Javelin SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2010 11:25 p.m.

We attended a social party this weekend and I realized (yet again) how much MORE fun we have with our local Porsche Club over the SCCA. I think part of my current dislike for my Miata stems from the fact that there's eleventy-billion of them at an autocross (whereas I had the only 1st Gen RX-7, and often the only 7 period).

So the wife and I got talking Porsche's, and while we would both love a Boxster, we simply choose not to afford one right now. Ideally we want something that we can step out of the Miata and into for little-to-no out of pocket. When it comes to P-cars that list is 924, 944, and 914.

On 924/944 I know quite a lot about them, and suffered the misfortune of having to work on a lot of basket-case ones. I think I would stick to a 924 Turbo only (maybe an S, but it would have to be special) and in 44's a later model one with the nice interior. Wife really hates the looks though.

Which leaves 914. Obviously not 914-6, but I think I would like a 4-banger one. It's well balanced, looks classically good, has a Targa, and the one non-6 we have in the club runs very comparable times to the Miata.

I don't know a darn thing about them though. Thoughts?

MrBenjamonkey
MrBenjamonkey Reader
Nov. 1, 2010 1:03 a.m.

They have problems with rusting and breaking at the firewall. Reinforcing the chassis is not a bad idea at all. Also, the MFI cars work fine, but I don't know of anybody whose kept that system when hot rodding their 914. Oh, and there's no car on earth that will get more out of a set of Costco 155/80/14 tires than a Porsche 914. Great balance and a ton of fun to drive.

DWNSHFT Reader
Nov. 1, 2010 2:50 a.m.

My first race car was a modestly modified 914 2.0 (four cylinder). I had a lot of fun in it and scored my first race win.

PROS: -They are simple cars. Really, really simple. Easy to work on, even from underneath. -Most parts are inexpensive, especially if you get the VW part number interchange. -Lightweight: mine weighed about 1950 pounds with cage. -Interchangability with 911 stuff. Suspension, steering, brakes, wheels, transmission, engine, go crazy. -There is no substitute for a lightweight, mid-engine car. Awesome steering feel and turn-in, great balance. Out-trail-braking 911s in decreasing-radius turns is great fun. -Roomy interior. I was actually quite comfortable in mine on long highway drives. I even slept in it once. -Lots of support -Pelican Parts. They rock. -Smell of air-cooled VW and burned oil come at no extra cost. -LOTS of luggage space. -I would Megasquirt. -How many of you remember those super-cool flat metal turn signal stalks from the 70s VWs? 914 got them, too. -PCA is a great club. -Panorama is an awesome magazine (newsletter). -Porsche Owner's Club is supposed to very good; not sure if they're active up there. -Porsche Club Racing has very high-caliber drivers. -Ain't nothing else like a 914. -Top comes off, if you like that sort of thing.

CONS: -Rust. -Rust. -Rust. -Flexible chassis, even without rust. -Leaks. Even after you replace the roof seals. -The rear shifter (1970-1972) is possibly the worst-shifting manual ever. The side shifter (1973-1976) is only somewhat better. Upgrading from rear-shifter to side-shifter is supposed to be fairly easy. -First gear is a stump-puller which sometimes makes for extra 2-3 shifting when autocrossing. -Crappy seats. Easy to change. -Poor oil cooling. Hey, it's mid-engine. -Oil slosh issues. I wasn't able to fully address this. -Weak rear semi-trailing arms. Reinforce these. -Mediocre stock brakes. Easy to upgrade front discs and master cylinder; more expensive to upgrade the rears. But there was a rumored BMW 320i conversion that was supposed to be cheap and easy; look into that. -Not a lot of side-impact protection. But not different from other old sports cars, or even an early Miata. -Stock engines are mediocre but respond very well to hot-rodding. Very known quantity for tuning. -Automobile Atlanta. Run, don't walk, from those guys. -Adjusting the valves is a PITA, especially the two hidden by the semi-trailing arms. -VDO tach will bounce. Get it rebuilt at North Hollywood Speedometer. -Hinges on the engine lid and rear trunk tend to break and cause leaks. Not difficult to fix.

