The Essential Buyer’s Guide: Porsche 911SC
Coupe, Targa, Cabriolet and RS 1978-83
Adrian Streather, Veloce, 64 pages, £9.99, $19.95, www.velocebooks.com
When the history of Porsche is written, the all-round best car (not counting exotics and those not built yet) is bound to be the 1978-83 Porsche 911SC.
These are the first galvanized steel bodies, have embryonic air conditioning (improved with second condenser) and utterly bulletproof 3-litre motors, good for 250,000 miles with regular maintenance.
When I sold mine, with 185,000 miles on it, the engine had never been apart. The new owner drove it 3,000 miles across the U.S., using half a quart of oil, and sent me a photo of the speedometer at 135 mph in Wyoming. SC’s are becoming harder to find in driver condition now, a sure sign they are moving into the collectible world. Soon all you will find will be trailer queens, or beaters you don’t want.
So now’s the time to look for one: either a coupe (preferably with sunroof) targa or, in 1983 only, the cabriolet. There were 61,495 911SCs built, and many were treasured, so the odds are good.
This book is an excellent pocket guide, mostly to help you keep your head on straight, and stop you falling in love. The rules are simple and have a fairy-tale level of dread to them.
Look for a car that has fewer than 120,000 miles, if possible, and/or has every single maintenance record, including the improved Carrera chain tensioner and modified blow-off valve. It must be straight, should have original paint or correct color repaint, have no crash damage, no rust, a good interior and be unmodified. Don’t buy a car that’s been lowered, has a fake whale-tale spoiler, flares, short-shift gearchange, or an aftermarket slant nose.
If there’s ever a car that demands a pre-purchase inspection by an expert, this is it. Check for leaks, though it will often take a while for engine leaks to manifest themselves. But a car on a hoist will tell you a lot about itself.
Original Porsche parts are not cheap, but some aspects of basic maintenance are quite reasonable. Find a first-class mechanic before you buy. If he’s the person who does the pre-purchase inspection, so much the better.
Streather makes a very good point when he asks: Is a Porsche really for you? It’s a driver’s car; if all you do is plod around slowly making short trips, it won’t be good for either of you. Sitting unused for extended periods isn’t recommended either. Good cars can still be found in the £10,000 range, but be prepared to spend whatever it takes to buy the right car. As they say: If you can’t afford a good example of the car you want, you certainly can’t afford a bad one.
Adrian Streather is a Swiss resident who has written dozens of Porsche books. You can check out his own website http://www.adrianstreather.com/ His points are clear (“you’ll never make money on an SC”); his style readable and he obviously knows his subject very well. He even warns about forged registration papers, since thousands of V5 forms were stolen in the UK in 2006.
Fit and finish: ***
Like all the Essential Guides, the book is quite well done technically, with well re-produced images, readable typography and unassuming design.
If you follow the guidelines that Straither lays out, you should wind up with a good car. You can’t expect more than that from any buyers guide.