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Buying/tracking an air cooled 911 : Please help me

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  • Buying/tracking an air cooled 911 : Please help me

    Welp! I'll dive right in - I've been lusting pretty badly over an older 911 for years now and lately its just been getting out of hand. I'm having dreams where I am driving one half the time.

    That being said! I think I've narrowed my choices down to 88-96 MY car. I realize the 993 and 964 will be more expensive but I really love the look of the 88 model year and am curious as to how far off in performance the two are. I plan to mod the car and eventually get it track ready but I have a few questions:

    1.) What should I be paying? It looks like pricing is all over the place. I would like a mint car of course, but I assume so would anyone. What's the best compromise/price to pay for each generation? What are things to look for?
    2.) How does insurance work? Expensive to insure? Does it fall under "classic"? Basically....if I were to get rear ended and the car totalled would I be compensated fairly or would they write me a check for 4000 or so.
    3.) What is necessary to make this thing track reliable, or are they pretty reliable from the get-go. I am not expecting S2000 reliability, but if it were close to it that would be pretty ideal, imo. Is this a realistic expectation or will I be Hakeem & rx7?
    4.) Easy to work on? Common tools or does it get fancy on me like some Euro cars do?

    Anyone who has an S2000 that can cross comment as well please do, these cars fascinate me and I am largely unexperienced when it comes to them. I have however been a long time admirer and considering joining the other team lately. Help convince or deter me please!

    Note: I would probably keep the S2000 as well, but may change my mind as 2 impractical cars doesn't strike me as the best decision in the world. Would I miss the S2000? or will the 911 take care of me in terms of driving regard. I prefer the visceral, raw feel which I feel both cars will offer. Hopefully I'm not getting in way ahead of myself but as always guys - any help is appreciated!
    Do you understand?

  • #2
    If you want to buy it and track it gently once a year then go for it. Otherwise it's not a car you can track once a month like an S2000 without a deep maintenance budget. Also the 88 911 is slow compared to an S2000. It's 25 years old. You would need to change fuel lines, suspension bushings, shocks, etc before it would even see the track.

    They make a great second car that sits in the garage and gets driven on the weekends.
    Elise
    MR2 Spyder
    Mazda RX7 FD
    Porsche 911E

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Silversprint View Post
      If you want to buy it and track it gently once a year then go for it. Otherwise it's not a car you can track once a month like an S2000 without a deep maintenance budget. Also the 88 911 is slow compared to an S2000. It's 25 years old. You would need to change fuel lines, suspension bushings, shocks, etc before it would even see the track.

      They make a great second car that sits in the garage and gets driven on the weekends.
      Ideally that is the plan, but interesting to note. So they are not as robust as everyone claims them to be....interesting.

      I'm not too worried over the speed or numbers, its the experience really that I'm after. I can't think of anything else from that era that offers the "allure" of the 911. Maybe I'm crazy? :P
      Do you understand?

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      • #4
        1.) What should I be paying? It looks like pricing is all over the place. I would like a mint car of course, but I assume so would anyone. What's the best compromise/price to pay for each generation? What are things to look for?
        Prices vary based on condition, service history, and mileage. The prices have been constantly rising for the last few years and it doesn't look like it's going to stop. Lots of good cars are going to Europe.

        2.) How does insurance work? Expensive to insure? Does it fall under "classic"? Basically....if I were to get rear ended and the car totalled would I be compensated fairly or would they write me a check for 4000 or so.
        I have mine under my regular plan with stated value. There are quite a few options you can go with to ensure you are adequately covered.

        3.) What is necessary to make this thing track reliable, or are they pretty reliable from the get-go. I am not expecting S2000 reliability, but if it were close to it that would be pretty ideal, imo. Is this a realistic expectation or will I be Hakeem & rx7?
        They're pretty bulletproof. I've had mine for almost three years and I've beaten on it with no issues. The only thing I've had fail are wheel bearings, and that's because the previous owner did a bad job of replacing them before so the axle nut loosened up and that killed the bearing. Depending on the year there are different things you can do to ensure reliability.

        4.) Easy to work on? Common tools or does it get fancy on me like some Euro cars do?
        Pretty easy to work on and most things take regular tools. Certain jobs are a pain, and the biggest thing is just learning the intricacies of these cars. There is a lot of help online through pelican parts and countless 911 books.


        With that being said, parts can be expensive but aren't out of control. It takes a lot of money to make them fast, but they're as fast as you have money. If anything goes south with the engine expect 8k+ for any sort of work.
        Last edited by 5:04; 08-15-2013, 10:31 AM.

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        • #5
          Ameer, I think they're very reliable but the problem is they are old as **** and you drive a s2000 which sets the bar unreasonably high for a track car. What's your total budget?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JJ1 View Post
            Ameer, I think they're very reliable but the problem is they are old as **** and you drive a s2000 which sets the bar unreasonably high for a track car. What's your total budget?
            40-45,000.

            I think at that budget the S2000 still wins.

            Bear in mind I'm not down with 285+ rubber on 18" wheels for track use guys. Anyone know of another car in that range thats reliable/good consumable cost?
            Do you understand?

