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Buy the Porsche 911 Project or the No Needs Porsche 911?

Do you buy the Air-Cooled Porsche project at the right price or do you pay more and get the Porsche that is ready to go?

Air Brigade recently got a call from a prospective Air-Cooled Porsche owner with this exact conundrum. He had been looking at a 1986 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 for sale in PTS (paint-to-sample) paint with original paint, a whale tale and basically all original except the 18” wheels. This car is for sale by used car dealer and was the owner’s personal car and was being retailed for $49,500.

The buyer really likes the looks of the Carrera 3.2 and put the car into a PPI with a local respected Porsche shop. Unfortunately the PPI came back indicating one cylinder was very low and the first gear synchros were bad. Discussion with the PPI shop indicated they believed a top-end overhaul would be needed on the car to remedy the situation. The big question is what do you find once you pull the engine and remove the heads? A $10,000 job can easily double or triple in cost.

Porsche Carrera 3.2 for sale
PTS 1986 Porsche Carrera 3.2 for Sale by Dealer

The buyer had already negotiated the price down pre-PPI but this news required a new price negotiation. The thought was that he could buy the car for $40,000.

The big question then became, do you take on this project or do you turn your attention to other Porsche Carrera 3.2’s for sale.

One offering that the owner was referred to was a Prussian Blue 1986 Porsche Carrera 3.2 currently on Bring-a-Trailer (BAT). It features an older repaint and appears mechanically sound. The listing does not include a compression test but Patrick Motorsports in Phoenix had recently gone through the car and made “everything right.” Patrick is a highly respected Porsche shop so I suspect if the car had not been running right, it would have been noted.

This offering is currently at $40,000 with five days left on the BAT auction. It will probably sell for $60-$65,000 based on the quality condition and great color combination being offered.

Which Porsche do You Buy? The Project or the Ready-to-Drive Porsche?

A lot comes down to price and if you want to take on a project. If you get the project Porsche for $40,000, you are probably going to put $10-$15,000 into the car and hope it isn’t $20,000. This makes the car a $55-$60,000 when done.

Porsche Carrera 3.2 for Sale
Ready to Drive Porsche with No Needs

On the other hand, if you buy the ’86 Carrera on BAT for $65,000 you get a car that is right mechanically and ready to drive right now. The old adage is to buy the best quality car that your money can buy.

Air Brigade has purchased the “bargain” with needs in the past and always ended up being an expensive car when the car was completed, as I had to hire out all the work.

In the opinion of Air Brigade, the buyer should pursue a car without needs. I am afraid this Porsche could be a money pit once you start to make it right. However, if you do your own work on the car and consider that one reason that you are buying, then buying the project is the way to go.

Whichever way the buyer decides, he ends up with one of the best driving experiences for a sports car enthusiast; an Air-Cooled Porsche 911.

1986 Porsche Carrera 3.2

$40,000 with five days left in auction

  • Prussian Blue over blue partial leather

  • 70,000 miles

  • Older repaint

Tags: Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2, Porsche Project, Porsche Project or Driver, Porsche Carrera 3.2

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I bought the '86 on BAT, and for the reasons described, @60K. I am very happy with my purchase. I'll be doing some suspension upgrades, and fresh shift-linkage bushings, but other than that, Patrick Motorsports did a great job catching up on deferred maintenance (which, including work on the AC, amounted to more than $10K in the months leading up to sale).

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