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Budget Based Porsche Buyer’s Guide: $75k

Porsche 718 Cayman T

On a different budget? Check out our other Buyer’s Guides:

In this third part, we review what the market has to offer nearer $75,000. And logically enough, this new cut- off brings in many more recent Porsches, indeed even new cars: the base 718 Boxster and Cayman cost +/- $70,000 before options are added. This segment also offers a healthy selection of 911 991s, 996 Turbos and at last a range of drive-away (rather than trailer-away) air-cooled models.  

Boxster / Cayman 

With the advent of the 718 generation of Boxsters and Caymans, Porsche abandoned any pretence of separate identities, simply referring to the 718 as a coupe or a convertible though it kept the individual names.

The minor technical details which differentiated the pair – until 2016 the Cayman always had a marginally higher horsepower engine, and in some cases, harder suspension settings, disappeared and Porsche took the logical step of selling the hard top version, previously the more expensive, below the Boxster. The 2024 price list shows the Cayman at $69,500 and the Boxster at $72,050.

Porsche 718 Cayman T

Of course, these are the basic 2 litre model with 18 inch wheels though by the time a few of Porsche’s notoriously expensive options have been added, the dealer will relieve you of nearer $80,000. The 2.5 S models start at $84,000 for the Boxster and $82,000 for the Cayman again with minimal options.

The auto magazines have always held the 718 in high esteem: open or closed, it is seen as a brilliant-handling sports car which, if not quite as razor sharp as uncompromised drivers’ cars such the Lotus or Caterham, is much more usable as a daily drive and is and far better built. The turbocharged flat-four, even in the base 300 horsepower 2 litre guise lacks nothing in performance and the 350bhp 2.5S will keep up with the revered 993 Turbo, the summit of  air-cooled 911s.

The only downside of the 718, and this will strike old-school Porsche enthusiasts rather than newcomers to the brand is the exhaust note: the balanced beat of a ‘six’ is always far superior to the uneven beat of a ‘four’ and with flat engines, the difference in euphony is even more marked.

Despite Porsche’s best efforts to ‘improve’ the sound, the turbo flat four of the 718 always sounds gruff and for once, the sport exhaust worsens rather than enhances the effect. On the other hand, there is no need to rev these engines like the relatively highly strung flat sixes of the 981: reaction from the single turbo is effective from 2000 rpm and provides immense pull to over 5000rpm.

Such is the spread of torque that if the revs are above 2000–2300 rpm throttle response is instant and it is almost immaterial which gear you are in. These engines work particularly well with the seven-speed PDK; for those owners who prefer the interaction of a standard shift, Porsche continued to make the manual six-speed available for the 718, a much sweeter shift than the 911’s seven-speed manual.

Without question, the 718s were and are fine value for money. Indeed US consumers can consider themselves fortunate: in France the ‘malus,’ a brutal environmental tax which has been increasing steadily for several years now adds $65,000 to the new price of all gas-driven Porsches. As you might imagine, sales of new 911s have slowed and demand for the 718 with an entry price of $140,000 has dried up completely.

2021 Porsche Cayman 718

But back home, second hand, the prices of 718s are certainly tempting, with a 2021 S (29,000miles) at $74,800.

Porsche Cayman 718

Just outside our cut-off is Porsche Downtown LA (where you might expect to pay a premium) with a 17,000-mile 2021 S offered at $78,888. Both are all one-owner, PDK cars.

Porsche 718 Cayman GTS

The previous generation of mid-engine Porsches, the 981 ran out in 2016 and today these eight-or more year-old cars are priced mostly below $50,000 and only low mileage examples of the original top of the range GTS model appear anywhere near our $75,000 cut off. bracket. Beautifully equipped including lowered suspension and in a slightly higher tune than the S, the GTS will appeal to Porsche fans for whom the high-revving naturally aspirated flat six is what really matters.

As these were also the very last of the naturally aspirated breed they are now the most sought after and although they carry a premium of around $10,000 over the equivalent S models (reflecting the new price difference) of all the 981 models, the Boxster and Cayman GTSs seem to be retaining their value better than plain 981s and 981 Ss, which were manufactured in larger numbers.

2016 Porsche Boxster GTS

A dealer in Carrollton Tx is offering a 23,000mile 2016 Boxster GTS at $69,995  which looks par for the course among low-mileage late examples.

911 Water-Cooled

The fortunate buyer with $75,000 to spend has a wide range of modern 911s to pick from. In 2024 $50,000 is enough to secure an outstanding naturally aspirated 996 4S and it may be possible to locate a 996 Turbo, but at this level it almost will certainly require workshop time.

Most 996 Turbos on the market now fall in the $60-$70,000 bracket, with the odd low mileage example priced nearer $75,000. The original everyday supercar, the all-wheel drive 996 Turbo is hard wearing, its detuned Mezger 3.6 capable of huge mileages, but these are complex cars and as ever, maintenance history is critical.

Porsche 911 996

After twenty years, major components such as the injection system, turbochargers or the (manual) clutch and electronics, not to mention the hard-worked suspension will all at some point, probably have needed attention. Everything on a 996T is eminently fixable, but at a price. Unless you are contemplating your own rebuilding programme, a carefully sourced higher price Turbo is likely to cost less in the longer run and be on the road more.

2004 Porsche 911

Offered at S69,995, this low mileage 2004 turbo cabrio looks interesting and has the rarer manual gearbox. The dealer, Lux Sport Motor Group of Plainville NY is something of a used Porsche specialist.

