1985 Porsche 911 Long-Term Road Test - New Updates


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1985 Porsche 911 Carrera: True Cost To Own

June 21, 2012

Alec's 2006 Porsche 911S.JPG

An interesting question piqued our curiosity as the year-long adventure with the 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera M491 -- affectionately known as the “Black Plague” -- comes to an end. Does it cost more or less to keep a classic car on the road than a modern equivalent? Fortunately, we know someone who commutes in a late-model Porsche 911 and shares the same OCD-esque fervor for recordkeeping as we do. So let's compare maintenance, repair and depreciation costs between old and new. Naturally we'll omit other operational costs such as fuel and insurance since mpg varies according to the lead content of one's right foot, while insurance premiums differ whether Clearasil or Polident is on your shopping list. We've also added another component with the Edmund's True Cost to Own (TCO) calculator.

Here's what we've discovered.

Below is the list of maintenance and repairs performed on our 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera M491 during its 13-month stay. Bear in mind that it's a 27-year-old sports car from Stuttgart with approximately 115,000 miles on its odometer when it arrived. In its defense, mickey-mouse modifications from past ownerships necessitated several of our more expensive electrical repairs. Mechanically, the old Porsche proved as reliable as a wood-burning stove.

The single most expensive repair item is for tires -- a normal wear-and-tear expense to be expected on any vehicle. In total, the classic 911 required $4,306 in maintenance and repairs for the 12.5K miles we drove, a cost of 34 cents per mile. However, we sold the Black Plague for $1,001 more than our purchase price. If you factor in appreciation (a rarity in car ownership), the cost drops to 26 cents per mile. Below is the table of our costs:

1985 Porsche 911 Maintenance/Repairs Performed

Cost

Replace steering wheel and horn ring

338

Repair/replace wiring to ventilation controls and blowers

300

Replace transmission drive to speedometer (Aase Motors)

275

Remove aftermarket audio amp, replace missing wiring

225

Add rear wheel spacers (Wheel Enhancement, Inc.)

221

Replace H5 headlight lens

213

Repair/rewire turn signals

188

Replace clutch cable

168

Repair R door; repair central door-locking system

150

Replace trunk struts

130

Replace main engine oil line to sump

100

Repair clutch spring action

75

Replace R seatbelt hardware

44

Replace 20 worn, corroded fuses

43

Replace shift linkage shift ball, adjust linkage

43

Repair/rewire oil pressure/oil level gauges

38

Replace driver-side seat adjuster

38

Replace oil/filter (x2)

300

Additional oil added

78

Replace tires

717

Perform alignment

245

Replace clutch pedal bushing

314

Repair rearview mirror

4

Repair wheel cap

5

Replace H5 bulb

54

Total

$4,306

Months of ownership

13

Miles driven (during ownership)

12565

Appreciation of vehicle value at sale

$1,001

Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs w/o appreciation

$0.343

Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs w/appreciation

$0.263

So how does a late-model Porsche 911 fair when you do the same math?

Meet Alec Barinholtz and the pre-owned 2006 Porsche 911S he purchased three years ago and drives daily. Below are his maintenance and repair costs thus far. While maintenance for the newer Porsche is more costly than for the older car, the modern successor required fewer repairs, thus explaining the lower running costs of 19 cents per mile. Once you figure in the depreciation of his car, however, the cost balloons to 43 cents per mile. Below is the table of his costs:

2006 Porsche 911S Maintenance/Repairs Performed

Cost

20K service

733

Replace anti-freeze

90

Replace bulb

15

Replace oil/filter @ 30k

275

Replace front tires

785

Repair faulty door handle (partially covered by CPO warranty)

830

Replace door check

110

50K service

767

Repair/replace throttle body & transmission pan gasket

800

Repair flat tire

30

60K service

1630

Replace air filter housing

575

Replace tires

2294

70K service

400

Repair/replace faulty wiring harness (labor only)

1000

Transmission reprogramming

225

Total

$10,559

Months of ownership

36

Miles driven (during ownership)

