By on July 30, 2015

Porsche996d

About two months ago, I purchased my fourth new-to-me car in as many years — and I still had two of the previous three. Of those three, one was purchased for adventure (a 1977 Porsche 911S that I drove cross-country and back nine days after purchasing it), one because of nostalgia (a Honda S2000, I bought one new and missed it), and the third due to reputation (an Acura NSX, I had never even driven one before buying this one online). Those reasons must be the foundation for some sort of automotive cardinal sins list.

However, I bought the fourth one because it represented such a good value. It was a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera with about 146,000 miles. It hadn’t had the IMS bearing replaced, but I figured that with such high mileage it probably wouldn’t have an issue. Is this foreshadowing? The seller was a friend who had owned it for about two years but had purchased a mid-eighties 911 Targa recently and didn’t want the ’99 as a daily driver any longer.

Painted a pretty medium blue, the 996 was equipped with a beige interior and GT3 wheels. It drove well and — except for mediocre clearcoat and worn leather, a ‘check engine’ light that appeared intermittently, and a blown speaker — it was a solid performer. I certainly didn’t need the Porsche (nor did I have the space), but at $8,500, how could I go wrong?

Also, I’ve always been of the opinion that anyone who buys a new [insert shitbox automotive appliance here] is an idiot. I read “You Gotta Be Rich to Own a Cheap Car” and agreed with the article.

“Baruth,” I thought to myself, “you nailed it.” But he missed something important, too. I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Porsche996c

My friend and I went for a test drive and then we met up on a Sunday morning for coffee at Deus Ex Machina, in Venice, CA. He signed the title and I signed a check. $8,500 for a Porsche 911. Boom. What’s a Toyota Corolla? I just bought Zuffenhausen’s finest.

On Monday, I called my insurance agent to add the Porsche. “Hmmm. It comes up in my system as a Porsche Boxster.” I frowned. “No, it’s a 911,” I replied.

“Maybe the DMV just has it wrong. But it is a convertible, right?” she asked.

“No, it’s a coupe.”

“Could you go outside and compare the windshield VIN with your title, please?”

Now I was nervous. This was cutting into my valuable automotive journalist cereal-eating time. I walked outside under a bright, blue Los Angeles sky and almost dropped my cereal. The VIN on the title and on the car didn’t match. On closer inspection the title also had the wrong license plate number.

“Let me call you back…”

I called my friend immediately and told him what was going on. He told me that he used to have a 1999 Porsche Boxster that was totaled and that he had probably given the shop that bought it the wrong title.

“Let me call you back…”

After a quick phone call to them, he confirmed this was the case. We met again a few days later to switch titles. The Porsche was now insured, but still not registered.

That was a whole other headache because when my friend gave the shop that bought the wrecked Boxster their half of the title, he mailed his half in that stated that this shop now owned it. Except they didn’t. They owned the 911 because he had mixed them up. Now he’d have to write a letter to the DMV explaining the mix-up. He wrote it promptly and sent it over. In the meantime, I drove the Porsche around enjoying its torquey flat-six, thinking, “Yeah, it’s been a bit aggravating, but it’ll work out. And after all, I got an eighty-five hundred dollar 911!”

Porsche996i

A couple of days later, I went out to run some mundane errand. I jumped in the car, fired it up and lowered the windows. Except the driver-side window didn’t drop smoothly. Then, when attempting to roll it back up, it jammed and stopped — crooked, half-way up. I opened the door and tried guiding it.

“I’ll just use the air conditioning.”

(Don’t forget: This is Los Angeles. We don’t have real seasons.)

Air-con is on, let’s go! Oh. What’s this? A warning light. The check engine light came on again. I was used to that one by now, but now the airbag light was on too.

“At least the car was cheap,” I nervously muttered as I released the clutch.

Following all the registration issues, my threshold for nonsense was much decreased. I had now owned the car over three weeks, but had only driven it about a hundred miles. I called my friend again. It’s at this point that I began to suspect that he had realized that he’d sold me the car for far less than he could get from some joker in Cleveland. He offered to buy the car back for what I had paid.

I told him that I’d like to have it checked out, see what the airbag issue was, and that I’d let him know how I wanted to proceed. He graciously offered to pay for the repairs as he didn’t want me to be pissed. I took it to the shop and they called back the following morning.

“There’s an issue with the airbag wiring harness and also, ummm, the car needs a new window regulator.”

“OK… how much will that cost?”

“Well, we also put it on the rack and there are a few other issues… the clutch will need to be replaced within the next 5000 miles and the water pump is leaking pretty badly. Also, the tie-rods are damaged and there are a few cosmetic issues inside the cabin. Oh and…”

“Let me call you back…”

Porsche996j

My friend and I met up the following Sunday. I handed him the title and he signed a check. In total, I “owned” the 911 for twenty-six days. The IMS bearing didn’t fail during my ownership stint. There were no hard feelings on either side. He’s happy that he can make more money off of it and I’m happy to be rid of the registration issues and mechanical faults.

