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Buying a Used Porsche

By Steve Grosekemper

Buying a Porsche, for most people, is a huge event in their life. Most people have to save for, and then extensively research, their vehicle of choice. Whether a 356 or 997 you will be able to find more information than you can possibly digest.

The best place to start is PCA. There are so many people owning so many different models, you are bound to find an expert on just about any model. Your local bookstore and the Internet are also excellent sources.

As with many other things, opinions can differ greatly depending on experience. If you ask 10 Porsche owners the same question you are bound to get at least 7 different answers. So use your fact filter and take the law of averages into account. If 7 out of 10 people tell you 911s wear the rear tires out much faster than the fronts, you can probably believe it, but it still doesn’t make it gospel.

The first step is to decide what model or model line you are looking for and how much money you would like to spend. (This usually tends to go up as the search continues). After deciding on a model and year range, the search narrows to quirks in the car’s personality. (Some people might call these problem areas).

While some people may argue that Porsches are perfect the way they come, that is not exactly the situation in all cases.

As any new owner (or perspective owner) will soon learn, there are idiosyncrasies with every model. Knowing these along with the service history of the vehicle will help you become acquainted with your prospective purchase. The most important lesson here is to know what you are getting into!

If the service history shows the same notes over and over again, it is a good indication that the car is not getting the kind of attention that you are looking for in a used car. If you see a pattern of “car needs new widgets at the next service” and the widget gets replaced at the next service; that is the kind of car you are looking for.

You wouldn’t marry someone who couldn’t account for their last ten years; don’t start a relationship with a car that can’t account for that same kind of time frame.

Check it out!

So now you have done all of your research, and picked out the car of your dreams, your work is done, right? Not even close. After you have found the best car for your wants and needs is it time it have it checked out.

The inspection can be the most important step of the entire process. This is where you find out if it is really meant to be. Rarely will the mechanic inspecting the car say yes or no concerning the purchase. You should be given a list of things the car needs now, and will need in the future. With this information you will be able to make an intelligent decision.

Where to go for the Inspection.

The best choice for the inspecting shop is the one you will be using for normal servicing, if you indeed purchase the car. If you have an inspection done at shop A and shop B finds a huge problem one month later, you are going to have a battle on your hands!

When a car gets inspected, the person paying for the inspection owns the information. It does not matter who owns the car. Some people like to split the cost and share the information, and some like to use the information as a bargaining chip. This is however, something that should be discussed before the appointment is made.

Cosmetic vs. Mechanical

There are many schools of thought on this debate. Since this is my column, you get my personal school of thought. Lets say you have two identical cars that each need $2000 worth of repair. Car A needs a clutch and car B needs the fender straightened and painted. Three years from now no one will be able to tell that the clutch was replaced. A reworked and repainted fender will probably be noticeable. In some cases, with certain colors, it may be painfully obvious.

Age vs. Mileage

Everyone dreams of the low mileage, perfect car sitting in a hermetically sealed bag. In reality, not only doesn’t it exist, but it isn’t what you want either. Low mileage cars are for car show junkies. If you are one of those, that’s great, have fun polishing it. If you plan on driving the car, you want a car that has been driven regularly.

If you buy a car that has been sitting for ten years, you can expect some teething problems. How would you like running a marathon after having been in a coma for ten years?

I don’t even want to run a marathon now!

Care and Feeding

After you have successfully completed the search and acquisition of your new Porsche don’t be discouraged at the fix-it list. Choose and item or two (or three!) at each oil service and within a very short time you will be driving the perfect Porsche for you… whether a 356, a 997 or something in between.

Good Luck