Pick a Porsche

This article was originally written in 2009, back before 911s–and the collector car market as a whole–became as valuable as they are today. Were 2009’s Porsche prices artificially low, or are today’s prices just painfully high? Let us know in the comments.

Story By Andy Reid

The Porsche 911 is one of the most iconic sports cars ever produced. It can seemingly do it all, from winning the world’s greatest motorsports events to handling the daily grind in just about every locale.

Thanks to its long production run—from the 1965 model year through today—there’s also a car for just about any potential owner. Depending on the particular model, today’s retail prices range from less than $10,000 to somewhere near a million big ones.

So whether you’re a wealthy industrialist living in a mountaintop lair or just a regular chap looking for a great first sports car, it’s entirely possible to put a nice 911 in your garage. To make the shopping process a bit easier, here are 14 of our favorite examples—basically a car for every budget.

Some of the cars may be faster or more modern than others, but all share some DNA—and that timeless flat-six engine. Think of the models on our list as different dishes from the same world-class chef.

1974-’77 Porsche 911 & 911S: Today’s best sub-$10,000 sports car value.

Every list like this has to have an entry-level car, and the 2.7-liter 911 is ours. The history books have not been overly kind to these models, as issues have included pulled or broken case studs, overheated cylinder heads, and engines that require complete rebuilds in as few as 40,000 miles. There is a bit of related good news, however: If you find a nice example for sale, odds are strong that all of these mechanical ills have been remedied. Another pleasant thought: While these aren’t the fastest cars on our list, they aren’t the slowest, either.

Shopping advice: The 1974 cars don’t have the thermal reactors found on later models, so they tend to have fewer engine issues. However, the 1976-’77 cars have the advantage of rust-resistant galvanized bodies.

2010 Value: $8,500-$10,000

1978-’83 Porsche 911 SC & 1984-’89 Porsche 911 Carrera: The last of the original 911s.

While the air-cooled 911 died with the 993, you can say that the original formula ended with the SC and Carrera. These cars still use the original 911 platform, complete with the manual steering and torsion bar suspension. They also have those period-correct looks.

Think of these as 1960s cars built some time after Woodstock. They offer the classic driving experience mated with fuel injection, a torquey engine and a galvanized body. And with that vintage feel comes some vintage features, including marginal climate control and minimal creature comforts.

Shopping advice: Their prices have been fairly flat until recently, so if you have always wanted one, the time to shop is now. You’ll be rewarded with what is possibly the most solid and reliable 911 ever constructed.

2010 Value: $10,000-$17,000

19731/2 Porsche 911T: The long-nose sleeper.

The 19731/2 Porsche 911 T is a very special model that many enthusiasts seem to have forgotten. It has all the charm of the early 911—a long hood, lightweight chassis, and small bumpers—but gets the added advantage of Bosch’s CIS fuel injection. You can argue that it’s as reliable as a later SC but has the classic looks that made the 911 so famous.

The 19731/2 911 T can also deliver as much as 32 mpg on the highway while being the most tractable early 911 built up to this point. It’s as comfortable in traffic as it is gobbling up those interstate miles.

Shopping advice: There is a downside, though: Like all early Porsches, the 19731/2 911 T is not immune to rust. Properly restoring a rusty car can get expensive, so buy the best example you can find.

2010 Value: $10,000-$17,000

1976-’89 Porsche Turbo: An iconic supercar on a budget.

The 911 Turbo—often referred to by its internal 930 model designation—was Porsche’s first supercar. It offers performance on par with anything from Italy along with looks to match. The 930 is basically a street version of the marque’s 934 race car.

Porsche originally intended for the 930 to be a stripped-down race special sporting minimal weight-adding options, much like the lightweight 1973 Carrera RS. Thankfully, Porsche instead decided to build a fully optioned car that also had world-class performance.

The 930 also introduced the now famous whale tail as well as those huge fender flares. These two styling cues eventually showed up as popular options on all manner of 911s, even those not sporting the turbo.