Which brings me to what Baruth missed. Being rich or privileged isn’t enough to own a cheap car. All those trust-fund enthusiasts — who can’t believe the masses drive around in $10-15K Camrys, Civics, and Altimas — would do well to realize how fortunate they themselves are. Not simply because they can purchase “cheap” performance cars and feel superior to the poor Versa-driving shmucks (“Man, you don’t know what you’re missing! Just get a cheap sports car…”); but because more than the pure financial cost is the amount of time you have to be able to waste attending to issues that invariably pop up.

How much time did I squander between trying to register the Porsche, buying and selling it back, and taking it to the shop? Please don’t tell me. I’m fine spending some money on cars because you can always earn more, sell something, etc… But my time? That is a limited, decreasing asset and, as a car guy, I’d rather spend mine driving.

POSTSCRIPT: You may have noticed that the accompanying photos are not of a medium blue Porsche 996. No, they’re of a GT Silver 40th anniversary 996. That’s because my friend worried that this article might affect his ability to sell the car and hence didn’t allow me to photograph his car (and I didn’t shoot it while I still owned it). But I didn’t want the story to run with one crappy instagram shot so I turned to the forums where a good Samaritan stepped in.

You’ve got to have eye candy, right?

Yoav Gilad is the Principal and Co-Founder of Screen Cartel, a content and production agency. He also has a personal automotive site dedicated to bringing the thrill and romance of cars and travel to the enthusiast, KeepItWideOpen, which has at least two fans: his mom and his wife. His dad doesn’t care for it. He is a car designer by training and was Petrolicious’s managing editor before branching out on his own.

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134 Comments on “Money Isn’t Everything: What an $8,500 Porsche 996 Really Costs...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Indeed, time is a commodity the “Why buy a Toyota Corolla when you could have this 1998 Jaguar XJR for the same money?” crowd seem to place no value on. Probably a consequence of being high schoolers. The only work I want to do to a car is bolting on mods, and oil changes. Beyond that you can keep it. You can’t get time back, and spending a day wrenching on a repair is a huge waste of time to me.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    This is why I never sell my cars to friends

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It seemed to work out fine. Things could have been uglier for the seller if the buyer hadn’t been his friend.

      I’d be offended if a friend didn’t give me first shot if I wanted a vehicle they were selling.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “My great granddaddy always said there are two things you never sell to a friend – a car or a slave. Cause if either one stops working, you’ll never hear the end of it.”

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Agreed: never sell a car to a friend unless you are willing to give up the friend or the money (by buying the car back).

      Yoav, odds are your friend knew that the car had issues (a LOT of issues as it turns out) and should never have sold it to you, even if it was at a low price. That he had the cash to give back to you and the ethics to do so are make him a decent friend and you a lucky guy. If he had spent the money you could have been SOL.

      • 0 avatar
        Yoav Gilad

        Maybe, but he’s an engineer and maintained the car himself. Also, he’s still a friend who I trust. I took it all on faith and rather than getting a PPI just paid up. To this day, I don’t think there was ANY deceit or poor intentions.

        I was ready to invest the money to repair it, but the fact that he wanted to buy it back made it a quick, easy solution. I want a car I can drive and enjoy, not a headache.

        • 0 avatar
          Senna3X

          You bought a high mileage 996 for $8500 and expected it to be hassle free like a $8500 Lexus? First of all if you wanted a used Porsche that wouldn’t eat up your limited time you should have had the sense to get the PPI to confirm what most Porsche enthusiasts would have told you from the start, there are no unicorns. You will either have to get out the wallet or the tool box or likely both. Also, as a car guy, finding a Porsche with 145k miles didn’t strike you as a prime candidate for clutch work? Did you not consider that you would need to write a check for $4k for the clutch and highly recommended IMS/rms work while the transmission was down? Did you spend any time to learn about the importance (and cost) of proactively replacing the water pump on any high mileage water-cooled Porsche? All of this information is widely available on the many Porsche forums if the low selling price wasn’t your first clue. I’d give you an F on homework. Your article should be titled “How not to buy a Porsche.”

  • avatar
    Waterview

    I see so many of these “opportunities”, but always pass on them because I know I couldn’t be happy with a car that was either cosmetically or mechanically in need of attention. I just know I’d end up spending $5,000 to make things correct and have a $2,500 car to show for it. Frustrating on the other hand because I’ve missed the experience of owning some interesting cars.

  • avatar

    Title of article is misleading. I was hoping for some numbers, and got a cop-out paragraph instead.

    FWIW, I keep google doc spreads of the old cars I buy and rehab/rebuild. Helps with the overall big picture when buying parts and not always going for the most expensive thing even if it is $5 compared to $15. It ads up quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      Yoav Gilad

      The cost to repair, including the new clutch, was around $5k.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      He didn’t include a lot of numbers but he told you precisely what it cost him – a bunch of time better spent doing something else and some unneeded stress to go with it. The title wasn’t misleading at all – “Money Isn’t Everything …”

  • avatar
    InterstateNomad

    As those in the military say, “amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics”

    The reason why cars like the MX-5 sell and continue to sell well… the logistics of keeping the car: the parts, the maintenance, the time… more smiles per gallon, more satisfaction per hour dedicated to maintaining the car.

