By on August 7, 2013

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A few days ago I breathlessly described the highlights of old Porsche ownership – the immersive driving experience, the camaraderie among like-minded enthusiasts, and the opportunity to meet people through sharing the fun with others.  In a cliffhanger, I also hinted that there were some downsides to driving that type of car everyday… of course it’s not always halcyon days of empty roads and spirited drives.  I made that intimation for two reasons:  Sometimes the car can grate on the nerves of even its biggest apologist, whereas the remainder of the time it’s broken, with that same apologist’s wallet in peril.

Aficionados of schadenfreude, tune in now for The Lows:

On any trip of more than an hour or so, I begin to reconsider some of the performance-related modifications I’ve enacted with the intention of enhancing the driving experience.  The ridiculously loud exhaust makes it difficult to hear the primitive stereo or conduct phone calls, especially in concert with the drilled airbox and deletion of the engine sound-deadening pad.  In addition to the amplified noise, the nearly solid engine mounts transmit more vibration and harshness back to the controls, as do the short shifter and shift rod that mimic the hardware in the RennSport version of the 993, a car which was not offered for American consumption.  The suspension manages to transmit every surface imperfection to the passengers, prompting concern from companions when passing over something as innocuous as a cat’s eye.  Emerging from the car with hearing damage and pummeled kidneys isn’t necessarily desirable, I’ll assure you.  Fortunately I’ve been able to amortize the $2,000 or so outlay for these mods over many miles of grimaces.

I had an independent, air-cooled specialist wrench perform a pre-purchase inspection before I bought the car in February 2012, and he uncovered the typical niggles that are to be expected on nearly 20-year old Porsches.  Having already made up my mind to buy the car unless the PPI uncovered something severe, I bought it and assumed that the previous owner’s deferred maintenance, as well as the inevitable exciting surprises to come, would be manageable.

One of the car’s “charming” traits stems from the operation of its three oil gauges, which require constant observational vigilance.  As a consequence of the dry sump system, the oil level gauge only provides meaningful information when the car is fully warmed-up and idling for a period of time on level ground.  The first weekend I had the car I noticed that the oil gauge wasn’t responding even after performing the necessary séance, so I added a quart of Mobil 1 after overcoming heart palpitations.  Unbeknownst to me, sometime in the car’s prior life the original oil filler cap had been replaced with one that didn’t fit very well, so I failed to secure it after adding the lubricating elixir.  After a few miles it was obvious that I was going straight to the mechanic – do not pass GO, but do give up $500 to clean oil out of the intake.

Shortly thereafter I was driving to the IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in early April with my dad, when we realized that the cabin had gotten pretty stifling.  It wasn’t just our hot air – the air conditioning had given up the ghost, and it wasn’t even summer yet.  I had the unit “recharged” for a bargain $300, and I was once more able to arrive at work without my suit superglued to my back by perspiration.

Less than six months later the original clutch was on its last legs at around 94,000 miles, a trivial fact that apparently didn’t warrant a mention during the PPI.  The drivetrain layout of the car necessitates invasive surgery to perform otherwise routine maintenance, so out came the engine and the transmission to install the new clutch, pressure plate, and flywheel, as well as to remedy some “while you’re in there” items.  I chose to splurge for the lightweight assembly from the forbidden fruit basket of the RS, which facilitates easier rev-matching at the expense of even more noise, vibration, and harshness at idle and low revs.  Only two weeks and $3,500 later I was back on the road.  And it was a good thing I was back on the road, since I needed to go straight to the tire shop.  The previous owner had favored cheap tires that howled and rode like hell, but I insisted on some of the finest Michelins money could buy.  For only $1,500 I had four new Pilot Super Sports and an “aggressive” alignment.

Not long after that I noticed that the air conditioning had once again shirked its duties, and I had the pleasure of paying about $600 dollars to replace the mixing flaps that control the primitive HVAC system’s operation.  I could deal with the absence of cool air during autumn and winter, but the mixing flaps had failed in a position that forced hotter than ambient air from the engine into the cabin, even with all vents closed off, so that had to be rectified posthaste.

At age 23 I thought I’d outgrown Christmas surprises, but I walked outside my parents’ house one morning during that hazy gloaming between Christmas and New Year’s to discover a flat rear tire, courtesy of some roadside debris.  I had to get two new rear tires right away in order to participate in the NYE 993 mountain run.  It must have been a Christmas miracle, as they only cost me $750.  The mountain run itself was not without calamity, as we passed over a few relatively high altitude “gaps” (Appalachian-speak for “pass”) that Georgia’s helpful DOT had littered with gravel to alleviate freezing, and nearly all of our Porsches managed to pick up paint and windshield chips.  Apparently they call that “patina.”

The next month I was headed back to Atlanta after completing a solo loop of some mountain roads.  I returned to my car after pumping some gas, but when I turned the key … nothing.  I had a broken drive belt, but felt fortunate to be less than a mile away from one of the two Atlanta-area Porsche dealers, so I called the service department.  It was just before noon on a Saturday, but they couldn’t get around to helping me until sometime the next week.  I had the car transported to their competitor, whose service department was far more accommodating.  Only $350 later, I was once more behind the wheel of my car.

