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This is my first post on the Renntech forum. If I step afoul in this post of any rules, please don't hesitate to let me know so I can adjust to the community as needed. My background comes from having loved a 1985 911 Carrera Targa as a teenager in the late 90's, courtesy of parents who had more love than good sense. I've spent the past decade missing that car, even while driving the 1996 Trans Am that I also had a blast with until an electrical fire took it from me 7 years ago. Since then, I've been a pickup man (thank heavens for my boxer-engined BMW motorcycle or I wouldn't even remember what performance feels like!)

Presently, I have come into a modest stream of income and decided to look into what it would take to again ride in front of a flat-6 boxer engine. I have spent at least the past week shopping eBay and AutoTrader.com. Where I am being led to is that I can afford a 964 or 996 Carrera 4, or a 993 C2. (Or probably a poster of a 997 but not the actual car!) I live in snow (but fortunately, generally not salt) country and, while I of course wouldn't take a 911 out to bust through snow drifts, year-round drivability is something I would like to respect in my decision, such as by getting an all-wheel-drive coupe that can handle getting me down the road when there is some moisture on it. I should also note that the nearest Porsche dealership is 200 miles from where I sit.

So, with that background in mind, what do I need to know about 964's, 993's, and 996's before I consider buying any of them? My main concerns are cost of regular maintenance and the likelihood and expense of major repairs. Are the air-cooled engines easier to work on and/or cheaper to keep running, or would the 996 be a better option? What does the maintenance schedule on these cars look like when you are around 100,000 miles and beyond?

Thanks to any and all responders. Here's hoping that not long from now I am posting here as a fellow owner and not a mere neophyte enthusiast.

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This is my first post on the Renntech forum. If I step afoul in this post of any rules, please don't hesitate to let me know so I can adjust to the community as needed. My background comes from having loved a 1985 911 Carrera Targa as a teenager in the late 90's, courtesy of parents who had more love than good sense. I've spent the past decade missing that car, even while driving the 1996 Trans Am that I also had a blast with until an electrical fire took it from me 7 years ago. Since then, I've been a pickup man (thank heavens for my boxer-engined BMW motorcycle or I wouldn't even remember what performance feels like!)

Presently, I have come into a modest stream of income and decided to look into what it would take to again ride in front of a flat-6 boxer engine. I have spent at least the past week shopping eBay and AutoTrader.com. Where I am being led to is that I can afford a 964 or 996 Carrera 4, or a 993 C2. (Or probably a poster of a 997 but not the actual car!) I live in snow (but fortunately, generally not salt) country and, while I of course wouldn't take a 911 out to bust through snow drifts, year-round drivability is something I would like to respect in my decision, such as by getting an all-wheel-drive coupe that can handle getting me down the road when there is some moisture on it. I should also note that the nearest Porsche dealership is 200 miles from where I sit.

So, with that background in mind, what do I need to know about 964's, 993's, and 996's before I consider buying any of them? My main concerns are cost of regular maintenance and the likelihood and expense of major repairs. Are the air-cooled engines easier to work on and/or cheaper to keep running, or would the 996 be a better option? What does the maintenance schedule on these cars look like when you are around 100,000 miles and beyond?

Thanks to any and all responders. Here's hoping that not long from now I am posting here as a fellow owner and not a mere neophyte enthusiast.

Tough to know where to start...i strongly recommend you spend some serious time on all the usual p-car bulletin boards that have literally hundreds of posts containing good advice, anecdotes, tips, etc on the pluses and minuses of all the things you are asking about for all the models you are interested in. Then, I would obtain a handful of the best-regarded books on the subject of buying and owning a previously-owned p-car - there are many such books out there. Most would advise that you try to buy a car that has a full service record and maintenance records that suggests a car that has been well-maintained by owner(s) who cared. ..and before buying, have it thoroughly inspected to cover, at minimum, all the points included on the official Porsche certified pre-owned vehicle inspection report.