56000

Estimated depreciation of vehicle during ownership

-$13,596

Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs w/o depreciation

$0.189

Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs w/depreciation

$0.431

Meanwhile, we have another resource in the ownership calculus thanks to the Edmunds True Cost to Own (TCO) calculator, a tool carried on our site that enables anyone to project ownership costs based on real-world information gathered in our proprietary proves for a 2007 Porsche 911S comparable to Barinholtz's 2006 model. The calculator provides estimates for maintenance and repair costs among other operating costs. In general, the TCO figures seem to be akin to Barinholz's, as his lower repair costs can be attributed to his CPO warranty, which partially covered repair costs that would otherwise have come out of his pocket. The table of costs is below:

2007 Porsche 911S True Cost to Own (TCO)*

Maintenance year 1 (as pre-owned vehicle)

940

Repairs year 1 (as pre-owned vehicle)

2038

Maintenance year 2

1938

Repairs year 2

2195

Maintenance year 3

4318

Repairs year 3

2364

*Based on a 3-year estimate with 15,000 miles driven per year.

Total

$13,793

Months of ownership

36

Miles driven (during ownership)

45000

Estimated depreciation of vehicle during ownership

-$10,625

Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs w/o depreciation

$0.307

Cost per mile for maintenance and repairs w/depreciation

$0.543

What does it all mean? Newer cars require fewer repairs than older cars but are more susceptible to depreciation when it's time to sell. Our 1985 Porsche 911 needed more repairs than its newer counterparts. However, it's the only car in this trio to have increased in value, and this factor results in the lowest cost per mile in this group.

While new cars become more used and cheap, classic cars become more collectible and expensive. With anything old, be it a car or a house (or even a person), it will require extra TLC but it can actually increase in value because of the rarity it offers. You wouldn't tear down a 100-year old Victorian for leaky windows or put grandpa out to pasture because he gets a hangnail. Old Victorians are worth a lot of dough, while grandpa has been stashing cash in shoeboxes for decades.

Makes you want to go and give grandpa a hug, doesn't it? Makes us want to go and give the Black Plague a hug, too.

Stephen Lee, Editor, Vehicle Data, Edmunds.com @ 127,425 miles


1985 Porsche 911: Bon Voyage

June 20, 2012

Bye Porsche 1.jpg After loading up our long-term Porsche 911 with all the extra parts, I was ready to drop off the car at the transporter in Rancho Dominguez, Calif. -- about 25 miles from the Edmunds offices. One shipping requirement was that the car be delivered with no more than a quarter tank of gas. This is probably to keep the weight down in shipping. I had just over a quarter when I left the office, so I was in good shape.

Stephane Moreau had made the shipping arrangements with Direct Express, Inc. I had never been to a shipping warehouse and in my mind's eye, I pictured the huge government warehouse at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" -- and as it turns out, I wasn't far off.

From the outside, Direct Express had the layout of a typical industrial park. I went up a small flight of stairs to the office. There was a large window in the rear that had an impressive view of the warehouse below.

Warehouse.jpg It was a sight to behold. There were dozens of classic cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats, all waiting to be put into a shipping container and sent to a new owner.

Chris Ortiz, the president of the company, helped make the arrangements for the Porsche 911. It was a straightforward process. All we needed was the car's title, a bill of sale (you can download a template at the DMV Web site), and a signature on the dotted line. Chris then went over the ship's itinerary with us. The cargo ship will head south and pass through the Panama Canal. It will make a few stops to pick up other containers along the East Coast before heading off to the final destination, Le Havre, France. The entire journey will take about six weeks. Le Havre is roughly 122 miles from Paris, where Stephane lives. It should make for a nice getting-to-know-you road trip.

If you're curious, shipping a car from Los Angeles to France will set you back about $1,175 for a shared container with another vehicle. Insurance is extra and once the car reaches France, Stephane says he'll have to pay an extra 9 percent of the car's sale price in customs fees.


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I asked if we could take a closer look at the warehouse and Chris was happy to oblige. I drove the Porsche into the warehouse, where one of the representatives did a preliminary inspection. He filled out a condition report on the car and took a basic inventory of the items inside. We said our goodbyes to the Porsche 911 and went back to work.

A week later we heard back from Chris. The 911 was packed and on its way to France. Direct Express sent us a few photos of the 911 being loaded into the shipping container.

Porsche Transport Photo (1).jpgPorsche Transport Photo (2).jpg Our 911 was sharing its bunk bed with an old Chevrolet Truck. The Chevy was on the bottom and a wooden support structure was set up around it. Then ramps were set up so that the Porsche could be set on top with a forklift.