Bottom line, they have many of the excellent traits of the early 911s (simple, robust, light weight, classic feel) with the advantage of mid-engine weight distribution. But they have some of their own special issues. I always enjoyed autocrossing mine, even though it was never set up for that.

bludroptop SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 5:37 a.m.

Damn you DWNSHFT, I had a busy day planned! Now I'll spend all day on the internet looking at 914s for sale.

Woody SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 7:14 a.m.

This is cheaper than fixing a 914:

$6995

http://www.bargainnews.com/viewad.cfm?Show_Notepad=Yes&bnAd_ID=91410873&TheDealer=1091

Nov. 1, 2010 7:25 a.m.

Check your insurance rates! I sold mine because I couldn't afford to keep it on the road (at the time) compared to a Miata. The price seems to stay pretty constant regardless of year so look around and figure out which combination better suits your needs. I prefer a '74 2.0 but then I'm biased. Remember its a 30+ year old car-I'd spend a bit more for a nicely sorted one rather than spend every weekend chasing down the little problems that old cars accumulate over time-in other words maybe not the best choice given your current situation. They are great cars and I will own one again but I'm not sure its the answer if you're trying to get away from monthly fixes and the frustrations that go with them.

My personal plan is to have one in addition to my Miata one day. Its one of the few ways I can justify having two sportscars at once.

Platinum90 SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 7:51 a.m.

it sounds like you have pretty much fixed everything on the Miata that needed fixing. Why not just keep it?

Deferred maintenance is often the problem with 24/44 cars, so keep in mind that you will more than likely have the same issues that you had in the Miata, only more expensive. break a timing belt, well, a head rebuild is about 3 grand.

I don't have much bad to say about 914's, other than they are very slow, I think they are hideous without flares, and there is often rust problems. Engine parts should be inexpensive, because it is just a type 4 VW motor...except they aren't. Any Porsche specific parts are $$$. We sell drop in rebuilt engines for about 4 grand plus 1500 core charge.

njansenv HalfDork
Nov. 1, 2010 7:58 a.m.

Forgive me, but if you find the Miata problematic...you may want to reconsider 30yr old german car goodness.

As for Woody: when did Boxsters get THAT cheap?!?! (to buy I mean, not necessarily to own )

Javelin SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 8:01 a.m.

Obviously I am shopping for a DD right now as well, so the Porsche would be our back-up/fun/race car.

That is a great price on that Boxster, but it is almost twice our budget. We can find them as low as $8500 out here (sans hardtop) for an early non-S.

Otto_Maddox Reader
Nov. 1, 2010 8:10 a.m.

In reply to njansenv:

At that low of an asking price, there is bound to be some sort of issue with it.

Woody SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 8:11 a.m.

135k miles and it probably leaks some oil, just like all of them.

Otto_Maddox Reader
Nov. 1, 2010 9:52 a.m.

In reply to DWNSHFT:

How did Automobile Atlanta earn such a horrible reputation?

Matt B HalfDork
Nov. 1, 2010 9:52 a.m.

It may just be the ones I've seen around Atlanta, but 914 prices sure seem to have risen quite a bit in the last 10-15 years. I haven't seen a well cared for example for sale under $6-7K. I considered one a few years back because I remembered them being so incredibly cheap in the early nineties (scouring lots in HS). After only seeing horror shows or nice examples nearing 10 grand I ended up with a mk1 mr2 instead at 1/3 the price.

Dunno, maybe the cheap-n-good ones are out there, but I didn't see them.

Platinum90 SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 10:36 a.m.
Otto_Maddox wrote: In reply to DWNSHFT: How did Automobile Atlanta earn such a horrible reputation?

I work there, and I can tell you, truthfully, some of it is warranted, but a bunch of it is not. We are working on getting things more streamlined and providing better customer service.