One afternoon this April I was out for a drive around Atlanta when I noticed the car’s rear end squirming quite a bit.  I stopped to check the tire pressures and noticed that I had a flat rear tire.  I called my unemployed writer friend Doug DeMuro to see about hitching a lift; he helpfully replied, “I thought I saw your car in Midtown, yeah your rear tire looked low.  Good luck!”  Cue four more Michelins and another $1,500 vaporized, as the front tires were pretty bald by that point.  That’s not the end of the tire saga – I was leaving work recently and drove through a massive pothole in my office’s entryway, which damaged a rim and forced me to purchase a new rear tire, a snip at only $950.

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To bring this tale of financial woe up to date, my car recently received new front brakes, which cost me about $1,100.  These aren’t the only expenses incurred during my ownership, as the car costs a fortune to insure, and the gas mileage is abysmal.

While my Porsche slumbered at the dealership a few miles away, I was driving a Dodge Avenger from the Enterprise fleet.  Although 993 maintenance has been somewhat, uh, spendy I swear that I will never again complain about the staggering expenses outlined above as long as I’m assured that I won’t have to sit inside a Dodge Avenger again.

David Walton grew up in the North Georgia mountains before moving to Virginia to study Economics, Classics, and Natural Light at Washington and Lee University. Post-graduation, he returned to his home state to work in the financial services industry in Atlanta.  A lifelong automotive enthusiast, particular interests include (old) Porsches and sports car racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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83 Comments on “Engineered For Magic Everyday? – Part 2...”


  • avatar

    So if I’m following this correctly, it cost about $7,000 to keep the car maintained for the first year, and February-August of this year it’s cost $4,000.

    Still considerably less than the payment on a new one, and it sounds like on the whole you like driving it better. So actually you’re not getting such a bad deal, after all …

    D

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      That’s about right; there are a few more minor maintenance annoyances that I omitted.

      Bear in mind the elective mods come on top of that. And then include fuel and insurance, although you can’t avoid those in any car.

      I do agree that it’s better than a payment on a new one, which is why I have mine versus a new(er) one.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        The tire issues could have happened with any car and would be expensive on any performance car. By the way, yours are about half the price of Avons for a 427 Cobra.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          Flipper,

          Some people think that the exaggerated stagger of the 911’s tires contribute to this effect somehow. I’m not convinced.

          The tires themselves are not too expensive. Compare them to the OE Michelin Pilot Sport Cup+ on the 997 GT3 RS 4.0, or perhaps the upcoming Pilot Sport Cup 2 on the new 991 GT3 (now in 20 inch diameter!).

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            I’ve owned my ’95 Mustang Cobra Convertible Hardtop for ten years now and have gone through a grand total of two sets of tires. The first set were the standard issue Michelin Pilots, but the second pair were Tire-Rack Pirelli’s on beautiful black wheels. With the tires, racing suspension and lowering, new brakes, exhaust surgery, and engine upgrading (all of which done myself with friends out in the garage) totals out to about $7K.

            Go Borg with us. Go Fox-body. You won’t regret it.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            Or the Pilot Sport SS, it will eventually replace the PS2

  • avatar
    seth1065

    This is why I can not own a Porsche the upkeep would either kill me or I would shoot myself, the cheap tires it had on it should have been a warning. Based on what you wrote it does not seem like you bought a beat up 911 that needed a ton of cash to bring it back to life, that you got a great deal on knowing you would put cash into it. Great read, hate to ask but what does it cost to ins this classic?

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Seth,

      No the car wasn’t “beat up” by any means. I have never seen (what is now) a 100,000+ mile car that looks as good as or drives as well as mine. The uninformed routinely ask me if I bought it new (I was in elementary school when this car rolled off the assembly line in September 1995).

      Insurance is not TERRIBLE – I pay about $180/month, and I’m not 25 yet. 1 minor ticket, zero accidents, zero claims on my record.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Since the car is 20+ years old, and you are not driving like a grandma, these expenses seem reasonable. The nice thing is that your depreciation cost is about zero.

    Regarding the need for a clutch replacement at 93K, the guy who did the PPI reasonably assumed that you would know that, with a car like that, being driven as it had been driven, replacing the clutch would be a maintenance item . . . just like brakes. And, with a quick look at where the engine is in this car, one should figure out that replacing the clutch would require removal of the entire engine.

    Finally, it would be reasonable to assume that getting any kind of cool air out of a so-called air conditioner bolted to an air cooled engine would be a miracle intself . . . and miracles usually cost money to make them happen.

    And, btw, the first-year depreciation on that Dodge Avenger probably covered at least half of your repairs.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      The guy who did the PPI mentioned brake life, tire wear, etc. but made zero mention of imminent clutch replacement. I am quite happy with the upgraded RS clutch and LWFW, however.