Porsche Transport Photo.jpgPorsche Transport Photo (8).jpg As you can see, the 911 easily fits, though there wasn't much room remaining.


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It takes careful planning to set up a shipping container. One loose wooden board and the top car could fall on top of the lower one. Take a look at this time-lapse video from Direct Express. In it, company workers load a red Porsche 911 Turbo into the container in a setup that's similar to our 911's berth.



When the car is delivered to Stephane and he looks in the glove box, he'll find a note we left on behalf of the Edmunds and IL editors: "We hope you enjoy this car as much as we have -- maybe even more!".

Au revoir 911. Bon voyage!

Final Odometer: 137,425 miles

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Preparing for Transport

June 19, 2012

Transport P911.jpg There were a few things to take care of before sending our long-term 1985 Porsche 911 rear wing. This would save room in the car for the extra parts that came with our Porsche 911. We've had these in storage and wanted to include them with the car, figuring that the new owner could decide what he wanted to do with them. But 911s aren't exactly known for their cargo capacity, so I wasn't sure if all the parts would fit.

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From left to right in the above photo are: the extra engine cover, an assortment of A/C parts (in the box), a stack of black interior trim pieces (the prior owner wanted a two-tone interior and changed a number of panels to red), the steering wheel that came with the car (it was torn and we eventually bought a new one) and finally, on the far right, is the A/C compressor.

Parts in Front 911.jpg

I put the most of the interior pieces in the front storage area.


Parts on Inside 911.jpg

The engine cover and the big interior panel with the speakers went in the rear passenger foot well. The box with the A/C parts and whatever was left over went on the back seats.

Performance Parts911.jpg

The boxes in the front passenger foot well are performance parts that Mr. Moreau wanted to sail along with the car. Like a true enthusiast, he isn't wasting any time in buying parts to soup up his new car. Having them shipped to the Edmunds office was cheaper than paying international shipping.


Taped Sunroof 911.jpg

The sunroof was the last item that needed attention. It has a slight leak and we wanted to make sure no water would get inside. I had some painter's tape at home, which did the trick nicely.

The whole process took about 20 minutes to complete. I was now ready to drive off to the transporter (Direct Express, Inc.) in Rancho Dominguez, Calif.

To be concluded.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor, @ 127,400 miles


1985 Porsche 911: The Future of Collector Cars

June 18, 2012

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We were sad to bid goodbye to the Black Plague as it was packed into its container for the trip to France. (More about that tomorrow.) If we could have been more patient, we might have been able to spend more time finding a buyer here in the U.S. who might have been able to pay our price and offer us occasional visiting rights, but it might have taken all summer and we just couldn't wait.

Fortunately Stephane Moreau seems to be the right kind of owner. Plus the Black Plague's outlook for the future is bright. From now on, it will always get better as its owners alternately improve it and reap the rewards of its escalating value.

Just ask Keith Martin, who is pretty much the smartest guy I know in the old car hobby.

Martin is the editor and publisher of Sports Car Market, the U.S. magazine devoted to the buying and selling of the kind of old cars in which you and I are interested. The magazine has reached its twelfth birthday (by a miracle), and Martin has learned a little something in the interval. Like us, he falls in love with cars that he shouldn't, and his passion for driving frequently overwhelms his good sense when it comes to buying them and selling them. Nevertheless, Martin has a feel for the big picture that gives his opinions some importance.

In his most recent editorial column, Martin notes: "I suspect that nearly every collector car getting sold today is moving up the food chain from owners of less means to owners of more resources. As the price of the underlying car increases, so does the willingness of a new owner to spend what it takes to make the car right.

"Any old sports car that is not a rusted heap by now will probably never be a rusted heap. As each car is refreshed and brought back into collector car service, it can look forward to a happy life of rallies, tours and car shows rather than the daily grind of commuting it knew with its first owners. The cars will have attention lavished on them, better lubricants used and better technology in the parts that are installed. They will never again be beaters.

"So I can say that there will always be collector cars around, that their supply is not diminishing and that once they are set right again, they will be kept in better condition than they have ever known. Buying your next old sports car will be much more expensive -- but, in the end, much easier -- proposition than it was 20 years ago. Find a good restored car, pay top dollar, spend more, and enjoy yourself. Don't look back, and above all, never add up the receipts."

