Currently reading: Used car buying guide: Porsche 911 (993)
The 993 was the last of the air-cooled 911s and remains coveted today, but you’ll need to be on your guard when buying

Even in these uncertain times, one thing’s for sure: an air-cooled Porsche 911 will always be desirable. The last of them was the ‘993’ launched in 1993. It was replaced in 1998 by the 996, the first of the current generation of liquid-cooled 911s. The fact that this new model wasn’t universally well received only served to boost the 993’s appeal.

Besides its traditional air-cooled 3.6-litre flat-six engine, what also excited folk was the 993’s wonderful build quality and its multi-link rear suspension, which (mostly) fixed those infamous handling jitters.

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Today, prices start at around £30,000 for high-mileage, two-wheel-drive Carrera 2 cabriolets – the second version, following the C2 coupé, to be launched. Most have the four-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. Be warned, though: the cabrio tended to be bought by people who were less scrupulous about servicing, so tread carefully.

Saying that, a sound cabrio Tiptronic with a full service history will be a lovely thing to own and good value. You might even find a manual version, as we did: a 1995 example with 83,000 miles for £37,995 at Ashgood, a Porsche specialist.

Meanwhile, the more sought-after C2 coupé with six-speed manual ’box (a 911 first) is typically a good few thousand pounds more. In fact, the cheapest we found was a privately advertised 1995-reg with 80,000 miles for £53,950.

A good halfway house is a Targa manual. It’s less popular than the coupé, so cheaper, but check that the sliding glass roof works because repairs can be expensive. It was launched a couple of years after the C2 in 1995 and has the Varioram variable intake system that became standard across the 993 range from 1996. It raises the 3.6’s power from 268bhp to 282bhp.

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The Carrera 4 coupé and cabriolet, with four-wheel drive, landed in 1995. It’s a more complex machine, but while purists rate the C2 more, they’ll look on enviously as you speed away in the rain. These C2 and C4 coupés and cabrios, pre- and post-Varioram, are the bread and butter of the 993 range.

In 1995, things got more serious with the launch of the lightweight 296bhp 911 RS and the wide-bodied, four-wheel-drive Turbo. The latter’s twin blowers raised the 3.6-litre engine’s output to 402bhp (a later variant, badged the Turbo S, made 426bhp). The GT2 with rear-wheel drive made even more: 444bhp. Back to the real world, and in 1996 those who couldn’t stretch to the Turbo could have a four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S with the Turbo’s bodykit, brakes and suspension, or a rear-drive C2S with the bodykit alone.

Today, the Turbo, Turbo S, RS and GT2 prices are off the scale, but with values softening across the board, now might be a good time to bag a cheaper C2 or C4 cabrio Tiptronic or, at a pinch, a C2 coupé while folk are looking the other way.

How to get one in your garage

An expert's view

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Paul O'Reilly, general manager, Ashgood: “We’ve sold six 993s in the past four weeks, from a £30,000 C2 Tiptronic to a £300,000 Turbo S. The prices of some versions have softened, though. We’ve just sold a left-hand-drive 3.8 RS for £200,000; a couple of years ago, we got 15% more for the same car. It’s all about numbers: the fewer there are, the more they’re worth. There were only 23 right-hand-drive Turbo Ss and some will have been written off. If you’ve got the money, there’s a 993 for you whether it’s a coupé, cabriolet, automatic, turbo or race-inspired.”

Buyer beware...

■ Engine: Oil must be kept at the right level and changed every 12,000 miles. Check after a test drive. Also, check the oil temp gauge: if the reading is too high, it may indicate issues with the oil cooler or temperature sensor. Look for leaks from the chain, valve and lower cam covers. Smell for leaking oil burning on the heat exchangers. If it’s over 100k miles, the engine may have been rebuilt; check by whom. With little-used cars, check for missed services, uneven running and perished hoses.

■ Exhaust: Check for rust on the heat shields and silencer welds, and if the system has been upgraded that it satisfies emissions and noise regs.

■ Gearbox: Manual gearbox thrives on scheduled oil changes. Clutch should be good for 70,000 miles. Regarding the Tiptronic, a noisy torque converter is bad news.

■ Brakes and suspension: Check discs faces for pitting and edges for lipping. Suspension bushes last 40k miles or so. New ones plus new dampers and ball joints tighten the car nicely.

■ Body: Rust takes hold around the headlights, front and rear screens, rear chassis legs, rear bumper support brackets, the scuttle and front wings. Check the door straps aren’t broken.

■ Interior: If the heating system is struggling, check the heat exchangers are working. Air-con problems may be a failed resistor but a new system is very expensive. Feel for damp carpets.

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Also worth knowing

Consider getting your potential buy inspected. Porsche Inspections ( charges £410 but it could more than pay for itself in a renegotiated buying price or money saved not buying that 993 money pit.

How much to spend

£28,000-£34,999: Launch to 1996 C2 cabrios, autos and manuals. Miles over 100k, some full service history.

£35,000-£39,999: Mainly auto coupés and cabrios but now including Varioram cars. Mileages getting lower from around £38,000.

£40,000-£49,999: More Varioram C2s and C4s, mileages around 80,000.

£50,000-£59,999: Pick of some excellent C2s and C4 coupés but still with around 80k miles.

£60,000-£84,999: The best C2s and C4s.

£85,000 -£99,999: Turbos and specials.

£100,000 and above: Rarities from here up to £350,000.

One we found

Porsche 911 (993) Targa, 1996/N-reg, 137,000 miles, £33,990: This example’s standout feature is its full history: 23 stamps in the book with supporting invoices, many carried out by official Porsche centres, a few by specialists. Check the Targa roof works.


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Boris9119 16 December 2019

Why Buy Now?

Much as I am a Porsche fanboy I would be very cautious entering the used market now, especially for so called 'collectible' 911's. Prices have been on a tear these past 15yrs, and as the specialist points out in the article, prices have softened. Why not wait? 

david RS 16 December 2019

It's funny. I was just parked

It's funny. I was just parked by a black 993 Carrera 15 minutes ago close to my bakery :-)

Nice .


si73 16 December 2019

Gorgeous, love them, but

Gorgeous, love them, but frighteningly expensive to run.