  • avatar
    hipostang

    I enjoyed this article very much. Although I’ve never seen a 996 this cheap, I have seen a few high mileage 4S’ in the $15k range which seems like great value for money. But, if any of the well documented issues occur, you’re upside down in hurry and will likely regret just not getting the turbo even it had the automatic.

    Out of curiosity, have you considered a 2009+ cayman or boxster? If you don’t have kids to haul around, they seem like the ones that offer the most value and I’ve seen a lot of them popping up recently.

    • 0 avatar
      Yoav Gilad

      I haven’t, but the main reason that I was interested was the value that it represented, not the car itself. If a Boxster/Cayman was available for a great price I’d certainly consider it. I actually prefer them to 911s.

  • avatar
    sproc

    I’m sorry, but I lost a lot of respect for both the seller and the buyer for being so casually careless about a document as important as the title. Also, I would never sign for ownership of a vehicle or drive it anywhere without adding it to my insurance policy first. Does CA have a grace period?

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      When I sold my Miata to a young guy we both stood beside the car and made sure the VIN matched the Title. At my suggestion. I still can’t believe he didn’t want a PPI, but then neither did today’s author.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Yeah, just try to do that in Virginia. Date your insurance one calendar day after registering the vehicle and the DMV will pursue you to the ends of the earth threatening you with fines, points, immediate moving to the highest risk (most expensive) pool for insurance, etc. In fact, down here you’re expected to take the VIN of the vehicle you’re about to take delivery on to your insurance agent, buy the insurance and THEN close on the purchase of the vehicle.

      In my case, I got nailed on a 1929 Indian motorcycle, a gift from my father-in-law. Obviously, your average daily commuter. Made no difference, I only got out of it when my insurer changed the paperwork back to the day I registered it, and then wrote the DMV a nice little letter telling them to piss off.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Any halfway decent insurance company will insure you for whatever you happen to be driving for a few days after you purchase anyway. This is pretty much a non-issue (here in AZ). I’ll call my agent with a VIN number within a week or so, or I’ll drop by his office with the car for show & tell (he’s a car guy).

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      AFAIK, CA does not have a ‘grace period’ per se–as the state has nothing to do with insurance (except guaranteeing you have it)–but at least some insurance companies do. Whenever I’ve considered buying a car I call my State Farm agent and he says ‘buy it, then call us with the VIN and plate number when you get a chance.’ IIRC, he said I am covered automatically for a grace period (30 days or so).

      • 0 avatar

        Typically, “grace period” in terms of insurance refers to the fictitious idea that you are entitled to a certain number of days’ worth of leniency after you are in default of your insurance payments.

        I’m not sure what the term is for being covered on a new vehicle through your existing policy for a set number of days before it needs to be added to the policy. But we must have that practice here in Oklahoma, because when I buy cars, all they ever ask for is proof of existing state minimum coverage, and, in the case of a lender or lienholder, that it meets said lienholder’s standards. They don’t ask me to prove that I added the new car in question to the policy…although I always talk to my insurer prior to buying it because for someone in his early twenties, insurance premiums are a big deal…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      There is a grace period in Ohio, where the new car is covered for 30 days under the current insurance on your vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        beastpilot

        Every insurance policy I have seen says they cover a car purchased as a replacement for a current car on the policy (traded in), and most say they cover additional cars for X days as well.

        This language has never been in the state specific rider, so as far as I can tell this is a commercial issue between you and your carrier, not a per state issue. I don’t see why any insurer is forced to do so, but I also see why they all would do so. They actually don’t want you to go shopping around for a different carrier.

        I’ve also called my insurance company on a Saturday 5 minutes after buying a car, put it on the policy, and had them email me a card. Took about 5 minutes.

        Now, if I was trying to add a 1929 Indian to my 2009 Civic policy, I can see things being different.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          They always cover a replacement or additional vehicle. Typically 30 days. The length of time is state specific. What that means is 30 days unless the state requires a longer term.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Then, when attempting to roll it back up, it jammed and stopped — crooked, half-way up. I opened the door and tried guiding it.”

    Yea, my Grand Ams would do that too.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I admire your stones for buying a 146k mile Porsche. I think you got off cheap. If you need daily transit, a cheap lease is the way to go. Yeah the Porsche is only 8,500 and a new Golf TDI 23k. But if you lease the latter and add total cost over three years it would, in best case, be a wash, even when you back our the 911’s resale value. And that’s excluding the value of your time and frustration.

    “Real men” might drive old performance cars and buy “cheap” parts from Pelican and always have time and tools to install them. But I’ve gotten burned on this enough times to know better.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Blech but then you have to spend 3 years driving a Golf TDI. Surely there is a happy medium…. there are plenty of excellent reliable FUN ~$17K cars.