      The AC actually works quite well now; I am satisfied with its performance, even on 100+ degree days.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I would recommend getting rid of those poly engine mounts for what it’s worth. Those are one of the highest cost (in terms of negative side effects) performance upgrades that I see on people’s cars. In my experience people fall back in love with their cars after going back to hard rubber. There are poly inserts in case your car has some hollow rubber OE bushings which can benefit from these, but I’m not sure if that applies to an older Porsche. Besides, is keeping the lid on axle hop a primary concern on a non-drag raced older 911 with stock-ish power levels?

    Everything about your story says you have the right car for your life, expensive tires are the only real wince inducing aspect here. To be honest I’d probably be tempted by the pilots as well, although you should remember that there are less expensive options out there (any tire actually).

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Tedward,

      The Pilot Super Sports are a great tire overall, I’ve just had bad luck with them. The only criticism is wear – at 15,000 miles per year, I’ll go through 3 sets of rears and 1-2 sets of fronts provided there’s no mishap.

      I am very happy with the engine mounts overall. I like the enhanced connectivity.

      • 0 avatar
        buffaloboxster

        Those Pilots will make you broke. I burned through a set of rears on a base 986 Boxster in a summer, and I wasn’t thrashing on it. In 4 years after that I ran through two sets of front Bridgestone S02s and three sets of rears. There are other high performing street tires at much lower cost. I’d also find yourself a new mechanic. $300 for an AC recharge seems high. I paid only a little over a hundred bucks in the Boxster.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        While you may want to explore other tire options, the Michelins are awesome tires. Not sure if this is an area to compromise, especially if you find those engine mounts so appealing. I never saw the appeal of buying cheap tires. On regular cars I know some people who actively seek out tires with 80K treadwear or more. They say they are not into “reckless” driving like me so treadwear becomes the most important criteria. What these tightwads don’t get is that trading off wet traction or stopping distance for tread life is stupidity. One avoided accident will pay for many sets of tires. And besides, maybe some of these dullards might actually enjoy driving if they rode on something softer than a bowling ball.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Everyday is an adjective. Like this: Joe went about his everyday routine as a bus driver, checking his tires and oil levels, then climbing aboard to shoo out the flies and a drunkard sleeping in the back seat.

    “Every Day” is what you want, meaning, of course, each distinct, separate and individual day.

    Thanks,

    Grammar Hearse

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Engineered for Magic Everyday is the title of Porsche’s ad campaign that touts the cars’ utilitarian capabilities. The implication of the subtle difference between “everyday” and “every day” was not lost on me, so I chose to retain it.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Get a Camry SE, pull the muffler, put nice front seats, put 20″ tires and wheels on, better brakes, and some loose pans and pots in the trunk. Should be as fast and loud as your Porsche.

    You’re welcome.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Sounds COMPLETELY reasonable for a 993.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Sweet Jeebus, if this article doesn’t say “avoid Porsche”, I don’t know what does…

    Look at it this way, you’ve spent ~$7K or so in the first year and a half of ownership on repairs, on a vehicle that probably cost at least $20K, quite possibly $30K (scanning Craigslist for 30 seconds).

    Yet all you describe of the driving experience, and the great, you could have just had with a half-as-old used S2000, for the same money or less for the car, and (in 5 years and +80K miles), $0 in repair bills (excluding wear items: tires, new brake pads twice, new brake rotors once) and Honda priced standard maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Nothing against the S2000 — I ran an AP2 in SCCA National Solo — but the two aren’t close. If you really enjoy an S2K, you won’t enjoy a 993 and vice versa.

      Nobody grows up dreaming about owning a Honda anyway. :)

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Nicholas,

      The car came in just under $30k.

      My dad just picked up an S2000, and I imagine I’ll drive it at some point. I doubt either of us will want to switch, however.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      When you finally get your dream car, cost is no object. Period.

      When cost is always an object, and you take the time to keep books on what you drive, you’ll never own a dream car. Most likely because you’re incapable of dreaming on four wheels.

      Having owned a 924S, I understand the OP’s attitude. I always wanted one, I was prepared to pay for it.

      Now that I have the Solstice, I’ve got something that you can have fun keeping books on. When it goes (either for a Boxster or a 911), we’re back to dream car.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I’m tracking my S2000, and while costs aren’t as bad, there are some things to be aware of that I’ve done in a year of owning my AP2

      Top replacement – Very few make it past 100k/10yrs on the original top. a replacement is $1100 on the low end and up to $2k doing it at the dealer with the OE replacement.

      Rollbar – If you want to track the car many organizations require one. The bolt-in affairs cost $800 for the ones with all the diagonals and harness bars, plus another $5-700 to install (I did mine myself).

      Tires – Not as bad, but still $6-700 a set for the good stuff.

      Transmission/clutch – Yeah the Honda ones last longer, but a clutch replacement is easily a $1000-1500 affair. I just had to do a whole transmission with mine for $900 for a salvage plus $600 install plus $400 for a clutch, but that as due to an incident that was my fault, and not the car’s (Transmissions drain plug backed out and dumped all my fluid on the track).

