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Pre-purchase Inspections


A tailored approach to the various models
Because there are so many different models of Porsche, we adopt a tailored approach to each of our Porsche inspections. What is important in each case is to make the judgement between what is expected wear and tear on a car, and what amounts to poor maintenance or poor repairs. What follows here is designed to give you an appreciation of the way we approach each model. We take photographs throughout the check and these are integrated into the 8-9 page report on the car.

Our clients often use our inspection reports as a reference when they come to sell their cars on. If you are wondering if an inspection is really worth it on a recent car, bear in mind that gaps in the documentation, worn brake discs or pads, non-working seat adjusters, broken trim issues and so on can quickly payback the cost of an inspection. When we uncover poor or undeclared crash damage repairs, the value of the inspection is fully justified.

We’ve included links below to our Ultimate Buyers’ Guides on specific models. These guides give all the detail on specifications, colours, options and year-by-year changes. Using photographs taken during our inspections, they also include comprehensive ‘what to look for’ sections.

Click on a picture below for details about that model.

Early 911s
Early 911
The late 1970s to late 1980s 911s
Later 911

924
944s
944
968s
968
964s
964
993s
993
996s
996
997
997

928

Boxster early

Boxster late

Cayman
Cayenne
Cayenne

General factors
Perhaps the most important aspect of any Porsche that we always check carefully is the evidence of proper servicing and cherished ownership. Even on a 30-year old car, there should be some kind of thread tracing the life of the better cars. With the younger models the wear and tear comes from everyday use, but a low mileage, older car may also have problems. Condensation can wreak havoc on an infrequently used car, as can regular washing or polishing.

Proper documentation is a crucial aspect affecting the value of all Porsches, from the registration document to the Guarantee and Maintenance booklet, MoTs and service bills. On the later cars we check that the Vehicle identification Label (VIL) is authentic and correct for the model.

Generally, the value of used Porsches comes down to condition. If an older (pre-1989) car is in top condition, then has a good service history, don’t spend too much time wondering about whether its value is affected because it is Mocha brown rather than Minerva blue metallic! The value is in the quality, reliability and provenance of the car.

With the younger cars (964 onwards) the colour is important. The dark metallics and silvers make the car more desirable than say Grand Prix White or Speed Yellow.

The most important point to remember is that there are no Porsche bargains!

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Early 911s

Early 911s are those cars built before 1973 – the pre-impact bumper cars.
Peter has owned a 1972 911S since 1985. He performed a complete restoration on this car and it formed the basis of his first book (Porsche 911 Restoration manual). Over 20 years he has developed a thorough understanding of these cars and their unique problems. The early cars require very careful selection, because they did not have anything like the bodyshell protection of the post-1976 galvanised cars (the limited zinc coating of the cars made after 1970 is virtually worthless today). Understanding the differences of the cars made between 1965 and 1973 is half the battle, but knowing where to look for the corrosion and defining the originality standard are the principal tasks.

In fact, we devote the same amount of attention to any 911 built before 1989, because over time even the early galvanised cars can suffer accident damage and degradation of the protective coatings. 

Our inspection focuses on the many rust sources to be found on these cars.  Unfortunately, the market is full of unscrupulous sellers who give some cars copious amounts of filler, conceal serious problems and apply a cheap paint job to the upper bodies. The cars at most risk of this type of concealment work will be found in the £10,000 to £20,000 area. And a high price doesn’t mean a car is in good condition.

Full bodywork-only (no painting) restorations on corroded early 911s can easily run past the £20,000 mark. That is why a full restoration is only worthwhile on a car that is both bought at the right (low) price and when finished, will be worth what you’ve put into it.

Project cars (to give them an often misleading title) abound and buyers must exercise extreme caution when buying such cars. Expert help is essential if you want a car that will serve you well and not cost you a fortune.

Because the early cars (to 1973) are now subject to investment speculation, careful assessment of their authenticity and provenance is also important. The service record is a key to this, but more important is the evidence of regular and cherished maintenance.

If the car has been restored, we would expect to see some kind of record showing what has been done.

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The late 1970s to late 1980s 911s

The 911SCs and Carrera 3.2s remain much sought after models, but these cars do require careful selection. Gordon restored his current Carrera 3.2 Club Sport from the ground up and knows a great deal about what goes wrong on these cars. The 911SC and Carrera 3.2 are far better prospects than the earlier 2.7-litre cars as these benefit from the stronger 930 specification engine from the Turbo. Looked after, these cars are often very reliable. Nevertheless, without power steering, they are quite physical cars to drive, but the upside is that they are the best value 'original' Porsche 911 experience you can have. The coupe is the best buy as the Targa can suffer from fatigue-induced corrosion in the sills (although this isn't a general rule).