      The author doesn’t sound like the kind of guy who can bring a car back to life, so this was indeed a stupid gamble. But for the right person (i.e. a Porsche tech) this thing would be an absolute steal, and way better than a god awful TDI anything.

  • avatar
    brettc

    So what does an $8500 Porsche 996 really cost? What was the quote from the shop before you decided to rid yourself of the nightmare?

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    The heart always wants what it doesn’t have. Right now, I have two very reliable, newish vehicles in my stable and take it for granted. With minimal maintenance invested, they’re going to be good for tens of thousand of miles. I’ve already been down the road of self-imposed austerity and it left me hungry for a simpler life, even if it meant spending more money outright.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally daydream about the “savings” provided by owning a unique beater that’s been paid for and wrenched on by yours truly. Although it’s a fun fantasy, and it was fun while I did it, that doesn’t mean it’s the best road to take. The career of a DIY mechanic is usually like the life of a genius; burning hot and bright, it also fades away faster.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having an “interesting” car to wrench on, but just can’t invest the time. Until I retire, the two Japanese boxes in my driveway will have to do. And I thank God that I have the option of running reasonably decent cars with little more than fluid changes for 200K miles.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I personally would like to have something I can actually wrench on.

        The T-bird is too low to really get under without a lift or a jack (and I live on a hill, so…) and the SOHC V8 fills the engine bay so much that you can’t really reach anything.

        An old truck would be perfect. Sure the gas bills will kill me, but mechanical parts would be so easy and cheap to replace that it would be worth it, AND it would be good in the snow!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I don’t understand the allure of being a DIY mechanic. Especially on a car that requires either a huge input of work to get, or even worse KEEP working. Don’t get me wrong…. I do my own basic maintenance and bolt ons, but then I got back to driving. The idea of spending my free time doing more work just doesn’t make sense to me….

      • 0 avatar
        GermanReliabilityMyth

        If I had to consider myself an example of a DIY mechanic, and all the foibles that are part and parcel, there would be a couple reasons. First, I’d have to reference the self-imposed austerity mentioned before. It’s kind of like a sick game. To challenge to push yourself and learn or crash and burn by your own merits. The second reason is probably a little more vain, but it’s the only reasonably “cheap” way to get into something unique and drive a car that’s different from your peers.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        If you don’t get it, then don’t buy older cars or projects. I enjoy a bit of garage zen now and again.

        The time commitment is WAY overblown around here. Even on my ’01 Range Rover, one of the neediest and least reliable vehicles made by the hand of man (so sez the interwebs), ever, I have spent maybe 8hrs a year for the past two years fixing and maintaining it. Literally the ONLY time it has seen a shop is for the annual state safety inspection. And it has 146K on it. For that modest time commitment and $5500 in purchase price plus a couple grand in costs, I have a truck that is better to drive than the 2014 Mercedes ML that Hertz has currently saddled me with. And the chicks dig it like nothing else. The value proposition is astounding if you can roll with it.

        Count me as one who if money is tight would rather buy older interesting cars and maintain them myself – I did it for 20 years. But I was also always rather practical about it. There is a BIG difference between running a 10-15yo 3-series or Saab or Volvo on a budget and running a 15yo AMG Mercedes or Porsche 911 on the same budget. Today, with a MUCH larger budget I would in theory not hesitate to buy such, but I would rather just buy a lesser but still interesting car new.

        The author’s A #1 bit of stupidity was not taking the car to a mechanic BEFORE he bought it, friend or no. Though with Porsches that may not help much. My one trip down the Porsche rabbit hole I did have a PPI done, knew exactly what I was getting in to (in theory), and still lost my shirt, pants, shoes, and was lucky to get to keep my underwear. The “Porsche Tax” is as real as a heart attack. And that was a Porsche that was 70% old VW Rabbit bits.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          krhodes, I think that is a very lucky RR ownership experience.

          When I owned an ’89 Taurus SHO — a car much simpler than a Range Rover, but every bit as failure-prone and more — I was in the garage one to two weekends a month fixing something. Whether it was a malfunctioning power window switch, a broken lumbar-support air tube, a staticky speaker, or whatever else, something always needed my attention. Sure, I could have skipped that time and the car would still have run, but then I would have had a hoopty where none of the features worked.

          And that was only the stuff I had the knowledge and tools to fix. There was also meaningful time commitment in getting the damn thing to and from the mechanic when greasy bits broke, which was often.

          With a kid and a much more demanding job, there is just no longer that kind of time in my schedule.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            There’s also a huge difference between having a 2nd/3rd/4th “fun car” to wrench on, and having to wrench on your ONLY car. I don’t mind wrenching on warm Saturday afternoons when the wife and kid are off doing whatever. I do mind doing it at 11PM on a Tuesday in January when I gotta be at work the next day.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @S2KChris

            Happiness with cars is having one more than you actually need. Unless you are going to spend enough to where you automatically get a loaner every time it needs something. Even new cars break and/or need service visits.

