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Five tips to help you find your perfect used Porsche

23.02.2024 By Richard Lindhorst
Five tips to help you find your perfect used Porsche

We are constantly receiving questions about certain Porsche listings. Especially those who want to buy their first Porsche are looking for help. Which series is the right one? Which models are best suited to me? What features should I look out for? These are just a few examples. Potential buyers even have much more fundamental questions on their minds. For example, whether you should generally avoid a Porsche with high mileage. Or whether a patinated car with its original paintwork is preferable to a restored or repainted car. We are happy to provide you with a little help on buying a Porsche, which may provide some clarity and help you in your search.

Why do you want to buy a Porsche in the first place? What are you planning to do with the car?

Before we talk about which model and generation you should look out for, ask yourself what you want to do with a Porsche. Do you want to start building up a collection? Is the focus on road trips or a sporty commute? Do you want to take it to the racetrack? Once these questions have been answered, the rest will follow. Because a regular trackday driver is more likely to be happy with an early Porsche 911 GT3 than with a narrow Porsche 911 G-model. Conversely, as a daily driver, you probably won’t be as happy with my 911 GT3 RS as with a 911 Carrera GTS. Exceptions like the story of the Hartingers prove the rule, of course.

While Porsche brand ambassador Maria Sharapova has lost her heart to open-top classic 356s, Walter Röhrl naturally needs something a little sportier. Janick Dähler, on the other hand, is fascinated by the classic shape of the 964 and uses it as often as possible for mountain passes. © Porsche AG & David&Kathrin

First and foremost, therefore the intended use case outweighs the lust after a specific model. So why do you want to buy a Porsche? To drive, to invest in or simply to look at it again and again? You need to be clear about this. Of course, when in love, you tend to gaze through your rose-tinted glasses. This obviously lets you overlook a few flaws. But if the cars intended purpose has nothing to do with your actual use case, it’s better to look for a different model. You have to be that honest with yourself first. Otherwise it will be more of a short liaison than a real love affair.

You need to be aware of what features are important to you. Air conditioning, ABS, cruise control, automatic transmission, reliability… Do you want to work on the car yourself, or do you want to drive many carefree kilometers?

That’s not to say that you can’t drive a classic Porsche on a daily basis, provided you can stand a certain amount of suffering due to the lack of creature comforts. However, if I sometimes have to transport bulky items and the Porsche is to be driven every day as your single car, a Transaxle is the better choice than a Boxster or F-model. Of course, modern Porsche sports cars are much more comfortable in everyday use than older ones. However, these qualities play a subordinate role if the car is only purchased for a handful of track visits or club outings a year.

The purpose is clear, what’s next? Homework before buying a Porsche.

Research, research, research! What is probably not everyone’s cup of tea in the academic world is a great part of the journey in the hobby. To get started, it helps to find out about the series in question. What different models were there? Why do certain cars stand out? What optional extras were available? What engine/transmission combinations were available and which one is right for me? Our ever-growing category of Porsche Series Portraits is a good place to start looking into the development and model history of your desired Porsche series.

In the end, it’s all about picking the right package from the huge Porsche cosmos. And how good that Porsche offers the right model for virtually every purpose across all model series. Whether Carrera, Turbo, GT, GTS, S, R or RS, from comfortable everyday sports car to real racing car for the road, there is everything. Except for driving boredom. Because even 356s or base 924s are still a real joy to drive when driven ambitiously.

Equipped with a basic knowledge of the potential model series, it is likely to crystallize which models come into question. Should it be the 356 Speedster to emulate Kelly McGillis? Or the 997 GT3 RS to lower your personal best times on the world’s racetracks? We also offer an ever-increasing number of well-founded and comprehensively researched Buyer’s Guides. They offer you assistance with model-specific qualities, anomalies and problems to look out for.

Set yourself the right budget!

Admittedly, the part about being sensible when buying is not one of the most exciting topics. Nevertheless, it is very important to be aware of a few financial matters before buying a sports car from Zuffenhausen. Because despite all the euphoria, every used car purchase is fraught with risk. You wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but something can always break. And that’s exactly what you should be prepared for.

An example: If the budget is only sufficient for a Porsche 991 of dubious quality, the search for a really good 997.2 probably is the better long-term choice.

The most important basic rule of budget planning is therefore: keep enough in reserve for a few repairs. Replacing the brakes and suspension parts once will cost a few thousand even on older, technically simpler models. At least the theoretical possibility of engine damage should also be considered. After all, it would be an extreme shame if the dream of owning your first Porsche went up in smoke but you didn’t have the funds to repair it. It’s difficult to draw up a rule of thumb here, but you shouldn’t stretch your budget to the last buck when buying. You should have at least a handful of thousand euros left over.

And especially those who pursue certain driving ambitions should take this into account when buying. Upgrades for track days or an extended road trip after the purchase also need to be financed. Especially as the best car in the garage is of little use if the corresponding experiences don’t materialize. Even picking up the car can make a great trip in itself. But more on that later…

High-mileage hero or a museum-worthy exhibit?

