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Buying a Porsche is a big part of the fun

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I thought of this topic while replying to another post.

I had a great time researching my Porsche Purchase. Bought all the good books, subscribed to Excellence Magazine, befriended a Porsche Mechanic, read the internet, asked questions on different forums, and in the end, I have a lot of fun stories to tell about my journey to Porsche ownership.

I hope some of you reply with your stories. Here is mine:

A bit more than two years years ago, after about two years of looking and pondering between 986 model Boxsters and different years of 911´s I was ready to make an offer on a 1990 C4, I test drove it on a Saturday and offered to call with my offer on Tuesday night. On Monday, my wife and I visited the radiologist and found out we were having triplets..... shocked me and made me think twice before plunking down money on a toy.... So long Porsche.

To years later, and luckily with three healthy beautiful babies (and none of the complications that can be expected with triplets, thank god) I started my search again.

I saw the same 1990 C4 was available for sale by the guy who actually bought it a few years back, I also test drove (in some cases weekend long drives) different models. I test drove a 1972, 1980, 1984, 1990, 1994 and 1999 911´s (and a 2007 TT just for the fun of it, although I had no chance of affording that car) and 2001 and 2005 Boxsters.

In the end, I appreciated modern convenience and comfort over the classic styling and fun of the older models, and considering a coupe is definitely more convenient than a convertible, the Boxsters were out of my considered alternatives. (Although I enjoy spending time with my car, I would much rather going out driving on a weekend than troubleshooting and babying a classic.)

I purchased a 1998 ROW Carrera with about 35,000 miles on it in 2,010.

I have enjoyed my driving and babying the car, have not fallen in to the mod trap yet. The car has already been slightly tinkered with before I purchased it, having an upgraded air filter, interior trim, and tire spacers installed. Once I decide I want to start making changes I imagine white running lights, upgraded speakers (and maybe an amp), and probably upgraded head and stop lights (LED) will be in my plans. Till then, its just hot wax and loving washes for my baby.

If I decide to upgrade the car itself, I will probably move a few years forward on the same track (Carrera) or maybe move to a C4. My driving sometimes requires the stability control to take over, and weather where I live permits me to drive the car all year long, except for the very rainy season (I spun the car once driving conservatively, when going through a curve with pooled water on it). I think I would be more comfortable driving in very wet conditions if I had a backup and 4 wheel traction on my side.

I think that the S and TT upgrades are really not a necessity with this type of car unless you want to be competitive with your speed, and even then, I think money is better invested in Driving classes and track time, where you can really become faster through talent, not sheer HPs.

Ok, hope to get some replies.


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My most interesting story isn't about a newer Porsche. In late 2009 with the recession fully underway, I started scanning the Web, figuring I could find a bargain in used 911s. I found several fairly-priced 911SCs across the country (U.S.), but all had some sort of issue, either with the seller or the car itself.

Then on a Thursday evening in early January 2010, I saw a beautiful gold 1980 911SC advertised for less than $10,000 on Pelican Parts' forum, with records dating back to new and no mechanical or big cosmetic issues. The ad had been there some time, but somehow I'd missed it, and I couldn't understand why this car hadn't sold yet. I called the seller (Shannon) and he and I talked for about 20 minutes. Turns out he had a buyer coming in from Germany that following Monday, but that buyer had declined to send him a deposit, so Shannon told me the car was still on the market. He even offered me a lower price than advertised, which he had negotiated with the guy from Germany. Since I had no way of knowing that, he was under no obligation to offer me that price. He did it totally voluntarily. Nice guy.

Only problem was, the car was in L.A, 2300 miles from my home in Ohio. No time to arrange a PPI or a transporter before the other buyer arrived on Monday to repatriate the car to Germany. No, I would have to go look at the car in person, and once I was there, I might as well drive it home, right? But it was Thursday night, and the earliest I could leave was Saturday. Only if I could find a cheap flight would this transaction make sense.

I went online and found several flights running upwards of $500. Too much. Then I saw one for about $160 all-up, fees, taxes and everything. I snapped it up and e-mailed my itinerary to Shannon so he'd know I was serious. He forwarded me the e-mail trail he'd had with the guy from Germany, so I knew he'd been truthful.