In the late 70's and through the 80's, we were pretty much the only game in town. That gives you GM disease until little internet companies like Pelican pop up and provide an excellent example of how it should be done.

oldtin HalfDork
Nov. 1, 2010 10:49 a.m.

914s had 3 engines through their run 1.7, 2.0 and 1.8. All were injected IIRC, although lots got converted to carbs. A vulnerable rust spot is the battery tray and below. One of the techniques on checking out a purchase is to bring a 200 lb friend and check door gaps before and after the 200 pounder gets in to see how bad the chassis flex is. As for prices - 3-4k for a workable one. The good is that there won't be any more depreciation and running costs are low - maintenance is straightforward.

Platinum90 SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 10:54 a.m.
oldtin wrote: 914s had 3 engines through their run 1.7, 2.0 and 1.8. All were injected IIRC, although lots got converted to carbs. A vulnerable rust spot is the battery tray and below. One of the techniques on checking out a purchase is to bring a 200 lb friend and check door gaps before and after the 200 pounder gets in to see how bad the chassis flex is. As for prices - 3-4k for a workable one. The good is that there won't be any more depreciation and running costs are low - maintenance is straightforward.

All of this is true. They all were fuel injected, and alot have been converted to carbs. I have never seen a carbed 914 tuned correctly, I have no idea how people make it work.

Take out the Targa top and have the 200+ pound friend jump on the sills. Visible flex means RUN!

Perfect 4 cylinders still fetch 15-20 grand, though less than perfect ones can be had at 2000.

I am currently working on a 914 Buyers Guide, I will e-mail it to you when I finish it.

16vCorey SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 11:17 a.m.
Platinum90 wrote: Deferred maintenance is often the problem with 24/44 cars, so keep in mind that you will more than likely have the same issues that you had in the Miata, only more expensive. break a timing belt, well, a head rebuild is about 3 grand.

How? Even if you replace every valve, seal, and guide (although I've never seen guides wear out on them) the parts are about $300. If anyone needs a head rebuild, I'll gladly do them for $2k, and throw in a port and polish!

93celicaGT2 SuperDork
Nov. 1, 2010 11:28 a.m.
Woody wrote: This is cheaper than fixing a 914: $6995 http://www.bargainnews.com/viewad.cfm?Show_Notepad=Yes&bnAd_ID=91410873&TheDealer=1091

berkeley!

That's not THAT much more than i'm paying for the Jeep.

Hrmmm... big decision to make, apparently.

Nov. 1, 2010 11:30 a.m.

If you have $17.5k... I have a friend selling this:

1988 Porsche 944 turbo S, 1 of 317 original Silver Rose/Burgundy Plaid U.S. cars. restored to nearly perfect condition and insured as a collector car, but still occasionally driven. When not driven, it is stored in a climate controlled environment, under a cover. 99,300 miles. Upgrades include Autothority MAF and software, K27 turbo, B&B Stainless full exhaust (much more power than stock). Factory Cup Sway bars, Kinesis Supercup 17"x8.5" and 17"x10" wheels with Michelin Pilot Sports (nearly new, 245/275). Short Shift Kit, and New cup clutch along with many other parts "while in there", like lighter flywheel and sleeve. Lower Front Splitter, clear paint protection. New axles, control arms, brake pads, AC compressor. Belts and water pump have very low mileage (less than 10k). Also, European H4 headlights, european fog and driving lights. Original parts included are 16" Turbo S wheels with Dunlop tires (plenty of tread and stored with the car, under a cover.), exhaust and catalytic converter, sway bars, airbox/AFM, etc. Also comes with extra burgundy plaid cloth for redoing any future damage to the interior, or in case you'd like it all refreshed someday in the future (though it's very nice inside now. One small cigarette burn, and no wear anywhere, even on the bolsters. This fabric is no longer available. Just about the nicest, freshest and most complete 944 turbo S available right now.

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