Porsches to buy now – 1982 911 SC G-Series, 1986 924S, 1988 928S4, 1990 944S2 Cabriolet, 1999 911 Carrera 2 996 and 2007 Cayman S 987

Drive-my and Charlie Magee

Porsches to buy now 6 great drives tipped to rise. Just when you think you’ve missed the bus for affordable classic Porsches, six come along at once. The Big Test Porsches to buy now. ‘It’s not too late – some Porsches are yet to be inflated out of all reasonable proportion’. Think it’s too late and you’ve missed the bus for affordable classic Porsches? Here are half a dozen we think have been left behind, for now at least. But which is the best buy? Words Russ Smith. Photography Charlie Magee.


BEHIND THE CURV£ 911 SC, 924 S, 928 S4, Cayman S, 996 C2 and 944 S2 Cabrio – pork on the verge of being pulled up?

Stuttgart Six There are still some Porsches within the realms of relative affordability. We shortlist and drive the best – 911 SC, 924 S, 928 S4, 944 Cabrio, 996 and Cayman S.

Even compared to the rest of the classic car market, Porsche values have gone bonkers in  the  past few years, moving them out of the reach of many enthusiasts. In the past three years, already pricey early 911s have risen a further 50-100%, later Porsche 911 964 and Porsche 911 993 values have doubled, 944 Turbos are up 130% and 928 GT prices have trebled. But it’s not too late to join the game – some Porsches have yet to be inflated out of all proportion. We’ve identified six crackers that seem behind the curve and brought them together to see what you get and discover the realities of owning one. Each also has the potential to rise enough in value to actually cover ownership costs if you buy well. Interested?

Porsches to buy now - 1982 911 SC G-Series, 1986 924S, 1988 928S4, 1990 944S2 Cabriolet, 1999 911 Carrera 2 996 and 2007 Cayman S 987

Porsches to buy now – 1982 911 SC G-Series, 1986 924S, 1988 928S4, 1990 944S2 Cabriolet, 1999 911 Carrera 2 996 and 2007 Cayman S 987 – road test


1982 Porsche 911 SC G-Series

There are few bargains in the aircooled zone, but the 911 SC is one of them and has a lot to offer the Porsche purist. For me they represent the last of the pre-yuppie 911s, usually free of those Eighties fashion-essential Turbo-look spoilers and fat arches – and all the better for it. Shop around, be prepared to accept less than perfection and you can still find properly cared-for examples for prices that begin with a two. For now, at least.

If you want to go really old-school, the first-year (1978) SCs still had their predecessor’s chrome window surrounds, door handles and headlamp rims. Later cars used on-trend black anodising for the first two of those and body colour for the lamp rims. The trade-off is that those early cars had 180bhp, which is okay but grew to 188bhp in 1980 and 204bhp the following year after revisions that also improved fuel economy. Gina Purcell’s SC is an ’1982 model so has the full-fat engine.

It’s a Sport so was also born with tea-tray and airdam spoilers, but these have been removed and for my money the car looks better for it. Though scheduled for body work and a glass-out repaint this coming winter it wears its 210,000 miles very well. There’s no hint of that mileage from the driver’s seat either, but then it has been well looked after.

1982 Porsche 911 SC G-Series

1982 Porsche 911 SC G-Series

As ever, the first thing that grabs you when sitting in an older 911 is how good the view out is. You sit quite high up with plenty of upright glass area. It’s more saloon than sports car in that respect, which imbues a great feeling of confidence in driving a car that has a bit of a reputation following it around. Point two is the odd, springy action of the floor-hinged clutch pedal, which is also pretty weighty – heaviest of all the cars here. But it’s easy to adapt to and serves to remind that you are in no ordinary car.

Anyway, once you’re on the  move  attention  switches  to the  wonderfully  hyperactive  steering.  The  wheel  constantly fidgets in your hands as it feeds back enough data to occupy a supercomputer. Again it helps build confidence so you can keep the power on and boot the car through corners, marvelling at the grip and enjoying the performance punch of all that torque in what was then still a very light 911.

Despite the above, the ride is compliant and it all makes progress feel so effortless. Only the speedometer tells how fast you are really going – and it’s always quicker than you think.

