Time Machine Dilemma: It's 1966 and You Have Enough Cash For a Porsche 911. What Do You Buy?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
time machine dilemma it s 1966 and you have enough cash for a porsche 911 what do

The Time Machine Dilemma works like this: your time machine lands on Auto Row in some past decade, and you have enough cash to buy a certain iconic car of that era. Do you buy the iconic car, or do you hoof it to some other dealership, perhaps saving enough money to buy (gold, Microsoft stock, first-edition Philip K Dick hardbacks)? We’ve done this exercise with miserable econoboxes of 1986, a broad spectrum of 1973 machinery, and today the time machine will be hurtling to an even earlier decade.

So, it’s 1966, you want something quick and sporty, the time machine is parked in the Porsche dealer’s lot, and you’ve got exactly enough authentic pre-’66 banknotes to buy one of those shiny new 911s you see in the showroom (we’re assuming a rose-colored past with no taxes or fees). That’s $6,490, which is equivalent to about 46 grand in 2012 bucks. The ’66 911 was quite a car… but take a look at that beautiful (and more powerful) ’66 Mercedes-Benz 230SL. Just $6,343 and it could be yours! And that’s just the beginning of your choices. Unfortunately, the Shelby Cobra 427 is out of your price range ($7,495), as are the Ferraris, Maseratis, Jensen Interceptors, and so on. But hey, look at what you can buy!

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider: $4,886

Austin-Healey 3000: $3,565

BMW 2000CS: $4,985

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe: $5,249*

Jaguar XK-E Coupe: $5,580

Lotus Elite Coupe: $4,995

Mercedes-Benz 230SL Coupe: $6,343

Shelby Cobra 289: $5,995**

Sunbeam Tiger: $3,425

Or you could go crazy and buy two Datsun Fairlady Sports 1600s ($2,546 each), or two Chevy Corvair Corsas ($2,519 each). You could go really crazy and get two new MGB-GTs at $3,095 apiece. Or you could buy a stripper ’66 Chevelle for $2,271 and spend $4,219 on engine, brake, and suspension modifications; it would be less sporty-looking than the 911, but who cares? So, what’s it going to be?

*The base ’66 Corvette would probably get eaten up by the 911 at any non-dragstrip venue, so this price includes the 425-horsepower L72 engine, close-ratio 4-speed transmission, limited-slip differential, heavy-duty brakes and suspension, and “off-road” exhaust, with enough money left over for an eyeball-melting paint job.

**Based on this reference.

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2 of 86 comments
  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on May 17, 2012

    Assuming I'm buying a 1966 MY car, I'd pick up a Buick Riviera.

  • Gannet Gannet on May 18, 2012

    Make mine a Pontiac 2+2, 421, tri-power, 4-speed, w/everything. Red with a white on black interior. Bring your shades.

  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?