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If you could only drive one 911 model, which would it be?

  • 911 Carrera

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • 911 GTS

    Votes: 2 33.3%
  • 911 Turbo

    Votes: 3 50.0%
  • Porsche 964 (1989-1994)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Porsche 993 (1994-1998)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Porsche 997 GT2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently began a search for a used 911. I have always wanted to own one, but until recently, it seemed fairly cost-prohibitive.
Now that I’ve embarked on this journey, I don’t know where to start. I know only that this iconic flagship model has been something I’ve sought after for the last 40 years of my life. However, there is much I don’t know:
  • What sets some of the sub-models apart (Carrera, 4, Targa, GTS, GT3, Turbo, etc...)?
  • What are the pitfalls when buying used (I’m looking at 911’s from 2001-2011)?
  • Does it make more sense to buy from a dealer or a private seller?
  • What do YOU wish you knew when you bought your first Porsche?
  • What info can you offer to a total rookie who is looking to make this life-changing decision?

I am also a guitar lover. A few years ago, I decided to buy myself a high-end guitar. The best part of that purchase was that I got to play 30-40 different models before I found the one that was right for me. There are so many subtle differences between the brands and models and I got to get intimately acquainted with them before ultimately settling on the guitar that I now own. When I found the right one, I knew right away. It just felt right in my hands. I know that a similar process is ahead of me with this car and I’m excited to embark. But I’m looking for some advice for my journey.
Any and all advice is very welcome. Thank you, in advance!
-EB
 

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Welcome EB! So much to say... I won't even come close to covering it all, but that's what makes forums so great. The first recommendation I'd make is to join the Rennlist forum, particularly if you're buying a 911. I think you'll find much more engagement (no disrespect to P9, of course). Second, you guitar comparison is probably a good one, although you've already selected the brand, which IMO is the best sports car money can buy, period.

Within the brand there are a number of fine models to choose from and like your guitar analogy, one might feel better "in your hands" than another. I have owned both Caymans and 911s, and while the 911 is without question the flagship model, (and my favorite of the Porsche lineup), the Cayman is an absolutely incredibly well-handling car. As bad *** as my 911 is, it doesn't "feel" like my Caymans did. The primary reason is the location of the engine (mid-mounted, just behind the front seats). The balance in that car is simply amazing. Even if you end with a 911, I'd recommend you at least drive both before deciding. The Boxter is a great car as well, but I'm not a convertible guy.

Rather than go on and on with so many things I could say, I'll stop there and respond to your questions. I also have questions for you to consider as you go through this process.
  • What sets some of the sub-models apart (Carrera, 4, Targa, GTS, GT3, Turbo, etc...)?
    • All the variants you list above are considered Carreras (Carrera 2(S), Carrera 4(S), Carrera Targa, Carrera GTS, etc.). The Carrera 2 is the two wheel drive version and the 4 is the all wheel drive version
  • What are the pitfalls when buying used (I’m looking at 911’s from 2001-2011)?
    • These will be model and year specific. As you narrow down which models you like, do your research on problems associated with them. A couple of the more serious issues are the IMS bearing and bore scoring, as a an example, but they are /were not issues in all models/years. Based on what you decide and the subsequent research you do, you will absolutely want to have ANY potential purchase inspected by a reputable non-dealer Porsche shop. No inspection will catch everything, but given the price tag of the purchase, it is SMART to spend the $200-$300 on a PPI.
    • QUESTION: What are you basing your 2001-2011 range on (cost, engine, body style, etc.)? 10 years is quite the range
  • Does it make more sense to buy from a dealer or a private seller?
    • Benefits to both. I prefer private party because I can fairly easily assess pride in ownership, which is an indicator of how well the car was cared for. Dealers have no emotional attachment to the vehicles they are selling, and in many cases they have no idea of the vehicle's history. This disconnect leaves you (ok, me) more vulnerable to your own emotional attachment to the potential purchase. When buying from a private party you are not just assessing the car, you're assessing its owner. This just gives you one more piece of info from which to make a decision.
  • What do YOU wish you knew when you bought your first Porsche?
    • Simple... I wish I would have known better how incredibly satisfying owning and driving a Porsche would be. I would have got into my first one a bit sooner.
  • What info can you offer to a total rookie who is looking to make this life-changing decision?
    • 35 years passed between the time I saw my first 911 until I owned one. I know well the enormity of this decision when you have waited this long. You want to get EVERYTHING right! The best thing you can do, is what you're doing now... HOMEWORK. Don't be afraid to ask questions, test drive as many cars as you can, do research on potential problems with the year/s you're considering. Don't rush the process. Like the guitar, you will KNOW the moment you have found what you're looking for, but you have to take the time to "get your hands" on a few first. As you do, it will become more and more clear to you what you want. And then, when the time is right, you'll see it, drive it, and know for sure it's the right one. ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is incredibly insightful and helpful. Thank you so much for your contribution. I'll certainly jump on the other site, as well and ask some similar questions. I appreciate you taking the time to school up a young Porsche lad and get me on my way... It's much appreciated. Best -
 

