story and photos by pablo deferrari

I still think about her. I regret letting her go, I really do. But when beauty is only on the surface, and there's not much else, a man has to cut his losses...yes I'm talking about women.
My wife and I don’t autocross or do DE events, we’re not concours types, nor do we have new Porsches, or enter our cars in shows. We drive our Porsches every day in any weather and every season…and we like a build-up of road patina on our cars. We don't give two shits where we park or whether it gets dings, scratches, worn spots on the leather, or road rash makes no difference to us.

This is the sort of thing that gives them character, collecting evidence of time with each mile. But these are not neglected cars mind you, I service our 993 and 944S and make sure that nothing is overlooked; everything works as it should, and they even get P21S every 3 months. This is contrary to the subject I am about to present here though, it’s a different sort of patina we’re about to witness.

"we don't give two shits where we park..."

The scope here is more of a chronicle, a journal so to speak, in the search for Porsches for sale in our own backyard. More specifically an older Porsche to purchase at a fixed budget of say $3000. Before you laugh, let me explain. 

At this price point, lots of interesting things begin to unfold. We see the battered, neglected, abused sort of car that nobody wants, the eyesore. Perhaps one with a pathetic story of deferred mechanical upkeep, bad paint or lack of it, interiors that got too much sun and not enough lotion, junk to some. Well, I look at differently. 
Blown hood/hatch struts are usually the first clues suggesting neglect.
This turned out to be on of the few engines with CIS that worked properly during my search...and yes, she was once Minerva Blue.
These machines were once new, someone’s love, a reward for successes in life, in fact much more than these sentiments is that they each represent a very important piece of Porsche history. That slides a hand over my gentle sausage and gives me a rub; this is what I see when looking at these sorts of examples. Absorbing the penned lines of Komenda, Lapine, Möbius, or Lagaay seems to erase all the nasty bits about the car. And if you are at all passionate about Porsche as I am, it’s love.

"I began looking for older Porsches under $3K..."

No muffler, just a set of straight pipes at the tail end...she sounded like she was going to rip someone's balls off.
Getting started is the most difficult part since looking for a Porsche bargain could be time consuming. The aim here is to look for a driver so to speak, one perhaps that needs some attention in cosmetics or deferred maintenance that one can repair in increments as the budget allows.

There are those of us who love Porsches to death, know its history and can spot a genuine ’72 911 by its oil fill flap on the right rear but don’t have loads of cash for one. I speak from experience; it’s what inspired me to write this story in the first place. Armed with this motivation, I began looking for older Porsches under $3K and have seen lots of examples with lots of issues, no surprise there. 

During the search, ya gotta know what to look for, what it would cost to repair, be well versed about the specific model in question, what makes this year or that special, what desirable qualities it possesses, things to avoid, and the like. Mine began with 928’s…yea; I know what you’re thinking, stay with me.
The Pascha interior gave me such a boner. It wasn't until further inspection when I was able to poke my finger through it that I went a big rubbery one.
I spotted her on craigslist, she looked too good to be true. Here was a 1978 Euro 928, a German import with a manual gearbox and  lovely Pascha interior with gauges and controls written in German to boot…it even had the federalization papers in the glove box. But I digress, a Porschephile will immediately spot that the wheels, 16x7 and 16x8, are from an S4, the S wasn’t even heard of in 1978 yet it possessed S front and rear spoilers, and a superficial “928 S” emblazoned on the rear bumper with, wait for it, “Corvettes are cute but Porsches perform” tattooed on her backside. This guy really had man-love issues. I won’t even get into the fact that there are two sets of amber side-marker lamps on the front fender, it would be overkill.

"the pascha interior gave me such a boner..."

Now, as I understood it straight from the owner’s mouth this baby was in a serious collision…on the Autobahn. While he thought that was the cool bit of its storied life, I was beginning to realize that this old girl was probably good for parts and nothing else. My apologies to the preservationists, but when there’s cracking body filler on the roof, quarters, and who knows where else on the shell. There’s not much hope for restoration unless it was the first pre-production 928 or driven by Ferry himself at which point Jim Doerr would've been on it like flies on shit. It was at this point that my heart sank…I really wanted this old girl I fell in love with, incorrectly dressed though she was.
Gauges written in German...what a treat.
I was in dismantling mode at this point. I moved to the engine where I gathered something besides the fenders, doors, and hood…and possibly the rear hatch lid, could be of more value than the embarrassingly low market prices everything else seemed to be fetching these days. I was in for a treat…she ran smoothly, made nary a noise out of tune and even had the correct Bosch W8DC spark plugs. It was an M28/01 engine designating a European/ROW spec that was correct for this chassis, but the Minerva Blue in the engine bay revealed that this was the color she left the factory with. 

Without any service history, save for the clutch hydraulic hose that burst costing the owner $800 or so dollars and prompting him to accept that he was in over his head, I was looking at doing at best a timing belt job along with the ancillaries just to make the engine that much more reliable…never mind the motor mounts, bad first/second gear synchros in the gearbox (Porsche later used Borg Warner synchros from ’86 on to help alleviate this problem), and the classic twin disc clutch chatter that spelled abuse. 

About the only positive thing in the drive train were the brakes…they looked new and of OEM quality, not enough to make an offer close to the asking price though.
"Corvettes are cute but Porsches perform." Do me a favor, grow up.
In the end, not even the cool Pascha interior (disintegrating as we spoke) borne from Anatole Lapine’s sport coat of the same design could make me up the ante. I really wanted to agree on a price with the owner because, well, after all, she was a right mess. 

This OB was not the sort of candidate for preservation I was after. So with an owner refusing to budge on the price, I walked away sad knowing that she’ll end up in the hands of someone who can give a toss about her place in history, idiosyncrasies, or how to properly look after her. So goes the nature of cheap Porsche’s I suppose because as enticing as it may be, there is no such thing.


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