Is automotive bliss just a Porsche 911 away? | Column

Tim
By Tim Suddard
Oct 1, 2022 | Porsche, 997, Column | Posted in Columns | From the May 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Chris Tropea

The debate’s been going on inside my head for a while. Modern performance cars have gotten really good, so do I just buy one–a Porsche GT3, BMW M4, Shelby Mustang or the like–or should I do it the Grassroots Motorsports way and buy a lesser car, fix it up and modify it?

I wanted something fast, fun but also comfortable enough to drive 500 miles to an event. And it had to be reliable enough to get me back home. 

[Are we in the modern golden age of performance cars? | Column]

While I was primarily bench racing and dreaming, I actually stumbled upon and bought the perfect car to scratch that itch. As often happens around here, it happened by accident–and, of course, after I had decided to let the current market cool a bit.

This all started when a good friend sent me a picture of the 1962 Rolls-Royce he had just bought. He explained how, sadly, a collector up his way in Charleston, South Carolina, had passed away, and his widow was liquidating his car collection.

While a Rolls-Royce is not my kind of car, I complimented him, then quickly turned the conversation to something else in that photo. Please tell me more about the Guards Red Porsche 997 in the background, I said. 

My friend admitted he was so obsessed with the Rolls that he hadn’t paid much attention to the Porsche. He promised to go back and learn more. 

After looking the car over, he called me in a great state of excitement: She was looking to unload an absolutely perfect 2007 Porsche Carrera that had covered only 24,000 miles. It was heavily optioned, with 19-inch wheels and tires, the better stereo, heated seats and even navigation–which, I realized, was likely kind of dated technology. 

He concluded by telling me that if I didn’t want it at the below-wholesale price she was asking, he would buy it.

The final bit of good news: It had the six-speed manual transmission.

While it wasn’t really what I thought I wanted–it wasn’t a GT3 or even an S–I decided it might be all I needed to solve the imaginary problem I thought I had. Plus, if I didn’t like it, I could make a quick buck and put the money toward something faster.

Rather than ship the car, we decided to take a mini vacation and head toward the French Quarter of beautiful Charleston to retrieve the car in person.

[Why did we just buy a water-cooled Porsche 911? | Project Porsche 997]

The trip started off on a high note, as my friend fetched us from the airport in that vintage Rolls-Royce. Then he took us to a row house built in 1750; the Porsche was stored inside. Even if the car hadn’t worked out, the tour of that house was worth the trip.

But the car did work out. It was truly stunning and even better than advertised. It was virtually brand new. The black interior still smelled fresh, and there was nary a mark anywhere on the car.

Our first stop was nearby Autometrics Motorsports. This huge, widely respected Porsche race shop had agreed to look over the car and make sure we weren’t missing anything before covering the 350-mile trip home. 

The shop’s staff said we had a keeper. The 997 is considered the last analog 911, they noted, and you can still see the engine when you open the lid. Plus, this 911 is simply smaller than the ones that have come since. 

Then they put the car on the lift and declared that it looked new–no undertray damage, no mechanical needs whatsoever. The only issues they found: It was low on power steering fluid, and the front tires were original.

Before even leaving their parking lot, we were on the phone with Tire Rack for some new Bridgestones. We’d take it easy on the way home and stay off the highways. 

Once the new tires were mounted, we immediately took the car on our sister magazine’s Orange Blossom Tour. Then we hit the PCA Werks Reunion at The Amelia’s concours. The following week, we went to The FIRM to baseline the car and then to a PCA cars and coffee that Sunday.

As it turns out, this Porsche does everything amazingly well and is probably the best car I’ve ever had. We’ll tinker with it a bit more, but the stock 335 horsepower and balanced chassis might just be enough. 

Of course, doing this the Grassroots Motorsports way feels morally right, but if I hit the lottery, I might still spring for that GT3.

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Comments
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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/6/22 3:10 p.m.
Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/2/22 9:06 a.m.

Or not...

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
6/2/22 10:21 a.m.

Haha, the picture above is the obvious answer, "Both!"

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/2/22 10:24 a.m.

In reply to kb58 :

Exactly. 

I know that my 911 can get rolled in a minivan, but I do love the experience. Just the sound of the doors closing....

ClearWaterMS
ClearWaterMS Reader
6/2/22 10:24 a.m.
Noddaz said:

Or not...

$30k 911 project, non-runner engine and transmission included but unknown condition, firm on price "I KNOW WHAT I GOT"

please note, I started joking that this was a $20k craigslist but raised it to $30k because somebody might actually pay $20k for a 911 like this given the market of those right now.  

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
6/2/22 10:34 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to kb58 :

Exactly. 

I know that my 911 can get rolled in a minivan, but I do love the experience. Just the sound of the doors closing....

Closing? Let's not get too carried away here. Pretty sure once that door is opened, it's staying that way!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/2/22 11:38 a.m.

In reply to kb58 :

I mean, like, the click/clunk that the doors make when you close them. 

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/2/22 12:09 p.m.

As my daughter put it in HS, like closing the door on the freakin' space shuttle.

sir_mike
sir_mike Reader
6/2/22 12:11 p.m.

No not for me...sorry

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/2/22 12:43 p.m.

In reply to paddygarcia :

Several years ago, I gave a ride in my 911 to someone in the industry. He got in and closed the door. And then he opened the door so he could hear it close again. 

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
6/2/22 1:56 p.m.

