In 2008 I decided to fill a long held item on my bucket list and go in for an air cooled 911. At the time, you could find good running early '80's cars in less attractive colors for $13K. There was a choice to be had for under $20K. I ended up with a Polar Silver 993 with a 6 speed for only $22K. It was more than I wanted to pay, but it was more car than I expected too. It was a beautiful car. Fast as hell. You could do 60 in first gear. But the Porsche security system was hard to live with. You had to lock the car every time that you turned off the engine and removed the key from the ignition or it would give you trouble. The car was also a real pain to service. The upper engine was crammed in so tight that it was hard to reach very much. Simple service jobs like changing the spark plugs was more of a pain than it should have been. The car had a crude technology, like two distributors that were synchronized with a small belt. There was no good place to put the car up on jack stands. It was a beautiful car that was thrilling to drive, but I couldn't wait to be rid of it. The damn thing sells for $70K now.
I then bought a G50 Guards Red 911 that was in nice condition, but needed some TLC. Black leather interior and a 5 speed. My car had just a little over 100K miles and the service records showed that the engine had been out for upper engine work twice. The first time was when the engine sucked a valve while the car was under warranty. It needed an upper engine rebuild at 70 something thousand.
I put some time and money in the car without regret. These cars are fun to work on. German quality and simplicity. I loved the way that the doors sounded when being closed....a Thunk sound that reassured me of sound construction. But at 110K, I discovered two broken head bolts while adjusting valves. Three engine pulls in 110K miles was too much for me! Porsche should have known about it's head bolt problem years ago, but never did anything. I sold the car off as a clean rebuildable and broke even on the car.
I now own an E30 325IS and feel good about the decision.
What a nice overview. Honorable mention should have gone to the 996 Turbo--my wife drove ours (actually a Ruf R Turbo) for the first time in our 7 years of owning it last week. Nothing about it being a manual, as she routinely drives our 993 4S (as well as being track experienced 20 years ago in a 964 C4). Her take was that she couldn't believe how much better it is than the 993. But I'd keep that one, or my '73 "RS" over any of the water cooleds. Too much history with old 911s for me.
Ultimately, in this price run-up, I'm sad when I talk to the younger people at meets, and I can't tell them how rewarding it is to get an affordable, solid old 911 and learn, modify, whatever. Just get into the community. I was probably merely tolerated when I showed up with a 12 year old 1968 911 at 18, but what a fun ride. There's more to the hobby than parading out a 911R, or posting pictures of yet another Singer.
Oh that wonderful Diversity in our world I was born in germany worked for a short time for VW before I came to Canada never wanted to own a Porsche or for that Matter a Mercedes or a Bmw (well a 328 yes) all of them wonderful crafted and presented Autos but in my opininion (and I have searched my Soul why) they all have a cold Heart open the Lid on a Porsche and what do I see? Stuff!! open the lid on a Flathead Ford those two Rows of Sparkplugs draw your eyes immidiatly How about th e fascinating Mass of A Pair of Hemi cylinder heads or the clean Lines of an early Corvette Engine I can go on forever but there might be a lot of Porsche owners that don"t want me too and I really see why thse cars are so attraktive but No Heart
I had a '73 long hooded, air-cooled 911 for 15 years. Paid $4000 for it in '86 and sold it for what I thought was a lot of money, $15k, in 2001. Overall, it was a pretty good car. Amazingly smooth shifting and good power. My car was the first year with the K-Jetronic system, which totally sucked. I swapped the K-Jetronic for dual Webers after about 5 years and was very satisfied with the new setup. I finally sold my car to a guy who tracked me down through my mechanic and made me an offer over the phone without even seeing it.
With the 964 onwards, the car became much less of a hands-on fix it in your garage proposition. That's why I have limited cars I bought to an SC and, currently, a 1989 Carrera 3.2 coupe. With those you work on them as much as possible yourself and keep them out of shops, who are nearly all determined to rip off owners of these cars. They are not hard to work on with manuals and, mostly, the excellent resources on the net, the average non-professional can do most things short of engine or transmission rebuilding. And the parts are not crazy prices, either -- unless they're things like trim and restoration specialties.
I really am not surprised that the 997 1/2 has rebounded in price. It was the last at being what model line was supposed to be. And I admit that if I had the money I would buy a manual one tomorrow and it would be my daily driver.
Thank you gentlemen for an outstanding synopsis of our “ancient” but wonderful 911. I’ve been blessed by owning 13 of these gems. My first one was a 912. That led to 911s, 914s SCs, 993, 996s. Several Turbos, but at present I have one of the “hated” 996’s. By far the most fun I’ve ever had in a car. Unique color, unique options, 168,000 miles, six speed, non electric seats, and I hate to get out of it. BTW it’s all original. The most hated 911, the one that saved Porsche during hard times. Thank you!