      Other than that stuff, consumable costs are low and it’s an incredibly rewarding car to drive. I have a beater 4×4 for winter and if the S is out of commission. Not being reliant on it for daily transport gives me the chance to price-shop for all my parts and labor or DIY, which I recommend to anyone who must have a sports car, especially if you’re tracking.

      I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I happily dump the money it needs into it.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    David,

    You also want to make sure you have a spare DME relay in the glovebox.

    I gave up on max-performance tires for the 993. I bought Eagle GTs last time, adding 20mm of width up front to balance the car a bit. After 12,000 miles they still look good in back and — a bonus — the car is considerably looser on fast roads.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Jack,

      Indeed I DO have a spare DME relay in my glovebox. In fact, the car has sputtered on about half of its starts in recent days, so I may be in for more issues.

      I believe your car has smaller, narrower wheels than mine, which are 8×18 and 10×18 front and rear. Without verifying to be sure, I think I’m running 235 and 265 respectively.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        I got 24 kmiles from 235 and 265 x 18 PS2s on a Cayman S, so I guess I drive in an age appropriate manner. Just another old f*rt tooling along at 17mph in the right lane with the left turn signal on…..
        Similar results were gotten on a 964 – two sets of Goodyear Eagles over almost 60 kmiles. 225 x 16 – mucho cheaper, too. (edit – first 8K miles on some AX tire with a tire wear rating of 40)
        Were I you, I’d have a specialist check the aligmment – again.
        I would love to get a 993 Carrera S but not with that level of tire wear.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    After a few weeks studying Boxsters and their costs, I admitted to myself that I am neither passionate enough nor worthy enough to own such a car. Just shaking my head at you guys.

  • avatar
    otter

    I know 911s are a ton of fun and all, but ~$11k for a year and a half of upkeep seems like a huge waste of money unless David is living on half his income, investing the other half and still has this much left over to spend on discretionary fun stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      I do ok, but that’s not the point.

      I could be spending this money on something else, like having a kid. Also indulgent, also rewarding.

      • 0 avatar
        otter

        Of course I know nothing of your finances and it’s none of my business, but it reminds me of a few things:

        1)How much I like cheap cars :) That much money will probably cover every dollar of the restoration costs of my Fiat, which are being spread out over 3-4 years anyway.

        2)When (not if) I eventually get my 911, it will be a bone-stock SC or Carrera (or maybe heavily-updated 2.7) that won’t be daily-driven in any event, allowing me to at the very worst fool myself into thinking that it won’t be a major money pit, and will only end up a minor one.

        3)Doing your own maintenance (assuming tools, ability, tolerance for opportunity cost of time) saves piles of money.

        • 0 avatar

          Is that last line really necessary? We’re all adults here, and telling others how to spend their money is, in my opinion, unwarranted. David is a hard working man who spends his precious free time writing high-quality articles for you to enjoy at no cost.

      • 0 avatar
        lzaffuto

        Spend your money on whatever makes you happy and makes your life worth living and working hard for. When you finish your day and walk back to see that car in the parking lot, or you are about to go to sleep at night and take a quick peek in the garage and crack a smile, it makes it all worthwhile.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    $7K a year on maintenance is ~$583/month. That’s a house payment in Georgia, spent on what is essentially a hobby. I hope you’re fully funding your 401K or otherwise saving for the future, while will arrive faster than you can imagine.

    -Dad

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    One more bit of advice: if you’re passionate about cars, don’t get married. While your girlfriend may be giddy about your ass-engined Nazi slot car, if and when you marry her, things will change in a hurry.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      You don’t have to say it twice.

      Get married and trade in the 993 for a minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Find the right woman, and you don’t have to do that. I’ve never wanted kids, I’ve always managed to find a woman with half the parenting instinct I have. The late wife had no problems with six motorcycles and a Porsche in the garage. She flew ladies colors in two M/C’s with me, and got the respect of every patcholder we me. The current girlfriend, if anything, is more passionate about motorsports than the wife. Cars and bikes.

        Yeah, there’s some compromises. She’s learned MotoGP and Formula 1, is about to be introduced to flat track, and we’re heading to VIR for some kind of race this fall (miss the days when they had AMA Superbike). In return, I’m taking her to RIR for my first NASCAR race in three weeks.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Syke, you speak the truth. My wife loves cars, musclecars, fast driving, and she got me into NASCAR. I feel bad for those who can’t drive what they want (assuming they can afford it) because they “aren’t allowed” to…

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        If the car’s paid off, just buy a beater instead! (beater minivan?)

        I’m married and the wife was excited to get the sports car when we found my S2000. Granted, it is a convertible, which she wanted. When I eventually found a beater to go with it, things became great. It makes shopping parts and labor if not DIYing much easier when I don’t have to worry what my ride to work will be or if the S2k is functional.

      • 0 avatar
        ChrisCraft

        That’s what happened to our first generation RX-7. There was no room for you in the RX-7, so we traded for the minivan. What a POS.