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Tough to know where to start...i strongly recommend you spend some serious time on all the usual p-car bulletin boards that have literally hundreds of posts containing good advice, anecdotes, tips, etc on the pluses and minuses of all the things you are asking about for all the models you are interested in. Then, I would obtain a handful of the best-regarded books on the subject of buying and owning a previously-owned p-car - there are many such books out there. Most would advise that you try to buy a car that has a full service record and maintenance records that suggests a car that has been well-maintained by owner(s) who cared. ..and before buying, have it thoroughly inspected to cover, at minimum, all the points included on the official Porsche certified pre-owned vehicle inspection report.

Thanks for the reply. I've spent a lot of time in the past 2 weeks researching online the best I can and am not stopping that process anytime soon. I like the book recommendation, though. Do you have any particular books you'd recommend I pick up?

I have inquired after a couple of cars and question #1 is always whether they have the full service/maintenance/repair records for the car, in large part because that not only shows that they cared for the car but also gives an indication of whether any of the known issues have been addressed ( RMS and IMS bearing on the 996, for instance). I guess I will have to start googling around for the checklist of what gets inspected in a Porsche certified pre-owned vehicle. Thanks for the pointer on that, too.

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Tough to know where to start...i strongly recommend you spend some serious time on all the usual p-car bulletin boards that have literally hundreds of posts containing good advice, anecdotes, tips, etc on the pluses and minuses of all the things you are asking about for all the models you are interested in. Then, I would obtain a handful of the best-regarded books on the subject of buying and owning a previously-owned p-car - there are many such books out there. Most would advise that you try to buy a car that has a full service record and maintenance records that suggests a car that has been well-maintained by owner(s) who cared. ..and before buying, have it thoroughly inspected to cover, at minimum, all the points included on the official Porsche certified pre-owned vehicle inspection report.

Thanks for the reply. I've spent a lot of time in the past 2 weeks researching online the best I can and am not stopping that process anytime soon. I like the book recommendation, though. Do you have any particular books you'd recommend I pick up?

I have inquired after a couple of cars and question #1 is always whether they have the full service/maintenance/repair records for the car, in large part because that not only shows that they cared for the car but also gives an indication of whether any of the known issues have been addressed ( RMS and IMS bearing on the 996, for instance). I guess I will have to start googling around for the checklist of what gets inspected in a Porsche certified pre-owned vehicle. Thanks for the pointer on that, too.

these books were very helpful for me (however, i'd already settled on a 996) :

The Used 911 Story, Peter Zimmerman, RPM Auto Books

, Compiled by RM Clarke, Brooklands Books

Porsche 996 The Essential Companion, Adrian Streather, Veloce Publishing

lots of others to choose from. I ended up with a very low mileage, 2003 C4S coupe 6-speed. I've never regretted the decision:lol:

good luck with your search.

Edited by Loren
added links for the RennTech.org store at Amazon ;)

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The Used 911 story is great. Tells you the strong and weak points of each model, even has a section on the Boxster.

A Porsche mechanic gave me great advice. He said cars are like girls, Blondes, Brunettes, Red Heads, you have to try each one and see what you like.

Don't pin yourself down to one or two years or models.

I wounds up purchasing a totally different model than I started out looking for.

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I picked up Porsche 911 Buyer's Guide, 2nd ed. by Randy Leffingwell. I read the introductory material, including how to do a walk-around and test drive in the general 911 case. There is a short chapter for every model year, 1965-2009, including things to watch for and ratings of the various models, including price lists for commonly needed replacement parts and major/minor service intervals. I will also look for copies of one or more of those other great recommendations.

The problem with the "like girls" advice is that I have a thing for women in general. I've tried them all and haven't found a model or year I like any less than the others! But it's a valid point. The hard part for me is that I just can't go and test drive a car today and another one next week, because the closest that I've found any for sale is 350 miles away and the second closest is farther still. It's too bad I can't find some kind of used Porsche 911 sales festival to attend. I'll keep reading and learning, though, hoping the answer will come.