With apologies to dealers, an SC is a Porsche I’d prefer to buy privately – interviewing the last owner is as important as inspecting the car. You can learn so much from hearing about their relationship with it, how fastidious they’ve been (or not) and where they’ve taken it for work. This car proves that you don’t need to be too hung up on mileage, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security over rust. Porsche bodies were well protected against corrosion, but in the SC’s case that was 35-40 years ago. Life with a 911 SC may not be easy, and don’t go in expecting to run one on a shoestring. But treat it well, drive it hard, and the rewards are the kind that make life worth living.

Owning a Porsche 911 SC G-Series

‘”Steffi” is my fifth 911. I bought the first – a Carrera 3.2 – in 1990,’ says Gina Purcell. ‘SCs are my favourite because they’re lighter and more delicate.

‘I like the 915 gearbox; it’s all more suited to the 911 ethos. It’s a Sport model so had a rear tea-tray spoiler. I removed that by choice; the front spoiler was damaged when it was being trailered back from a breakdown in Sweden, so I took that o# too. It’s still steady as a rock at 140mph on the autobahn without them. The problem was the CDI unit – the ignition brain – fritzed out. I’m going to “t an upgraded part from Classic Retro”t, which looks identical but has better electronics. ‘I’m also going to “t a blade-type fusebox to aid reliability. To run an SC, plan for an average of £800-£900 for the annual service, so allow £1500 all-in to deal with any other stuff.


Engine Rear-mounted 2994cc alloy flat-six, OHC, Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection

Power and torque 204bhp @ 5900rpm; 197lb ft @ 4300rpm DIN

Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

 Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front: independent by MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, torsion bar springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar; Rear: independent with alloy semi-trailing arms, torsion bar springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar

Brakes Ventilated discs with servo assistance all round

Weight 1160kg (2554lb)

Performance Top speed: 146mph; 0-60mph: 6.7sec

Fuel consumption 27mpg

Cost new £16,732

Values now £17,500-£37,500

{module PORSCHE 930}

‘The wheel constantly fidgets in your hands as it feeds back enough data to occupy a supercomputer’


1982 Porsche 911 SC G-Series

Stigma says the SC is ‘not quite a Carrera’ – so what? In 204bhp form, the 3.0-litre flat-six revs smoothly and sonorously. Light, airy cabin gives the driver a confidence-inspiring viewpoint.


1986 Porsche 924S

Perhaps I should start by declaring a potential conflict of interest here because for four years in the late Nineties I ran a 924 S – in identical Guards Red livery – as my daily driver. Over 60,000 miles left me with a lot of good memories and a lingering admiration for Porsche’s great Q-car. I describe it as such because almost everyone thinks it’s ‘just’ a 924, whereas it’s really a 944 with a beach-ready body. Porsche just detuned the engine by 10bhp to stop it outperforming the 944, and even that was restored for the (final) 1988 model year. Those full-on 160bhp cars were 0.3sec quicker to 60mph from standstill and ran out to a 3mph higher 136mph and, because just 4079 of them were built, they really ought to be recognised as something a little more collectable than they currently are. Perhaps that will soon change.

Our test car, provided by Andrew Girdler, is an early model, of which four times as many were built. The other way it diers from my old 924 S is being unusually not specced with power steering. That worried me a bit because one of the car’s great virtues was its quick but not-very-powered steering. I should have learnt to trust Porsche better by now – the weight is very similar, you just have to move your arms to negotiate bends rather than only your wrists. The handling itself is, as ever, finely poised, the generally neutral balance just giving way to a hint of safe understeer if you push things too far. The ride is equally good – well damped but not too firm – and the four-wheel vented disc brakes are superb once you get past the slight lack of initial bite.

1986 Porsche 924S road test

1986 Porsche 924S road test

All that in a car that, for me, has a driving position which even betters that in an early MX-5, and I don’t give praise like that lightly. Larger folk used to complain about mine being too tight between steering wheel and legs, but it’s little known that the seats are mounted on spacers that can be removed to deal with that. If you try out a 924 S and find the seat feels too low, someone has probably removed those spacers. It won’t be hard to obtain some more if they haven’t been tucked in the spare wheel well.

As it is, the pedals are perfectly placed and weighted, the wheel nicely near-vertical, and the gearknob just where you want it to be. The shift isn’t bad either, considering the distance between it and the rear transaxle. In this fairly high-miler there’s typically some sideways slack, but the actual shifts are short and positive.

