How to Buy a Porsche 911

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How to Buy a Porsche 911

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2013, the Porsche 911 is one of the most enduring, iconic sports cars ever produced. While the 911 has continually evolved over the years, the fundamental concept has remained the same, ever since the German automaker first introduced the 911 in 1963. All 911s are so-called "two-plus-two" cars, with two front seats and two smaller seats in the rear, and feature its trademark flat-six boxer engine mounted in the rear. Known for its design, speed, and handling, it has been a favourite with racers, having won numerous competitions, but also remains much loved by car enthusiasts as an everyday vehicle.

For those passionate about Porsches, there is a wide range of 911s on the market. Finding the perfect one involves some preparation, from basic decisions to final inspections. The good news is that once a buyer has found a well-maintained 911, it is theirs to enjoy.

Setting a Budget

As a luxury car, the 911 is not inexpensive. New models come with a high price tag, and well-cared for used models may also command a hefty sum. However, with so many different models and years, the range of prices for a 911 is wide. Assessing available finances helps buyers decide in advance how much they are willing to spend on their Porsche. Of course, they need to keep in mind that what may seem like a great price can sometimes be a trap. Educating themselves about the listed prices for models they are interested in helps consumers form realistic expectations about the cost of a 911. They can consult independent sources like Glass' Guide, Parkers, or What Car to see how a particular 911 is valued. Repairs and parts can be quite costly, so learning what to look for in a used 911 is also essential in helping buyers find a car with good value.

Researching Different Porsche 911 Models

With such a myriad of choices, it may seem hard to know where to begin when considering buying a 911. No matter whether a buyer has a specific model or era in mind, it helps to keep an open mind when searching for the right 911. There are a few basic decisions that can help narrow the field.

Classic or Modern

The first question when buying a Porsche 911 is whether one wants a classic car or a modern model. Classic 911s have the beauty and charm of the iconic originals, and nostalgia alone can give them a great deal of value for their owners. However, earlier models may lack proper ventilation and safety equipment standard in later models; moreover, buying an older car always comes with greater risk of wear and tear. Newer models come with power-assisted steering, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, and other safety features and luxurious additions.

Coupé, Cabriolet, or Targa

The 911 comes in three body styles: coupé, cabriolet, or the Targa, which features a removable roof panel and either a removable plastic or fixed glass rear windows. Performance fanatics tend to insist on the coupé because of its rigid chassis, but for drivers who enjoy the open-air experience, the cabriolet makes sense. The Targa is a kind of middle-ground between the two, with the option to drive with an open top, although sacrificing some chassis rigidity. The cabriolet and Targa also require extra maintenance to prevent leaking in the top and seals.

Manual or Tiptronic

Porsche's Tiptronic transmission, their trademark version of manumatic transmission, was introduced in 1990 with the 964 Carrera 2. While many prefer manual for maximum driver engagement, Tiptronic 911s give the driver the option for some degree of manual control, combined with automatic transmission. Those who are more comfortable with an automatic should not hesitate to purchase a Tiptronic 911: although some argue that it decreases the value of the car, it is most important to buy a car that the driver will enjoy driving regularly. Moreover, if buying a used Porsche, the price differential has already likely been realised by the time of the second-hand purchase.

Learning More About Porsches

As one of the most famous luxury and sports car manufacturers, Porsche offers enthusiasts the excitement and challenge of innovative design and engineering. Learning about different Porsche models can be interesting for prospective buyers and owners alike. Those considering purchasing a Porsche may find publications such as various Porsche buyer ' s guides helpful in deciding on the model that they want, and learning what to look for during the buying process.

Where to Buy a Used Porsche 911

The 911's particular status as one of the most coveted sports cars can also make buying a used one rather complicated. While newer 911s are sold through official Porsche centres (OPC), for anything older, buyers need to go through an independent dealership, individual seller, auction, or website like eBay Motors. There are many 911s on the used-car market that may have been crashed, minimally maintained, or even stolen. Therefore, extra caution is advised when shopping for a Porsche 911, especially to those with less experience. That said, reasonably-priced and well-maintained used Porsche 911s sell quickly, so buyers should be prepared to act. In general, buyers should seek out a seller that seems reliable and knowledgeable, as this may also be an indication that they have cared for their car. That said, the buyer should strive to be as informed as possible.

What to Avoid When Buying a Used Porsche 911

When purchasing a used Porsche 911, there are several potential latent issues that buyers should look out for. The following chart outlines some of the most common problems.