            Also, heated and air-conditioned 2700sq/ft garage with two lifts for the win. The garage was the reason I bought my little shack. Though it was not heated or A/C’d, nor did it have lifts when I bought it. I infinitely prefer to invest in tools than someone else’s labor.

            @dal20402

            There is a reason I avoided domestic vehicles for a very long time. They don’t age well. An old Rover is no more problematic than a new one… But the problems don’t bother you as much when you paid $.07 on the dollar. It also helps very much to do your due diligence and buy one that has had nearly all of the “mid-life crisis” issues fixed already. I bought the right truck. What’s that old saying? “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation”?

  • avatar
    denraf

    If it still for sale, I’m interested

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    As someone else further up said, there’s a reason why a 986 of a similar year Miata doesn’t sell for much more. It’s not because people are suckers, it’s because buying the old Porsche involves a bargain with the devil. If you’re buying it as a toy, and are willing to deal with the maintenance issues and costs, by all means there’s a case to be made for the better-performing, higher-prestige Porsche. But don’t kid yourself into believing you’re getting a better deal overall than the guy who goes for the Miata, which will truck along to 150k+ miles for similar maintenance costs to a Mazda3, while still offering sports car sensations, even if not the cachet or the outright pace.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    “Those reasons must be the foundation for some sort of automotive cardinal sins list.”

    A classic 911S, an S2000, and an NSX? Sounds like the path to automotive heaven to me.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Damn right, add some sort of V8 Ferrari (Dino to 458, I don’t really care which, though I don’t love the Mondial) and you’ve hit on my dream garage. Doesn’t even need to be a 911S, just “some 911”.

      • 0 avatar
        Yoav Gilad

        Don’t get too excited– it was a ’77 911S. And yeah, if I could, I’d also have a Ferrari V8. Although I’m sure the NSX would still be better to drive…

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    To the point of being rich/privileged and driving a cheap car; it’s all relative. Driving around the northern Atlanta suburbs, among the multi-million dollar homes of rich/privileged, the most common car on the driveway is Camry/Accord, with occasional Lexus RX. It’s mostly at the new development subdivisions where you see the new MB/BMW/Audi/insert luxury brand here parked in driveways. Which proves the point of the “Millionaire next door” book to the letter. Those homes with new luxury branded cars in front of them, are most often also the foreclosed ones shortly after next recession hits.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “among the multi-million dollar homes of rich/privileged, the most common car on the driveway is Camry/Accord, with occasional Lexus RX.”

      Yeah – that’s because the car in the driveway belongs to the housekeeper; the owner’s got his Maserati in the garage!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Really depends on the particular wealthy circles.

      Old money? Some will splurge on Lexus RX or ES (often hybrid), BMW 5-series or X3, or Mercedes E-class. Others drive Camcords (or Subarus in northern climates). My richest aunt and uncle by marriage have an E90 325i and an X3, and bought a 128i for one kid and an Escape Hybrid for the other.

      Professionals whose clients see their cars? Most will have a $50-$70k midsize crossover or sedan from a luxury brand, between 0 and 5 years old.

      Finance types? If they’re in New York, look for a chauffered luxobarge or luxury SUV. Elsewhere, it will be something in the $100k-ish range, anything from a sports car to a SUV.

      Shady entrepreneurs, musicians, or pro athletes? The sky’s the limit.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      From the book, I remember the statement that millionaires buy cars by the pound. Hence, Panthers and RWD Caddies. I wonder what they are buying now that these cars are gone? Is a Camcord the new Panther?
      As for the help driving Camcords, that’s not the case with us. Our Polish cleaning lady drives a 10 yr old Volvo SW and my wife drives a 15 year old Honda Oddy.

      Guess who has the bigger bank account. Although her husband has a successful painting business.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      When I was driving through Beverly Hills, I noticed all the cars in the driveways were Camrys, highlanders, etc. When I pointed this out to a friend, he said “Those cars belong to The Help.”

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      I dont know atlanta, but this isnt accurate in my experience.

      When I go thru the richest neighborhoods around here, I see lots of MBZ, Porsche & Tesla. I think that camry or accord parked outside may be a kids car or nanny’s car.

  • avatar
    EAF

    Thanks for sharing your experience, your story was an entertaining one! I bet you appreciate that NSX a whole lot more. Lol

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    your lucky he was a friend, i would have told you to enjoy your new (used) car.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      How good of a friend is inconclusive. According to the article, the friend realized that he could’ve sold it to someone else for more than $8,500.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      When you purchase a car from me, you sign a statement acknowledging the car is “as-is.”