If they feel heavy, there’s a problem with the knuckle on top of the transaxle – not an easy repair because the unit needs dropping. Anything involving that can get expensive, so beware of a clutch with anything other than a smooth action. Also, if a car is being sold at around the 100k mark and there’s nothing in its history le about a new clutch, it’s on the cards so budget and barter accordingly. Fitting a new one will typically cost £700-£900.

Other things to watch out for are oil leaks, especially from the front end of the engine, and when the cambelt was last changed. Unlike 944s these don’t tend to suffer unduly from sill rot, but watch out for corrosion in the battery tray. Unfortunately the most prone area is hidden by the battery, but if it is allowed to break through then water can drip on to the fusebox and your Porsche will start to behave like an Alfa.

At this age cracks in the dashtop are almost inevitable. They’re unsightly but if you can’t live with them they can be repaired to almost invisible levels by specialists. Other than general wear-and- tear and fading paint, there’s generally not much else that commonly goes wrong and they don’t hide much, so these are relatively easy cars to buy.

They are also very easy cars to drive, and quickly too. A completely different ball game to their 2.0-litre 924 predecessors, the 924 S is one of those hidden gems. Prices have risen a little recently, but if and when good ones hit five figures they will still feel like value for money.

‘The driving position even betters that in an early MX-5, and I don’t give praise like that lightly’

1986 Porsche 924S road test

Detuned 944 unit allowed the 924 to live on in S form after VW discontinued the 2.0-litre engine. The first owner of this 924 S made the curious decision of not specifying power steering. Dynamically, the 924 S is closer in spirit to its big-brother 944 than its forefather, the 924.

Owning a 924 S

‘This isn’t just my first Porsche, it’s my first car and my only one,’ says Andrew Girdler. ‘Dad had a 911 SC, which is where I got the Porsche bug. I couldn’t afford one of those, but after uni I checked insurance costs. One of these was £750 – a VW Polo would have been £1500. ‘I bought my 924 S 18 months ago for £1500 with needs. Hard to believe it was once a Porsche Club GB concours winner. It has since had a windows-out repaint that cost £3500 and I’ve spent around four grand on the mechanics – cambelt, brakes, clutch, steering.

‘And there are still a few bits to do. If you pick one that’s not been in caring ownership, expect to do some big spending. But now it’s done it’ll run for miles – I’ve added 8000 so far; it had done only 10k in the previous ten years.’


Engine Front-mounted 2479cc aluminium inline-four, OHC, Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection

Power and torque 150bhp @ 5800rpm; 140lb ft @ 3000rpm DIN

Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front: independent by MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar; Rear: independent with wishbones, transverse torsion bar springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar

Brakes Ventilated discs with servo assistance all round

Weight 1210kg (2664lb)

Performance Top speed: 133mph; 0-60mph: 8.5sec

Fuel consumption 28mpg

Cost new £14,985

Values now £1600-£6750

{module Porsche 924}


1988 Porsche 928 S4

Somehow seductive and serious at the same time, the 928 is, in that way and others, a lot like its old rival the Jaguar XJS. Both have also been slow to really take o in the classic market, but that seeming discrepancy is finally being corrected.

As mentioned in the introduction, 928 GT and GTS versions have rocketed in value recently and regular models are now being pulled along in their slipstream. Time has also been kind to the 928 – they used to look bulky, and had a reputation for being complicated. See one in traffic today and it looks like it’s dropped a dress size or two, and nowadays even a base-spec Golf is now more technically daunting.

Some enthusiasts are getting excited about the early cars, but our money’s on the much developed 5.0-litre S4 model as the one to have, which is handily also the most numerous.

Alongside other classic Porsches the 928 is still a significant chunk of car and feels bigger and meatier from the driver’s seat too. Stepping from its kid brother, there’s no doubting this was made by the team that brought us the 924 S.

1988 Porsche 928S4

1988 Porsche 928 S4 road test

For a start there’s a similar-feeling though slightly larger steering wheel, mounted on the same near-vertical plane – though at least in this you can adjust it to t into any size of lap.

Get on the move and the message is still that this is more muscular GT than out-and-out sports car. That’s not a criticism; the 928 just does things differently from other Porsches, though always with the same reassuring levels of quality and competence.

