words and photos by steven wade
I didn't want to rely on a new-to-me car for our family holiday so I planned to choose my preferred Porsche, work through the negotiations and then pick up the right car on our way home.
"The 3.0 litre was incredibly responsive and had torque by the trouser-load."
I also drove the turbo. On the downside, it needed a lick of paint. On the upside, it was a turbo, it had sports seats, a great history and it was a few thousand dollars cheaper than the S2.
A few phone calls and several nervous hours later, I'd negotiated the purchase of my first Porsche - a 1989 Porsche 944 S2 with Guards Red paint and a black leather interior. My wife and I left on our driving holiday with me feeling over the moon, anticipating our return just as much as the holiday itself.
On the Monday, I went to the S2 seller's house to take a final drive and conclude the sale. The car was just as I'd seen it two weeks before. I drove it again - fantastic, again - and we finished my second test drive at the bank, where I had a bank cheque drawn to buy the car.
As we got back to the seller's house, I remembered one final inspection tip that I'd read online - throw a bucket of water over the rear window to make sure it doesn't leak. Those big glass hatchbacks are quite heavy and if the hinges are worn or stretched, the water can leak through to the rear cargo deck. We got a bucket of water, threw it over the back of the car and sure enough, water was streaming inside the car.
"I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay nearly 20-large for a car I can't wash without needing a snorkel and flippers next time I get into it."
This might seem like a feeble reason to back out of a purchase but let me explain something about Porsche prices in Australia. You can pick up a first-series 944 pretty cheap here - around $5,000. At the time of writing, that's around $4,500 US. You'll be buying problems at that money, but you can pay that little if you want to. A 944 turbo starts around $15,000 and I've seen them sell as high as $30,000. Most S2's are between $20,000 and $25,000.
It was extremely disappointing and very, very hard to walk away from a very decent guy with an otherwise wonderful car but there were other, better cars out there.
I draw your attention once again to the fact that this happened on a Monday and I had a ferry trip booked to head home on Tuesday night. It was just after lunchtime on the Monday when I called my sister and asked her to pick me up as I was unexpectedly car-less.
The only other reasonable 944 in Melbourne at the time was the turbo I'd already dismissed, so that was ruled out. Flying interstate and getting back in time for the ferry might have been a possibility, but only if things worked out exceptionally well. I was not inclined to tempt fate that way. My only option seemed to be trading up - checking out the two 968's that were for sale in Melbourne at the time.
Anyway, I spoke to the seller at around 3pm and while the car was located nearby, it was stored at his son's house and the owner himself lived a few hours away. The son wasn't available to show me the car and the Dad couldn't get into town that afternoon. We made an appointment for 10am on the Tuesday - the day of my scheduled departure. This was cutting things finer than I was comfortable with but I wasn't in a position to make much in the way of demands.
"I bought the car in an hour."
I bought the car in an hour.
The car presented beautifully and the extra kick from the 968's Variocam engine was evident straight away. The handling was even better than I'd imagined and he'd had a high-end sports exhaust fitted, one that gave the car one of the rarest things - a decent sounding 4-cylinder Porsche exhaust note.
It wasn't my intention to buy a 968 ClubSport at all and it was a stretch to do so, but I'm so glad I did. I would have been pretty pleased with that S2 I nearly bought (until it rained heavily, at least) but I'm super-pleased with the 968CS.
I know that I got lucky and I wouldn't recommend anyone else doing what I did. I bought out of perceived desperation but my instincts told me this was a very good car from an extremely conscientious owner.
My advice: don't try this at home. Not unless you really, really have to.
a little about Steven Wade:
I’ve been active online as a publisher since February 2005. Swadeology is my personal blog. My previous blogs were in the automotive sphere and up to the end of December, 2011, I worked as a writer/blogger for Saab Automobile AB, in Sweden.
I was born in 1970. I grew up in Melbourne, where I lived until age 24, when I moved to Hobart, Tasmania. I studied accounting and management, graduating in 1997 and I completed my CPA studies in 2001. I am married and the stepfather to three great human beings, as well as being master to one wonderful dog.
I found myself reading about Steven's journey peppered with good Kharma a few times., and each time I came away not only enlightened but transported. It was as if I was there witnessing the nail-biting story unfold before me in the flesh...the only problem was that I wanted to stick around a little longer. Ah well, maybe the sojourn will happen again picking up where we left off.
Our heartfelt thanks to Steven for sharing this incredible story of pure luck and chance. Please visit his most excellent website Swadeology for more examples of his gifted work.