      Now whether that would hold up in court without being notarized, nah. But the average person don’t know dis.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Actually, if it was in writing and dated, it would most likely survive just fine in court without any notarization. The notarization just removes the risk that the person will lie and say “That isn’t my signature.” Such lies are rarely effective, notarization or not.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Yeah, I don’t think the author actually asked the “friend” to buy the car back. Rather, the seller requested a “do over” and was graciously offered the chance to negotiate a better deal for himself.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I wondered if I’d bit off more than I could chew buying a 10yr old Lexus GS, but it’s proven to be Camry reliable. An acquaintance has a Jag XJ8 that he’s had very good luck with, virtually no issues of note. So, us average Joe’s can take the chance on something a little farther up the market, but then again we’re not talking Porsche levels of stress!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Lex GS is generally a buy.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Old Lexus isn’t really a risk, on any model created thus far. You’ll just have the clackety blend door adjustment thing on the climate control eventually, if not already.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The only old Lexuses I ever find are beat up ES300s and REALLY beat up LSes.

        I’d love a SC400, but I’ve given up on finding one at all, much less one I could afford.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          How much do you want to spend? I’ll find ya a nice Lex. SC400 is out of the question, they are now sought after and halo’ed for the ones which aren’t ruined. Much like a Prelude.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Find me a Lexus that isn’t a ES or a really beat LS for $4000 or less!

            <150k mileage preferred.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Go get it.

            https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5119828612.html

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            And this one’s nice though is an ES. Not beat up. Seems to have responsible owner.

            https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5107965489.html

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Damn, I wish cars like that GS existed around here.

            Around here, that car would be immediately swept up by some Puerto Ricans or brothas from the ‘hood, taken to Allentown, and get “thugged out” with a booming sound system and dubs.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Both of those cars are great values for someone comfortable with a wrench, and each probably has 100k left in it. The GS needs a really good detail. Too bad about the gold package on it.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            High miles but not beat up!

            https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5128166015.html

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That GS model looked great in two-tone! I’m liking that buy out of that option vs. the ES.

            And that man with the ES made a VERY quick stop on an exit ramp on I-71 right at downtown to get that photo there.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            @Corey: 203,000?! I don’t care how nice it is, I don’t trust a car with over 200k to last any decent amount of time!

            I know the Brick Volvo Jihad will tell me that 240s last for 320k with proper maintenance, but they also make a lot more money than I do. :P

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol. HEY – Is there a modern car which you’d be more comfortable running at 200+ miles than that LS? I can’t think of one.

            Especially that one, which is clearly garaged always (or would have rust) AND has a Lexus service history the entire time? C’mon. That’s just someone who’s kept it forever, not some poor person dumping it to buy a new phone and pay child support.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Well I definitely wouldn’t pay $3800 for it. No sir.

            $3000, tops. Once the mileage passes 150k, the amount I’d be willing to pay goes way down.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Except for the failing paint on the center caps, that 200k+ LS looks cleaner than a lot of the 40-60k LS460s I saw while shopping for mine. I like a car that accumulates that many miles under a fastidious owner.

        • 0 avatar
          SpinnyD

          My co-worker just bought a 2003 SC400 off of Ebay in LA, Flew out and drove it back here to KY.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Most Lexuses have a few known issues, but nothing like you find with the Germans. Engines and transmissions are pretty much always rock-solid.

      I’m taking home a seven-year-old LS460 tomorrow, and there are very few Germans of that age that I’d touch. The biggest and most expensive thing I have to watch out for is cracking control arm bushings all around. The only other very common issue, assuming all recalls have been performed, is dying Mark Levinson stereo amps. For such a complex car that’s really pretty amazing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Review, review!

      • 0 avatar
        johnxyz

        dal20402 , I’m interested in a used LS460 – I’ve read on ClubLexus the issues with the control arms (strange – of all the elec/mech. complex items that could go south,control arms – hmmm – go figure)and the valve guide springs recall. Did the previous owner have that service? Any reason to avoid the 1st model year or two – 2007 /2008? Anything else to watch for?

        Kick myself for not buying a LS430 w/. 25k miles for $21.5k a few years back – seems like the LS430 has had fewer issues than the LS460. But alas the LS430’s are all (too) high mileage now – thus the LS460

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I just want to read about the NSX!

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Honda/Acura might not have the panache or Porsche but I’d rather an NSX over an equivalent year 911 and day of the week.

  • avatar

    You bought a 16 year old German sports car for $8,500 and thought everything would be rosy? What’s next, are you gonna complain about buying $4,000 Range Rover not working properly?

    Sounds like the problem is with you, not the car.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    Buddy of mine just bought an ’03 Porsche 911 in very good shape for like $23k. (No, I don’t know the chassis code or what exact model it was. It’s a rear-engined Volkswagen.)

    I am insanely jealous, since I spent substantially more than that on a brand new Mustang back in ’11.

    • 0 avatar
      izzy

      You won’t be so much once he has to repair his 996. Also, I suspect you are not driving your Mustang 5.0 down the road wondering if/when the engine would grenade. Search Porsche IMS failure, if you are curious.

  • avatar
    Chan

    996 IMS can be taken care of with an aftermarket upgrade kit.

    This looks like it could have been a great story, had the friend actually bothered to do his paperwork correctly, and/or the buyer checked the VIN on the title before driving off in the car.

