When you think Porsche 911 do you think, reliability? The 1980s were good years for Porsche, they were the yuppie years when people bought loads of them. And you still find them on the roads today because they were built to last. For someone interested in owning a Porsche 911 without the sticker shock, some of the best in german engineering is available for a fraction of the cost of buying one new. Here are 6 things to consider when buying a Porsche 911 from the 80s, these tips will help you make a more educated decision and avoid some of the pitfalls:
1980s Porsche 911 Buyer Checklist
1. Check for rust. Porsches were built with galvanized steel their original 10 year warranty covered any rust during that time, but 25 years later the warranty is long gone. The chassis and undercarriage take a beating on highways. Wheel-wells, doors and around headlights chip and catch water. If it’s not dealt with immediately with touch-up paint it will rust and spread. Check between doors, under the hood, under the car itself with a good flashlight. Ask the seller if it was stored indoors. Rust can hide and it’s your job to find it. If you see any, walk away because you’ll be fighting this war for the life of the car. There’s no way out.
2. Fact: 1978 and beyond 911s with 3.0L engines are the most reliable and have fewer repairs.
3. Check for crash damage. Porsche owners love to baby their Porsches and they also love to drive them. Hard. Which is why you need to check if one has been in a crash. Ask for documentation from the seller, check the chassis with a mechanic who knows Porsches. Look for uneven welding, the germans were clean weldors so pay attention to where metal meets metal. An original Porsche with original panels is worth it’s weight, you don’t want a completely different 911 hiding under the surface so take your time inspect thoroughly and ask questions.
4. Don’t worry if it has over 100,000 kms on the dial these cars have been known to last. If the oil was changed regularly and yearly maintenance was done, you have a fine car and many more miles. Has the seller got documentation of yearly maintenance? Even better. Don’t forget to ask for it.
5. Does the engine smoke a bit? That’s normal. Does the engine make ‘clunk’ sounds when you shift? That’s not. Transmission wear and replacement is expensive so ensure the car shifts without throwing your back out, Porsche 911s are known to be a little stiff when you put them in gear. Note that the Porsche transmissions from 1987–89 Carreras with the G50 transmission offered a more modern, more precise shift.
6. Listen to it. As any Porsche owner will attest to, the token sound an air cooled Porsche engine from the 1980s is music. Start it up, hear the engine whirl and settle into that signature Porsche sound. It’s like listening to a bear snore.
These 6 tips for buying a used Porsche 911 are a good place to start but are by no means everything. Do your homework and trust your gut. Ask Porsche enthusiasts questions and also the casual Porsche owner, who isn’t as obsessed. That way you get a cross section of opinions to be able to draw your own. Be patient while looking 1-5 years of hunting isn’t unheard of, especially when you consider the knowledge you get from test driving and asking questions. Buying a vintage Porsche 911 is a big decision ensure buy the right one.
Expect to pay $35,000 for one that is well maintained with a decent interior – which is a quarter what you would pay for a new one. Owning a used Porsche 911 makes you look both cool and smart driving one. Once you hear that door shut with a a smooth heavy [click], turn the key and feel that engine whirling, there’s no turning back. You’ll be a Porsche lover for life. Best of luck with your hunt.