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I definitely can't afford a turbo right now, as far as I can tell. The car or the girl!

I have, however, found a couple 993's in my range so that type is back on the table after all, assuming they are home-maintainable as well. I found some oil change instructions for the 993 that look ridiculously tedious and involved, but leaving that to the side are they generally easier or harder to maintain than a 996? (Both in terms of expense and technical expertise/hassle.)

Again, thanks to everyone for helping so far. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with the whole idea now than I did when it first started to form. Back to the Buyer's Guide for the rest of the night, though. Have a good one!

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I've had 4 911's, '74, '80 (grey market), '82 Targa and my current '99 996C2. Though the air cooled were great and some say "real" p-cars, I would think the 996 or 997 is the way to go. An air cooled engine is not as tightly tolerances as the water cooled which makes for some issues (go ahead and correct me if you disagree out there). If the air cooled were truly superior then way did the start water cooling the heads in the race cars? Porsche adage, "racing improves the breed".

Oil and brakes are easy to do yourself (less oil too in the water cooled). I got mine in '07 with ~80k and now have ~107k miles, no problems. I had all of the service records and even went to the dealer where it was maintained and looked over the computer with the service writer (I know that was a rare gift).

Any way, 25k miles 2.5 years, front brakes and rotors myself, $800, rear brakes myself $225, complete oil change and tune up $700, replaced water pump $800 (that was preventative). Car cost $25k 3 years ago. Tell me one car in the world that will out preform that car, made that well, full lather, stereo with CD changer (I know old school) for $25k. A Hundia? But I digress.

One big piece of advice that I have heard from many people including Porsche mechanics; Low miles does not equate to a good buy. These engines were made to be driven (not abused), low miles can mean the were left to sit a lot and that dries seals and can lead to leaks which can lead to... you get the point. Buy a car that was driven with love not put in a garage to show to friends.

Last thing, if someone in a P-car coming the other way waves or nods or flashes their light smile and do it back.

Gary

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Gary: Good advice. I was also reading about oil-change procedures on the 993 and ... wow. Taking off a wheel, changing two filters, draining from about a dozen places, etc. Maybe someday when I am wealthy I can get a 993 Turbo to add to the stable, but for now as a man of limited means the 996 is sounding like a better choice all around. And I'll wave to every P-car I see, just as I do to every motorcyclist who's on the same piece of pavement as I am on my bike. There are those out there on bikes or in Porsches for the wrong reasons, but the safer bet I think is that each one you meet appreciates what a well-engineered machine does for your endorphin levels.

Now I just need to find one! :thumbup:

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After driving various examples of 911s from 1971 to present day, plus a few Boxsters and Caymans, and buying a 996 series 911, I have a few things I have learned and want to share with you:

-All "Porsches" are "Porsches", but a 911 is the king

-Drive as many different cars as you can before making your decision, dont fall for the first beautiful example in your price range. Extended driving (more than 5 minutes around the block) will help you feel the shifting, steering, and braking, as well as quirks the car may have.

-Decide if you want to spend real time working on the car, or if you prefer just driving it out of the garage whenever you get the whim. Newer cars are much less of a hassle than older cars, although they dont have the "uniqueness" of the older models about them.

-Think out your Coupe vs. Cabriolet decision, after driving a few models. I decided against a convertible after a few test drives in traffic with the top down in town.

- A manual transmission model is probably more fun to drive and easier to sell when you decide to trade up; however, it may not be what you are used to for everyday driving in traffic. Dont idealize the car, think ahead to the use you will give it and choose accordingly.

my search for the right car was probably as fun as it has been owning the car.

Aside from this forum and a few others on the net, Excellence Magazine has great info on pricing trends and equipment for your car. Randy Leffingwell has written a great guide (Porsche 911 Buyers Guide, 2nd Edition is current up to the 2,009 models) that shows the differences between models. This was probably the best reference I used during my search.