    A couple of amateurish gaffes are not really the 996’s fault here. But the point stands that owning old luxury cars is a test of diligence, patience and bank accounts.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    There must be a happy medium in between the two extremes.

    I MUCH prefer buying an exciting car with a low cost upfront (say 10k to 15k) and planning for high yearly maintenance instead of a 20-25k new toyonda. Currently at a market value of only about 6-7k my almost 10 year old A4 is one of the cheapest cars that parks at the gym. But i love it dearly, and people compliment me all the time. I definitively understand the logic of that brand new Civic, but it’s not my car buying strategy.

    Now a 15 year old Porsche with 146k… whewww.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      We’re in the same boat. I have a weakness for needy Euro iron. After a number of Saabs, a Land Rover and an E39, I bought a brand new Mazda6 in 2013 (the previous-gen model). A perfectly reliable, comfortable car, even fun to drive with a 6 speed manual. But I got bored with it. Sold it and bought a great condition ’04 A6 Avant. It needs things here and there, but it is fun, solid and has a lot of character. Maybe not the logical choice but it works for me.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        Did you loose a lot on the Mazda?

        I love the relatively compact size of the B6 Avant. My mechanic thinks they are terrific cars. And he is not the “brake fluid change” type, if you know what I mean.

        E39, now that’s something I wish I had. I can finally afford E60s, which are distinctive, but everyone says they are scary scary scary machines to own.

        • 0 avatar
          PartsUnknown

          I did OK on the Mazda, it was one of the last ’13s on the lot and it was a manual, so I bought it new almost $5000 off MSRP. I was able to just about break even when I sold it.

          Yeah, love the A6 wagon…for now!

          E39s are awesome…there’s just something about them.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    I was beaten about the head and ears tremendously once by a (well-used) Audi Coupe GT. It was a stick, and it was brown, so all is forgiven.

    Count me in as a new reader of KeepItWideOpen. The photography is gorgeous (my father was a professional most of his working life, so I don’t say that lightly).

  • avatar
    Hamilton Guy

    In February I bought a 2001 Miata while on vacation in Florida (I wanted a souvenir of my trip). Funnily enough it was $8500.00. I live in Canada and after a week of Florida sunshine, I drove north to import it. When I got to the border at Detroit and went to U.S. Customs, they looked at my paper work and said “Do you realize the VIN on the title does match the VIN on the bill of sale?” the 4th and 5th characters should have been NB, they were NM. It was a typo when the title document was originally created and no one had noticed in 14 years.

  • avatar

    Seems like I hear/read the “I got this thing cheap and overlooked a bunch of detectable issues. Something went wrong, I _took it to a shop_, realized what it would cost and bailed” story pretty regularly.

    No shit, dude. If this is the territory you want to play in, you need cash, skills and patience. Seems you’ve got one of those.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    In 1975 I wrecked a Ferry Porsche signature edition 911 – the usual -I wasn’t as smart as my wallet said I was. So, I have sworn off the brand since that time – especially since they appear to have become the province of dilettantes and wanna-be’s. However, as a man of a certain age, time is one thing I can afford now more than money, I have found myself eyeing them. I have called my doctor to inquire if there is an inoculation for stupidity.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The RIGHT 911 is probably a gold-plated purchase at this point. A high-miles condition unknown one with obvious issues for well below market value? Oh dear God no, and I am about as adventurous as they come in such things. The ones to have probably start at about 2.5X the price of this one.

  • avatar
    baconator

    OK, so let’s add this up, assuming indie mechanic prices:

    Window regulator: $350 – $500
    Airbag wiring harness: $500 (who knows)
    Tie rods (and alignment!): $1000
    Clutch: $2000 – $3000 [although for a weekend driver / third car, 5k miles of life left may turn out to be 2-3 years before you actually need to do the work]
    Water pump and “while you’re in there” related components: $1000

    Total repair bill: $4850 – $6000

    So for a total cost of $14k – 15k you could have a high-mileage but far-from-dead 911. Taxes and title will be considerably cheaper than a new car of the same price. All the time you spent was driving it to and from the mechanic’s shop.

    If the cosmetic issues bother you, then you’re better off buying one that’s been regularly waxed and looks correct – body work and paint is the most expensive thing to fix. But either way, this isn’t really that bad a deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Yoav Gilad

      Didn’t say it was. I just didn’t want to spend tons of time either fixing it myself or paying some else to fix it. Also, my friend offered to buy it back so he could sell it for more dough.

  • avatar
    THE_F0nz

    I’ve pitched my wild 996 story multiple times to this site now and I’ve never received so much as an automated response…

    I just love the lines of the 996.2 narrow body cars from most angles.