Shopping advice: The 1976-’77 cars lack the intercooler, bigger brakes and 3.3-liter engine found in the later examples, but when it comes to collector value, it’s hard to beat that first-of-its-kind status. The 930 also had a four-speed transmission up until its last year of production, when the five-speed became standard. The number of gears doesn’t actually impact performance, so don’t pay more for that extra cog.

2010 Value: $25,000-$30,000

1993-’94 Porsche 911 RS America: A modern track-ready car for a bargain price.

Looking for a deal on a track-ready 911 built in low numbers? Then check out the RS America. According to RSAmerica.net, only 701 examples were built. Most left the dealers during 1993, but a few were sold as 1994 models.

The RS America was designed to give American enthusiasts a lightweight performer. While the car received the standard U.S-spec, 964-chassis Carrera 2 engine, it sported the uprated M030 suspension package and wider wheels. The RS America also received several weight-saving measures, including plain interior door panels—a simple fabric pull strap operated the latch—and a fixed rear spoiler. (The motorized wing had become standard by this point on the Carrera.)

Shopping advice: So why are they so inexpensive? We think people just don’t know about the model. Our advice is to be the first on your block to figure it out and get yours before they climb in price.

2010 Value: $30,000-$40,000

1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Speedster: Exotic looks meet a practical chassis.

When Porsche introduced the 911 Carrera Speedster for 1989, everyone in the business considered it to be an instant collectible. Thanks to the laid-back windshield, low roofline and two-seat configuration, the Speedster recalled an earlier era of the company’s history. It was available with or without the Turbo-look flares.

The cars sold out almost immediately, and dealers charged as much as $30,000 over invoice. This was going to be one of the most collectible 911s ever. Then reality set in and people started to wonder if maybe they had spent too much money.

Prices dropped, and in no time you could get a nearly new 911 Speedster for as little as $40,000—a big savings off the $65,000 MSRP. And when Porsche introduced another Speedster for 1994, prices on these cars dropped yet again.

Shopping advice: Fast-forward to 2009, and things have changed a bit. Porsche 356 Speedsters can cost as much as $200,000, and the name is once again magic. The 1989 Speedster is a unique car that looks cool and offers all the Carrera’s positive points in an exotic body style.

The flared Turbo-look Speedsters command the most money. No matter which guise you choose, buy it now while prices are still somewhat depressed. You will be rewarded with a collectible 911 that can be driven daily. Just don’t expect them to be worth $100,000 in five years.

2010 Value: $40,000-$50,000

1965 Porsche 911: There can only be one first year for the 911.

This is the machine that started it all, the original 911. Porsche invested almost eight years in the car’s development, and it was an overnight success. For perhaps the first time, enthusiasts could buy a high-performance sports car that was truly reliable enough for use as a daily driver. Build quality was excellent, and the 911 didn’t force its owners to make excuses.

Shopping advice: Like any other milestone car, there is only one first edition. For the 911, it’s 1965. While the original 911 did so many things well, warding off rust was not one of them. A thorough inspection is paramount.

2010 Value: $50,000-$75,000

1999-2004 Porsche 911 GT3: Track-ready performance, yet good daily manners.

Here’s another road-legal, limited-production 911 that features a healthy dose of motorsports DNA. The GT3 doesn’t use the same engine found in the standard 996-chassis cars; instead, it received a powerplant that can be called a direct descendent of the one found in the company’s earlier 962 and 911 GT1 race cars. However, even though the naturally aspirated 996 has stupid-fast acceleration, amazing handling and incredible brakes, it can be driven every day.

Shopping advice: The GT3 is for the person who craves a racing-inspired Porsche, but doesn’t necessarily want to work that hard to use it. The 996-chassis GT3 is truly Porsche’s practical supercar.