Good luck with your search and keep us posted.

Hermann.

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Hermann: Thanks for the pointers. I have the 2nd edition of Mr. Leffingwell's excellent book and it's been a great help in identifying things to look for. My personal view on Porsches is that the only way to go is a 911 with a manual transmission (unless you can afford a new model with PDK, I suppose - I cannot). I grew up driving stick (started on a 1948 Willys Jeep with no 2nd-1st synchro, grain trucks, farm tractors, pickups, then a 1985 Carrera Targa, and later a 1996 Pontiac Trans Am with a six-speed) and don't mind them in town. Keep in mind that I live in a smaller city, but commuted daily without trouble in Phoenix with my Trans Am until an electrical fire took it from me almost 7 years ago.

I definitely want an everyday driver and for my half-ton 4x4 pickup to be relegated to days with fresh snow or when I have to haul something. To that end, I have been focusing on C4 models that I can confidently drive even if there might be a patch of ice on the way to work. The 996's heated seats are very tempting but I don't want to rule out the 993 even though it can be a maintenance hassle (wheel-off oil changes, for instance), as a couple have come up in my price range. Similarly, I don't need a cabriolet simply because I already have a boxer-engine motorcycle (although the cabriolet wouldn't see me in a helmet every mile as I choose to stick to on the bike).

The single hardest part of my shopping process is my isolation. The geographically nearest 911 for sale is 450 miles away and they're asking $5,000 more than my limit for a 996 that may or may not need $3,000 in parts before I trust it ( IMS retrofit from LN Engineering plus there's no sense dropping the transmission and not putting in a new clutch and flywheel). I haven't found a 993 for sale within 1,000 miles. And flights out of here to anywhere other than Vegas or Phoenix are pricey and I would rather have the $800 for a plane ticket available to spend on a tune-up.

But I'm still going to test-drive any car that I run across an opportunity to and try to keep a wishlist of the cars on the market that are what I'm after, then make a checklist of what to worry about on each one based on my online research and the 911 Buyer's Guide, and then figure out the travel budget and PPI cost on each one before running out to buy one.

On that note, is there any kind of online reference for good/recommended PPI technicians or shops around the USA?

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I would recommend you visit Excellence Magazine ( www.excellence-mag.com ) and buy a issue or two to check out the ads in the magazine. I found this mag almost as valuable as Randy´s book. You can find PPI offers in their classifieds easier than searching on the web.

Houston, Miami and Los Angeles have larger inventories of used Porsches for sale than other cities in my experience. If you cant find what you want in your neck of the woods, id check out Autotrader.com and Ebay.com to find out where you can find better inventories (match the Zip codes for LA, Houston, Dallas and Miami and check out inventories within 40 Miles) of what you are looking for and take a long weekend trip for Car Shopping. These three markets have many Porsche dealers that can help, from PPI´s to certified used cars.

I would imagine that if you are on a budget, the 996 is probably a better bet than a 993. There are a lot more C4s available post 1999 than pre 1998. Also, you wont be paying the "Air Cooled" premium. Excellence mag also has a buyers guide that gives you an idea of prices of different models years and design lines, they just put it up on their website. This guide was very valuable for me.

Also, you may find someone on these forums interested in selling their car. Enthusiasts have usually taken care of the major issues with their cars and have a better idea of what they are selling you than the usual used car lot. Everybody seems to be complaining about the price bottom dropping out on 996 model line. (more benefit to those looking to catch a good deal)

hope this helps.

Hermann

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I have nationwide searches running on AutoTrader.com and occasionally look at cars on eBay but the time crunch of bidding is too fast-paced for me on a five-digit purchase price. I can handle bidding $2,500 on a guitar that I've been shopping for longer than two years, but I didn't have to fly across the country and drive the guitar home hoping it doesn't blow up on the way.

