Let’s face it – we love Porsches and have a deep-seated desire to own one at least once in our life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have owned three and recently brought home a new 911 Carrera to make that my fourth. One of the daunting issues faced when buying an expensive high performance car is choosing the model and options that make the most sense. Porsche offers about 15 different variations of the 911 and a plethora of very expensive options. Prices of a new 911 start at around $80,000 and quickly go north of $100,000 to a whopping $250,000 for the new 911 GT2 RS Turbo.
Before being talked into spending 50% more than you need to, ponder how you plan to use the car?
- Will it be a weekend cruiser, a daily commuter or do you plan to scream around a track?
- Will your spouse use the car and what are his / her preferences?
- How critical is that last one-tenth of a second from 0 to 60 mph and is comfort and utility important to you?
- Is a convertible a must or are you better off with the coupe? Convertibles are “cool” cars but unless you happen to live in Santa Barbara where it seldom rains and is always 70 degrees, they are noisy, hot, and have less visibility with the top up. But if you live most anywhere else, you may rarely have the top down and would be better off with a coupe.
- If using this daily in stop and go traffic, do you really want a manual transmission?
I have found Porsche dealers across the country as about the friendliest and most knowledgeable dealers of all brands. If they believe you are a reasonably serious buyer they will set up 3-4 different flavors of Porsches for you to test drive for several hours without a salesperson aboard. Doing this is a must. Next, I recommend you find members in the local Porsche club and ask them about the differences in models and what they like and don’t like and which options are must haves and which are pretty useless in the grand scheme. Reading the various books and magazines on Porsches is invaluable, especially the monthly magazine Excellence which is 100% dedicated to Porsches. Included in each issue is a market overview of selected models so you can see which models hold their values the best. Plus it has reviews of new models and a series of technical and other useful information.
Having done my research I concluded the optimum 911 for me is the base Carrera coupe with standard tires/wheels and suspension, a 6 speed and a limited number of options. By opting for the base model I saved over $10,000 vs. the next model up, the Carrera S. In return I get an enjoyable ride as the S is code for “stiff” having rigid high performance tires. It should be noted that the base Carrera has 345 HP, a top end of 180 mph and does 0 – 60 in well under 5 seconds and that is really all the performance one needs unless you’re a track fanatic. It also gets better gas mileage. The coupe was the logical choice being a better all weather vehicle, costing $10,000 less than the convertible and is the “classic” 911 shape so viewed by aficionados as better looking. Not being my daily commuter, I opted for the 6 speed since shifting a sports car is one of those exhilarating pleasures in life. While Porsche makes a wonderful automatic it adds 66 pounds and costs over $4,000 and should only be ordered if you really hate shifting or will be in a lot of stop and go traffic. The new silky-smooth manual transmission has a feature called “hill assist” which keeps you from rolling back when stopped on a steep grade so it takes a lot of the worry out of shifting in difficult situations.
As for options I believe less is more on a sports car and kept costs down by limiting the list to an iPod adapter, Bluetooth hands-free for my cell phone and heated seats. All totaled and after some serious negotiating (yes Porsche’s can be bought below MSRP) I drove off in my new Carrera well under $80,000.
Another great entry Porsche is the base Boxster which also should be ordered with a manual transmission and limited options. It is a terrific car and has tons of storage, superb handling and a fantastic power top. This can be had from just over $50,000 and is the best sports car bargain on the planet and is a car that is consistently rated the best over-all sports car for the money. I own one of these as well.