If ever there were a more self-satisfied bunch of petrol heads than the owners of air-cooled 911s then we haven’t met them. Prices of these models have gone from affordable to ridiculous in a few short years and those who bought them back in the day are sitting pretty. No longer are they having to fend off unsavoury comparisons with Beetles, now they spend their days dispensing sage advice on how everyone should have bought an old 911 five years ago.
That’s great, for them, but what about those people who weren’t fortunate enough to get in while the going was good? Judging by the constant gloating you might easily assume that the days of the affordable Porsche are long gone.
Well we have some good news for you, there are still plenty of affordable and sometimes even undervalued Zuffenhausen machines about, we even have a 911 you can still afford. Yes, it’s that water-cooled 996 that everyone goes on about, but read on, there are some other great options in here too.
This little guy may have a face only its mother could love but its what’s under the skin that counts. In this case, the news is still not great. Early 914’s got a VW sourced 1.7-litre engine but things did improve later in life with a flat-six 2-litre arriving a bit later on.
The extremely low kerb weight and mid-engined layout gave this little sportster great handling and those awkward looks do grow on you after a while. Prices do vary greatly but £20,000 should get you a pretty decent one.
The 924 was planned as more conventional replacement for the 914 although the two cars bore little in common save for being underpowered at first. Limited edition and Turbo models are very pricey, the one you want is the 924S, it got the 944’s 2.5-litre block (more on the 944 in a minute) and that meant 158-bhp and a decent turn of speed.
These rugged little cars can be great starter Porsches, nightmares start at £2,000 while decent examples can be had from £8,000.
The 944 was a slightly larger and more upmarket version of the 924 and the two were sold during broadly similar periods. The 944 started off life with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and culminated in the 208-bhp 3.0-litre S2 and 247-bhp 2.5-litre Turbo models.
You can easily pay over £30,000 for a mint Turbo as pictured above, but there is no need when £10,000 gets you a great one. Plenty were built so you can even get a bit picky.
The 944 evolved into the 968, the logical choice would have been 964 but that name went to the contemporary 911 model. Confusing naming aside, the 968 was improved in all areas over the 944 and its 3.0-litre engine was a peach in both turbo and naturally aspirated forms.
One of the best handlers of its time, the Club Sport models raised the game even further but these are now priced beyond rationality. So are the ultra-rare Turbo models leaving us with the standard 968 which is no bad thing. £15,000 to £20,000 is what you will need for a well-cared for example.
The 928 was a technological tour de force, it was initially intended to be a replacement for the ageing 911 but as with the 914/924, the two had virtually no similarities, and in this case the 928 ended up being an addition to the range as the 911 refused to move into the retirement home.
Some early 928s and those that have been neglected should be avoided but these big V8 GT cars are still impressive and while a 928 GTS may be way beyond affordable, £15,000 is all you need for a 5.0-litre 928 S.
Right, so here is our sole 911 entry, the 996. This model has received a lot of attention recently as people realise that there is nothing wrong with a water-cooled 911 and the IMS bearing/RMS seal issue may have been a bit overblown.
Those fried-egg headlights don’t look so awkward either, especially in the facelifted models. High-mileage Tiptronic 3.4-litre models can be as low as £10,000 but to do it right you should get a facelifted 3.6-litre coupe with the manual gearbox. £18,000 will have you owning a good one.
Porsche Boxster 987
If logic prevailed in Porsches model structure then the Boxster would have been the true successor to the 914 since it shares its mid-engined layout and has a convertible bodyshell.
The second-generation 987 models are the ones to get here, they ditched the weird 996-style headlights and the interior was a much improved too. Early 240-bhp 2.7-litre models can be an absolute steal at £7,000 and the more powerful S models start at around £9,000.
The Cayman was essentially a coupe version of the second-generation Boxster and was oddly priced above its convertible counterpart. Other than the stiffer bodyshell, the cars were mostly identical save for a few extra bhp here and there.
Prices start at £10,000 for a good one and as long as you don’t mind the slightly odd silhouette these are superb little sports cars for the money.
The Cayenne may not have been everyone’s idea of what a Porsche should be but it has now become an integral part of the range and strong sales figures reflect their enduring popularity. The first generation may not be the prettiest thing on the roads but they sure can be had for peanuts.
If you like to live dangerously then either the 4.2-litre V8 or 3.2-litre V6 can be had for as little as £4,000, spend at least double that and you will sleep a whole lot easier at night as the likelihood of an unplanned catastrophic repair bill will be far less likely to occur. 4.8-litre GTS models go well and sound good but be prepared to pay up at the pumps.
The Panamera may be a bit too new to be a true bargain just yet, it was introduced in 2009, but for the price of a new Ford Focus (£25,000) you can choose from between frugal diesel models or 400-bhp 4.8-litre V8s with decent mileages.
As a classy and rapid alternative to the ubiquitous SUV or any number of less accomplished new saloons, the first-generation Panamera makes a lot of sense. Just avoid looking at it directly.