Are you ready to have the value of your car double while you own it? From $25,000 to $50,000 and beyond? And are you ready to experience this appreciation for an incremental maintenance cost of between $2,400 and $5,000 a year?
Then Bloomberg has a car for you. Just make you read the article instead of staring at the pretty pictures.
In yesterday’s Loot Blog, Bloomberg’s James Tarmy makes the case for owning a 1984-1989 Porsche Carrera 3.2. He discusses ownership, insurance, and repair costs for these evergreen air-coolers… those costs being New York running costs, of course. It’s unlikely to cost you $1100 a year to insure an ’84 911 in, say, central Ohio. Ask me how I know. Best of all, the cars are scheduled to double in value any day now:
Appreciation. A late-’80s Porsche should roughly double in value as you drive it, says Tashjian. “A generation is just now retiring and has a lot of disposable income,” he says… Bloomberg car reviewer Jason Harper seconds Tashjian’s assessment. “You’re basically driving the car for free,” he says merrily. “Everyone and their cousin wants an old 911, including me. But one of the great things is that they really are a workaday sports car.”
Some sellers are of the opinion that the value explosion has already happened. It’s true that the prices of these cars are creeping up. There are a lot of them out there — it was the best-selling Porsche in the company’s history in the pre-Playskool-Krap-Kayenne-era — but there were also a lot of ’57 Chevies out there and people are willing to pay good money for those.
I’ll offer a little advice beyond what the Bloomberg people give: What you want is a 1987, 1988 or 1989 Carrera coupe with the G50 transmission and plenty of options. So-called Turbo-Looks are big as well, but they’ve already appreciated. 1984-1986 examples are worth less because of their unpopular transmissions. Targas are worth less. Cabriolets are worth much less. Don’t ever buy a droptop Porsche thinking you’re going to make money unless it was originally driven to the dealership by Max Hoffmann. As Bruce Anderson always says, buy the newest example in the best condition you can afford.
The difficulty with the appreciation curve people are predicting for the Carrera 3.2 is simple: almost everyone who would like to have a 1984-1989 Carrera 3.2 would probably rather have a 1995-1998 Porsche Carrera 3.6. Sure, you’ll come across the occasional fellow who demands rubber bumpers or can’t stand a six-speed transmission, but in general the “993” is a superset of the 911, containing all virtues of the earlier car plus a few new ones. So the value for a solid 1989 Carrera 3.2 G50 will always be capped at one dollar less than a 1995 993 Carrera in identical condition. Simple as that. Come back in twenty years and tell me if I’m wrong.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice the 1990-1994 gap in the above discussion. That’s because those years are given over to the brilliant but star-crossed 964 Carrera. These cars suffer from a variety of issues: crumbling flywheels, missing head gaskets (by design; Porsche figured their machining was so precise a gasket was unnecessary), crappy automatic transmissions, and in the Carrera 4 model, a hideously complex all-wheel-drive system lifted from the 959 supercar with all the fragility and high parts that entails. The 1995-1998 Carrera 4 uses a much simpler front and center differential pair that also works considerably better. The 1989 Carrera 4 in particular is probably the least reliable modern air-cooled Porsche.
But since it debuted in 1989 and was sold at the same time as the 1989 Carrera 3.2 rear-wheel-drive model, it’s theoretically a “1984-1989 Porsche Carrera”. Which must be why the Bloomberg story leads with a picture of two 1989 C4s rolling lustily down a road. The photo was taken a long time ago. We know this because there aren’t two 964 C4s in that kind of condition in geographic proximity anywhere in the world. There may not even be one.
So follow Bloomberg’s advice if you must. Just don’t look at the picture, okay?