The next hurdle was to explain to my partner that was I abruptly flying out of town to buy a sports car sight unseen and drive it back across the country. That went pretty well though, because my partner knows about my car sickness and my penchant for spontaneous adventures. So all was falling into place. I had a minor hitch on Friday when the two bank branches I went to both didn't have enough cash on hand to meet my withdrawal request. (Banks don't keep much cash on hand? Who knew??) Luckily, I had some cash in my safe at home. Saturday morning came. I packed a duffel bag with just enough clothes, some hand tools and a flashlight, and headed to the airport, dark and early.

Going through security, it occurred to me I must have cut a pretty suspicious figure: one-way ticket, $10,000 cash in my pocket, no checked baggage, and a bag full of tools. Drug mule, perhaps? TSA did rummage through my duffel, but they never said anything about the tools and they didn't notice the wad of cash when they patted me down.

Next hurdle was the weather. There was a winter storm warning and we were delayed on the tarmac while they deiced the wings. I was worried all flights would be canceled and I'd miss out on the car. I felt guilty about leaving my partner at home with a foot of snow to shovel while I was in sunny L.A. But we finally took off.

Naturally, a cheap flight across the country sucked. I think there were 2 layovers on the way, and I had the middle seat most of the way. But I finally got to LAX only slightly late, and Shannon was calling me on my cell as I was walking through the terminal. I went to stand at the curb, and it was no problem spotting the Casablanca Gold 911 as it rumbled up.

Shannon had his little girl with him…I think her name was Bianca. She climbed into the back and Shannon offered me the driver's seat, but I asked him to take us out of the airport, since it was my first time at LAX. So far, so good. The car looked good, smelled good (like hot oil, but don't they all), sounded good, and didn't present any alarm bells. Although the deal was that I was buying the car, not just inspecting it, I planned to walk away if I saw any Big Red Flags. Judging by my survey of recent SC prices, the car was under priced by about $2500. The only major cosmetic issue was a genuine L.A. bullet hole (!) in the lower driver's door. Of course, in all the excitement, I'd forgotten to find out if the car had had the oil-fed tensioners installed. It didn't. But it was too late to turn back now.

Shannon drove us to the beach to do the transaction. We parked at the curb and did the paperwork and exchanged the money while his daughter played outside. I kept looking around, hoping we weren't being watched too closely. You hear stories about L.A. crime, after all. Then Shannon took my picture beside the car, and I took a pic of him and his girl with it. He told me he'd named it "Gunther," and that his daughter would miss it. Then he pointed out to me a bag of soda and snacks in the backseat he'd bought me for the trip back. We talked a little bit and then he asked for a ride to the bus stop. I offered to drive him home, but he said it would take me too far out of my way, so I dropped him and his daughter a block from the bus stop and waved goodbye. Time to drive home.

The legendary L.A. traffic wasn't too bad. I got a taste of the Santa Ana winds, which reminded me how bad a 911 can handle in a crosswind. Otherwise, the drive couldn't have been better. I took the southern route to avoid snow. No trouble with cops, no snow, no rain, and no mechanical problems. I got as far as Kingman, AZ before stopping on Saturday night. A couple at the gas station in Kingman complimented me on the car, shared a story about their Fiat 850, and asked me if I'd join them in bed. (I didn't). I spent all Sunday crossing the rest of Arizona, New Mexico, the Texas panhandle, and got as far as Enid, Oklahoma. Shannon once checked in on me by cell phone. Turned out it his whole family was following my adventure. I kept up speeds that would've got me thrown in jail back east. I stopped to collect some lava samples in New Mexico (I'm a geologist, so I couldn't help it). Crossing the Texas panhandle in the dark on that Sunday night, it suddenly dawned on me how crazy this plan was. I had no idea if my spare tire was even any good (I later found out it wasn't).

But it worked out OK. The snow held off until just as I was pulling up to home, late Monday night. It was so late I didn't have enough light to rearrange my other cars to put the new SC in the garage. The following morning, I couldn't show my partner what a beauty the new car was, because it was under a blanket of snow. But I'd had a terrific 2 ½ days driving the golden bullet across the country. And I didn't drive it again until I could install a set of oil-fed tensioners.

My car gets comments all the time, for the color and the fact it's an old Porsche. I haven't fixed the bullet hole, because I've come to like it. It's a conversation starter on track days.

Shannon and I kept up by e-mail occasionally, but we eventually lost touch. I never got to tell him that when detailing the car one day, I found a gold Sacajawea dollar in the glovebox. I assumed it was there for a reason: Gold car, gold dollar. I put it back in the glove box and it's still there today. Shannon, if you're reading this: thanks for a great car!

My other interesting purchase story is about a 914, but that's for another day.

Edited by RatboneRanch
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