Fourth Time’s a Charm

A search for a fast but more affordable used Porsche leads to this 996 Carrera 4S.

June 29, 2017
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My first Porsche was a 1965 356 C coupe. My daily driver at the time was a stock 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, so the 356 was a quantum leap forward from it in terms of handling, braking, and speed. I bought that Porsche in 1975 and kept it for over 11 years. I tracked it at Pocono, Summit Point, and Lime Rock. My wife and I also used it to win rallies, score several serious concours class victories (including a Parade first in class), and even grab a few autocross trophies.

I replaced that 356 with a 1976 914 2.0 when the Driver’s Education (DE) and track-day bug bit. My plain Jane mid-engined Porsche saw lots of action at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, Pocono, Summit Point and more autocross events than I can recall (but I still have the trophies!). Derek Bell even drove it at Lime Rock and pronounced it “a nice little car.”

But sometimes you do really dumb things in life, and replacing my 914 with a 1986 944 was one of them. Because the newer, water-cooled Porsche was sold to me as “track ready” and sealed with the promise “you won’t spend a dime on this car,” I hoped to continue my track-day love affair in a faster car.

Sadly, after spending many, many dimes and dollars to make the 944 reliable, I did eventually get to drive it at dozens of track days. However, a stock 944 is at a minimum 50 hp down on even the least powerful cars in most run groups, so I was enjoying it less and less as 911 GT3s were passing me two and three times in 30-minute run groups.

A Friend’s Advice

One day, as I complained about my 944, my friend John Vogt, owner of High Marques Inc., an exotic car store in Morristown, New Jersey that specializes in Porsches, suggested that I shop for an early-2000s 911 (996) Carrera 4S (C4S). He said that they have, “good brakes, lots of power and are a bargain in the current market.” I have wanted a 911 since the 1970s, but I considered them way out of reach financially. For that reason, I was considering a base 2005-2012 987-generation Cayman as the next step up for my personal scuderia.

I made a serious pitch for a 2007 model that showed up at an instructional autocross event. The driver, who was the son of its owner, said that the Cayman had just turned 17,000 miles and, since his father was a fanatic, it had never been driven in the snow and got a full detail service four times a year. To my surprise, his father was thinking of selling it, asking about $29,000. Checking with Vogt, he felt that was a bit too much money and that $25,000 was market correct, adding that the low miles might add $2,000. For weeks I tried to speak with the kid’s dad, willing to make a fair offer, but he ignored my emails, and the car fell off the radar.

Also from Issue 248

  • 2018 911 GT3 Drive
  • The 996 in GT Clothing
  • Market Update: 964 & 993
  • 1970 914-6 “2.5”
  • A Rare RHD 1965 911
  • 1956 356 Speedster
  • TechArt’s 911 Turbo S-based GTstreet R
  • Profile: Harald Wagner
  • 971 Panamera Tech
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