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Pleasure! I realized I never finished my answer to your first question... apologies. The GTS is likely the favorite 911 variety for many because it combines a lot of the the excitement and sharpness of a GT3, with the usability of a daily driver. As TopGear puts it, With the GTS, Porsche basically checks all the most exciting options on your behalf. The Turbo and GT3 are simply monsters... a LOT of car. With these more specialized models, of course, availability is limited and prices go up considerably. At the end of the day, you will not be disappointed with whatever variation you choose. They are incredible cars. Keep us posted!
 

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Carrera - currently comes in 2, 2S, 4, 4S and corresponding cabriolets. 2 is RWD, 4 is AWD. S models get more power and other goodies. GTS not yet released - a bit more punch and includes an option package and trim items. All current Carreras use a twin turbo 3 L flat 6
Targa - currently 4, 4S TT 3 same engine as the Carrera
Turbos - currently Turbo, Turbo S and the cabs. 3.8 L TT flat 6. All are AWD and MT is not available.
Porsche also periodically releases track focused GT cars. Currently the GT3 is the only 911 GT car "available" but if your not on a list, you probably won't get one. GT3 has a 4L NA engine. They also from time to time release a GT3RS - even more track focused. The there is the GT2 and GT2RS. 700 HP RWD for suicide missions. The older GT2's got a deserved reputation as widowmakers. Tons of power, rear engine RWD and significant turbo lag meant that problematic oversteer was only a jab of the throttle away. Newer ones are apparently more behaved. The GT cars are limited editions and tend to hold value well and even appreciate.

I would recommed that you join PCA. It's worth it for the magazine alone, especially if you are shopping for a used car. Lots of listings.
 

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Since, as you say, you've wanted a Porsche for 40 years of your life, I'm assuming you are looking at 911's. The Cayman/Boxsters are great cars but the 911 has always been and remains the halo car. The 911 is an icon and I would start there. If you're street driving the placement of the engine will have little bearing on your normal drive. Over the years Porsche has kept moving the engine in the 911 closer to the center anyway. I have owned both 911's and Caymans and love them both but if it is the car of your dreams stick with the 911, you won't regret the choice.

Rennlist and the Porsche Club are both great places to start. The listings for the years mentioned 2001 - 2011 will offer you many different variants of vehicles as stated by the posters above. The Porsche Club magazine is a pretty good resource these days with the cars listed by date of manufacture. They are generally private sales and the prices, in my opinion, are generally higher than they should be but are mostly negotiable.

One thing you don't mention is what you intend to use the car for - daily driver, weekends only, track etc...That too may have an effect on your decision. As stated above, a GTS variant is basically a parts bin special where Porsche has bundled most of the most popular options together. Note, that all odf those options could be had on a non GTS car by purchasing individually. Personally, I would avoid the actual GT variants - GT3, GT2 unless you want to track the car.

I would also suggest that you go to the Porsche website and play with the configurator just to get an idea of what each option offers you. Most of the options available today were available in some of the older cars. That might help you decide if you want to look for a car with Sport Chrono, PASM etc...It may also help decipher some of the acronyms commonly used by the owners.

Realize that you are buying a car that man be between 10 to 20 years old and know that maintenance is expensive. Follow the advice given above and make sure the car is inspected by a reputable independent shop before making the purchase. If you're buying a targa or a sunroof do check for leaks and rattles.

Once you settle on the year of the car then do your research on the potential problems mentioned above. Have fun searching and good luck in your quest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As my previous post would indicate, I'm a proverbial 'babe in the woods' in search of a 911. I have loved this iconic brand from afar since my childhood, but now I am starting to educate myself on which model is right for me.

My first post tackled the differences between 911 body styles (Targa/GTS/4S/etc...)

But this question is simply asking for your opinions (and why you hold them):
Air-cooled or water cooled?

All-wheel drive or Rear-wheel drive?

Give me your thoughts...
Thx,
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You asked my primary use for driving. Well, I live in the Northeast, so it will be a weekend pleasure car. It will never be my primary means of transportation, just something fun I break out on a beautiful day.
I have 3 young kids, so it will be something that my son and I can take out on the weekends, or drive down to the beach from time to time. Hope that clarifies things.