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            • #7
              Buy a clean 911 to cruise around in, and then turn S2000 into dedicated track car. Then you can do silly things like put giant ugly wings on it and not care
              Follow my racing: https://www.youtube.com/ryandhouck
              2009 Yamaha R6 (race bike)
              2014 Triumph Street Triple R (street bike)
              2009 Honda S2000
              2008 BMW M3 (sold)

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              • #8

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                • #9
                  I went through a lust phase with these cars. I wanted one, but never made it happen. I guess that means I still want one, but the timing is still not right for me. The 87-89 cars are among the better buys, in terms of price/reliability/track-readiness, but the prices are rising.

                  The important thing to remember is that these are not infallible cars. In fact, the 911 has its share of quirks, including leaky fuel lines and master cylinders, leaky windows, weak alternators and valve guides. But many of these things often have been repaired, so service histories are good to know, and most Porsche owners keep good records.

                  I recommend a couple of books:

                  Click image for larger version

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                  www.TrackHQ.com

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                  • #10
                    HA!

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                    • #11
                      All I can say is: LOL

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                      • #12
                        Buy Jack Olsen's car! I have been trying to buy it for years, but he won't even give me a "pie in the sky" asking price . . .
                        The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

                        2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
                        1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
                        2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - my last track day car (FOR SALE or not, depending on how I feel when I fall out of bed tomorrow morning)
                        2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rhouck View Post
                          Buy a clean 911 to cruise around in, and then turn S2000 into dedicated track car. Then you can do silly things like put giant ugly wings on it and not care
                          Better yet, buy a clean NSX to cruise around in, and then turn your S2000 into a dedicated track car. Leave your lust for an air-cooled 911 an unrequited love, like I have . . .
                          The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

                          2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
                          1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
                          2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - my last track day car (FOR SALE or not, depending on how I feel when I fall out of bed tomorrow morning)
                          2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

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                          • #14
                            I'd love an air cooled 911, but I can't quite take leave of my senses to the extent necessary to make that happen.


                            We need to form a ratty track car co-op with a pool of interesting old cars rx-7, 240z, 911, camaro, crx, miata, supra, ae86, mr-2, boxster, e30.

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                            • #15
                              First, watch this video:



                              Then this one:



                              Finally, stare at the picture:



                              Then, get out your wallet. But I say that for a reason. Once you get one of these older cars up to speed, condition-wise, you can hammer nails with them. They just don't break.

                              I go to the track a lot. I instruct. I don't own a trailer. I've driven the car to just about every track in California and Nevada. I've done seasons of club racing. Time trialing. Endurance events (three consecutive years of the week-long Open Track Challenge) -- and of course lots of regular street driving.

                              I started racing the car the week that I got it. Pretty soon, I'd replaced everything on it. But then I got 11 years out of my last set of brake rotors (and again, this isn't like 11 years on a regular car -- we're talking racing). I got 11 years of very hard use out of the second-hand engine before it needed a refresh. I got 11 years out of the shocks before I had them revalved. Building the car was not cheap, but in the past nine years, I can't think of anything it's needed that I wasn't able to do in my own garage (outside of corner balancing and alignments, and I'm working on that).

                              An air-cooled 911 can be an incredibly cost-effective car to own.

                              That said, most of the cars up for sale are going to be very expensive, for one reason or another. Engine rebuilds are insanely expensive. Transaxle rebuilds are getting more expensive as parts prices go up. A 25-year-old suspension is going to need new bushings and other work in order to get back up to snuff. Put another way, there are some awesome bargains out there on cars that will cost you very little to own. But those are the ones that are likely to cost more, initially, and not because they have low miles or pristine interiors.

                              Another tip: if you want the car to be quick on a track, you're smartest if you go looking for one that already is quick on a track. I have a 1972 tub with a 1977 transaxle, a 1995 engine and 1986 Turbo brakes. The engine and the brakes were the cheap part. My transaxle and suspension were pretty expensive. All of that is counter to what a lot of people expect with track car ownership. If you can find a car that has been gone through for the track, you're likely to get a much more robust car than one that's been pampered, but has been slowly aging.

                              I've driven just about every model of car there is, in the course of instructing for nine years. There was only one that I liked more than my 911, and it was also a Porsche (a 962 -- and you can't drive that on the street). I just have never driven anything that feels as direct and connected to a track. But then, I'm 100% biased. (And along those lines, S2000s are nice cars... I see them all the time in my rear-view, getting smaller. )

                              But bragging, bullying and hype aside, I'll say that the Carreras (1984-1989) and 964s (1990-1994) and even 993s (1994-1998) are not particularly quick cars, by modern standards. You need to get their weight down further and stiffen up their suspensions to make them real performers. And the smartest candidate for that is probably the 964 (which got ABS and coil-overs), which has a decent 3.6-liter powerplant. Get one down in the 2600-pound range and put close-ratio gears in the G50 gearbox and you can have a pretty great car. You can even backdate it to look like the pre-1974 long-hood cars like Singer does. That will take care of the looks issue, which has plagued the 964 (although I personally think it's a design that's aging better than the long-considered-prettier 993).

                              Again, though. The 911 is an awesome car. I can't imagine ever wanting anything else. But then, I've become kind of the poster child for that position.

                              Check out the Pelican Parts 911 Technical Forum if you haven't already. That and Rennlist's 911 board are where the good information is.
                              Last edited by Jack Olsen; 08-15-2013, 06:02 PM.
                              Jack Olsen - 1972 Porsche 911
                              What? An awesome video about me and my car
                              My Corner-By-Corner Guide to Willow Springs
                              My Two-Car Garage's Very Own Website

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