There’s a well-controlled ride, firm without jarring, that provides a solid platform for the car’s poised handling. In keeping with the rest of its character it sweeps round even tight bends with lineholding composure rather than darting for apexes, then shows its true mettle as the vast torque hurls it towards the next corner with a growl as the revs hit the upper echelons of the rev range, reminding you that there’s an iron fist behind all this civility.

Vince Dallimore’s car also has the benefit of a five-speed manual gearbox, but don’t get too excited because they are properly rare and now worth about twice the price of a regular auto – Bonhams just sold a 90k-mile left-hooker for £31,600, and there are more of these than right-hand-drive S4s. But don’t worry either – Vince’s other two Porsche 928s are autos and he says, ‘They’re fantastic, I’ve not been turned o those at all by having the manual car.’

What the manual does do for all that extra outlay is provide a broader spread of gearing than the four-speed auto so you can always make the most of the power – it shaved 0.4sec from the 0-60 time. It’s a heavy-ish clutch, but with a nicer action than the SC’s. The shift itself is chunkily mechanical with a wide gate and a dogleg first, though the distance between the lever and the transaxle results in some lost precision. Then again, it was better than I expected and not too heavy.

You need to take care when buying a 928 because all those years in the doldrums put many into the hands of owners who could afford to buy one but perhaps without the deep pockets to keep up with the maintenance they like. ‘These cars can be temperamental when not serviced and not used,’ says Vince. ‘They are best driven regularly or you start to get electrical gremlins. Since prices started to rise there’s been a lot of stuff coming out of the woodwork that’s iffy. If you get one that’s been neglected it will cost a fortune to bring it back up to a good level. It may be a cliché but you really should try and buy the best you can because it’s cheaper in the long run. A very good S4 auto might be as much as £17k; below £12,000 you’ve got to be careful.’

I’d echo Vince’s thoughts, and add that a higher-mileage car that’s had regular use and lots of specialist bills is a much better bet than a long-stored low-miler. Cared-for 928s can wear their miles very well, and offer plenty to reward good maintenance.

Owning a 928 S4

‘This is the car I had on my wall as a teenager,’ says Vince Dallimore. ‘Then you get old and fat, with spare money.’

‘I now have three 928s – the others are an 1987 car and a 1986 S2 that’s in restoration. I spotted this one in the club mag, just a tiny ad but it screamed “manual!” so it jumped out at me. There were only 38 UK manual S4s, so I made the trek from Beaulieu to Liverpool and bought it.

‘I’ve put original D90 alloys on as I prefer them. It has patina but thankfully hasn’t been messed with. It also has the full leather trim that was a £6000 option when it was new.

‘I spent £1500 on catch-up maintenance – the previous owner had it for 19 years but was struggling with upkeep. I budget £1000-£1500 a year to run it, plus £700 when it needs a cambelt, which is due every five years at most.


Engine Front-mounted 4957cc aluminium V8, dohc, Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection

Power and torque 320bhp @ 6000rpm; 317lb ft @ 3000rpm DIN

Transmission Five-speed manual or four-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front: independent by MacPherson struts and twin wishbones, coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bar; Rear: independent with twin wishbones, coil springs, Weissach control link, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar

Brakes Ventilated discs with servo assistance all round

Weight 1580kg (3479lb)

Performance Top speed: 168mph; 0-60mph: 5.8sec

Fuel consumption 17mpg

Cost new £54,827

Values now £6500-£16,500 (auto)

{module Porsche 928}

1988 Porsche 928S4

The 928 prefers to swallow straights whole rather than nibble at apexes. Surfing on a 317lb ft wave of Porsche V8 torque is hardly a chore. Rare manuals are more sought-after, but in many ways the auto gearbox is more suited to the 928’s character.


1990 Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet

Given the company’s fondness for Targas and cabriolets it took Porsche a long time to add a drop-top model to its front-engined range. By the time it did, the 944 was already quite long in the tooth at seven years old. Adding a 15% premium for the 944 S2 Cabriolet certainly helped its exclusivity – just 6980 were built for the worldwide market in a less-than-three-year production run and there are only around 350 left on UK roads. The conversions were carried out at a purpose-built factory where coupés had their roofs chopped o, windscreens cut down and an extra floorpan welded in for strength. The net effect after that heavy rear window was replaced by a bootlid was a mere 30kg weight gain and a lower centre of gravity.