2010 Value: $75,000-$100,000

1997 Porsche Turbo S: The final air-cooled turbo.

Porsche gave fans a little something extra for 1997, the last year of the 993-chassis Turbo: the Turbo S. Power was up from 400 to 424—that latter figure is said to be conservative. Meanwhile, the rear fenders sported distinctive air scoops. Yellow brake calipers also set the Turbo S apart from its kin.

At the time this was the most powerful 911 Turbo ever, capable of reaching 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds; the car could also cover the quarter mile in 11.9 seconds and run from zero to 100 and then back to zero in 13.1 seconds. It still measures up against today’s latest supercars. And like so many other turbo Porsches, it also makes a fine daily driver.

Shopping advice: From its introduction, the Turbo S was destined to be a collectible. Despite the short production run—fewer than 200 examples were built—most led easy lives. As a result, there are still many clean, low-mileage cars out there.

2010 Value: $100,000-$125,000

2010 Porsche 911 GT3: If shopping new, look no further.

If you’d like to shop new, the latest 911 GT3 is tough to pass up. MSRP starts at $112,200, but add tax and some options—including the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes—and you’ll be shelling out just over $125,000.

Despite the lack of turbochargers, the 435-horsepower GT3 can run with its force-fed predecessors. The GT3’s 4.0-second zero-to-60 time and 11.8-second quarter-mile sprint make it a worthy competitor to past turbo Porsches. Perhaps even more impressive are the GT3’s street manners. Climate control comes standard, while XM radio, satellite navigation and a six-disc CD changer can all be added.

The real thrill, however, is stretching the GT3’s legs. It makes peak horsepower at 7600 rpm, at which point the engine shrieks like a demonic being—and we mean that in a good way. The latest Turbo and GT2 may be faster, but the GT3 has that raw edge that’s hard to ignore.

Shopping advice: The GT3 received some nice updates for 2010, including a 20-horsepower bump. Looking for a deal? We expect examples from 2009 and earlier to take a hit in the preowned market.

2010 Value: $125,000-$150,000

1973 Porsche Carrera RS Touring: Perhaps Porsche’s most iconic offering ever.

For many Porsche aficionados, the Carrera RS is the ultimate expression of the 911. It came about for one reason: to homologate a race-ready version of the 911 for Group 4 competition. The Carrera RS received thinner sheet metal, more displacement, better brakes, wider hips and that now so iconic ducktail.

At the time, production of such a Spartan street car was seen as a major gamble. As a compromise of sorts, a Touring version was also offered. It added the creature comforts found in the 911S—and about 250 pounds—to the lightweight, track-ready Carrera RS.

Porsche only made 1580 copies of the 1973 Carrera RS, and about 1300 of those carried the M472 Touring package. While all copies of the 1973 Carrera RS fetch top dollar, the Touring cars are the most prevalent, hence the slightly more reasonable prices. The Touring version is also a bit more comfortable, making it better suited for vintage touring events as well as those occasional trips to the office.

Shopping advice: Last year these cars were fetching $300,000 and up, but recently they have experienced a slight drop—we’ve seen a few advertised in the $200,000 price range. Shop now or forever hold your peace.

2010 Value: $150,000-$250,000

1986-’89 Porsche 959: A technological tour de force.

When launched, this was the most technologically advanced street car ever produced by anyone. It had all-wheel drive, sequential twin turbos and a computer-adaptable suspension. It even had an on-board tire pressure monitoring system.

It also offered mind-boggling performance—200 mph top speed plus zero to 60 in less than 4 seconds—to match its out-of-this-world looks. The car was an instant legend and sold out overnight.

There was one problem, though: The 959 was not legal for sale in the U.S. Even Bill Gates couldn’t beat the system, as his 959 spent 13 years in a U.S. Customs lockup.

Shopping advice: Porsche only built 337 copies of the 959, so you’re probably not going to find one for sale every day. However, at least now you can legally take the car for a spin.