Often these cars have not been well looked after and can often be quite scruffy. Another problem is the onset of structural corrosion. The smallest of rust blisters can often be the only visible evidence of well-established corrosion.

Carrera 3.2s often have relatively high mileages and as a result these cars require careful assessment of the mechanical components, particularly under the car. These cars may have been steam cleaned by a well-meaning dealer in years past, but this can often blow away a film of protective oil under the car. Replacing rusted heater control valves, brake lines and suspension components can often accumulate an expensive repair bill.

The single-turbo 911 Turbo is one of the best Porsche driving experiences you can have and the 3.3-litre version is one of my all-time favourites. The earlier pre-1978 3.0-litre Turbo is a very rare bird today, and from an enthusiast's viewpoint, not such an entertaining drive either. The key inspection factor is again the bodyshell. If this is sound and the interior is in good condition, then the car is often a good prospect.

The Cabriolets were introduced in 1983 and those original roofs that remain are often in poor condition. We check that everything works and that the material is weatherproof. Not appreciating when a convertible roof needs to be replaced before purchase can be an expensive oversight.

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: 911SC

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: Carrera 3.2

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924s

To be honest we don’t do many 924s, as these cars are now such amazingly good value that our fee can amount to a third of the value of the car! Those 924s that we have looked at recently included the stronger value ‘S’ model with the 2.5-litre 944 engine fitted, the Carrera GT or cars modified for trackday or sprinting use.
In all cases our approach is to go over every aspect of the car, checking for signs of poor maintenance or preparation. With the rare models we always check the authenticity against the factory records in our possession.
Often, corrosion isn’t the issue, but crash damage can be. When cars are customised, the question asked is whether the modifications have been performed well and are they in keeping with the car.

Porsche 924/944 Book

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944s and 968s

944s are the best value Porsches around today, but because many are run on a shoestring, their maintenance is often ignored. Both cars have all-aluminium engines and both can show wear signs that can result in big bills. We look for cam, balance shaft belt and idler replacement (that’s the problem everybody has heard about!), but also wear on the inlet camshaft drive, engine mounting collapse, power steering pump leakage and so on.

These cars are beginning to show corrosion problems, particularly in the sill areas, while suspension wear and tear is always a concern.

The most sought-after 944s are the 3-litre S2 and the Turbo, mainly because these are the most powerful and because they appeal most to the classic car buyer. The 944S shouldn't be under-estimated, although it suffers from a famous power flat spot in the mid rev range. 

A far better choice than a weary old hatchback!

Porsche 924/944 Book

Porsche 944 Ultimate Portfolio

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The 968 is highly sought-after today, but there were relatively few sold in the recession-hit years of 1992 to 1995. This means that good cars are very difficult to find and the unscrupulous will try to sell average or poor cars at high prices. Our inspection is focused on unearthing signs of cheap or unskilled repairs on these cars and evidence of poor servicing to the engine and chassis. On the engine, we particularly check the oil quality, check when the cam and balance shaft belts were last changed and listen out for the condition of the camshaft drive chain (that is also part of the Variocam arrangement). The same 944 belt issues also apply to the 968.

The bodyshell on both models is fully galvanised, but a careful check is required underneath to assess for corrosion attack after crash damage.

The cars commanding the highest prices are the Club Sport and the Sport models, but there are plenty of very tired examples around, so care is essential.

Porsche 968 Limited Edition

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928s

The 928 is fantastic value for what it is. If it is V8 power you want, combined with an almost full four-seater (you can get adults comfortably in the back), then the 928 is worth considering. Whereas that other Porsche V8 – the Cayenne – hasn’t stopped depreciating (and then some!), the 928 has at last reached a level of stability.

Everybody will tell you the 928 is like a loaded gun. It’s great while its running well and does more than you could wish, but just hope it doesn’t go wrong. This reputation is a little harsh, but there’s no doubting this is a car that needs tender loving care.
Oddly, it is not generally the V8 engine that gives problems, but the electrics. Odd things tend to stop working on 928s and these can generate smaller or larger bills depending on what it turns out to be. 
Many of the cars we see have been repainted, and this isn’t such a big deal as long as it doesn’t cover poorly repaired accident damage.
As always, we look out for a water-tight service history and loving ownership. The way a 928 drives is also a good way of telling the car’s quality.

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964s

The 964s have acquired a mixed reputation among enthusiasts. Many traders will not carry them because of stories (and bad experiences) with engine oil leaks. But good 964s do exist and on pre-1991 cars my inspection always focuses on leaks, clutch/flywheel condition and on the early 964s tendency to upper body corrosion. If the car is dry and well-maintained it will give good service.

