I have a buddy that used to buy and sell used cars. He would always find a great deal on all kinds of cars. Some of my favorites were several Porsches (a 944, a slant nose 911 Turbo look, and a 911SC), a Corvette, and a Mercedes 450SL. The amazing thing was his ability to buy a car, drive it for as long as a year, then sell it for even money and sometimes a profit.
I’ve been intrigued by that concept ever since. My biggest problem is I know next to nothing about the mechanical workings of a car. It’d be kind of like a 1st grader playing the stock market. Although, based on the performance of my mutual funds lately, I sometimes wonder if a 1st grader could get better performance out of my portfolio. But that’s a topic for another day.
With the economy the way it is, I think we’re presented with some unique opportunities to possibly employ the “Drive a Porsche for Free” concept. After all we’re seeing lots and lots of Porsches go up for sale, sit on the market for a while, only to have their prices lowered by owners and dealers who really need to sell. Sure you’re playing the odds a bit by not buying the absolute best car for your money, but the goal in this scenario is not a long term keeper, but a short term freebie.
Also, you may need to settle on a model, year, or style you might not normally choose as your “permanent” Porsche. Maybe a cabriolet instead of a coupe, or a Boxster instead of a 911. Maybe you could consider a Cayenne instead of a Durango or Tahoe and get the best of both worlds. You might have to look at a color you wouldn’t normally buy or one that needs some internal cosmetic work that could prove to be some fun projects for you and a family member or friend. My theory is as long as it’s mechanically sound, and hasn’t been in a wreck, you should be able to get back out of it fairly easily if you buy it at the right price.
With that in mind, here’s some cars that seem like reasonable enough or even good deals to possible get into, then back out of in say 12 months when the market starts to turn back around.
Ad Details: Black exterior, 97,000 miles, 5 speed, Black leather, Excellent condition
NADA Clean Retail Price: $11,850
Price: $10,000 – I’d offer $8,500
Thoughts: Not an ideal year for the Boxster in terms of features, power, etc, but a dang lot of car for under ten grand. Leaves a fair amount of room to even do some cosmetic stuff and a fix or two on the cheaper end.
2001 Boxster S
Ad Details: Black in/out, 58,000 miles, Carbon fiber trim, Premium sound, Recent service
NADA Clean Retail Price: $19,925
Price: $17,000 – I’d start at $15,000
Thoughts: More bang for the buck and a newer car with fewer miles. A great daily driver option for the price of an entry level sedan. Plus the chances of driving it for a year without a lot of work leaving you the potential of getting out at even money.
1999 911 Carrera Coupe
Ad Details: Burgundy paint, Black interior 73,000 miles, Usual options, Premium sound, Turbo twist wheels
NADA Clean Retail Price: $27,275
Price: $18,995 – I’d make an initial offer of $17,500
Thoughts: This is the best deal of the bunch if the mechanicals check out. This should leave plenty of room for taking care of the little stuff and still be able to sell it when the market turns around. Plus you get A LOT of car for the money in my opinion.
As with any used Porsche, it’s worth the little extra investment to have your local Porsche dealer do a full pre-sales inspection. The Porsche dealer in my area charges $285 for this and it’s very thorough. I have also had other shops do inspections for me such as a local exotic car dealership that sells a little bit of everything including Ferrari, Lamborghini (they are the local new Lamborghini dealership as well), Aston Martin, Porsche and Lotus. They charged me $200 for a pre-sales inspection. Other options would be local mechanics specializing in Porsche. You definitely want to know what you’re getting into, so that you can enjoy the car for a year without getting nickel and dimed to death.
Some tips I found while looking for the 911 Cabriolet we’re giving away:
- Watch for cars that have been listed online or in print for a number of weeks. Obviously the longer the car has been sitting, the better chance you have at making a deal.
- Don’t be afraid to make contact with a private party and/or dealer, sound them out, and make an aggressive offer. I’m not advocating that you start low-balling every car on Craigslist, but by making contact, you’ll get a sense of how desperate someone is to sell. Take advantage of their need to sell, and your desire to buy.
- Look at as many cars as you can in your area. Different parts of the country are responding differently to the economic conditions we’re in among other factors. For instance, in Portland, November, December and January seem to be THE right time to buy a convertible. It’s raining (or worse) here and everything is thinking SUV. I’ve lived with a convertible for several years in a row as a daily driver in the past and handled the rain and snow just fine PLUS I had top down fun on those rare warm spring days while everyone else was rattling around on the road in their SUV with studded tires.
- Don’t get emotionally attached to a car. This is the #1 problem when buying any car…new or used. Get emotionally attached to finding a killer deal.
One last example. I saw a later model 996 Turbo online with “MAKE AN OFFER!!!!!” at the end of the post title. I emailed the owner and found out he had another car coming and really needed to sell this car. He was already listing it for $11,000 less than he’d paid for and put into it just last year. His exact words were: “If you are at all interested I think this could be a “killer” deal for you.” He was needing to sell it and told me to pitch him ANY offer.
You can gamble on a lot of things in life, but not many that will be as much fun as driving a Porsche. You may call me crazy for even thinking about short term Porsche ownership not costing me an arm and a leg, but I think it’s very possible and within reach for many, if not most, people. At the very least you’ll have had a blast driving the car while you had it and shouldn’t come out too bad on the other end even if you end up with a less than perfect car.
Anyone have a “great deal” story to share?