    • 0 avatar
      otter

      Not if you find the right partner! Mine actually encourages me to buy the 911 I’ve always wanted, because I’ve always wanted it, even though it is not even remotely a financially smart thing to do for me right now.

  • avatar
    Travis

    So are you the guy that’s only capable of writing about Porsches and your limited experience with money and driving? Not to hate on people who are lucky enough to come from a wealthy family, but being thrown a bunch of extremely expensive (a 993 is that) toys at a young age can blind one to the reality of finances and money management. I guess it’s just not translating all that well into text. I also tire of people who only write about themselves and can’t just describe something through their eyes.

    So, if you’re that guy who’s just going to write about his Porsche, lemme know now so I can avoid your articles.

    • 0 avatar

      David’s next article is about as far away from Porsches as one can possibly get. I also know David offline – his 993 was earned through hard work, not given to him by his family.

      • 0 avatar
        Travis

        Nice. His writing is very good, but variety is as well!

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          Travis,

          It’s coming, don’t worry.

          Since the car was not a gift, I find myself working quite long hours to pay for it and everything else I enjoy. As a result, I won’t be able to write much until next weekend, but I have a few pieces that are already complete.

          Stay tuned and let me know what you’d like to read about!

          • 0 avatar
            Travis

            I also don’t mean to hate on people who are blessed with wealthy families. I’m one of them, and sometimes a bit salty about my parents not throwing me a bunch of expensive toys when I was very young. I look forwrad to your other articles.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Porsche ownership is more or less like owning a good-sized boat: An expensive hobby. It’s fine as long as you recognize that and accordingly align your expectations.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Absolutely agree.

      I anticipate that my father will chime in here at some point on this very topic.

      • 0 avatar
        ChrisCraft

        E46M3 signed his post as “Dad”. He is not David’s dad. I am
        “Portia” is the equivalent of a high maintenance mistress. Her curvaceous buns are lovely to see. Nice headlights, too.
        For the record, he bought the car. I did not. Had I bought it, I would be driving it, not him.
        The boat analogy is mostly accurate. My wooden boats are appreciating in value. It’s a supply and demand thing. You can barely give the fiberglass boats away.
        I do think I would make some compromises on the tires.

      • 0 avatar
        Windy

        I was lucky my Dad bought a M-Benz 300SL Gullwing in 1955 when I was young enough to curl up behind on the shelf that held the special suitcase when he and Mom would go for weekend drives and when I got my license at 16 he took me over to the Lime rock park on the other side of the state and arraigned for John Fitch to give me lessons in driving a car with final oversteer around the track over 4 days that included driving in the rain… Learning how to 4 wheel drift though the esses there. With the nice Mr. Fitch teaching me how to be smooth and safe is a highlight memory of my youth. Dad was very smart to do this and I am convinced that those lessons have saved my life on more than a few occasions, most of them before I turned 30.

        Dad was generous in letting me drive his car when ever I was home and even let me have it my senior year at college when I made Deans list… ( and until health changes forced him to sell it after over 30 years and more than 200,000 miles it was you may be sure His Car) and I wish I could have afforded to take on its upkeep and insurance costs at that time but the early years of a professional pilot’s life are very lean and SAAB 99ems I bought was a much wiser choice.

        The Gullwing was an expensive car to own in its day and though my Dad was much more about mechanical perfection than the cosmetics of keeping the chrome trim looking new and the like the things like almost a case of oil at each change and that needed at 1500 miles most of the year the need to drop the belly pans to attend the dozens of grease points every 3000 miles and the need for a mechanic who understood the quirks of the direct injection engine meant the costs were high for the era… The kicker for him deciding to sell was the huge jump in insurance cost in the late 1970s when the insurance company figured out that a 1954 MB 2door coupe was a rather valuable car so when health problems meant he could no longer manage the heavy clutch the car was sold.

        People make choices in lifestyle and we are all different . I know a couple who live in a double wide mobilhome and drive cars including a race car that they run that together are worth several times the value of their home…. (The metal barn he built for the cars my be worth as much as their house) they love their cars and the weekend racing and have apportioned the costs of their life to fit… If they both drove off lease used econo cars and had cheap hobbies then they could afford a very fancy home in a great neighborhood with a state of the art media room and a swimming pool… But that is not the life they want… They love cars and racing and that is how they structure their life.

        You have made the right decision for you at this point in your life and it sounds to me like you are happy with the trade offs that this required.

        Thank you for sharing this experience with all of us.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          Incredible story! I’m very jealous of you.

          I haven’t said it explicitly, but the car happens to fit my lifestyle as it is at this moment. I live very close to work so I can walk when the car lets me down or is being repaired. There are numerous mechanics, as well as a dealer close by. I don’t need a big back seat, but it has been used a time or two. I can afford to pay the litany of bills above despite grousing about it.

          That said, if I move, or go back to school, or take a different job, or get married/procreate soon, then the car probably has to go.