As you’d expect, the driving experience is a lot like the 924 S apart from one crucial factor – the power uplift. The older car’s 150bhp was barely a warm-up for the chassis’ capabilities, but with just another 500cc and double the number of valves Porsche managed to add an extra 61bhp that gives the chassis a proper workout. It still never gets unruly but you can feel the suspension is actually coming under pressure to maintain the handling’s balance and neutrality when you boot it a bit in a corner.

Overdo things and you get the tiniest hint of understeer, which responds to a few millimetres of extra lock. I was also – having read otherwise – impressed at the lack of scuttle shake, though that may be different on more potholed roads than I encountered. The steering itself has a meaty, almost unpowered nature – just enough assistance and no more – with lots of feel.

1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet

1990 Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet road test

The way the folded hood sits untidily high at the back actually acts as an effective wind deflector. There’s surprisingly little buffeting in the cockpit even at decent speeds, and it’s a lot quieter than a 944 coupé with the lift-out sunroof removed. Tall drivers may find the lower windscreen top rail a tad intrusive, MGB style, but that aside it’s hard to fault the ergonomics with all the controls within easy reach and simple to read.

Those high-back seats are embracingly supportive as well, and the facelift oval dashboard is a successful modernisation over the chunkier earlier 924/944 unit.

Much like showroom-goers back in the late Eighties and early Nineties, the classic market didn’t pay much attention to the 944 Cabrio until recently. But since Ian Robson bought his two years ago values have risen by 50% or more, albeit from a pretty low base. Yes, the one-year-only Turbo model has become prime real estate with the best topping £30k, but there were only 528 of those built and the regular Cabrio is still a relative rarity that still doesn’t cost much more than a coupé. I can see that relationship changing. Dealers are already starting to price them up at £15-£16k, but you don’t yet have to pay that to get a good one.

Buying a 944 Cabrio is somewhere around ‘intermediate’ on the difficulty scale because they have relatively few inherent flaws. Probably the worst is for rust to break out around the ends of the sills. Check these areas both for corrosion and past repairs and beware of thick underseal. The engines are good for over 200,000 but like the 924 S need regular timing belt changes, and you have to keep an eye out for oil leaks around the front pulley area. And of course make sure the electrically operated roof goes up and down okay and isn’t fraying – a new one is around £1000 fitted.

Perhaps I’ve been infected by close familiarity with the 924 S, but I couldn’t find anything not to like about the 944 S2 Cabrio. After no more than ten minutes behind the wheel I was even starting to think about the logistics of buying one.

In addition to looking like about as sensible a classic buy as you can find at this end of the market, a Porsche 944 Cabriolet certainly promises a lot of fun – which is surely the most important point. This one’s owner seems to agree.

Owning a 944 S2 Cabriolet

‘This is my first Porsche. I was looking for something sensible like a Focus or Astra but got distracted,’ says Cabrio owner Ian Robson.

‘I bought the car two years ago with 120,000 miles on the clock for £4500. As is always a good idea, I also allowed £2000 to !x anything that needed doing or went wrong, but have so far only spent half of that. ‘Much of that was having the boot resprayed – a jealousy scratch – and the rest was tyres and cosmetic items like a centre console hinge and window switch.

‘It helps that the last owner had spent a bit on it – new hood and carpets. There is the cambelt to do next, though. I’m a sucker for convertibles and this is a lovely car to drive so it’s not going anywhere.

‘With insurance at just £150 a year it’s an incredibly reasonable car to have fun in.’


Engine Front-mounted 2990cc aluminium inline-four, dohc, Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection

Power and torque 211bhp @ 5800rpm; 207lb ft @ 4000rpm DIN

Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive

Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front: independent by MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar; Rear: independent with wishbones, transverse torsion bar springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar

Brakes Ventilated discs with servo assistance all round

 Weight 1340kg (2950lb)

Performance Top speed: 149mph; 0-60mph: 7.0sec

Fuel consumption 24mpg

Cost new £38,935

Values now £4250-£12,500

{module Porsche 924}

1990 Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet

With 211bhp, the four-pot engine lives up to the chassis’ abilities. The 944’s power steering embodies Teutonic efficiency – just enough assistance, and no more. The roof may look a bit clumsy, but the 944 is about as deft as cabrios come.


