I purchased my 2005 987 on eBay Motors from a private seller in California, I live in New York (this was during this past summer). I paid Carchex (~$200) to go take a look at it and test drive it for me as I wasn't going to fly all the way out there to do it myself. While the Carchex visit ensured that the car was in fact real and present where it was supposed to be it, had an engine, and ran was definitely not as thorough as Prosche's own Pre-Purchase-Inspection (PPI).
After receiving the car I took it in for a PPI at my local Porsche dealer. They found the following small but somewhat costly problems:
* Sport Chrono "clip" broken - $550
* One of the three Homelink buttons broken - $100
* Cigarette lighter broken - $50
* Ash tray lid broken - $200 (I found this one)
* Air vent lever broken - $300 (I found this one too)
* Cup holder door broken - $300 (I knew about this one before I bought it but thought it would be "cheap" to fix)
* ....and one or two other small things that I can't recall right now.
As you can see they are minor things but it adds up quickly since Porsche just replaces entire items like the Sport Chrono unit if there is even a small problem with it like a "broken clip." Thankfully there was nothing *major* wrong. I did, however, just have the clutch replaced and a leaking RMS replaced (under warranty) for a total of about $1900 (that was with a 40k maintenance as well). I also need new tires which will be about another $1,000. I guess the moral of the story is try to get a Prosche mechanic/dealer to look over the car before you buy it, not a generalist, and also to be prepared for the costs associated with owning a Porsche.
The other piece of advice I can give you is around shipping the car (if you're going to do that). Shipping is another whole area that you need to research and it's sort of a sketchy business IMHO. I spend a lot of time researching shippers and shipping costs (www.transportreviews.com is a good site for this). I finally settled on Direct Auto Movers (a broker and a carrier - yes there's a difference) based on price, reviews, and just a good feeling for the guy I was dealing with (Brian if you opt to go this route). Shipping across country from Northern California to Upstate New York was $1,100. If you do have the car shipped in an open air transport make sure to request that it is *top loaded.* Top-loading ensures fluids from other cars on the transport won't drip onto your soft top. Top-loading will cost a little more, but, it's worth it.
Also, don't forget to vet the seller themselves. In addition to the standard eBay vetting (good rating, good feedback, etc. - does Autotrader have something similar?) you can do simple things like Google him/her. I Googled my seller, his business, found his home on Google Maps, etc. to make sure everything "added up" that he'd been telling me.
Overall I've very pleased with my sight-unseen, cross-country, Porsche purchase. With a little due diligence a long distance purchase can work. Here's a similar post requesting general advice for buying a Boxster.
Hope this helps,
Wow Jason, thanks so much. You have given me a lot to think about. Currently, I have Marks Autowerks (Independent Mechanic) doing the PPI. He was recommenced to me by other owners online. I thought about doubling that up with a PPI done by the Dealership in Destin, but that maybe excessive. Not to mention the reviews for that dealership are terrible. What do you think? I just got off the Brian from Direct Automovers. GREAT TIP. He is ready to roll for Friday if I can get this PPI done.