BMW’s E36 M3, built from 1992-1999, comes close for on-paper performance and, as the least fashionable M3, is vastly cheaper to buy. Expect to pay from £6,000, compared to least £30,000 for a 993.

Prices for the Honda NSX are roughly on par with the Porsche, and the Japanese car is arguably even better to drive. However, its aluminium body can make repairs prohibitively expensive. The Mazda RX-7 is a less exotic and cheaper alternative – if you can find one that hasn’t been modified.

Lastly, potential 993 buyers may also consider the – much newer – ‘997’ Porsche 911, sold from 2005-2012. Prices start at around £18,000 and there are hundreds listed in the classifieds.

Which engines does it use?

Porsche 993 Targa

A 3.6-litre ‘boxer’ six-cylinder engine is mounted just aft of the 993’s rear axle. This 1997 car has the Varioram intake system, which boosts power to 286 hp (earlier cars has 272hp). It also boasts a six-speed manual gearbox, rather than the – less desirable – Tiptronic semi-automatic.

The 993 Carrera 2 Targa hits 62mph in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 162mph. Pretty respectable stats, even today.

What’s it like to drive?

Porsche 993 Targa

First impression of the 993 is how compact its cabin is – even for my equally ‘compact’ 5ft 8in frame. The pedals are very offset to the left, too.

Any minor discomforts are soon forgotten when you fire-up that flat-six, though. It’s turbine-smooth, and surprisingly quiet at low revs. But push the floor-hinged throttle a little further and that familiar hollow air-cooled bark echoes around your eardrums. There’s nothing quite like it.

On the road, the 993 feels darty and surprisingly dainty; it’s closer in size to a Cayman than a new 911. The steering is wonderfully talkative and the brakes are better than expected for a 19-year-old car.

At low speeds it understeers (runs wide), but push a little harder and the rear end comes into play. Tail-wagging oversteer is there on-demand if you want it. However, conscious that 993s lack any electronic stability aids – and that this car is worth around £44k – I back off before brimming confidence gets the better of modest talent.

Reliability and running costs

Porsche 993 Targa

The 993 comes from the era that spawned the ‘Germanic build quality’ cliche. Serviced regularly, it should prove a paragon of reliability; the most likely issue will be rust – we’ll come to that shortly.

No 911 is cheap to run, but a network of knowledgeable specialists, such as Autofarm, means you aren’t reliant on pricey Porsche dealers. Budget up to £500 for a minor service (every year), and £1,000 for a major one (every two years).   

With official fuel economy of (ouch!) 16.8mpg, filling up could be your biggest expense. At least classic insurance and pre-2001 road tax of £235 a year keep costs down.

Could I drive it every day?

Porsche 993 Targa

Assuming you could stomach the fuel bills, the 993 is comfortable, refined and practical enough to use every day. There’s less room in the front ‘boot’ than current 911s offer, but many owners simply use the child-sized rear seats as additional luggage space.

The 993 was the first 911 Targa with a sliding glass sunroof in place of a removable panel. So you can enjoy the sunshine at a moment’s notice – along with styling that’s barely distinguishable from the 911 coupe.

How much should I pay?

Porsche prices seem to be spiralling ever upwards, and the 993 is one of the biggest appreciators. That’s good news if you already own one, but less so if you’re looking to buy. GT2 versions can easily top £500k, with the lightweight RS not far behind. Even the once-unloved 993 Turbo is now a six-figure car.

Fortunately, prices for ‘regular’ Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 versions of the 993 aren’t quite so inflated. The cheapest cars are around £30k, although we’d advise spending between £40k and £50k for a tidy car with comprehensive service history.

What should I look out for?

Porsche 993 Targa

Autofarm founder Josh Sadler is a leading expert on Porsche 911s. Here are his top six tips for buying a 993 Targa:

  1. Check for poorly-repaired accident damage. These are sports cars that were driven hard and the rise in values means even damaged cars may have been repaired for a quick profit.
  2. Look for good history. Brakes and dampers wear out, which is normal, but check the car has been serviced by a specialist.
  3.  Targas can rust around the roof mounts and it’s a real pain to sort out. Walk away if these are rusted.
  4. Also check carefully for rust around the windscreen. That said, rust is less of an issue than on earlier 911s.
  5. There have been some cars with clicking door hinges. The weld cracks, possibly because the door is swung open too hard. It requires welding to fix
  6. Parts availability is good, but the two-piece alloy wheels on the Targa are specific to that model. As such, they may be harder to find.

Should I buy one?

We’ll leave the air versus water debate to the Porsche purists, but there’s no doubt the 993 is a high-point in 911 history. And when we’re talking about arguably the world’s greatest sports car, that makes it very special indeed.

The odd driving position and haphazard ergonomics would take more getting used to, but we suspect the 993 is a car that worms its way into your affections over time, transforming flaws into mere quirks, and eccentricities into something broadly defined as ‘character’.

Yes, you could have a very nice 997 for similar money. However, we doubt that car – for all its brilliance – will ever be revered like the 993. And besides, drive it carefully and the older car’s increase in value should, hopefully, more than cover its running costs. A free Porsche? Now there’s a thought…

Pub fact

Porsche 993 Targa

The first 911 Targa was introduced in 1967 and had a zip-out plastic rear window, replaced by a fixed glass window just one year later. The early ‘soft-window’ Targa seen here is actually a Porsche 912 – a budget four-cylinder 911 sold between 1965 and 1969.