These models are either at the bottom of the depreciation curve or starting to tick up in value.
If you had told someone 20 years ago about the price of a used air-cooled Porsche 911 today, the person wouldn’t have believed you. Where ratty mid-1980s 911 easily went for sub-$20,000 at the time, values today have jumped to double that amount or more. This slideshow might prevent you from feeling regret again for not buying a Porsche before the prices jump.
Some of these models, like the Boxster, have simply depreciated as much as they can. A drivable example of these roadsters is readily available for less than $10,000, and there’s nowhere left for prices to fall.
Conversely, don’t ever expect a 997-generation 911 GT3 to be so cheap. However, these cars give buyers fantastic performance and the possibility of making a few bucks when the time comes to upgrade.
Even if you get one of these cars, and the value drops in a few years, there are the fantastic memories of driving a Porsche.
For years, the 924 was the cheapest entry to classic Porsche ownership. It wasn’t that long ago you were able to buy a usable one for a few thousand dollars.
Recent celebrations of the transaxle vehicle family’s 40th anniversary has started to bring greater attention to the 924. Getting a Turbo adds a welcome performance increase over the base model. The later 924 S shares an engine with the 944 for a useful improvement in throttle response.
AutoFact: The 924 was the first of the family of front-engined ‘transaxle’ models that underpinned Porsche’s 1980s resurgence.
Porsche has built more attractive cars than the 914. The company has built faster ones, too. But both of these factors play in your favor, if you want a classic Porsche at an affordable price point.
After years of relative obscurity the 914’s recognition is growing and values are on the rise, but it’s still a bargain compared with the rear-engined alternatives. The introduction of four-cylinder engines to the 718 Boxster and Cayman range has, belatedly, given it some historical relevance too – a car once considered a ’70s curiosity and “poor man’s Porsche” is now able to hold its head high. Catch one while you can!
AutoFact: The 914 was the first Formula 1 Safety Car, making its debut at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix.
Porsche Boxster (986)
Previewed as a concept in 1993, the first-generation Boxster production car launched a few years later and has nibbled at its 911 big brother’s heels ever since. Brand snobs may have sneered, but fans were quick to realize they were getting 911-level engineering for a lot less money, not to mention a more balanced mid-engined package.
First-gen Boxsters are unlikely to be appreciating assets any time soon but with the cheapest cars now under $10,000, and there are plenty of decent ones for under $15,000. It’s truly the affordable way to enjoy a classic, flat-six Porsche.
AutoFact: If you’re looking for an investment-worthy 986 consider the limited edition 550 Spyder of 2003, of which just 1953 were made.
Now 20 years old, the 996 was perhaps the most controversial 911 generation because of its break with traditional styling and introduction of water-cooled engines. The notorious “fried egg” headlights also weren’t popular at the time.
Well-documented engine issues put a lot of people off now. Plus, the currently low prices of the 997 models keep a lid on values. These combine to make the 996 a viable sub-$20k 911. Appreciation of the styling is slowly coming round, and prices are quietly creeping up for the more desirable versions. As such, a two-wheel drive Carrera coupé with a manual transmission and solid service history looks like a sensible buy.
AutoFact: Unfashionable orange-indicator models with 3.4-liter engines have a cable rather than electronic throttle that some enthusiasts prefer.
Is there such thing as a bargain air-cooled 911? Not really.
The days of a classic Porsche for hot hatch money are long-since gone. If there’s an unfashionable early 911, the impact bumper “G-series” models are it, especially the earlier 2.7-liter versions that succeeded the more attractive and traditional ‘long hood’ variant.
Euro-spec 2.7-liters with mechanical fuel injection basically had RS engines and have already become popular with collectors. The detuned US-spec versions are slower and visually sit awkwardly between the classic chrome of the 60s cars and the more iconic 1980s SCs and 3.2-liter models. However, they are emerging from the shadows and are, relatively, a sensibly priced entry to classic 911s.
AutoFact: An emissions-strangled G-series four-cylinder 912E was reintroduced in America alongside the 2.7.
If you want the iconic Porsche in its purest form without going bankrupt, the 912 is the one to have.
The four-cylinder 912 has the style of the early 911s and, though not the overlooked bargain it once was, can still be found for a substantial savings over its six-cylinder sibling.
Some will say it’s a false economy, given restoration costs will be the same and you’ll always be two cylinders down on the full experience. But the 912 has charm of its own and, if you find a good one, can represent a considerably more affordable entry point to classic Porsche ownership.
AutoFact: If anyone accuses your 912 of having a ‘Beetle engine’ remind them it’s in fact from a 356!
The 993 is prized as the last of the air-cooled 911s, but for many fans the 964’s perfect mix of classic character and modern manners make it the one to have. Little wonder Singer decided that the model provided the perfect foundation for its mega-money restorations.
A manual Carrera 2 coupe will always rank highly for desirability. Attention inevitably is now turning to previously unloved variants like the Targas. Porsche’s return to the classic roll-hoop look for the current 991 Targa has helped the 964 version start to chase the coupe in terms of desirability. They’re still a little cheaper to buy, but this price advantage won’t last long.
AutoFact: Although the current version revives the classic look, the 964 was the last of the true 911 Targas with the roll hoop and removable roof panel.
With prices now nudging into a million dollars, the Carrera GT is hardly cheap. Yet it still looks like a relative steal, especially when you consider what you’re getting for the money, and what its contemporary rivals would cost.
Ferrari Enzos are nearly three times the money and a comparable Pagani Zonda 7.3 S with a manual gearbox about the same. Lexus LFAs are in another league altogether, too. The Mercedes SLS Black Series isn’t as exotic but isn’t far behind on cost.
The fact you’re getting a carbon monocoque, screaming race-derived V10 engine and “last of the scary supercars” reputation all add up to a wise investment.
AutoFact: The updated N0-rated Michelin Pilot Super Sport tire developed exclusively as a retrofit dramatically improves the Carrera GT’s road and track performance.
Given the fuss over the limited availability of GT3 models and their position as the hardcore, track-optimized 911 variant, you might be surprised to see one here. And, true enough, prices for the 2006 first-generation 997 iteration are holding up strongly, typically starting at around $95,000.
With an uprated version of the 3.6-liter Mezger engine from the 996 GT3, it redlines at 8,400rpm and boasts 409 hp, which isn’t a huge deficit compared with the 429 hp of the second-generation 3.8-liter version. These later models are considered more desirable and are now well over $100,000. The earlier coupe don’t lose much in performance but are significantly cheaper to buy.
AutoFact: The 997 GT3 was the first to introduce PASM adjustable damping to this track-focused model.
When the 928 was killed off in the mid-90s, so was the concept of the luxurious, front-engined and V8-powered long-distance Porsche GT car.
This vehicle reappeared in rather different form in 2009 in the shape of the five-door Panamera. The range eventually diversified into V6s, hybrids and ballistic Turbo versions, but it was originally defined by the 4.8-liter naturally-aspirated V8 S.
A technical showcase, most Panameras are four-wheel drive and have PDK automated transmissions. But a very small number of buyers chose rear-wheel drive V8s with manual gearboxes and, if you can find one, these represent an unusual and driver-focused twist on the formula.
AutoFact: The 395 horsepower V8 S two-wheel drive manual is a whole 441 pounds lighter than the flagship Turbo version of the time.