Later 964s (post –92) are great cars and if one can be found that has been well looked after, it won’t disappoint. There are quite a few 964s that were first registered in 1992-93, that are actually earlier specification cars. Porsche couldn't sell the early cars because of an economic recession and these cars must be identified as they have differences to the later models. 

It is important to say that the Turbo and RS models are not prone to the leakage and flywheel problems of the Carrera. But these higher performance cars will be subject to increased wear and tear. The 964 Turbo is the last of the single turbo 911s and as such is one of the most entertaining drives you could ever wish for! The RS is another special 911 and establishing that the car is original and not damaged is the priority. 

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: 911 Carrera (964)

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993s

Without a doubt this is the 911 - the last of the air-cooled 911s - many dream of owning. The Carreras are great cars and it is important to appreciate the difference between the 1994/5 272bhp cars and the 1996-98 285bhp models. The later models are called the Varioram models and benefit not so much from the extra power but noticeably better mid-range torque. Note also the differences between the ‘narrow’ body 993s and the wide-body ‘S’ models. The 4S is the best of the breed with its full Turbo rolling chassis. The wide-body models look great!

With these cars we are always looking for crash damage repairs and cheap repairs to things like door check straps and front bumper dings. The 993 engine has a great reputation, but a good service history is essential. We never take the engine inspection for granted, as often we find issues with the condition of parts. Component corrosion can also be an issue with these cars. 993s have also been subject to 'adjustment' of the odometer and we always check for any signs of a mismatch of mileage data.

A water-tight service history with another means of verifying the mileage is also important.
We spend more time on the cabriolet roofs of 993s as these seem to be less robust than either earlier or later models.

 

The 993 Turbo and 993 RS are now highly prized and these cars are possibly the best Porsche investment you will find. However, there are plenty of very tired cars and those that have dubious provenance. Prices range from the 'reduced to clear' cars with obvious stories to tell to highly speculatively priced dealer models. Very great care is required.

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: 911 Carrera (993)

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996s

The new generation 911s took Porsche a few years to get right in terms of quality and reliability. On models built before 1999, we always look for evidence of an engine change (this was more common than you might think), rear main seal leaks and other engine and transmission issues. Many cars appear to have been in light front end accidents and we always look for this type of damage closely.

The later (post 2001) models we find are just as likely to have issues (although they should be more reliable as they are likely to have received warranty servicing from new). Nevertheless, we’ve found that these are prone to nagging little faults that can be the reason why the owner wants to sell the car in the first place!
The 996 doesn’t seem to have as robust an interior as the earlier 911s and replacing parts can be expensive. We always check everything works on these cars.
Tiptronics are very popular and are the perfect solution for a busy everyday driver or urban living. The manual gearboxes can show wear just as easily as the Tiptronic and both transmissions require careful assessment.

The 1999-2000 GT3 is a brilliant car, but because they are so popular for trackday work, their purchase needs great care, particularly where modifications have been made. Many trackday cars have damaged undersides or non-standard braking systems. Identifying these is very important. 

The Turbo is a great car, but has suffered from significant depreciation. We don’t recommend cars that have the ceramic brakes as replacement of these is prohibitively expensive. Whenever we check 996 Turbos we always devote more time to the underside of the engine, looking in particular for evidence of leaks.

Note that the 996 model Carrera 4S, Cabriolet, 911 Turbo, GT2 and GT3 continued to be made into the 2005 model year, alongside the new 997 Carrera models.

With this inspection, you will usually receive a professional guide assessment of the car's value, based on its age and mileage.

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: 911 Carrera, GT & Turbo (996)

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997s

The second generation water-cooled 911 has made a big impact in the marketplace and there are signs that this model is a better buy than the earlier 996. Quality of build is certainly up and the level of refinement and accessories suggest the 997 is going to be a very popular 911 in future years.

Our approach to these cars is to ensure our customers buy examples with top service histories and drive cars that haven’t been involved in early life adventures. We employ official bodyshop techniques to determine the integrity of the body finish and establish whether the car has been involved in any repairs. 

Colour is important on the 997, with the conservative darker blues and greys being the most popular. Options are also important to the value of a 997, with Porsche Communications Management (PCM) being at the top of the must-have list. Other options that are nice to have are Park Assist, sunroof, rear wiper (unfortunately not standard!), full electrically adjustable seats and Sport Chrono – the sports suspension package. Cars with Sport Chrono have the small stopwatch mounted at the centre of the dash top surface.

The 355bhp 3.8-litre Carrera S is a sensational performer and ideal for those long motorway journeys. However, don’t dismiss 3.6-litre Carrera either. With 325bhp it has more than enough power to put a smile on your face! As noted above, the key aspect is the colour and options fit. 