          I also think sometimes about selling it for a newer car (not necessarily a Porsche).

          But for now, it stays.

  • avatar
    THE_F0nz

    My experience was about the same on my 02′ 996 in terms of tires and clutch work. A nail was an 800 dollar nightmare once every few months.

    I never hit nails until my car’s tires cost $400 a piece… I haven’t seen one since the car went away.

    The clutch is infamous for failing without warning/slipping. These cars have finnicky clutch pedals in my oopinion, so even a moderately skilled driver can kill these clutches iin 60k miles.

    Add in the HVAC and air-cooled engine issues…. Wow. I don’t think I really want a 993… Hopefully I never get the bug by driving one.

    One other fact: The OEM alignment in the rear calls for a significant amount of negative camber. Otherwise stability/handling suffers. This means your tires (Rated at a paltry 180-280 tread-life), are not only staggered, but go bald on the inside every 10-15,000 miles….

    Thats right kids: Those nail-magnet tires also cost 800-1500 a year on a daily driven Porsche even if you don’t mess it up on a nail.

    Truth be told: Great car. Not the easiest to drive slow and smooth, but certainly livable. More cargo room than I needed for a daily driver and more on-ramp grip than any other sports car I have ever driven. Brakes? You have to drive one to understand what rear-engined weight transfer feels like. It makes these cars notorious for being rear ended by lesser braking car. You have no idea how fast you are slowing down and how less capable the cars around you are. Always leave a bail out…

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      I’m totally confused by your remarks and that of David in the article regarding tires. All of the modern tire shops sell tire warranties (aka “certificates”) for around $25 or less per tire, usually. I bought a set of new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s for my performance car, and twice in three months got a nail necessitating replacement of one of them. In both instances, it was just the cost of a new certificate on the replacement tire. Do they not sell them for Pilot Super Sports?

  • avatar
    j3studio

    This really sounds about reasonable for daily driving a twenty year old sports car.

    It is a commitment – and brings with it the reality that things _will_ break, whether because of age or because of use. My much more lightly driven 1985 Corvette (about 3,000 miles a year and now just over 70k total) also brings with it occasional daily obscene costs – we leave the daily driving to the 2012.

    David, I know I would be happy to see your car on the road, no matter what I was driving.

  • avatar
    lon888

    More reasons why I never yearned to own a “Porsh”. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, I wrenched on virtually any “furrin car’ including Porsches to pay for my engineering school/beer/pizza habit. I remember being amazed at the ABSOLUTE fragility of the 60’s and 70’s models of 911’s. Brilliant engineering – worthless execution. The 914’s and early 924’s were even worse – total cheap plastic crap. My main take-away from engineering school was that reliability and affordability trump “mystique”. The very reason I drove Honda’s for 26 years – and was happy about it.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If you want durability in a sports car, get a pre-80 450SL. These cars were affectionately called “panzer wagens” by their designers. As the owner of a 1974 model, I agree. While not in the same power to weight class as a 911, they are quite fun to drive. Mine has 124K on it and aside from hoses, gaskets, electronic ignition module and shocks, has not required more than a valve adjustment in the 12 years I owned it.
    The best part is that the self proclaimed car buffs hate them. This means you can buy one in very good condition for $5-10K. As long as you stay away from the MB dealer, maintenance is cheap. OEM parts can be had on the interwebs very reasonably. In 12 years, I spent less than $2K total including wear parts.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Why pre-80 vs the later SLs, did the durability/reliability aspect suffer?

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      28 Cars,

      In 81, MB swiched from the cast iron 4.5 DOHC V8 to an aluminum 3.8 V8 that only made 150 HP. This engine is considered a dog by the MB enthusiasts. In 86 they switched to a 5.6L Al V8 that was the best of the series.
      The 86-89s are a lot pricier and not a good deal relative to the pre 80 models for the same body style.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        That 4.5 liter iron V8 (M116) was SOHC, not DOHC. Mercedes didn’t have a DOHC V8 until 1990 with the 5.0 liter M119 unit as introduced in the new SL that also came out that year.

        560SLs are around $10k in good shape these days. Hell for that money, you can step up to an R129 300SL or 500SL with under 100k miles and all its service records.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I gave up on recharging the AC on my 1984 Carrera. It was explained to me by the Porsche mechanic that all these old cars had leaks…even when they were new. Since I was residing in Florida at that time, I sort of drove it occassionaly between June to October and drove it a lot from October to June. It’s just the nature of the beast for these 911. I don’t race mine so I have cheap Falken tires in the rear ( 90 dollars each) and they seem to last a long time. Yeah, they are a little loud, but the whole damn car is loud. When that engine is screaming at 85 mph I don’t really hear the tires. Yours must be all prepped for racing because the last quote I got for a brake job was 65 dollars for the pads and about one hour of labor…and that’s in the land of rip-off prices where I have been for the past three years ( Canada). The 911s are a joy to drive but not all the time to be honest with you. I cannot see driving mine as a daily driver. It’s loud, suspension is harsh on rough roads and NO CUP holders and for the love of God, I have to have both hands on the wheel at all times :) If the road is smooth, is not too bad. The longest I drove mine in one setting was about 500 miles ( Bangor, Me to Nova Scotia). It wasn’t actually bad at all after I got used to the loud drone of the engine. I just had ringing in my ears for a day or two, but no permanent damage done :)

  • avatar
    old fart

    Sounds like the old adage.
    ” How fast can you afford to go? “

  • avatar
    PaulyG

    The A/C on my ’89 3.2 is basically dead but living in New England it does not matter as much since speeding up the Merritt Parkway with the windows down is way more fun. If you need AC you should check out the retrofit kits offered by a couple of companies in Panorama.