In 1999 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted a provision that allows certain late-model vehicles to cover up to 2500 miles per year. To be eligible, a vehicle must be “of such historical or technological significance that it is in the public interest to show or display the vehicle in the United States even though it would be difficult or impossible to bring the vehicle into compliance with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards.” Details of this so-called “show and display” program can be found on the NHTSA’s Web site, nhtsa.dot.gov.

2010 Value: $250,000-$400,000

1976-’79 Porsche 935: Moby Dick will swallow you whole.

Look closely at the 935, and you’ll find a 911 lurking inside. The 935 was Norbert Singer’s response to the loopholes found in the FIA Group 5 rule book.

Replacement fenders allowed? Thanks, we’ll use that provision to smooth out the aerodynamics and cover a wider track. Stock doors must be retained? Fine, but we’ll cover them up as needed.

The end result was one of the most storied race cars in the company’s history. It won wherever eligible, including Le Mans, Daytona, Nürburgring and Sebring.

The 935 is last of the truly raw Porsche race cars—tons of turbo lag combined with sledgehammer acceleration. This machine demands the most of its drivers yet is unstoppable.

Shopping advice: Despite the 935’s legendary status, they have been a bit of a bargain lately. Like many of the other cars on our list, we recommend getting one soon before values skyrocket.

2010 Value: $500,000-$750,000

1967 Porsche 911R: Unwanted back then, irresistible today.

It may look like a standard 911, but for many Porsche fans the 911R is the holy grail of vehicles. It was the original 911 race-ready special, and only two dozen cars were built, each one following a now familiar formula: more power, less weight.

The horsepower bump was easy, as the engine came from Porsche’s 906 racer. Then the diet began: Think plastic windows, a gutted interior and thinner sheet metal. The doors, fenders, hood and engine cover were formed in fiberglass. Sound insulation? None here.

Then the weight savings got even more serious. Plastic door handles replaced the metal ones found on the standard 911, while small round taillights were used for the simple reason that they weighed less than the stock pieces. The vent windows didn’t open, shaving a few more critical ounces. The final tally was 1811 pounds, more than 450 pounds less than a 911S from the same year.

The original idea was to build as many as 1000 examples, but after winning rallies and breaking speed records, the 911R quickly fell from the limelight. Only four prototypes and 20 production examples were built. So unwanted was the car after its brief heyday that some brand-new ones went unsold until 1970.

Shopping advice: Sadly there aren’t any unwanted 911Rs sitting around these days. In fact, in the last 20 years we can only recall one showing up at auction—and it didn’t even have a numbers-matching engine. Don’t expect to find one of these advertised on craigslist.

2010 Value: $750,000+

Can’t Afford It? Build it!

Always admired some of the limited-production Porsches but didn’t quite have the means to purchase one? Today you can build your own thanks to the availability of replica parts.

The GT Racing catalog, for example, includes the bits needed replicate Porsche’s rare, race-ready models from a standard-issue 911. Their 911R catalog includes replicas of the fiberglass fenders, engine lid, doors, bumpers and hood plus the detail items needed to finish the project: aluminum door hinges, rubber engine lid latches, taillight assemblies, side windows and body-side graphics. They even carry the leather straps used to raise and lower the side glass. Would you rather build your own Carrera RS, RS America, 911 ST or IROC car? The aftermarket can help you with those projects, too.

GT Racing: gt-racing.com, (800) 797-2911

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View comments on the CMS forums
Flyman615 New Reader
7/16/18 3:34 p.m.

2009-2010 911 prices?? You've got to be kidding! Absolutely no relevance in today's world.


stylngle2003 Reader
7/18/18 1:17 p.m.
Flyman615 said:

2009-2010 911 prices?? You've got to be kidding! Absolutely no relevance in today's world.


Wouldn't be too terribly hard to give a 2018 refresh of values.

eliandi New Reader
7/18/18 3:22 p.m.

Around 2008 I considered a Porsche, including some of the models mentioned.  I did not pull the trigger then, and WOW am I kicking myself!


Thanks for sharing the article!

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