Porsche 911 buyers guide.
Finding your car
Finding the right car for you can sometimes be quite a long process, separating the wheat from the chaff may require many trips and inspections. Porsche dealers offiicial and specialist are plentyful, but buying a car through one of these routes does add a considerable premium to the cost of your car. Some may add that it will take away a lot of the risk. This is certainly the case with the official main dealers and some well reputed specialists but this isnt the case with all the so called "specialists" as there are many a horror story making the rounds amoungst the Porsche forums.
However if your looking to buy and inspect your own 911 this is the guide for you, it is no means a replacement for a good independent Pre Purchase Inspection, but it will certainly put you on the right track.
If your in the U.K. you should be scanning the classifieds of 911 and Porsche World, GT Purely Porsche and of course theres the PCGB magazine Porsche Post. Other sources are the Exchange and Mart, Loot and of course the Autotrader. There are also web based Porsche sales sites like ourselves, 911uk.com and pistonheads.com.
If your in the US you should be scanning Porsche Panarama, Excellence magazine and of course Road and Track.
The phone call.
This is a very important part of the purchase process as it will save you trecking halfway across the country to view a smoking rust bucket.
1) How long has the present owner owned the car and what is the reason for selling it.
2) Is the car registered in their name, if it isnt the vendor is probably a dealer.
3) How many owners has the car had.
4) What is the cars mileage and are there records to support this. e.g. Mot's and service history. The 911 should be good for around 100,000 miles before its ready for a major overhaul, like head work etc. This is dependent on whether they are motorway miles or city miles. A car that has spent its life cruising the motorways will be in alot better mechanical condition than a vehicle which has suffered the continuous stop start of city life.
5) Is the car used daily or a second or third car. Is it garaged.
6) Is the car the specification you are looking for: leather, coupe, targa, sunroof e.t.c. Is it the colour you are looking for, can you live with it, as the condition is far more important.
7) Inquire as to the cars condition, is it original or restored? Pre 1976 cars deserve more caution due to their lack of galvinisation.
8) The service history is a good guide to how the car has been looked after, find out who completed its last services and when the last major service was. Older and restored vehicles frequently are missing service history, so a good recent history showing good recent maintenance is a good starting point to evaluating the car.
Based on the above question you need to decide if its worth the journey.
Inspecting the 911's body
Stand back from the car and inspect the lines for ripples and dents, especially along the roof which can be a good indicator of serious impact damage and twisting of the body shell. Look around the body and check all the panel alignment and shut lines. Always keep an eye out for evidence of filler and overspray which is an obvious sign of damage repair or even quick rust repairs which may come through at a later date if not repaired correctly. These area's are worthy of extra questioning and evalution, it may just be overspray from paint chip repair. Check the boot floor to make sure all is original in that area, are there any signs of new welds or panel beating and paint in this area, check the floorpan in the passenger compartment too, any significant floor damage like bowing is a further sign of a hard impact. These car's with roof or floor damage are best left alone as handling will be be effected by this sort of damage and will need rejigging to correct to a satisfactory degree. Crash repair areas are more prone to rust on post 76 cars as the gavanised structure has been breached and will often be the first place to rust.
Rust is the biggest killer of the early 911, as there is very little protection to the elements on these early cars. Apart from the layer of underseal, rust protection wasnt seriously addressed until 1976 when Porsche started galvanising their cars. This is by no means an assurance that your galvanised 911 will have escaped the dreaded tinworm, as with use, they pick up stone chips, road debris, blocked rain channels even accidents and knocks, they all help to breach the factory galvanising. So there is never an excuse for not checking for corrosion. Even on a newish car, rust can be a sure sign of accident damage, it only takes a few months for a badly repaired panel to show the signs.
Areas to check:
Inspecting the 911's Mechanics
Engine and Gearbox
These area's are easier to inspect on some ramps, service lift or stands, but this is not always possible, only make this request if you are seriously interested in the car and happy with everything you have seen this far in.
I you are unable to get underneath the car, you may be advised to get a small inspection mirror, which is basically a mirror on a stick to get your vision into those hard to reach places.
Take it for a drive
Inside the cars Interior.
Its now up to you to do the sums and make your decision, this guide should give you a good Idea of what to look out for, but if possible I would always advise an Inspection by a recognised specialist. You are looking to spend a lot of your hard earned cash and for the the sake of a couple of hundred pounds/dollars you could save yourself a lot of money and stress.