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 127,425 miles


1985 Porsche 911: The Black Plague Goes to France

June 15, 2012

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So Stephane Moreau writes us, "I am normally quite pragmatic but I now really want this car. If few hundreds $ more to reach your target price can help you decide that the Black Plague will go back to Europe rather than stay in the U.S., I would be more than happy to arrange. After spending so much time with her, I am sure there is also room for your heart in this deal."

That's it, we decided, this thing is going to France.

We cast our net pretty wide in an effort to find a new home for our 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo Look, but it turns out that we should have stuck to hard-core Porsche guys like Stephane Moreau all along. After dealing with the halt, the lame and the witless, it was pleasure to connect with a guy who gets what the Black Plague is about.

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When we started the process of selling the Black Plague, we did what anyone would and went straight to eBay. Sadly, our net pulled in mostly trash fish, the sort of thing that you throw back without a second thought. We tried to be nice, but it can be difficult. Even the kind of people stirred up by AutoTrader Classics also proved to be largely time-wasters, and we were often on the verge of handing out souvenir RTFM coffee mugs.

We were about to post the car in the classified listings for PCA Panorama, Porsche Excellence and Rennlist.com, but we found ourselves thinking that these outlets represent an audience that might be a little too particular, one accustomed to conventional cars with conventional stories. So instead we first tried Pelican Parts.

Pelican Parts is the creation of Wayne Dempsey, an MIT-educated aerospace engineer who fixed up a Porsche 911SC and discovered that lots of people wanted to learn how he did it and where he got parts. So he wrote a book about fixing up the Porsche 911, Pelican Parts , a great place to buy parts for your BMW or Porsche.

The kind of people that frequent Pelican Parts are used to putting a little sweat equity into the cars they own, so it wasn't a surprise that the Black Plague immediately got a strong response once we listed it, and this even after we referred to it as the "Black Plague."

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One of the best of these inquiries came from Bob Carlson, a graphic designer from Minneapolis. He had recently owned a 993 version of the Porsche 911, still owned a Porsche 944, and candidly admitted that he was looking for a project to turn over to his two college-age boys. He studied up, asked the right questions, and found a friend on the West Coast to inspect our car for him. In the end, though, we agreed with Carlson that he probably would prefer a less unique 911 with a nicer cosmetic presentation than our car offered.

At the almost the same time, Stephane Moreau came into the picture. He got our attention when he said he'd be at the Le Mans Classic, the race for classic sports cars that precedes the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Then he told us that he would look up a friend of ours who was running the classic and we were even more impressed. It turned out that he had a 1978 Porsche 911SC converted into a clone of the 1974 Porsche 911 RS 3.0 and took it regularly to the track (it's seen here at the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans), plus he had recently sold a 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera (also pictured here at the top).

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Moreau also impressed us because he took the time to read our entire blog about the car, nearly 270 posts at the time. He recognized that it's not necessarily smart to make such a purchase from half a world away, but he understood the car, understood its issues, and already had a support network of expert craftsmen in France. As he said, "After spending (too much?) time reading the blog, I do see the Black Plague's main issues (straight frame and engine?) but also its potential."

We found ourselves believing that he would be the right person to get the car. Also there was a kind of charming back story, as he wrote us in another note: "I just wanted to comfort you with the idea I was serious about it. I lived 3 years in L.A. back in the early 1990s, so getting an L.A.-style Porsche would be quite special. This is love at first sight or I know nothing about it! Last time I did that was when I met Sue in L.A and married her 3 months later; it has been working great since 1994! Two boys into go-karts, Miller (10) and Luke (7)."

At the end there were a couple people interested, including a Porsche engine builder and even the car's previous owner, but Moreau won out. We had a heaping handful of other inquiries from the single Pelican Parts posting for another ten days -- including one guy from Holland and another who owns a 1984 M491 coupe with sunroof delete and a 1986 M491 cabriolet.

But Stephane Moreau is our guy, and we'll tell you more about the process of shipping the car over the water to him. Will the Black Plague become "Peste Noire?"

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com


1985 Porsche 911: Day Spa at Aase Motors

June 11, 2012

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We're getting the Black Plague ready for its turn in the spotlight with a new owner, so we took it a Porsche shop to install its original M491 Turbo-style wing plus get a light-duty oil change.