Be particularly cautious with 3.4-litre engines and have them inspected prior to buying; the rear main oil seal and intermediate shaft seal need replacing every few years; other problem areas include air mass meters and ignition coils


Check for leaf build-up in air intakes, which can cause corrosion in radiator; also check coolant reservoir

Air Conditioning

Ensure A/C functions; replacing it is costly


So-called coffin arms, or the suspension wishbones, probably need replacement if the car is creaking; a 996 that gets regular use needs to have them replaced every few years

Brakes, Wheels, Tyres

Brake discs are prone to wear and cracking and are expensive to replace; alloy wheels are often a telltale sign of a well-cared for car, and may be worth paying extra for; front wheels with too much negative camber may be a sign that the car needs new coffin arms


Highly common in pre-1989 911s; buyers should avoid buying a 911 with any signs of rust, if possible, as it can be very costly to repair; can be as subtle as small bubbles below window sill or hidden on the underside

Buyers seriously interested in a vehicle should have it inspected prior to purchasing it. While this does cost some money, it is well worth the peace of mind and is one of the surest ways to avoid spending thousands on unforeseen repairs. Repairing a used Porsche is almost always more expensive than buying one in good condition.

Porsche 911 Nomenclature

While all 911s are sold under the name "911", Porsche has internal type numbers for different model series. The chart below outlines the basic breakdown of these type numbers.

Type Number





Early 911s with metal bumpers; air-cooled engine



Impact painted aluminum bumper; air-cooled engine

964 911


Plastic bumpers; classic-style body; air-cooled engine

993 911


Plastic bumpers; lying-down headlamps; air-cooled engine

996 911


Fried-egg headlamps; water-cooled engine; plastic bumpers

997 911


Round headlamps; water-cooled engine

991 911


New 911 platform; wide-set, three-dimensional headlamps; water-cooled

Revisions within a series are usually denoted by adding a letter, e.g., A, B, C; the letter also reflects changes for a new model year.

Most Porsches, provided they have been well cared for, are a pleasure to own and to drive. Some reviewers favour certain models, like the 911SC (1978-1983) or the Carrera 2.3 (1984-1989), but buyers may find it pays to keep an open mind, as less-common or coveted models, like an early 964 Carrera 4 Targa, can sometimes be surprisingly good bargains.

Research Vehicle History and Value

Once the buyer has found a Porsche 911 they are interested in, it is imperative that they research the vehicle. Having a professional inspection helps ensure there are no serious issues with the car. In addition, buyers should obtain a history of the vehicle and research its listed value.

Vehicle Status Report

A vehicle status report gives the buyer a history of the vehicle based on its registration mark. Included information includes title transfers, any collisions, any outstanding payments on the vehicle, or whether it has been written off or stolen.

Listed Value

Buyers can also benefit from looking up the listed value for the exact model they are interested in. Independent sources for valuation are Glass' Guide, Parkers, and What Car. This helps buyers decide how much they are willing to pay, and also avoid cars that are selling for well below the listed value.

How to Buy a Porsche 911 on eBay

eBay has a wide selection of Porsche 911s, from early classics to to recent models. You can search for, compare, and research different Porsche 911s for sale with eBay's user-friendly tools. Start on the website's home page and enter keywords into the search bar, such as "Porsche 911 Carrera". You can then refine your original search results by selecting limiting factors, such as year, mileage, price, and more.

Read the full listing of vehicles you are interested in. Check the seller's description of the car, noting specifications, condition, and vehicle history. Make sure you understand the payment requirements and pickup conditions. You can purchase a vehicle status report through eBay.

It is also important to verify the seller's credentials. Check their feedback score and read comments from past buyers who also purchased cars from them. This helps ensure you're buying from a reliable, knowledgeable seller. You can ask the seller a question over eBay; avoid buying from sellers that do not respond to your enquiries.


The Porsche 911 is one of the most iconic sports cars, with a history of production dating back to 1963. Many dream of one day owning a Porsche 911, but with so many choices, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Buyers should research different 911s and decide which models they are most interested in. Major choices include: opting for a classic or a modern model; choosing a cabriolet, coupe, or Targa; and deciding whether to buy manual or Tiptronic.

Because Porsches are so widely coveted, there are many on the market that may have been poorly maintained. Would-be buyers should watch for any telltale signs of problems, and purchase a car in the best possible condition. Porsches can be expensive to repair, so spending more on a well-maintained 911 can save money in the future. Checking a vehicle's history and listed value, as well as having it professionally inspected, are final steps in the buying process. With a little savvy, buyers can find the Porsche 911 they've been dreaming of.

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