1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 996

There are strong arguments for not considering Porsche’s first mainstream water-cooled rearengined car as a 911 at all, but instead treating the 996 Carrera 2 as a distinct model in its own right. That would at least appease the fundamentalist 911 enthusiasts who are rushing to pay vast sums of money for its 993-designated predecessor and believe water-cooling to be a kind of blasphemy.

And after all, the clean-sheet 996 shares almost nothing with what went before, apart from its at-six engine layout, badge and a degree of side profile – if you squint a bit. But once you remove the baggage of the past and view the 996 as a standalone model, suddenly it becomes a thing of beauty in its own right.

This is the smoothed-out Porsche sports car for the PlayStation generation, in the sound it makes as well as its body lines – which at a glance owe almost as much to the 928 as past 911s. It drives that way too, being vastly capable in every way and flattering any driver’s abilities. In Martin Jackson’s C2 the PlayStation theme is taken a step further by its Tiptronic gearbox.

1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 996

1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 996 road test

I came to this with my own prejudices about the glory of manual gearshifting, but am also no stranger to computer game control pads. Ten minutes driving this 996 round a challenging route in ‘manual’ mode and flicking up and down the ratios with a nudge of left thumb had me converted. A prominent LED readout on the dash lets you know which gear you are in. It allows you to keep both hands on the wheel, the better to enjoy the 996’s electrifying turn-in, which is so much sharper than the four-wheel-drive version I drove last year. There’s still plenty of feel in the steering to keep you involved too, and in the dry at least there seems to be just as much grip as in that all-wheel driver.

That’s quite a trick with up to 300bhp at your right foot’s disposal, yet however hard the pedal is pressed it never feels threatening; just quick and planted. My only disappointment is that it’s perhaps a bit too quiet for what is a quick and exciting car. Porsche 911s have always tended to leave their noise behind at speed, and with the sound-damping effect of the water cooling, there’s a lot less sound to begin with.

This is a ‘MkI’ 3.4 996, which shares its front-end styling with the Boxster. That’s something else 996s were criticised for but I prefer it. The late-2001 facelift adopted the Turbo model’s front end. It’s more aggressive, but also to me looks clumsy and less well resolved than the polarising-but-pure original.

The catch is that the ‘MkII’ 3.6 also got a revised long-stroke engine with an extra 200cc and 20bhp. Added to that it is far less likely to be affected by the notorious intermediate shaft bearing ‘Look at the 996 not as a 911 but as a standalone model, and it becomes a thing of beauty in its own right’ and cracked cylinder block weaknesses that have blighted the reputation of the 3.4-litre 996s, even though the incidence rate is actually only around one in ten cars. If you can live with that, with the added reassurance that many of the duds have already fallen by the wayside, they are real bargains at the moment.

Decent 3.4s with history can be picked up for less than ten grand. Dig a little deeper and for £12,000 upwards you are in 3.6 territory. To put that into starker context, these days you can’t buy a 993 parts car for that kind of money. The feeling around the market is that they won’t stay this cheap for ever. Remember, for years people once wrote o the pre-993 964 models as no-hopers, then a few years ago they doubled in value almost overnight. Once it sinks in that later Porsches may have been quicker but were less engaging to drive, the same could happen here.

Though a solid service history buys some reassurance, and we have pragmatised the internet horror stories about 996s, this is still one car we’d recommend paying a Porsche expert to inspect before you part with your money. Look at it as good insurance. Then get out there and have some fun in your not-a-911.

‘Look at the 996 not as a 911 but as a standalone model, and it becomes a thing of beauty in its own right’

Owning a 996 Carrera 2 996

‘This was my first Porsche and I’ve owned it for three years now,’ says Martin Jackson, who now runs the Kent region of TIPEC – The Independent Porsche Enthusiasts’ Club. ‘It was a boyhood tick-box and I had the money in my pocket.

‘I really fancied a 996 – it’s the lines. I had resigned myself to getting a red or black one then spotted this for sale online one Sunday, down in South Wales. It was worth the trip. I only found out how rare the colour combo is afterwards – Jade Green 996s usually have black interiors. I’ve only seen one other like this, and that was in the Stuttgart museum.

‘It’s been near enough perfect; just a few water and aircon leaks. I reckon it’s been £1000 a year to run it, plus tyres. I’ve done around 15,000 miles since I bought it and fitted a new set, so I’ll maybe need some more next year.’