We took it to Aase Motors in Fullerton, a Southern California specialist in race-prepared Porsche 911s. It's a place where you see all the best cars of the Porsche Owner's Club, which is pretty much the most racing-oriented group of club-level Porsche drivers in the country.

Aase Motors had no less than a dozen cars at the big spring POC event at Auto Club Speedway. All those cars and rich guys, it's kind of like the Scuderia Ferrari of Porsches, only without the old weird guy sitting in a dark room near the test track.

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Of course, there are those who say that Jeff Erikson can be a scary guy in his own right, but perhaps this is because he not only knows Porsche 911s but also can drive them very, very fast, as an office full of assorted trophies proves. Erikson bought the shop from Randall Aase, one of the three Aase brothers who were legends in Porsche tuning during the 1970s. (Dennis Aase ultimately became a driver for Dan Gurney's All-American Racers when it was racing the factory-supported Toyota Celica in IMSA GTU and GTO competition.)

Steve Thiel is doing the work for us. You can picture him as a factory-certified Toyota/Lexus technician with enough skill and imagination to have built a Nissan 240SX S14 with a turbocharged Skyline GT-R inline-6 engine, but he seems too young to be working in a Porsche shop. He reports that being a dealership mechanic is lucrative but boring and he prefers working on real cars. After growing up surrounded by assorted Chevy V8s built by his father and grandfather, he just couldn't help it.

Thiel makes short work of removing the Plague's flat tail and we're thinking that we're wimps for not just making the switch ourselves like we did the first time. But after seeing the amount of effort it takes Thiel and Aase engine specialist Allan Faragallah to position the winged engine cover so the body gaps are just right, we're glad we asked the pros to do it, especially since the Plague's new owner will be looking pretty carefully at the result.

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It was also interesting to see Thiel hold his breath when he went to open the lid once he'd positioning the locating latch. Apparently he's had plenty of experience with jammed latch pins just like us, and he says clean living seems to be the only indicator of successful adjustment.

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Finally, the Plague received a new sump of oil, and Aase Motors prefers Brad Penn mineral oil for older 911s, just like so many tuners these days. I remember the days when the Brad Penn refinery in Pennsylvania produced Kendall Oil, which was the choice in the Northeast when I was first learning to race. Superior film strength was the key attribute of Kendall, just like Brad Penn, and this is something that you can see being important in an air-cooled engine with its varying clearance tolerances and sensitivity to heat.

Even more important in my view is the zinc-phosphorus content (ZDDP) of Brad Penn, a compound that determines much of an oil's anti-wear properties. Most conventional motor oils reduced zinc content a handful of years ago because it was compromising the life span of catalytic convertors, but this isn't necessarily a good thing for flat-tappet engines like this Porsche.

Fortunately zinc is once again present in specialty blends intended for high performance engines, diesel and truck engines and high-mileage engines. The engine guys I know suggest that 1200 ppm is a good number for zinc content, and you can generally find the rating of your oil if you look deep enough into the specifications. Of course Porsche guys are fanatics about engine oil, perhaps because their engines use so much of it.

We were away within a short time. It was great as always just to see the cars lined up in the Aase Motors service bays, which this time included not only the usual POC racing cars, but also a 993-series Porsche Cup racer and a perfectly maintained 1973 911E complete with leather luggage on the factory roof rack and a window sticker from the 1973 PCA Porsche Parade in Monterey. And up on a lift was a clone of the Black Plague, a black 1979 Porsche 911 Turbo with just 8,700 miles on the odometer that had recently been rescued from a garage after 15 years and was being sold as part of a $200,000 deal than included a Porsche 356 Speedster.

Who knew that getting an oil change could be such an adventure?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 127,315


1985 Porsche 911: What To Do With an Old 911

June 09, 2012

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Long ago and far, far way, guys used to take the chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle and put a plastic body of a Porsche on top.

It was called a kit car, and such things were all the rage in the 1960s and early 1970s, when everyone wanted to build his own cool car and there were a million dead Beetles to work with. After all, a Porsche 356 was just a re-bodied Beetle to begin with, wasn't it?