    Finally, I would also keep a full set of fuses in addition to the DME relay in the glove box.

  • avatar
    richeffect

    My 86 944 was a dream to drive.

    But here’s the repair list I went through in 12 years of driving it as my only car:
    -3 clutches (the original had rubber centers that failed prematurely). The third time I got the spring loaded center and that held up well
    -2 head rebuilds (after 2 belt failures) – 2nd one was my fault
    – 3 water pumps – every 60k they give up the ghost
    – 1 transmission – my fault
    – 1 power steering rack – when they start leaking, it’s over.
    – 1 header – replaced with a Bursch performance header–really woke the midrange up!
    – numerous interior bits

    All in all, it drove brilliantly and I don’t regret owning it. But because I have a mortgage in Silicon Valley, wife, two kids that need to go to college in about a decade or so–driving my Mazda RX-8 trouble free for 18k now means I won’t be going back anytime soon.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    After I finish typing this, I’m going to go home and open my garage door, admire my collection of tools and pat myself on the back for all the times I never paid someone a thousand frigging dollars for a brake job.

    Then I’m going to get in my humble hairdresser’s car and have eight-tenths of the fun you’re having for about 5% of the expense. Because Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      $30 rotors ftw

    • 0 avatar
      gakoenig

      Yea, $1k for Porsche front brakes is sort of a joke.

      Porsche uses specially built Brembo calipers. Once the wheel is off, it’s two bolts to get the caliper off and one screw to get the rotor off. The first wheel you’ve ever done is a 30 minute job. The second one is 10-15. Pads? Once the wheel is off, it’s a retaining spring and they slide right out (once you press the calipers open).

      The parts are not that bad. Pelican has ATE rotors for ~$100 each, and pads at $100 for the set, so $300 in parts and 1.5 hours in labor for the ham fisted. The $700 went right into a mechanic’s pocket and could have easily bought a nice set of Proto tools to do this and most any other routine maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Conversely,

      I’m typing this right now on the computer that I use to do my own job, which – through the wonders of comparative advantage and markets facilitating the exchange of goods and services – allows me to sell my own productivity for more than it would be worth to me to do the job myself (provided I could), even with the mark-up paid for labor and parts.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        While that may be true, and for myself it is more true every year, it still pays to be an informed consumer and not be completely ripped off. The money saved can be used for more interesting things.

        But good for you in indulging your dream at a young age. And keep that Porsche – I bought my Spitfire when I was your age, and I will never part with it. Too many memories. Relative to my income at the time, it was every bit as much an indulgence, and it could not serve as a daily driver.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          Sure it pays to be informed.

          I actually get the car serviced at the stealer.

          All of the expert members of the commentariat will think I’m crazy, but the expense is not much higher than any independent mechanic nearby. Plus, they’re open early, late, and on the weekend. They also provide me with a loaner/rental car. I also have a good friend who works there, so I’m well taken care of.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        You must make some serious money to pay over a grand for a 2 hour job on brakes and consider that worth the sacrifice!

  • avatar
    Sam P

    David,

    You may want to consider getting a road hazard warranty with your next set of tires. I blew one on I-5 in downtown Seattle. Barely limped my 330i off the freeway into Chinatown to put the (thankfully full size) spare on.

    Discount Tire replaced the tire for free and for $87 (less than half the cost of a new 245/40-17 Continental DWS) replaced the other rear tire as well so I’d have a matched set on the back.

    Without that road hazard warranty, I’d have paid close to $400 for that escapade. Cheap compared to tires on your 993, but that’s nearly half the cost of the BMW Performance exhaust I’ve been eyeing.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Agreed on the road hazard warranty. And compromising on tire quality as well. You have to look pretty hard to read anything bad about the performance of Michelins, but the cost is absurd. Get something reasonable for the street, like Continental DW or Bridgestone re760s. For street driving, high performance all-seasons like the DWS or re970s wouldn’t be the end of the world. Then get a second set of wheels with Dunlop star specs or Michelins for track use.

    As far as hitting road hazards, I think some cars are cursed when it comes to wheels/tires. You can drive for years and years without a problem, then on a particular car the flats never seem to stop.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Oh as soon as I read the article I knew we were gonna see a ton of “I told you so” comments on the cost of owning a Porsche, how crazy you are for buying one, OMG they are as expensive as everyone says, buy a Honda, buy a Toyota, I never spent that much on my ______, etc, etc.