Engine Rear-mounted 3387cc alloy flat-six, dohc, Bosch Motronic M 5.2 fuel injection

Power and torque 300bhp @ 6800rpm; 258lb ft @ 4600rpm DIN

Transmission Five-speed Tiptronic or six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front: independent by MacPherson struts, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar; Rear: independent by multi-wishbone axle, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar

Brakes Ventilated discs with servo assistance all round, ABS

Weight 1365kg (3006lb)

Performance Top speed: 171mph; 0-60mph: 5.9sec

Fuel consumption 24mpg

Cost new £67,950

Values now £9000-£24,000

{module Porsche 996}

1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 996

Its unfortunate place in the model’s developmental timeline make the 996 the least-loved 911 – and all the better value for it. Some notorious weaknesses make the 996 a gamble, but the 3.6 does give you better odds. Unusually, the Jade Green of Martin’s car can be found inside, too.


2007 Porsche Cayman S 987

We now move from one Porsche that looks like a Boxster if you catch it from head-on, to one that was based wholeheartedly on the little roadster. Launched for 2006 alongside the second-generation Boxster (987 model code) the Cayman is a car that still has a bit of an identity crisis. Not merely because it has a name rather a number, as has been Porsche tradition. Anyway, it’s a good name for it – small but with a bit of bite.

What confuses people is where it fits in. There’s much temptation to see it as a new 911, despite the mid-mounted engine, hatchback tailgate and no rear seats, but Porsche has been very keen from the start to knock that idea on the head. Perhaps not least because it was a lot cheaper than the proper 911s it was also trying to sell. This was supposed to be an entry-level baby Porsche coupé. But then you put one next to a 911 SC and realise that the Cayman is just a little bit larger than that, just a little bit heavier, and just a little bit more powerful.

So it might not be the new 911, but perhaps this is what the 911 should have become; where the true spirit of past 911s lives on. What isn’t in any doubt is how good the Cayman is to drive. Anyone who has driven one raves about it and I’m about to join in. The cabin’s a good place to start. It’s a well-drawn blend of modern and retro with superb seats that have deep but not obstructive side bolsters and enough adjustments that anyone not in costume for a Hobbit lm shoot is going to find a perfect driving position.

2007 Porsche Cayman S 987 road test

2007 Porsche Cayman S 987 road test

Then there’s the engine which – perhaps because you are practically leaning back against it – sounds more involved and part of the driving experience than in the 996. Even with plenty of revs wound up it never becomes too intrusive but provides just the right level of backing track.

And boy does it kick. Always giving the impression it’s in a hurry to get somewhere, it keeps on the boil as you zip through the gears. There are six of them and I can’t help but wonder, in a at-capped Luddite manner, if that isn’t one too many; there to keep up with fashion and rivals rather than because it’s strictly necessary? Not that the shift is anything but a pleasure to use. It’s very slightly slack and wide-gated but short in throw and you never miss a slot.

The Cayman’s other great trick is the way it handles, with one caution. At lower speeds, in common with quite a few postmillennial cars, the steering feels false – there’s an element of odd squishiness as you turn the wheel. But build a bit of speed and it all starts to make sense and comes alive in your hands. It may be clever electronics but you certainly get the impression of well-connected feel and feedback, and the car responds instantly and faithfully to microscopic steering inputs. Show it some bends and the handling and grip are absurdly good.

Even at spirited road speeds the chassis feels unstickable and it changes direction quicker than a politician being asked an awkward question. Add in a set of epic brakes and you have a near-perfect driving machine. I can see why Marc Pinder is so keen to get his on a track or two.

Criticisms? The small windows and low seat made me feel a bit claustrophobic. But yes, I would prefer a Cayman to a modern 911. The one to have is the 3.4-litre Cayman S, rather than the base-model 2.7, especially as there’s no longer a great price difference between them. There are plenty of either with good history to be had for less than £15k. Values may still fall a little more, but long-term there will always be a demand for well-looked-after examples and numbers in the UK aren’t vast.

Just watch out for engines that rattle at idle or emit more than a small puff of smoke at start-up. Like Boxsters they are also not great cars for DIY tinkerers because the engine is so inaccessible.

