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

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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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.

  • Richard Poore Sure, as the article itself notes (hence my ire) California has mandated that all new vehicles sold in state be EV by 2035. They require EV or hybrid by 2026. Since the author admits to this mandate it seems that the article title is clickbait... was really hoping that there was some sort of changes in the CA position since the state is sorely behind on where they need to be with charging stations for this sort of requirement.
  • VoGhost When will Audi eliminate the fake, oversized grills that impede aerodynamics?
  • Kelley It's about time! I was so discouraged to see those poor Chevy Bolts stuck at the charging station receiving level 2 speeds after 80%, it was ridiculous. It would be nice if EA would had more level 2 chargers, also, at the same locations for people to top off above 80% on the fast chargers.
  • Tane94 Carmela Harris is supportive of EV adoption, so government incentives will be continuing under her watch.