Top 10 Porsches to buy before it’s too late

If you move fast, there's still a chance that you can grab a bargain in the Porsche world, from a few thousand to nearly a million

Porsche 912

If you want the iconic Porsche in its most pure form this is the one to have, though the fact a decent pre-1969 SWB car can easily be configured into a historic racer has put added pressure on prices. The four-cylinder 912 has the style of these early 911s and, though not the overlooked bargain it once was, can still be found for a substantial saving, especially Stateside. Some will say it’s a false economy, given restoration costs will be the same and you’ll always be two cylinders down on the full experience. But the 912 has charm of its own and, if you find a good one, can represent a considerably more affordable entry point to classic Porsche ownership.

AutoFact: If anyone accuses your 912 of having a ‘Beetle engine’ remind them it’s in fact a 356 motor!

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Porsche 914

Porsche has built more beautiful cars than the 914. It’s built faster ones too. But both of these factors play in your favour if you want a classic Porsche at a price point you’d consider realistic. After years of relative obscurity the 914’s recognition is growing and values are on the rise but it’s still a bargain compared with the rear-engined alternatives. The introduction of four-cylinder engines to the 718 Boxster and Cayman range has, belatedly, given it some historical relevance too – a car once considered a '70s curiosity and ‘poor man’s Porsche’ is now able to hold its head high. Catch one while you can!

AutoFact: The 914 was the first Formula 1 Safety Car, making its debut at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix.

Porsche 911 Targa (964)

The 993 is prized as the last of the air-cooled 911s, but for many fans the 964’s perfect mix of classic character and modern manners] make it the one to have. Little wonder Singer decided it provided the perfect foundation for its mega-money backdate restorations. A manual Carrera 2 coupe will always rank highly for desirability, attention inevitably now turning to previously unloved variants like the Targas. Porsche’s return to the classic roll-hoop look for the current 991 Targa has helped, the 964 version now chasing the coupe in terms of desirability. They’re still a little cheaper to buy but this price advantage won’t last long.

AutoFact: Although the current version revives the classic look, the 964 was the last of the true 911 Targas with the roll hoop and removable roof panel.

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Porsche 924

For years the cheapest entry to classic Porsche ownership, it wasn’t that long ago you’d be able to buy a usable 924 for £2500 or even less. The fact Official Porsche Centres are now selling fully restored examples for 10 times that indicates those days are pretty much gone, recent celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the transaxle family of which the 924 is an important member focusing the attention somewhat. The basic 2.0-litre models aren’t fast but have a design purity that, finally, is finding recognition. The Turbo adds some welcome pace, the later 944-engined 924 S providing a lovely balance of response and performance. Get in there fast.

AutoFact: The 924 was the first of the family of front-engined ‘transaxle’ models that underpinned Porsche’s 1980s resurgence.

Porsche Panamera S manual

When the 928 was killed off in the mid-90s so was the concept of the luxurious, front-engined and V8-powered long-distance Porsche GT car. This reappeared in rather different form in 2009 in the shape of the five-door Panamera, the range diversifying into V6s, diesels, hybrids and ballistic Turbo versions but originally defined by the 4.8-litre naturally-aspirated V8 S. A technical showcase, most Panameras are four-wheel drive and have PDK automated transmissions. But a very small number of buyers specced rear-wheel drive V8s with manual gearboxes and, if you can find one, these represent an unusual and driver-focused twist on the formula.

AutoFact: The 400ps/395bhp V8 S two-wheel drive manual is a whole 200kg lighter than the flagship Turbo version of the time.

Porsche Boxster (986)

Previewed as a concept in 1993, the first-generation 986 production car launched three years later and has nibbled at its 911 big brother’s heels ever since. Brand snobs may have sneered but fans were quick to realise they were getting 911-level engineering for a lot less money, not to mention a more balanced mid-engined package. 986s are unlikely to be appreciating assets any time soon but with the cheapest cars now under £5000 and plenty of decent ones for under £10,000 it’s truly the affordable way to enjoy a classic, flat-six Porsche.

AutoFact: If you’re looking for an investment-worthy 986 consider the limited edition 550 Spyder of 2003, of which just 1953 were made.

Porsche 911 GT3 (997 Gen.1)

Given the fuss over the limited availability of GT3 models and their position as the hardcore, track-optimised 911 variant you might be surprised to see one here. And, true enough, prices for the 2006 first-generation 997 iteration are holding up strongly, typically starting at around £75,000. With an uprated version of the 3.6-litre Mezger engine from the 996 GT3 it redlines at 8,400rpm and boasts 409bhp, which isn’t a huge deficit compared with the 429bhp of the second-generation 3.8-litre version. These are considered more desirable and are now well over £100,000, the earlier car not losing much in performance but significantly cheaper to buy.

AutoFact: The 997 GT3 was the first to introduce PASM adjustable damping to this track-focused model.

Porsche 911 (G-series)

Is there such thing as a bargain air-cooled 911? Not really, the days of a classic Porsche for hot-hatch money are long-since gone. If there’s an unfashionable early 911 the impact bumper ‘G-series’ models are it, especially the earlier 2.7s that succeeded the more attractive and traditional ‘long hood’ versions. Euro-spec ‘MFE’ 2.7s basically had RS engines and have very much appeared on the classic radar, with prices to match. The detuned US-spec versions are slower and visually sit awkwardly between the classic chrome of the 60s cars and the more iconic 1980s SCs and 3.2s but are emerging from the shadows and are, relatively, a sensibly priced entry to classic 911s.

AutoFact: An emissions-strangled G-series four-cylinder 912E was reintroduced in America alongside the 2.7.

Porsche 911 Carrera (996)

Now 20 years old, the 996 was perhaps the most controversial 911 generation given its break with traditional styling and introduction of water-cooled engines. The notorious ‘fried egg’ lights weren’t popular at the time and well-documented engine issues put a lot of people off now, this and the currently low prices of the 997s keeping a lid on values and making the 996 the remaining viable sub-£20k 911. Appreciation of the styling is slowly coming round too and prices are quietly creeping up for the more desirable versions. As such a ‘basic’ two-wheel drive Carrera coupé with a manual transmission and solid service history looks like a sensible buy.

AutoFact: Unfashionable orange-indicator models with 3.4-litre engines have a cable rather than electronic throttle that some enthusiasts prefer.

Porsche Carrera GT

With prices now nudging into a million dollars the Carrera GT is hardly cheap. Yet it still looks like a relative steal, especially when you consider what you’re getting for the money and what its contemporary rivals would cost. Ferrari Enzos are nearly three times the money and a comparable Pagani Zonda 7.3 S with a manual gearbox about the same. Lexus LFAs are in another league altogether too. The Mercedes SLS Black Series isn’t anything like as exotic but isn’t far behind on cost, the fact you’re getting a carbon monocoque, screaming race-derived V10 engine and ‘last of the scary supercars’ reputation all adding up to a wise investment.

AutoFact: The updated ‘N0’ rated Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyre developed exclusively as a retrofit dramatically improves the Carrera GT’s road and track performance.

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