Porsche are selling huge numbers of 997s, so depreciation continues to be a worry. We would advise you also check out the ride quality on the 19-inch wheels, where the Sport Chrono package isn’t fitted, as it may not be to your taste (or comfort).

With this inspection, you will usually receive a professional guide assessment of the car's value, based on its age and mileage.

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Boxster (986, 1997-2004)

Surely Porsche's best sports car of the past 20 years, the Boxster is coming into the reach of many enthusiasts. Peter has owned both the Boxster and Boxster S as everyday drivers and knows exactly what goes wrong with them (and the very similar 996) down to the last broken centre console bin lid and rusted door catch mounting. These cars need careful looking after to maintain their condition and our inspections focus on the condition of the bodyshell from a wear and tear viewpoint, the interior condition and that everything works as it should. Because of its relatively high value, the unscrupulous have taken written-off Boxsters, repaired them and moved them back out into the marketplace. Identifying these damaged-repaired cars can be very important. 

The other aspect is engine condition, particularly rear main oil seal leaks. Not every engine has these problems, but the earlier cars (to 2001) seem to be more prone to issues. The Tiptronic is very popular on the Boxster and is great for those who are looking for an everyday driver. The ‘facelift’ models made from September 2002 came with the glass rear window and these cars continue the ever-improving build quality of the 986 models.

The Boxster S is a hotter car but won’t suit everyone’s needs as an everyday car. These cars also require careful assessment of the condition of the suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres.

As a general comment, we would advise caution on Boxsters that appear to be cheaper than your expectations. You only ever get what you pay for and there are plenty of damaged/repaired examples out there!

With this inspection, you will usually receive an assessment of the car's value, based on its age and mileage.

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: Boxster & Cayman

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Boxster (987, 2004 - date)

The second generation Boxster is 80 per cent new and brings with it improved build quality and a completely new interior. As with the 997, sat-nav is beginning to play an increasing part in the desirability of the everyday 2.7 models, although perhaps not so important on the more sporting S.

The 2005 models now share the same engines as the Cayman, giving the Boxster S a thumping 295bhp and the 2.7 245bhp. These outputs shift the Boxster into the high performance category.

We have begun to see quite a few 987s and the main problem is scruffiness. The cars enjoy 20,000-mile service intervals and that seems to result in some owners neglecting to look after the everyday needs of their cars. The basic Boxsters are very bland, so the best ones will have a good options list. Colour preferences are changing. Whereas the late model 986s were all about greys and blues, there is definitely a shift towards the wilder and more fun colours such as red and yellow. We say “and about time too!” (Peter owns a Speed Yellow Boxster S…)

Options to look out for are Porsche Stability Management on the 2.7, full leather interior and the full electric seats. Cruise control is increasingly popular also.

With this inspection, you will usually receive a professional guide assessment of the car's value, based on its age and mileage.

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: Boxster & Cayman

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Cayman and Cayman S (2005 - date)

The Cayman is simply described as a fixed head Boxster, but this does sell it short. With a very useful opening rear tailgate, there is more luggage space than the Boxster. It also enjoys perhaps the best Porsche styling since the original 911.

The odd thing is that Porsche chose to price it higher than the Boxster (when all other manufacturers would price a convertible above a coupe). Nevertheless, the Cayman now accounts for fully half the type 987production (with most, if not all cars being assembled in the Valmet factory in Finland).

The Cayman S has been hailed as the best handling Porsche for years. It is perfectly balanced and its bodyshell is as stiff as the 911 Carrera – making it far more predictable in fast corners. Of course, the ride inside is much quieter than the convertible Boxster. 

The Cayman is much sought after and the ones we’ve seen have been well-looked after (unlike many of the 987 Boxsters). Most appear to be enthusiast owned, but crash damage and wear and tear are the main inspection points.

With this inspection, you will usually receive a professional guide assessment of the car's value, based on its age and mileage.

Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: Boxster & Cayman

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Cayennes

The Cayenne is beginning to filter into the used marketplace and many of those we've seen have stories to tell. The most important aspect is to check that bodywork and suspension etc have not been damaged. Unlike other Porsches, Cayenne are used as everyday family transports and many get kerbed or grounded. We go over (and under) each car checking for this kind of damage. The other aspect is to check everything works, from the sat-nav through to the electrically operated tow-hook (if fitted). Great cars but they need careful picking to bring out the best of their desirability and the least depreciation.

Best value at the present time is the Cayenne S, with the standard Cayenne being considered somewhat under-powered. Nevertheless, we feel it is the accessory specification that makes a great Cayenne and as such the standard car can offer great value. 

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