Porsche 911 Best Options

Porsche 911 best options

Finding the right Porsche 911 for you

Congrats, you’re looking for a used 911.

If you made this decision, we don’t have to go into details on how great a sports car it is. The bigger question is figuring out what used Porsche 911 to buy?

We’re going to make it easy for you by doing the following: highlight the different 911 models you can buy from 1980 to 2010 (everything minus the current 911 model – the 991); give you tips to buy based on your budget, and then give overall recommendations on buying your 911.

A long history of used 911’s to choose from

You’re lucky cause there are almost 30 years of used Porsche 911s to choose from, starting from the Porsche 911 SC that came to our shores back in the late 1970’s to the current water-cooled models known as the 997 (2005-2012).

So here are the main models for you to consider:

Porsche SC and Porsche 3.2 (1978-1989)

These are part of the first gen 911 and deliver the purest links to the car’s original sport car roots.

These are known as the ‘air-cooled’ 911s and what the hard-core 911 owners love. What does ‘air-cooled’ mean? The engines are cooled by air and circulating oil and this lasted till the appearance of the 996 model in 1998, which brought about water-cooled engines to all 911s since.

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Note: All modern cars use water to cool the engines. What gives these air-cooled engines so much buzz is the feel and sounds they generate. Basically, the air-cooled engines feel and sound rare, and bring the aura and mystic of the Porsche 911 to life.

The engines in the Porsche SC and Porsche 3.2 started at 3.0 for the SC and grew to 3.2 for the apt named Porsche 3.2.

These cars are deemed bullet-proof by Porsche mechanics and cars on the market can be seen with hundreds of thousands of miles – but they still will drive great.

These cars are seen as the true essence of the 911, cars from the 1980’s.

With fewer electronics and very raw, honest feel of a rear-engine sports car they’re a blast to drive. Note that the last two years of the Porsche 3.2 came with the popular G50 transmission. These particular models are very popular with buyers and will be reflected in the asking prices.

Porsche 964 (1990-1993)

These are known as the forgotten air-cooled 911s.

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Not as revered as the earlier Porsche SC/3.2 models and not as popular as the later 993s, these were seen as the middle child of the late 20th century 911s.

But these cars still carry many of the traits in the air-cooled 911s and brought the future technologies that will be seen in later models including all-wheel drive, variable valve timing, and wide-body model ranges. The biggest issue people probably have is that the early 964 were mechanically more problematic then later models due to the then-new all-wheel-drive systems and the non-head gaskets in the engines.

Also, they mostly came with a narrow body style which isn’t as popular as the later 993.

Porsche 993 (1994-1997)

This is the holy grail of the air-cooled 911s.

Porsche 911 best options

They were the last generation using the air-cooled engines and are seen as the choice for 911 enthusiasts. They came in multiple body styles, was fast with 282 hp for the standard C models, and with new suspension parts handled great. Most importantly they were curvaceous. The 993 came with wings at the front and hips at the back.

Porsche 911 best options

And the hips got wider with the wide-body style seen on the 993 c4s and 993 turbo models. If you want the best air-cooled 911 model available, the 993 is it.

And prices reflect that in the current market.

Porsche 996 (1998-2004)

The 996 brought the water-cooled 911 to the masses. That and several other features made the 996 seen inferior in the 911 used car market.

First, there were many of these cars made. Porsche learned the way of mass production and started making/selling more 996s then the previous model. There are literally tons of 996 on the used market. Second, it was water-cooled, which shocked the previous air-cooled 911 fans.

Porsche SC and Porsche 3.2 (1978-1989)

3rd, the car came with a bad exterior design and the narrow body style (people like wide-body 911s). 4th, the engine had numerous issues including the infamous intermediate shaft bearing issue (or known as IMS). Just Google this term and you see the results. Many owners have posted war stories on how the car just died with the sudden IMS issue. Lastly, the performance didn’t out-shine the competition of its time (i.e.

Porsche 911 Carrera

the e46 M3 or the Corvette). The main headliners of this model is the 2002-2004 Porsche C4S and the 2002-2004 Porsche 911 Turbo.

Porsche 997 (2005-2012)

Fortunately for Porsche, they fixed all the issues with the 996 when they came out with the 997.

Porsche 911 best options

Quality was improved on the car. The exterior actually looked more like the 993, with wing fenders in front and wider hips in the back.