‘The Cayman changes direction quicker than a politician being asked an awkward question’


2007 Porsche Cayman S 987 road test

A compact mid-engined sports car rather than a pseudo-GT – is the Cayman what the 911 should always have become? Electronic steering not as pure as that of its forebears – but still better than most contemporaries.

Owning a Cayman S

‘I bought this Cayman two years ago for £13,000,’ says owner Marc Pinder. ‘I previously had a 996 Carrera 4S.

‘It’s a good all-rounder, great for trackdays and lovely for everyday use. But if I’m honest I’d like another 911 – changing circumstances, and there are not enough seats in the Cayman.

‘So I’m not sure this one will remain standard for much longer. I may turn it into a track car – do the suspension, add some more power. It can easily handle it, the chassis is so good. ‘Since buying it I’ve added something like 12,000 miles, so it’s almost up to the 100,000- mile mark now. It cost me £700 for a new clutch, but otherwise I’d say it costs about £800 a year to run, on servicing and other bits. ‘It does drink a fair bit of oil, but I just keep topping that up. There have been no other ill effects to speak of.

TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPICIFICATIONS 2007 Porsche Cayman S 987 120 / 987C

Engine Mid-mounted 3386cc alloy flat-six, dohc, Bosch ME-Motronic fuel injection

 Power and torque 291bhp @ 6250rpm; 251lb ft @ 4400rpm DIN

Transmission Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front: independent by twin wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar; Rear: independent with lower wishbones, radius arms and lateral link, telescopic dampers

Brakes Front: discs;  Rear: inboard discs, servo-assisted

Weight 1355kg (2987lb)

Performance Top speed: 166mph; 0-60mph: 5.3sec

Fuel consumption 24mpg

Cost new £43,930

Values now £11,000-£17,000

{module Porsche Cayman S 987}


The Big Test Porsches to buy now

Even under close scrutiny, each of these cars has justified its inclusion in our test. For not too great an outlay, each also proves that you can still join the classic Porsche party without hedge-fund backing. I could find a compelling reason to buy any of them, though for me choosing the 911 SC would be more on the basis that I think it has the greatest potential for financial return. That aside we just don’t click; I guess I’m just not an aircooled 911 kind of guy.

I am a 924 S kind of guy, but have already placed a large tick in that box and don’t really need to revisit them. Don’t let that put you off, though – these are great-value cars that quickly become hard to let go of. The 928 bus has almost left – they impress as much by their feeling of quality as the performance and should have got expensive ages ago. It’s one to buy soon before it becomes an ‘I wish I had.’

I’m still trying to make up my mind about the 996. Am I being seduced by its abilities, novelty value and this one’s stunning colour scheme? Then again, the right one should be easy to sell on – possibly at a profit, so it’s a smart buy. Of the six the Cayman S feels like the least smart buy from a monetary point of view, but is so good to drive that you probably wouldn’t care.

Which leaves the 944 Cabrio, the car which to my surprise turns out to best full all our criteria for this feature. They are going to rise in value and I’m seriously tempted to own one.

Quentin Willson’s choice

The Porsche market has been overheating for a while, so buying now needs a steady hand. Lots of sellers (mainly dealers and traders) are using the huge rise in Sixties and Seventies 911 prices to argue that every other Porker will soar in sympathy. That’s plainly not going to happen.

But there are a few that are undervalued, like the 944 Cabrio. You can still buy a very proper low-mileage one for less than £17k. A good 924 S is worth a punt too, with sub-70k mileage cars still under £10k. The 928 S4 (in fact any 928) is destined for greatness but prices are already rising strongly and really fine cars are approaching £40k. I could never live with a 996 because of those cracking bore liners and heads. They look great value but even the low-milers can have problems. The Cayman is just too recent and too numerous to be collectable, which leaves the 911 SC. That’s where I’d put my money. The market got distracted by the 3.2 Carreras and forgot all about the SC. They’re tough, look period-perfect and are closer to the vintage 911 dream than all the others – and £30k still buys a decent one.

Test Drive  Porsches to buy now - 1982 911 SC G-Series, 1986 924S, 1988 928S4, 1990 944S2 Cabriolet, 1999 911 Carrera 2 996 and 2007 Cayman S 987

Quentin picks the 911 SC, Russ chooses the 944 Cab – but there are no losers here. Each represents great value in a frenzied market where that is increasingly hard to come by.

‘The Porsche market has been overheating for a while, so buying now needs a steady hand’

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