The next edition of the Turbo, the 997, falls somewhat outside our $75,000 limit and these cars seem to be holding their values. On the other hand, n/a 997s abound in the $50-$70,000 range.

Low mileage 4S cabriolets and Targas can be found around $70,000, particularly on the coasts where open cars are always popular where a 36,000-mile 2008 Targa 4 S was recently sold for $69,995 through West Coast Motor Cars.

There are also plenty of 991s in this bracket. First seen in the US in 2012, the 991 shared the MA1 flat six of its predecessor, but in a move to rationalise its engine production, Porsche dropped the 3.6 capacity and instead endowed the 991 Carrera with a tuned version of the Boxster/Cayman 3.4. The Carrera S retained the 3.8 and again, reworked for higher output, this was now a genuine 400bhp engine.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Although visually very similar to the 997, the 991 was based on a wider track and slightly longer wheelbase. These changes brought a significantly bigger and rather better-appointed cabin, but some external visibility was lost and parking sensors became a necessity rather than a luxury.

The longer chassis enabled Porsche to move the engine an inch forward and combined with the other increased dimensions, the 911’s handling was further enhanced, the tendency to understeer at high cornering speeds reduced. The 991 did feel like an altogether larger car (it was) and some correspondents complained it was becoming more GT than sports car. This was without considering the engines, the last volume production flat-sixes that Porsche would build – the second generation 991.2 introduced in 2016 would have a twin turbocharged 3 litre.

Both the 3.4 and 3.8 units of the 991.1 produced well over 100 horsepower per litre, now the most powerful naturally aspirated engine made anywhere in production quantities. Higher pressure injection and compression ratios combined with improved breathing resulted in power curves which steepened dramatically from 4500 rpm to a splendid crescendo at 7500 rpm. The final naturally aspirated 911 was as near to the flat-six’s racing origins as any.

Thirteen years on and as Porsche valiantly staves off electrifying the 911 (sacrificing instead the Boxster/Cayman) grumbles about the 991 are forgotten: here is a superbly fitted and finished durable sports car and yours, sir or madam, for less than $75,000.

The market has plenty of examples: 2012-4 Carrera coupes are often below $60,000 while the Carrera S commands around $10,000 more, reflecting the price difference when new.

2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet

Casey’s Cars in Hermosa Beach has a 2013 S cabriolet with 58,000 miles pitched at $74,991 ( ); the equivalent coupe would probably be 10% cheaper.

As a rule, the 991.2 (post 2016) does not yet figure in our price range, though given its rate of depreciation, it very likely will before the end of 2024.

The Air-Cooled 911s

The 911-inflation which took hold around 2009 particularly affecting the more common air-cooled cars seems to have tailed off in the few years, but it still means the buyer has to look well-above $50,000 to find a properly driveable, usable 911 which isn’t a workshop job every weekend.

What was once the ‘cheap’ 911, the 1978-81 SC is no longer a low-cost Porsche and the cars on offer in our price bracket, for example, these two 1980 911 SCs for $59,500 and $62,500 respectively.

1980 Porsche 911SC 1980 Porsche 911SC shows these and other well used but seemingly serviceable 911SCs. There are more of the 1983-88 3.2 Carrera on the market and their pricing is between $55,000 to well beyond our limit of $75,000: again the prospective buyer will be assessing the quality of any restoration.

 1983 Porsche 911SC

The object of some criticism when it was launched, the 964, of which only 50,000 were manufactured, remained somewhat in the doldrums for many years. Your correspondent, based in west London in the early 2000s, recalls seeing many neglected-looking fifteen-year-old 964s evidently relegated to mere shopping trips.

By sports car standards, air-cooled 911s are extraordinarily hard-wearing and the engines will still run when other cars simply give up. Even then good 964s were hard to find. Today, it is a relatively rare 911. The depredations of the ‘reimagined’ crowd and other 911 modifiers or back daters, all attracted by the relatively modern chassis of the 964, have thinned the ranks of the coupe further and (standard) 964s surfacing on the market today have very largely been restored, putting them far beyond our price segment.

1990 Porsche 964 Carrera 2 Targa at New Hyde Park NY had a 1990 Targa on offer at $59,995, recently sold. In the same condition the coupe would likely have been priced north of our cut-off.

The last air-cooled 911, the 993 wowed all concerned with its svelte yet potent looks when it appeared in 1993, and in contrast with the 964, it never went out of fashion. Today, as with other older 911s, the coupes are the most popular and fall largely beyond the $75,000 cut-off.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 shows the less popular cabriolet on offer at $49,950 to $58,000 and a Targa and a coupe both at $75,000. But when other 993 coupes (excluding the Turbo and S models) are also on offer at double these prices, it becomes clear that our sub-$75,000 ‘finds’ will be far from perfect examples.

In terms of the best value for money, unless you are looking for an air-cooled 911 to drive to the office and improve or restore at weekends, the Carrera 3.2 of 1984-89 offers perhaps the best bet. Robust and straightforward enough for the knowledgeable Porsche enthusiast to maintain him or herself, $75,000 should suffice to find a good, usable example.

This will not be a concours car, but wear should look natural for a 40 year old and all the controls pleasingly functional. Even at over 150,000 miles the flat six should be  running and revving smoothly without the rattles or rumbles which would suggest attention will have to be sooner rather than later. Technically more refined and sophisticated than the three-litre SC, the long term ownership cost of a Carrera 3.2 will be significantly less than the altogether more complex  964 and 993 models which came after it.