I regret not buying more 911's when I had the chance.  About 3-4 years ago I had a chance to buy a blue/green 964 C2 and 2 years ago an arena red 993 C4S.  I should've bought them both as the 964 is worth 2.5-3X what I would've paid and the C4S 2X.  So I could've had them to enjoy this entire time while being in the black on both.  Now I can't afford either of them.

Flyman615
Flyman615 New Reader
6/2/22 5:03 p.m.

This is what it's supposed to look like. Just had my 1973.5 911T Targa out for a drive on a nice, albeit cloudy, spring day. I've had it for over 23 years.

Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/2/22 8:57 p.m.

In reply to Flyman615 :

Good for you!  Cars like that need to be driven.  And you have a good looking Targa there.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/2/22 9:01 p.m.

In reply to Flyman615 :

Wow, that color. What is it called? 

JimS
JimS Reader
6/3/22 1:14 a.m.

The answer is yes. My base 991 is pure bliss. Would like a gt3 touring but the base car is all I need. 

Automobilist
Automobilist New Reader
6/3/22 2:33 p.m.

I'm on my third 911.  Bought the first (a 1988) when I was 35.  I'm 64 now, and absolutely love my base 991.  No other car approaches the combination of style, effortless speed, crisp handling, comfort and reliability.  Just a superb overall car. 

There are a lot of Porsche variants, but there is nothing as sweet to live with as a 911.

buzzboy
buzzboy SuperDork
6/3/22 4:58 p.m.

I drove my first 911 last week, 1983 SC. By no means fast compared to even my E36 let alone a modern minivan. But it felt solid. Almost as solid as my S-Class. Planted. Crisp. I get it.

350z247
350z247 Reader
6/5/22 9:45 p.m.

Congratulations on a wonderful car, especially at a wonderful price, but I always find myself irked by Porsche's insistence on keeping the car rear engined. If given the option of identical base 911 or Cayman S, I'm going Cayman S every time.

dps214
dps214 Dork
6/5/22 11:05 p.m.

I mean it's the defining feature of the car... Though at this point with the 992 they've ruined enough other things that I wouldn't put it past them to move the engine in the next generation.

JimS
JimS Reader
6/5/22 11:13 p.m.

In reply to Automobilist :

That looks just like my base 2013 991. My headlight washers are white and not chrome and I have the pasm front spoiler but the rest is the same. 

350z247
350z247 Reader
6/6/22 7:12 a.m.

In reply to dps214 :

Defining feature or not, it's the wrong location for an engine. The mid-engined IMSA GT3 RSR is proof enough they know this. They have done an incredible job engineering around this, but imagine how much better it would be if they put the engine in the middle where it should have been 20 years ago, especially on the GT3s.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/6/22 7:15 a.m.

The GRM way is a base 997 these days lol. I want one.

dps214
dps214 Dork
6/6/22 8:43 a.m.

In reply to 350z247 :

Maybe, but if they really only cared about performance it would basically be a lotus Elise clone, not a giant luxury sports coupe. The point being obviously there's other considerations in the design than outright performance.

I'm not necessarily saying that mid engine isn't better, but a big factor in the rsr engine relocation was the fact that hanging the engine off the back didn't allow them to take full advantage of the diffuser allowances.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/6/22 10:39 p.m.

I'm undecided until someone gives me a 997 or 991 to rallycross.  But yes if you had to have just one car....  a 911 is a great way to do it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/6/22 11:45 p.m.
buzzboy said:

I drove my first 911 last week, 1983 SC. By no means fast compared to even my E36 let alone a modern minivan. But it felt solid. Almost as solid as my S-Class. Planted. Crisp. I get it.

When I was starting to seriously consider a 911, a drive in an SC pushed me over the edge for the exact reasons that you mentioned. 

(In fact, it was this 911SC from the Lane Motor Museum collection.)

Mch3jsb
Mch3jsb New Reader
10/1/22 2:22 p.m.

When the base 997 Carrera is this good, do you really need an S or even a GT3?
 

Needs, wants, and desires..... are all vastly different things

Automobilist
Automobilist New Reader
10/1/22 4:39 p.m.

In reply to buzzboy :

You need to spend some real time in a 911.  One turn at the wheel does not give you the real feel.  My 911 991 is very different than my SL, and both excel at what they do. And both are better than my Aston Martin DB7... wink

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/1/22 5:10 p.m.

I would sell all the fun cars if it meant I could get a nice driver 911SC.  Those are my favorite to drive, they have the right combination of vintageness and modernity.

 

And that driving position!

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
10/1/22 6:48 p.m.

In reply to Mch3jsb :

If you don't need a back seat and have the money for a GT3, the answer is YES.  The 997 GT3 is one of the most special feeling cars I've ever driven and their price reflects that...

DaleCarter
DaleCarter GRM+ Memberand New Reader
10/2/22 1:07 a.m.

In reply to 350z247 :

That's why the best 911 is the Cayman. :-)

malibuguy
malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/2/22 9:21 a.m.

nice score.  I wont be able to ever afford a Pcar in just about any flavor.  Kinda jelly

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
10/2/22 9:25 a.m.

F want. 

350z247
350z247 Reader
10/2/22 3:08 p.m.

In reply to DaleCarter :

I whole heartedly agree. I would take a Cayman or Boxster over a 911 coupe/cab any day. I've driven multiple examples of each, and they really are their best models. Sadly, the GT 3.8/4.0 motors aren't quite as ubiquitous.

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