    Mine was similarly equipped in arctic silver and had a more aggressive spoiler.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    I think you absolutely nailed it by bringing time spent into the equation. I’m at the point in my life where I’m realizing that my time is actually something to be valued, and sometimes spending a few bucks to avoid spending hours of my time, is the way to go in some situations.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    “Which brings me to what Baruth missed. Being rich or privileged isn’t enough to own a cheap car”

    I don’t think Jack missed it. I think it was implied.
    I’ve known people like the one Jack was targeting and I’m not really a fan.
    It’s easy to come about money when you have money and I guess its easy to not understand “Privelage” when you have it too.
    Telling others “buy this potentially unreliable and costly car instead of that unbelievably reliable one” is bull. Especially when you justify it by saying “you just need to budget for catastrophic failure”.
    Just what I need in addition to a Mortgage, Insurance, Property Taxes, Utilities, Food etc..

  • avatar
    Idriveuscream

    The guy buys a running, driving Porsche 911 for the price of a roller and then complains that it needs work?! This guy is a complete rear end. There is NO EXCUSE, none, for expecting a peach when you paid for a pit. You get what you paid for. Even if you had to put $6,000 into this Porsche you would have gotten a fair deal. This jerk easily paid $4k below what the used car market would have paid for the vehicle. Can’t claim ignorance it’s a Porsche. When you purchase a Porsche with over 100,000 miles for rock bottom pricing, you will pay at least $3,000 in work needed the very first week of ownership.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    In my own defense here, my original article has this paragraph:

    “The three of us had the time and the inclination to handle it. We weren’t responsible for children or parents or animals or anything, really. If it had taken all day… well, it would have taken all day, and nobody would have been any the worse off for it. Privilege!”

    • 0 avatar
      Yoav Gilad

      Hey Jack, thanks for your comment! No need to defend… In following up your article, which I thought highlighted the financial aspect, I was illustrating that while the money is a consideration, the time involved is an even greater consideration.

  • avatar

    Mr. Gilad, you are brave and have excellent taste in cars. As with many others here, I would suggest for risk adverse ordinary folk, take $3,000 and buy a NA/NB Miata with some dings in it. They still make parts for it, parts are cheap, and most can be removed with a 10 and 16mm wrench (I may be a bit off on the sizes). If you are feeling frisky, you can even try bondo’ing over the dings.

    I appreciate that your bravery makes for good (and educational) reading. Please write about the NSX. The downside to my approach is that the closest I have come to driving a Porche is noticing the knock-off in Vice City strafes more than it turns.

  • avatar
    thereisnosubstitute

    Yoav, you are drawing some serious love on the Porsche forum Rennlist: http://rennlist.com/forums/996-forum/886025-the-8500-996-purchase.html

    I am left speechless by your article.

  • avatar
    Burgerlord

    8,500 for this car was a STEAL. You are talking about a car who’s MRSP was around 85,000. If I had 8,500 I would have bought this car even if I had to spend a year getting it sorted. I would do most of the work myself and would have a professional do the stuff I couldn’t. After, I would have a fine piece of engineering that would have been fun as s**t to drive, and yes, I would track that ‘natch.

    If you are expecting something to get little Billy to soccer practice on time, don’t get this car. If you are the type to drive with the CEL on for weeks on end, don’t get this car. If you are the type to drive with a donut for 3 months because you don’t want to pay for new tires, don’t buy this car. But if you are the type who is willing to put in some time, effort and even some swearing sessions that will turn the air blue, this car will pay you back ten fold.

  • avatar
    lucasszy

    To the author:

    For someone that writes for a “car” blog, and by that act alone would be assumed to be a “car guy,” you sure did make every single new car owner mistake, as well as show a lack of knowledge or experience that most entry level porsche and car guys know.

    DId you really think that you’d get a “drive it cross country like a 92 civic DX” reliability from a 996 for that price?

    I was hoping for a well thought out article showing costs above and beyond the expected IMS. clutch, and “bring it back to par” costs that anyone would expect to shell out for one of these.

    May I suggest that you read the jalopnik article that should be considered the starting point for 996 ownership.

    http://carbuying.jalopnik.com/how-to-own-a-ridiculously-cheap-and-reliable-porsche-91-1668638286

    Once you read that article and start getting nervous about ownership, read the truedelta article which is a great follow up.

    http://truedelta.kinja.com/a-pin-less-grenade-for-the-betting-man-1672108784

    Both of these should be required reading for anyone considering a 996.

    my own 996 experience started with the jalopnik article. I searched for months and got a great car for considerably more than you did. It was still viewed as a “steal.” Over the next three months, I spent a few thousand dollars on getting it up to snuff and have loved it as a daily driver since. Overall, Im 17K into a car that would run for another 50K miles easy. Unfortunately, there was a gentleman in San Francisco who thought the same and borrowed it at gun point.

    I’ll be getting another 993/996/991 soon. I’ll be sure to do my research on each of those as well.

  • avatar
    amca

    I miss my ’99 911. Rear ended by a semi-truck in heavy traffic. Drivable, but destroyed. I still miss it.

    Never all that much trouble, though I did do the IMS job about two months before it met its end.


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