The Porsche Boxster (986) is now Very Affordable
A few days ago we posted our list of 5 affordable air-cooled Porsches. Those were some great cars, but Porsche has made (and makes) some very good water-cooled machines as well. Plus, some of them are just down right cheap.
These water-cooled cars are available in front, mid and rear-engine layouts. So, no matter what you like, there is something for you.
5. Porsche 924
The Porsche 924 is the cheapest car from the German manufacture that you can currently buy. How inexpensive are they? Well, you can find plenty in decent condition for around $1,500.
Now for that price you won’t be getting a Turbo or S model (and if you can find a 924 Carrera GT, it will cost you much more). But if you go for the earlier cars with lower power you can get them very reasonably. You’ll get a great handling car, but don’t expect to win any drag races as that Audi 2.0-liter four cylinder is underpowered.
If you want to own a Porsche and would like a somewhat economical car that doesn’t cost a lot to buy then the 924 is a good bet. Just be safe and pay a little more for one in better condition (not a lot more, but about $2,000 should do it).
4. Porsche 944
The 944 has a similar layout as the 924, but with a Porsche designed and more powerful engine. The styling of the car is also more masculine than the 924 and in the 85.5 and later cars there is a more modern interior (earlier cars have almost the exact same interior as the 924).
While the standard Porsche 944 is very fast in the corners (thanks largely to its front-engine, rear transaxle layout), in a straight line it isn’t that fast by today’s standards. It will still keep up with modern traffic and is faster than many other sports cars from its time period.
However, if you want a fast 944 then but a Turbo, S or S2. Especially the Turbo and S2 up the performance by quite a bit. The turbocharged version of the car is also much more tunable.
You can find good early cars for around $2,500 and even a Turbo or S2 will usually cost you under $10,000. You get a lot of car for the money, but make sure to buy a good well maintained car or your cheap Porsche will soon cost you plenty of money in repairs.
3. Porsche 928
The Porsche 928 was the first front engined V8 powered car made by the German performance car maker. It is a fast and powerful machine that is perfect for eating large chunks of miles at one time.
It may not be the best drag racing car, but it is possibly the best GT car ever made. The styling is unique and the car sat at the top of the Porsche lineup for most of its production.
Most of these V8 machines can now be had for very little money. You can find earlier examples in good condition for well under $10,000 (we’ve seen as low as $4,000 for a decent car). If you want a later car like the GTS or Club Sport then plan to pay much more.
However, the best performance bargain is the 928 S4. It offers better performance than the earlier cars and you can find them well under $15,000. We’ve seen a number of them in the $7,000 range, but they needed some work. Our recommendation is that you pay a bit more to get a well maintained car as maintenance bills can quickly add up on these machines if they are not well taken care of.
2. Porsche Boxster (986)
The Porsche Boxster (986), also known as the early Boxster, is a car with traditional Porsche styling. The styling of the front end is pretty much the same as the 911 (996) of its time period. The styling is so close to a 911 that those who don’t really know Porsches will often think that it is a 911.
The cars are pretty quick and handle like a dream, thanks in part to their mid-engined layout. Parts of the interior is a little on the plasticky side, but it does have very good styling and the overall quality of the materials is very good.
These cars are now a real bargain and one of the cheapest flat-six powered machines that you can buy. Early Boxsters can be bought for under $10,000 in decent condition, although paying a little bit more will often get you a better maintained car. If you have around $15,000 you can get into an early Boxster S which adds about 50 horsepower to the package, as well as improved suspension, brakes and exhaust sound.
If your budget can stretch to the $20,000 range then you can jump to the next generation 987 Boxster. You’ll get a better interior and more power in the full range with the move. You’ll also get a glass rear window, which was only available on the later 986s.
1. Porsche 911 (996)
The car that most Porsche enthusiasts want to own at least once in their life is a 911. The rear-engined sports car has been with us for over 50 years and is the face of the company.
The 996 generation of the 911 was the first water-cooled generation of the rear-engined cars. These were great cars overall, but many weren’t fans of the headlights. In particular, they didn’t like that they were the same as on the lower priced Boxster. In the 996.2 Porsche re-worked the front end to better separate to two models and on the next generation 997, they returned to the traditional round units.
The 911 offers very good performance. The 996 is modern enough of a car that you will have no problem passing most cars on the road. The interior in this generation of the rear-engined sports car is nice, but not quite as good as the later 997 and 991 variants.
If you dream of owning a 911 with air-conditioning that works well and a decent amount of power for a reasonable price, then the 996 is worth a look. You can find early cars for as low as $15,000 in decent condition, but for a good well maintained machine expect to be closer to $20,000 or a bit more.
Bonus Car – Porsche 968
While the Porsche 968 didn’t make our list we felt it was worth mentioning. The front-engined sports car has more power than a 944 (outside of some of the Turbos) and styling that is a bit more traditional Porsche. The cars didn’t sell well so, in the future they potentially will go up in value faster than some other models.
Right now you can find decent 968s for about $12,000. However, if you pay closer to $15,000 you can find lower mileage and better maintained cars. If you jump up to about $20,000 you can get a good Cabriolet.
With all of these cars it is always a good idea to have a pre-purchase inspection and to buy the best car you can afford. We also recommend you research known issues before buying any model (for example the 944s timing belt can be a problem if not replaced at the correct time and the Boxster and 911 can have the dreaded IMS failure).
Picture Sources: OSX, Mr. Choppers, The Car Spy, Wistar Rinearson, Abehn