Since, as you say, you've wanted a Porsche for 40 years of your life, I'm assuming you are looking at 911's. The Cayman/Boxsters are great cars but the 911 has always been and remains the halo car. The 911 is an icon and I would start there. If you're street driving the placement of the engine will have little bearing on your normal drive. Over the years Porsche has kept moving the engine in the 911 closer to the center anyway. I have owned both 911's and Caymans and love them both but if it is the car of your dreams stick with the 911, you won't regret the choice.

Rennlist and the Porsche Club are both great places to start. The listings for the years mentioned 2001 - 2011 will offer you many different variants of vehicles as stated by the posters above. The Porsche Club magazine is a pretty good resource these days with the cars listed by date of manufacture. They are generally private sales and the prices, in my opinion, are generally higher than they should be but are mostly negotiable.

One thing you don't mention is what you intend to use the car for - daily driver, weekends only, track etc...That too may have an effect on your decision. As stated above, a GTS variant is basically a parts bin special where Porsche has bundled most of the most popular options together. Note, that all odf those options could be had on a non GTS car by purchasing individually. Personally, I would avoid the actual GT variants - GT3, GT2 unless you want to track the car.

I would also suggest that you go to the Porsche website and play with the configurator just to get an idea of what each option offers you. Most of the options available today were available in some of the older cars. That might help you decide if you want to look for a car with Sport Chrono, PASM etc...It may also help decipher some of the acronyms commonly used by the owners.

Realize that you are buying a car that man be between 10 to 20 years old and know that maintenance is expensive. Follow the advice given above and make sure the car is inspected by a reputable independent shop before making the purchase. If you're buying a targa or a sunroof do check for leaks and rattles.

Once you settle on the year of the car then do your research on the potential problems mentioned above. Have fun searching and good luck in your quest.
 

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You asked my primary use for driving. Well, I live in the Northeast, so it will be a weekend pleasure car. It will never be my primary means of transportation, just something fun I break out on a beautiful day.
I have 3 young kids, so it will be something that my son and I can take out on the weekends, or drive down to the beach from time to time. Hope that clarifies things.
My 911's have always been daily drivers here in Virginia. If you want to transport a kid or two you are definitely looking at 911's - Cayman/Boxster have no back seats. In the range of models years you mention, I would personally look at the 997's. My 997.1 was one of the most fun of the 911 series , mine was a 2009 Carrera 2S. It had plenty of power and was a blast to drive with the MT. If you're buying the car for weekends, I would simply go for the 2S rather than the 4S, you won't need nor miss the AWD and don't need the added complication. While the Carrera is probably adequate for your needs, I would advise you to look for am S version, I don't think you'll regret it. A 997 GTS would be perfect if you can find one in your price range.
 
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In the 2001 to 2011 range, some decisions you will have to make
1. Manual or Tiptronic. While my 981 had PDK, I don't think Tiptronic would even be a consideration for me from a responsiveness perspective
2. The Turbo models do not have the IMS bearing, yes they'll come with a bigger price tag, but some measure of peace of mind.

vinanalytics.com should become your new best friend. You provide a VIN, and vinanalytics provides the original BUILD Sheet for that vehicle. Many cars may have been modified by one or more of the previous owners, so learn how each car was constructed, then ask current owner what changes have been made (exhaust, wheels, radio, wide-body kit etc.)

I grew up wanting a 911, but in the end I decided I didn't need to spend an additional $20k on a useless back seat and an engine in the wrong place ;) I have no regrets.

Good luck on your search.
 

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In the 2001 to 2011 range, some decisions you will have to make
1. Manual or Tiptronic. While my 981 had PDK, I don't think Tiptronic would even be a consideration for me from a responsiveness perspective
2. The Turbo models do not have the IMS bearing, yes they'll come with a bigger price tag, but some measure of peace of mind.

vinanalytics.com should become your new best friend. You provide a VIN, and vinanalytics provides the original BUILD Sheet for that vehicle. Many cars may have been modified by one or more of the previous owners, so learn how each car was constructed, then ask current owner what changes have been made (exhaust, wheels, radio, wide-body kit etc.)

I grew up wanting a 911, but in the end I decided I didn't need to spend an additional $20k on a useless back seat and an engine in the wrong place ;) I have no regrets.

Good luck on your search.
Good advice here but do keep in mind that the “useless “ back seats are fine for children. One other thing is that this forum is primarily populated by Cayman/Boxster owners. You will get very different responses on Rennlist.

Having owned both variations mentioned here, I will say that I sold my 991 for a 718 Cayman and kept it for one year before going to the current 992. The 718 was fine but I missed the 911. Engine placement has little to do with driving dynamics in legal street driving and will mean little unless you’re on the track or driving way above legal street limits. The 911 family has come a long way from the older models and you would be hard pressed to make it lose it’s composure. I do agree that I would avoid tiptronic transmissions.


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