    You bought tires. Then you ran over something and bought more tires. then you ran over something else, and realized you were driving on almost bald tires and you bought more tires. And you go on a lot of high speed mountain drives with your car too. Any car that has the same size tires as your car will cost the same for tire replacement, has nothing to do with the fact that you drive a Porsche, except for maybe the alignment specs that are geared more towards ultimate performance than even tire wear. And then you got a performance alignment that probably made things worse. Here is a lesson you can learn from this: First, you chose really expensive tires… shop around a bit. Or buy a set of street tires for daily use, and a set of track tires and rims for when you go on your apparently common joyrides in the mountains. And when you find a good deal, buy a spare set for when they wear out or you hit something else in the road. Oh, and duh, avoid potholes when you have low profile tires on lightweight rims.

    And lets see… you needed front brakes. OMG, I had no idea Porsches required new brakes at nearly 100k miles!! I have never needed brakes for my ________. So clearly this is a maintenance item, you needed brakes and it sounds like you bent over and took one for the team from your chosen mechanic. I don’t own a Porsche so I cannot comment on how much a brake job goes for, but my guess is you should have gotten a reach around with it at the price you paid. In 2 mins of Google searching I found performance pad kits for your car for under $200, and rotors are maybe $300 to replace. Pelican parts has a writeup on how to do the work, and they rate it at a difficultly level of 5. Lesson #2: Only old rich guys go to the stealership for work on a 20yo Porsche, you are 23 and trying to daily drive a 993, be more resourceful. Learn to do some work yourself, or find a good indie mechanic that doesn’t charge so much. All of your expenses are essentially top dollar and every other old Porsche driver disagrees with you on how “reasonable” dealer service is.

    Whats next… the clutch. Holy cow, you mean you gotta replace those things??? Who knew.. a car (doesn’t matter if its a Porsche) with 100k miles might need a new clutch. And a Porsche (this time it does matter) with the engine in the back takes more effort to replace it than a regular car. I would have never considered that! Oh wait, yes I would. My MR2 that cost about 1/3 of your Porsche needs a new clutch and you pretty much have to drop the engine to get it. Replacing the clutch, pressure plate, and flywheel will cost me at least $1000, more if I choose performance parts like you did. And like you, while the engine is out there is a ton of other things that should be done now rather than later, so you just hope that most of that stuff is ready to be done at the time you get the clutch done. For me that may include swapping in a 2ZZ, if I can limp it along until I find a suitable (cheap) engine. For you, I don’t know what those things were so I don’t know if $3500 was reasonable or not, but its something you most likely will not have to do for another 100k miles so while it added to your first year costs, it does not mean that you need to budget for that every year.

    Now, the AC problems are fair enough to claim. And by my count you overpaid for an A/C recharge, but got off easy for the duct assembly, so lets call it a wash, under a grand to fix AC on a 20yo car with 100k miles. Could cost that much on any car, and possibly more. The drive belt is legit too, and sounds like you got off easy on that too. Oil problem? You should be more careful tightening the oil cap. Atrocious gas mileage??? Its an old Porsche, what did you expect? Most performance cars do not get good gas mileage. A case could be made for hwy mpg on a Vette, sure, but around town that drops significantly. And you take your car on a lot of performance runs too, that will impact mpg too. Not sure about insurance, could be your age or where you live. From what I have heard from others with older Porsches, they are stupid cheap to insure, and if you had a second car you can probably get classic car insurance for it that makes it even stupider cheap. Lesson #3: If you can afford a $30k Porsche at 23yo, you can probably afford a $5k daily driver to offset the maintenance and insurance cost of using a Porsche every day for everything.

    So by my count, not counting wear items like clutch, brakes and tires, and not counting the tires you messed up yourself, you spent around $1300 on extra expenses for owning a Porsche. You cost yourself about $2k by running over things and not tightening the oil cap, and you probably overspent on maintenance by around $1500 or so too by going to the stealership. You do seam to wear out tires fast though, so lets say figure $1500/yr for a set of tires annually if you don’t get some dedicated track rubber for your fun runs. Not nearly as bad as saying you spend $7k/yr on upkeep.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Don’t forget the $2000 in mods that he opened this financial tale of woe with. I’m pretty sure mods shouldn’t be held against a car either.

    I look forward to the follow up post about the additional expense and hassle of rolling those mods back once he can no longer stand the punishment.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      haha I forgot about those but not sure they were included in the total tab.

      In David’s defense, he clearly loves the car and doesn’t mind spending the money on it, which is cool. But I couldn’t help but think as I read it that it was misleading to the Euro-basher readers. One my friends just got a 2010 Porsche Turbo and doesn’t even go to the dealer with it. I also wonder if the costs would be more reasonable on an older model 911… no dual spark, higher profile, smaller diameter tires, (possibly) less finicky AC, etc.

      And my original comment did turn on way too long, sorry!


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