Let’s move on to more specific questions that every prospective Porsche buyer has to ask himself at some point. These concern the condition and history of the vehicle. The older the vehicle, the more difficult it is to find a car with the lowest possible mileage. So far, so logical. But does it even have to be the garage queen in like-new condition, or is the well-maintained far-travelled mile muncher the better choice? This brings us back to the initial question. What do you plan to do with your Porsche?

Because if you want to build up a collection, original paint and low mileage are probably the better choice. However, if you want to drive a lot of miles and even use your Porsche as a daily driver, other criteria are decisive. It can even be beneficial to buy a car with a six-digit mileage. As long as service and maintenance are traceable, of course. Do-it-yourself mechanics can take one or two risks here and perhaps pick up a bargain. However, we strongly advise inexperienced buyers not to do so.

Still cuts a fine figure even with 228,000 miles, i.e. approx. 367,000 kilometers – this Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 “25 Jahre 911”. © Elfer B.V.

Depreciation is less of an issue for vehicles with high mileage. However, the technical condition may even be better, as teething troubles have often been rectified, better parts may have been retrofitted and much more. On the other hand, damage caused by wear and tear (e.g. porous rubber pipes and broken seals) is not uncommon in vehicles with extremely low mileage.

Of course, a car with more mileage has patina, stone chips and normally more wear in the interior. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Instead, it can even reduce the reluctance to drive many miles in the car. It can even motivate you to want to achieve a certain mileage target and keep your Porsche in as good a condition as possible. Take Dennis, for example, who proudly owns a Porsche 930 Turbo 3.3 with over 400,000 kilometers. A low mileage is by no means a guarantee of carefree driving. In case of doubt, the state of care and maintenance history clearly beat a lower mileage.

Prefer your Porsche with patina or do you want it immaculately restored?

If you are looking for the latest Porsche, you can of course skip this paragraph. However, it is all the more important for classic cars. Especially as opinions differ here greatly. A new, flawless paint job is a beautiful sight. But is a new paint job perhaps even detrimental to the car’s value? A repaint, for example, will always remain a blemish on its history. After all, the car in question is no longer as it was originally. If there are too many stone chips in the car, perhaps even rust spots, a partial paint job would be better than leaving it as it is. The older the car, the more desirable it is to have a well-preserved original paint job. It is an excellent indication of a good maintenance history. The general rule of thumb is: the more original paint, the better.

Evaluating a restoration also requires a very differentiated approach. On the one hand, the term is not always used correctly. Repainting is not yet a restoration, new valve cover gaskets and adjusted valve clearance do not make an engine overhaul. If you are interested in classic Porsche sports cars, we strongly recommend that you read our guide to Porsche restoration in more detail. In an interview with an expert, we also explain what distinguishes a good restoration from a bad one. The arguments contained in the guide – especially with regard to documentation – can also be applied to backdate projects, by the way.

Don’t limit your Porsche search to the domestic market!

Globalization has its advantages. You’ve probably ordered plenty of things from abroad over the Internet and had them shipped home within a couple of days. So why not look abroad for a car? In the end, they all left the same factory. Of course, you should look closely at the different national equipment, but importing a vehicle itself is no longer a big deal these days. In many nations, import duties and taxes are even waived as soon as a certain vehicle age is exceeded. In an interview with import specialist Christian Reyer, you will find all kinds of details on how such a vehicle import works.

The more specific your Porsche desires, the more worthwhile it is to think outside the box – and beyond borders. Especially when looking for special colors or equipment, a look at neighboring countries massively increases the chances of a hit. And yet many potential buyers are still hesitant about vehicles from abroad. Yet these cars once rolled off the same production line and were usually serviced according to the same service schedule. In this respect, the risk is no greater than when buying in the neighborhood. With luck, buying abroad is even cheaper.

It also opens up other potential experiences. Just picking up the car can be a great road trip in itself. Doesn’t it sound appealing to have taken your first tour in a Porsche along beautiful coastal roads or over picturesque mountain passes? Why not turn it into a week’s vacation and cover a few thousand miles in the car? This strengthens the bond and the new Porsche is put through its paces straight away.

Set the right search criteria, activate the Elferspot search agent, be quick!

Now that you know what kind of Porsche you want to put in your garage, the most exciting part begins – the hunt! In our Elferspot search, there are only Porsches. That’s why you can easily narrow down your search to find the exact model you’re looking for. If you want to find a Porsche 356 C, or are only looking for the refreshed 991.2 Targa models, you will find exactly that in our detailed search. Now patience and speed of action are required in equal measure. Set up a search agent so that you are always informed by e-mail about new listings that match your criteria. If you find the perfect Porsche for you, don’t hesitate to contact the seller! Perhaps this phone call will be the start of a very special journey – the journey to your dream Porsche!

Think outside the box, let the hunt for your next Porsche be a cool journey in itself and simply enjoy it.

© title image: Porsche AG

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