Excellence Magazine looks like a decent resource that I will add to my arsenal. I did find a shop that does PPIs in the city where I found a 993 I like, but I will wait until I have the maintenance records in hand to review before hiring that done.

Of course, the heated seats, cup holders, and generally more modern stylings of the 996 are going to throw a monkey wrench in my brain on deciding between these two excellent eras of the 911. I'll be test-driving a 996 C4 Cabriolet in the near future and see how it fits me. My only basis for comparison is that old 1985 Targa, or American muscle of various eras and brands, so I'm kind of curious how the 996 really feels. Pretty excited about that!

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Here's something I ran across in the Porsche 991 Buyer's Guide. The overall ratings tables have an anomaly that I do not understand. For 1999 Carreras (all four models), reliability is listed as 4.5 (out of 5). For 2000, all models get a 5 rating. In 2001, they maintain the 5 ratings across the board. But in 2002 the ratings on all Carrera models (not the Turbo, GT3, or GT2) drop to 3.5 for reliability.

The text indicates that a few early Tiptronic S C4S cars got unreliable transmissions that failed within 50 miles of delivery. But other than that there isn't much on why the reliability rating dropped. Does anyone have some insight into this? I like that the 2002 cars got a bigger engine and other upgrades, including I believe some that enhance safety.

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Here is my advice:

1) Porsche's are not inexpensive cars to buy or maintain. Go into it knowing you are not buying a Corolla. You want cheap, look elsewhere.

2) A Carrera is about as far removed from a Trans Am as a filet is from a bean burrito.

3) I have a '99 C4 and at 80K miles it has been flawless. I cannot speak to the Tiptronic because I'd never own a sports car with anything but a manual transmission.

4) I've owned a lot of cars. Corvette, M3 and everything in between. Once you go German, you won't go back. Once you go Porsche, you won't go back.

5) Don't worry about the radio, if you are like me you'll never use it. The music from 3 feet behind you is better than anything playing on the radio.

6) If you do buy one, read the DIY and other forums here thoroughly. Everything you need to know is within these hallowed walls.

:-)

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Here is my advice:

1) Porsche's are not inexpensive cars to buy or maintain. Go into it knowing you are not buying a Corolla. You want cheap, look elsewhere.

2) A Carrera is about as far removed from a Trans Am as a filet is from a bean burrito.

3) I have a '99 C4 and at 80K miles it has been flawless. I cannot speak to the Tiptronic because I'd never own a sports car with anything but a manual transmission.

4) I've owned a lot of cars. Corvette, M3 and everything in between. Once you go German, you won't go back. Once you go Porsche, you won't go back.

5) Don't worry about the radio, if you are like me you'll never use it. The music from 3 feet behind you is better than anything playing on the radio.

6) If you do buy one, read the DIY and other forums here thoroughly. Everything you need to know is within these hallowed walls.

:-)

I had an '85 Targa so I know exactly what you mean regarding never going back to a non-Porsche and your comparison with the Trans Am. I would also never buy a Tiptronic car. I believe that automatic transmissions are a fabulous invention and have come so far that they can, for instance, improve towing capacity of my Chevy pickup versus the same model with a standard transmission. I also believe that they should never be installed in a sports car and that anyone who buys such a car should be flogged repeatedly with a clutch pedal.

The question I had about the Tiptronic only relates to my confusion about why the 911 Buyer's Guide would denigrate the reliability of the '02 and newer 996's as compared to the '01 and previous models. I haven't come across any reference to a drop in reliability for '02 other than the Tiptronic issue that the book mentioned and would like to know if I am missing something.

I am narrowing down features and prices, for sure, though. One thing I haven't decided yet is whether to consider a Cabriolet with the removable hard top. How well those tops seal to the car and windows and how well they are insulated are two topics I still need to research to decide that.

And obviously it's not a cheap car, but it should also not be a money pit. :)

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