Plus the headlights went back to ‘oval’ shape. The engine issues were resolved in later models of the 997 and the performance and handling of the car became one of the world’s best again. This current model just ended and has now given way to the new 991 model that is being sold new.

Check out this recent market guide to Porsche 997 Prices

Porsche 991 (2012 – Present)

Porsche updated their successful blueprint from the Porsche 997 to the Porsche 991.

Released in the US in 2012 and sold along-side last year 997 models, the Porsche 991 came with the same robust engine launched in the 997.2 called the 9A1 engine. This was a direct-fuel injected engine that totally eliminated the IMS issue from the 996 and early year 997 models.

Total 911 News

The car grew bigger with a wider track and longer wheelbase that increased its driving and handling capabilities.

Porsche went full out with the model range lineup full of coupes, convertibles, and Targas, rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive models and the GTS model range that launched at the tail end of the 997 run.

They even expanded the GT car models of the GT3, GT3 RS and now a 991.2 GT2 model. In 2017 the 991.2 model ranges all came with turbocharged flat-six engines including the base Carrera and Carrera S.

What used 911 to buy within your budget

So I’m going to make it very easy for you. I’m going to create 3 tiers of budgets and what cars you can get for that budget.

Ultimately it comes down to money.

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Even buying a 100k 911 when new, at say 1/3 the price today doesn’t mean you’re not buying a cheaper car to maintain. Porsche 911s are going to be expensive to fix/maintain/operate either way. So the best thing to do is look realistically at your budget and see what the best options exist for you.

$20,000.00-$30,000.00 Range

These will give you entry to couple of models actually, and the preference will be based on what you are looking for when buying a used Porsche 911.

If you are looking for a daily driver and something that won’t kill you on maintenance costs, then there are early 996 models. The 996 is so un-loved currently with the Porsche 911 crowd, you can get a pretty low mileage version in this range.

What’s the Best Used Porsche 911 to Buy?

But if you are looking for a second car, say a weekend model for driving events or track then you can look at some Porsche 911 SCs and Porsche 964s. The Porsche 964s are really under-appreciated at the moment and probably the best deal on a used air-cooled 911.

Porsche 911 best options

But remember there were only a few years of this model made (low production numbers) and you should stay away from the all-wheel-drive models and early year models due to their engine head problems (i.e. 1990, 1991 models).

$30,000.00-$40,000.00 Range

Here you are looking for one car and one car only – a nice condition Porsche 993.

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Unfortunately, the prices on this model is going up and soon you may have to go into the 40k mark to get a decent model. But for now, this is the car for you, if you’re looking for a used 911. A good condition 911 3.2 in its later years would be nice as well.

$40,000.00 and up

Sky’s the limit. You can get the 996 Turbo here, 993 C4S, 930 turbos to name a few options.

The six most expensive new Porsche 911 options

You can get a great condition 997 model in this range as well. Our recommendation would be the 997 C4S.

Porsche 911 best options

It comes with the wide-body look and all-wheel drive which isn’t bad on the 997 models. Other options are the 993 Turbo or 993 C4S trim.

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The choice will depend on if you are looking for a daily driver (997) or a weekend/collector car (993). The 993 is appreciating like mad, and if you buy one, you probably won’t lose money on it.

Final thoughts on buying a used 911

Ultimately there are so many great models, at all different price ranges, you can’t go wrong.

A 911, no matter the year (minus the 996), will be a great car to own. But here are some tips to take along when purchasing your 911:

  • Always do a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) on your car, no matter how nice it looks or if a mechanic friend vouches for it. You want it up on a lift and see the underbelly of the car
  • Always trust your feelings of the previous owner.

    Porsche 911 Carrera 4

    If they seem to love the car and have tons of records on the car, you know the 911 was taken care of. Buying a used car dealer without any paperwork is a crap-shoot.

  • Buy the newest car you can. A 997 is always going to be a better daily driver then a Porsche 3.2 from 1989
  • Buy a car with as low as miles as you can. It’s a sports car. It’s going to be driven hard so the lower the miles the better the condition of the car and parts will be.

Finally, check the classified ads for Rennlist and Pelican Parts for privately sold 911 cars.

Also, there’s a dedicated site for used Porsche 911s you can check out – Porsche Cars for Sale.

And lastly – good luck with your search.