Oddly enough, guys are still buying Porsche kit cars, only now they start with Porsche 911 components. And I can't help looking at the Black Plague and thinking about disassembling it and bringing it back to life Frankenstein style as an Intermeccanica Speedster-6 as seen here.

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Back in the 1970s, people laughed at Intermeccanica's replica business, since there were plenty of old, used Porsche 356s around. But now that there aren't a lot of them around, replica-style outlaw Porsche 356s are getting more interest.

since 1959, when it was based in Turin, Italy and building the Apollo GT. All these years later, Frank Reisner, a Canadian of Hungarian extraction, is still building cars, only in Vancouver, British Columbia, instead of Turin or Los Angeles. His son Henry Reisner does all the heavy lifting, of course. And now the cars are really, really nice.

Just how nice I learned from my friend the Ford design exec who is also a crazed Porsche enthusiast, and he was telling me that he has been thinking real hard about commissioning an Intermeccanica Speedster-6, a combination of the engine and suspension of a Porsche 911, an Intermeccanica-engineered perimeter-frame steel chassis, and an Intermeccanica-built fiberglass replica of the bodywork from a 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster. He actually prefers the stock. non-flared bodywork rather than the outlaw-style body seen here.


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It seems like a wacky idea until you think about the number of unwanted, California-registered, pre-1975 Porsche 911s that are around (the bad years of air emissions technology and pre-rust proofing). The basic Intermeccanica coach-built package is $38,350 (U.S.), although naturally you can go nuts with assorted options (just like a new Porsche these days, eh?).

A plastic replicar seems stupid because it eventually depreciates like a used car instead of appreciating like a collectible. But this point of view is about money, not driving. Do you really want to drive Porsche Speedster-style car? Or are you satisfied with moaning and groaning that you're not rich enough to afford a real one and just walking instead?

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It's an interesting subject, and it looks like more and more serious Porsche guys are deciding that a replica might make some sense, especially since there aren't enough genuine Porsche 356s to go around, no matter how thick your wallet might be.

Wonder if the Black Plague is feeling nervous about its future?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 127,150 miles


1985 Porsche 911: 911 versus 911

May 10, 2012

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So am just back from driving a new Type 991 version of the Porsche 911 from one end of Mulholland Drive to the other and Mark Takahashi, Edmunds.com Automotive Editor, is next to me and we're looking at the new car next to our 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera M491.

“They look different,” he allows.

The next thing I know Takahashi is rattling through his camera bag and he has that crazed look he always gets when he's planning to put his Art Center-trained Photoshop skills to some evil purpose.


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The newest Porsche 911 is just as magic as promised, a car that's practical in daily life even as it expresses the unique 911 personality. You can beat your chest about its speed and dial up the chassis setting to the pure manic level and then toss away the safety net of stability control, but the truth is that the car is still perfectly adept in every way even when you're driving a PDK-equipped car like this one in full comfort mode.

The chassis is supple over the bumps yet has that little bit of race-bred steadiness that maintains your confidence in blind corners. You can feel the cornering grip at the front, although it's fair to say that the electric-assist power steering doesn't communicate quite as crisply as the former hydraulic-assist setup even though the effort level is perfect.

The engine is happy to work for a living when the traffic is thick and you're burbling along at low speed. The stop/start mechanism saves gas in commute traffic and during the long waits at traffic lights on PCH through the Pacific Palisades. And yet the engine will bark if you let it, and the quickness of the transmission shifts from the PDK reminds me of that first Formula 1 race at Phoenix long ago when Nigel Mansell's Ferrari 641 accelerated past on the pit straightaway and we heard those impossibly quick shifts from that electro-hydraulic shift action and all of us turned toward each other with eyes opened wide as if to say, “We're going to have to get one of these.”

And I'm probably one of the few that believes that the longer wheelbase and wider front track for the 911 is a good thing, as the car has needed more front grip since 1965 and the ALMS sports car racers have been asking for the same thing for quite a while and can't wait for a racing version of the 991.

At the same time, the 991 is clearly a big car, as Takahashi's graphic magic makes clear. It's a 300 km/hr car, not a 200 km/hr car, so you have to accept its size and weight if such extreme speed is really what you want.

