There are more affordable Porkers out there right now than you might think

One of the many innocent pastimes that are either illegal or at the very least frowned upon is kicking the tyres on used cars. It is very difficult because dealers are shut. However, on your permitted daily exercise, it is possible to swing past the lot, packed full of quietly depreciating stock. Technically, it is also possible to buy and get a dealer home delivery. Wonderful.

This isn’t the time to buy blind, though, is it? Unless there is something that’s sensationally good value on the interweb. It will inevitably be a private sale, but it could be worth the risk, or the wait.

Old, previously very expensive Porsches are always worth a look, so a 2011 Panamera 4.8 V8 with around 55,000 miles was very tempting indeed. It had just had a full service and came with a year’s MOT. It looked really good, except that the beauty shots were taken in a deserted retail car park. Mind you, £19,995 was good enough to get me doing an online MOT history check.

Keeping with terminally expensive Porsches, I really should go and get a 911 before my life becomes too complicated. I found myself looking at a 2006 997-generation Carrera S with 95k miles on the clock. The fact that just 15k miles ago there had been a £14k engine rebuild was strangely reassuring, although ‘seven previous owners’ didn’t inspire particular confidence. Mind you, £16,750 seemed just about reasonable.

I can’t tear myself away from Porsches, so I will probably stick with these for a bit. I would rather go historic and not pay the road fund. It is a marginal amount when it comes to running a Porsche but it is the principle of the thing. So what about a left-hand-drive 1977 911 SC Targa, my favourite compromise bodystyle, for £34,999? I would enjoy knocking the price back a lot further. The model had the 3.0-litre engine by then, but it is something you really would have to go and see if you were planning on spending anywhere near £30k.

Which brings me to the Boxster. What incredible value these are. Look to the mid-2000s for a lot of real sports car that most normies would confuse with a 911. A 2008 2.7 987-generation Sport Edition with less than 90k miles, a fresh MOT that has no advisories and a decent service history is just a smidgen over £10k.

But I find myself considering a four-wheel-drive Porsche, which would usually be one of those dirt-cheap Cayennes. Except that a 2003 911 3.6 wide-body 996-generation Carrera 4S with 109k miles – oh, and seven previous owners – is £16,999. Yes, it is Tiptronic but this is a 911 at pretty much real-world money.

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Wider, more powerful eighth-generation 911 is still eminently fast, and capable at all speeds

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I think we have a theme here: let’s look for iconic cars at tempting prices that we have to go and see.

What we almost bought this week

Audi TT 2.0 TFSI (MK2): There are a lot of Audi TT Mk1s around on the cheap, but many are tatty. The Mk3s, meanwhile, remain on the pricey side. So in some ways the Mk2 is the sweet spot right now. But not even an asking price of just £3800 for a 197bhp 2.0 TFSI from 2008 with 110,000 miles could persuade us to settle for easily the third best of the TT’s three generations.

Tales from Ruppert's Garage

BMW 320, 84,457 miles: I’ve come so very close to unbolting the Solex carburettor and installing the Weber I’ve had in a box for three years. My daughter was very keen for us to roll up our sleeves and change it. I have been insanely busy, though. My local garage wasn’t at all busy when I was filling up on its £1-a-litre fuel, so I asked for a second opinion. Oddly, after not using the Baby Shark for a month, it started after a few turns, which I put down to the warmish weather. I left it with them for a professional assessment.

Reader's Ride

Mercedes-Benz 300 CE: I thought you might be interested to see what the Italian chap who sold me the Innocenti is up to. The great news is he’s happy that I seem to have made his old Mini roadworthy, painted the wheels and fitted decent tyres. Anyway, he’s into classics and sold the Saab 900 he had as an everyday motor and replaced it with a Mercedes C124 300 24v automatic. Apparently, it has caused him no end of grief, but he would not be specific. He spends more time cleaning it than driving it at the moment, which is hardly surprising.

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Readers' questions

Q. For £5000, I want a thrilling hot hatch that really involves me in the driving experience. It’ll be a weekend car. I’m torn between a Clio 172/182 and a Renaultsport Twingo.

A. The good news is that £5000 can get you a pretty immaculate version of any of those. You’ll get the most bang for your buck from the Clio 182, and the least from the Twingo Renaultsport. Go for the 182 over the 172: it might be only an extra 10bhp but it feels gutsier. It’s worth really taking your time in finding a good one, though. Plenty have ended up in hedges or have been mercilessly track-dayed and suffered cheap repair jobs.

Q. ’m on the verge of buying a one-year old Range Rover. My friends are nervous for me. Tell me why it’s a bad idea.

A. Well, it’s a fabulous luxury SUV and a one-year-old one will have taken a big hit in depreciation already. There will also be a couple of years left on the warranty, which is the big concern here. Range Rover’s poor reliability record should make you nervous so do everything you can to extend it. Or for an alternative, a 2019 V6 diesel Audi Q7 is more comfortable, smooth to drive and about £20,000 cheaper.

READ MORE

James Ruppert: How to net a modern classic

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Comments
6

RPF

19 May 2020

Sorry, but as lovely to drive as they are, the 3.6 M96 in the 996 and 997 have a lot of flaws which manifest themselves with miles: bore-score at any time (tiptronics are worse than manuals because they pull away in 2nd), crankshaft bearing wear from 80K+ and then there are camshaft guide-vanes that wear out, air-oil separators that fail and then IMS bearing failures too.  Hartech do a comprehensive guide on this.   They are also starting to rust as the galvanising lifes out and gearboxes also fail (jumping out of 2nd gear is the symptom).

Basically 996s and 997s are cheap because they can cost a lot to run: a minimum £2K per year even if lucky, £12K to rebuilkd the engine, if you're not.

19 May 2020

That's insane for engine rebuild especially if it's the naturally aspirated version

19 May 2020

Ruppert does actually run old cars himself, including a Porsche, rather than just write about them, so he is more qualified that most to write about value and running costs. If he has kept all the bills, I'd like him to write an article about how much it has cost over the time that he has owned it.

I get sick of the type of article that says - don't spend £30k on a new hot hatch, buy one of these sports cars instead and there is always something like a teenage Aston Martin Vantage 4.3, but they never mention that compared with the hot hatch you need to add a 0 to the end of the servicing bills, and they don't talk about repair bills, whereas the hatch will be under warranty.

19 May 2020
Bargain Porsches? Yes but not any 911 surely, go for a transaxle and you'll get a bargain although they are starting to rise in price and can still be pricey to put right, as for the SUVs, aren't they going to cost the same to run as their equivalents from VW/Audi? Unless you need some specific Porsche suspension or body parts maybe.

19 May 2020

The term "bargain" is subjective, particularly regarding a Porsche, but there are some interesting deals for 911s being advertised at the moment. So, if one considers a 997 model with no more than 50,000 miles, there are examples, including gen 2s with PDK, at under £35,000. You will have to pay more than £25,000 for such a car (avoid tiptronics) but if service has been done regularly and at the correct intervals, these cars are reliable and exciting. These cars do not come cheap but there are reasons for this. They hold their value (because they are desirable), they're quick and powerful and even after 10-15 yeas, they're still beautiful.

NB

20 May 2020

My wife has an October 2004 997 C2 which she specified and bought new. To my mind that car would be a bargain Porsche (if it were for sale which it isn't) because it's a one owner car with detailed history and a proven 90k mileage. It is her daily drive so it's not fragile but it would not be cheap to buy because it represents a quality product with a documented history. A surprisingly cheap Porsche with multiple owners spells big trouble, so I think you have to think in terms of value for money which does not equate purely to price alone.

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