Cheap Porsches | Six of the Best

The supply of budget Porsches isn't as plentiful as it once was. But £15k still buys a few gems

By PH Staff / Saturday, December 19, 2020

Perusing cheap Porsches is quite the preoccupation for some of us. More than one of us has previously taken the plunge. The risk, after all, is limited, and the potential reward for choosing wisely outsized. Which doesn't preclude the horror stories, of course – but the manufacturer's position as a volume seller of desirable sports cars, and its buyers generally diligent attitude towards upkeep, does tend to mean that the cup runneth over with appealing options.

Granted, not as many as it once did. We won't bore you with tiresome stories about how much you used to be able to buy a 928 for when Jesus was a nipper, but suffice it to say that prices of old Porsches have been trending upwards for ages now. Consequently we've set the cut off here at £15k – too much for a real bargain basement Boxster but not enough for you to feel the tractor beam pull of a new C segment hot hatch.

In between there is plenty to be cheerful about. Naturally we've stuck to Porsche's sports cars, but you could also have a Cayenne for the budget – if you were feeling sufficiently brave. Only a very modest amount of courage is required here. Most of it to do with running costs and how good your man maths are. To the classifieds…

Porsche Boxster S (986), 2000, 70k, £8,995

The time of the cheap Boxster, an era that’s lasted a good few years now, can’t last much longer. 2021 marks a quarter of a century since its launch, and thus 25 years of the mid-engined Porsche convertible being just about the best sports car out there. Those of us who see what they love under threat – manual gearboxes, atmospheric engines, rear-wheel drive – should find plenty to enjoy in a Boxster.  

Yet despite its status, a good 986 S like this one is still available for substantially less than £10k. It’s still something of a bargain. This Boxster has covered 70,000 miles over the past 20 years, with a swathe of services from the supplying OPC and squeaky clean MOTs to back that up. Personally, I even quite like the standard, original orange indicator lights (aka fried eggs) and silver paint, but my dream Boxster wouldn’t stay unmodified for long… 

Last year I drove a 986 in the Restoracing championship and – no word of a lie – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in this job. Now, racing anything is a treat (see the EnduroKa exploits for multiple examples) but there was something especially memorable about the Boxster. With a few modifications it was an unmitigated joy to drive on a racetrack. One day I’d love to pay homage to that competition car with a Boxster of my own. One like this would be the perfect place to start. MB

Porsche Diesel Standard Star Tractor, c. 1956, 10k, £9,995

The volume of used Porsches to squeeze under the £15k mark has been shrinking in recent years, but you can trust a Yorkshireman to siphon the list to find a machine appropriate for the fields of his homelands. Nope, I’m not talking about a Cayenne; this thing will go over muddy ground better than any ‘SUV’. I’ve picked something that beats the wind in your hair experience of a Boxster with added legs in the breeze. This is your classic Porsche roadster. It even says so in the advert.

I will admit this is a Porsche I cannot provide any first-hand experience of, so commenting on its performance, the sound of the engine or, dare I say it, the handling, would be futile. But just look at the thing. If I was in the market for a classic tractor, then move over Massey, Deere and Fordson; I’ve got a Porsche! PD

Porsche 928, 1991, 137k, £14,750

When the front-engined 928 arrived at the 1977 Geneva motor show, it was going to be the car to change Porsche forever. The 911 had run its course with an engine in the wrong place, so the manufacturer developed its groundbreaking newcomer to appease growing demand from yuppies, offering effortlessly quick (and record breaking) performance with a brilliantly balanced transaxle layout. Despite its many talents, in hindsight, Porsche’s part aluminium-bodied 928 was never going to replace the much-loved 911, but thanks to its futuristic looks and the use of a burbling V8 engine, it remains one of the most alluring Porsches ever made.

I’ve always had a soft spot for them, especially in 5.0-litre S4 form because there’s 320hp and 317lb ft of torque on tap. Not only does that output suit the 928 perfectly, it ensures the naturally-aspirated, 1.5-tonne car has a less frenzied, more muscular character. That’s why I’m unconcerned to see the only 928 in budget has 137,000 miles on the clock and a four-speed automatic gearbox. Who can blame the previous owners for wanting to make the most of it? It’s even had a recent restoration, and there’s £250 left in the pot to source an original Blaupunkt stereo. Happy days. SS

Porsche 911 (996), 2001, 108k, £14,725

In an attempt to make my choice as 'real world' as possible, my Porsche had to be one that's baby seat-friendly. That meant the likes of Boxsters and Caymans were obviously exempt. What I need is a 911 – and with £15k to spend, a 996 is the only option. Even for this most low-priced generation, the pickings are slim – but at least it made my decision here rather easy.

After ruling out those with tan mustard leather I had just two options, one being a cabriolet. I went for the coupe. I think I've done pretty well, with this car bearing an SS Miltek exhaust upgrade that should ensure its atmospheric flat-six is all the more enjoyable. The inclusion of a full service history and set of matching Pirelli tyres is reassuring, too, as is the mention of a warranty to alleviate the niggling fear and financially ruinous risk of an IMS bearing failure.

I've been playing hypothetical man-maths on 996s for while, so I'm seriously tempted. My thinking is this: buy a cheap car with 12 months warranty, enjoy it while hoping nothing consumable needs changing within a year. And then offload it before the expiry date is up for not much of a loss. Prices are creeping up; maybe now's the time I go for it… SL

Porsche 944 S2, 1992, 122k, £14,995

It is just me or is the 944 starting to look better with every passing year? It’s possible I’ve reached that age where childhood things start to appear enchanting and sepia-toned, but nice examples of the S2 – distantly recalled by the ten-year old within – now strike me as very appealing. Although, granted, it’s equally likely my secret yearning for a 968 Club Sport might have spilled over.

Either way, a nice 944 is well within budget for the plucky Porsche buyer. Has been for a long time – in fact, there will be no end of people to tell you that if you’d have had the foresight to buy one at the start of the decade, you would have saved yourself thousands. But nuts to 20/20 hindsight, it’s still an end-of-the-line model with the more desirable 210hp 3.0-litre motor. The vendor says it has a comprehensive history and pulls like a train. Classic – in every respect. NC

Porsche Cayman, 2008, 87k, £13,990

Porsche ownership is something I’m yet to venture into but I intend to put that right before too long. I’ve been following Mike’s Cayman S PH Fleet updates with interest and have poured through our buying guide several times. If you haven’t worked it out yet, it’s a Cayman I fancy most for when the time comes.

The 987.2 3.4-litre S is what I’m pining after, but with the £15k budget here, I’d have to go for the 987.1 2.7-litre. The IMS and bore scoring issues of early 987s don’t seem to affect the base model nearly as much as the S, if you believe everything you read on the internet. And in reality, the likelihood of it actually happening is quite slim. Still, it would be hard to ignore the niggle of continuing worry in the back of my mind. Nevertheless, the 2008 manual 2.7 I’ve picked ticks all the right boxes, and at £13,990, it should leave enough change to spice up the exhaust system a bit. BL

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