Even so, the new Porsche 911 only feels comfortably to me on those portions of Mulholland that are wide enough to have a dotted yellow line down the middle of the road. If the road ahead is a narrow bit of black, then the old M491 makes me feel like I have the right kind of Porsche 911.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 126,850 miles


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1985 Porsche 911: Selling Update

May 08, 2012

911 F34mt.jpg A number of readers have requested an update on the sale of our long term Porsche 911. After not meeting its reserve in two eBay auctions, we took out an ad on Autotrader and Autotrader Classics. We also advertised the car on Rennlist.com and PelicanParts.com.

There were a few tire kickers early on, but none made a serious offer on the car. After that, things fell silent for a while. There is currently a serious buyer interested in the car, but we can't go into specifics about this until a deal is or isn't made.

Since this blog is available to the public, it isn't wise to list the details of every transaction. A seller needs to keep his cards to himself until the vehicle has been sold.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Butzi, Tony and the Pure 911

May 04, 2012

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With the death of Butzi Porsche and Tony Lapine in April, two great names in the design of the Porsche 911 have passed from the scene. When you see the newest 991, you are seeing the shape they created.

Oddly enough, no one thought Butzi Porsche would every amount to much as a designer and he freely admitted that he could never draw very well. Fortunately he found his way to an innovative new design school in the late 1950s, Hochschule fur Gestaltung (HfG).


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As Randy Leffingwell tells the story in Porsche 911: Perfection by Design, HfG had been founded by Max Brill, a former member of the famous Bauhaus design group in Germany during the 1920s. Brill believed design should become more rational, and the design objective should be to “reduce ornament to a fundamental and pure geometry of form.”

Butzi was actually dismissed by the HfG in short order because the professors doubted his talent, but he was put to work in the Porsche design department in 1957 to learn the business from Erwin Komenda, a body engineer who had led the development of the Porsche 356. Butzi arrived to find the company typically dithering as it searched for a car to replace the 356. Erwin Komenda had developed a four-passenger car at Ferry Porsche's request and it looked like a great big Porsche 356. Ferry Porsche also commissioned Count Albrecht Goertz -- designer of the BMW 507 – to create something bold and it looked like a rear-engine Buick.

Butzi combined the dimensions of Komenda's car with the design elements of Goetz's concept, then added the flat roof that he thought best suited the larger interior space his father wanted, only one built with the thin pillars and large glass area then coming into fashion. Further tinkering saw the dimensions of the car scaled down. Most important, the aerodynamic fastback returned, only integrated with Butzi's idea of an inset rear window that would open to reveal a cargo hatch. Throughout, Butzi Porsche's belief in pure form and his own talent as a sculptor guided the evolution.

By 1961 the shape of the car seems to have been established once Butzi formally took control of the design department after his success with shaping the Porsche Formula 1 car and the Porsche 904. Details evolved as packaging for the 2.0-liter flat-6 engine and MacPherson strut front suspension were worked out, and the car was ultimately revealed on September 12, 1963, at the Frankfurt auto show.

Tony Lapine came to Porsche in 1969 and became the company's design director in 1972, when the Porsche family members resolved their endless wrangling by withdrawing from the day-to-day operation of the company. The Latvian-born designer had served an apprenticeship at Mercedes-Benz in the years after World War II, worked in GM's advanced concept studio during the early 1960s (where he collaborated on the final version of the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray) and became the head of Opel's advanced studio in 1965.

Like Butzi Porsche, Lapine was a tastemaker, not a pencil guy, and he brought GM's sophisticated way of working to Style Porsche. He's best remembered now for bringing to fruition Wolfgang Mobius' shape for the front-engine Porsche 928 and Harm Lagaay's shape for the Porsche 924 and Porsche 944.

Because the 911 was never Lapine's kind of car, his leadership in adapting the 911 to the era of the large bumpers mandated by the U.S. government in 1974 is often overlooked. The result not only produced a great-looking car but also proved that the fundamental form of the 911 could be adapted to changing priorities – a compelling proposition when Porsche found itself short of investment money in the 1970s.

In an interesting way, an older, well-used 911 like the Black Plague tells us more about the newest Porsche 911 Type 991 than any amount of design analysis. There's an element of time in an old 911, as if it has been not just worn down to its core but also refined to its essence.

Maybe this is why the longer you own a new 911, the more you want to own an old 911. It takes you to a place where with the right kind of eyes you can see the 911 in the same way that Tony Lapine did.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 126,789 miles


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