It was the spring of 2017, and I remember it clearly. My wife and I had spent the winter sending each other online Porsche advertisements, mostly dreaming, not really intending to take any home. That is, until she found the link to a certain blue 1999 Porsche 911 Cabriolet appeared, and I responded with "actually …". It wasn’t long before we had signed paperwork and we’re driving home in our first Porsche.
Now, I haven’t owned the car for a significant amount of time, but, I’m not sure why there is so much hate surrounding the 996 generation. It may not have been as maintenance-free as a Mazda Miata (more on that later), but it never once left us calling for roadside assistance. It’s not as fast as some things that cost less than this did when it was new — but, at the $13,500 I bought it for, there are few cars that are fast, as reasonably comfortable, as reasonably practical and as reasonably reliable, and as solidly built all at the same time. Maybe the design of the headlights isn’t perfect, but is it really as bad as people insist? Nope. There are those that complain about the interior, but, I mean, it’s way nicer than the 993 interior … and it’s much nicer than most other things on sale in 1999.
Anyway, we intended for this car to stay in the family for a long time, but the world is an ever-changing place, and sometimes plans have to change as well. This will be the first winter that we have the added costs of daycare — and if you don’t know how much daycare is, trust me, you don’t want to. And, of course, there are other costs associated with a little one. On top of that, with November through March being a slow time for my car sales job, the budget was starting to get a little tight — and removing the superfluous car payment from our cash flow created some room to breathe. For those who don’t know me, thinking this far ahead and with this much practicality presents some real personal growth. I wouldn’t expect it to last very long.
In the 16 months we owned the car, we added miles much, much quicker than the previous owner, and we enjoyed every one of them! The car took us all over Vermont from top to bottom. We took it to the highest point in New England. It went to Connecticut twice to hang out with other beautiful cars. My wife and I took it all the way to Staunton, Virginia, and back in four days. There were many other smaller adventures and countless trips as my summer commuter car. Through it all, it remained faithful and reliable, and it was always ready and willing to head out in its next adventure!
While it was under our care, the work performed wasn’t inexpensive, but wasn’t outrageous in price or nature. I had three oil changes performed by a nearby shop, and I replaced the front tires. This spring, I repaired the hinge for the center console cover and tried to rig something together for the micro-switch for the convertible top. My shortcut "repair" only lasted about a month, so I ended up ordering and replacing the whole switch anyway. When one headlight went out, I replaced both low beam bulbs with LEDs, which, perhaps to the surprise of no one, improved night-time illumination. With the exception of the tires, my only other major expense was getting a new key ordered and programmed.
How much did this car cost me? Well, the simple answer is more than a little bit, but not as much as one might think. All the repairs and maintenance listed above cost a total of $1,677.97. With all the taxes and registration fees, the total purchase price for the car was $14,335. That means that, ignoring fuel, interest and insurance costs, we had a total of $16,012.97 invested. Still not a bad number for a Porsche 911 that was still in pretty good condition!
We put the car up for sale locally, and I got a lot of annoying responses. My favorite was someone who asked if it was available and if I had the Carfax report for it. Since I hadn’t actually printed it at that point, I spent the time and money to acquire it — and then I passed it along to this person. I got a canned response back immediately that said "you should try our VIN reporting system, it’s much cheaper than Carfax!" Well, gee, that’s great … thanks for leading with that.
Anyway, I wasn’t more than a couple days from giving up on selling the car for the winter and putting it into storage when two different people from New Hampshire reached out within a couple hours of each other. One of them was able to get here before the other and had a PPI performed. I had priced my car based on the few little things it would need to be really nice, but the PPI revealed a few things I wasn’t aware of. The buyer and I were still able to strike a deal eventually at $11,200.
So, in the end I was able to own a 1999 Porsche 911 Cabriolet for $4,812.97. We had the car for 16 months and put 17,952 miles on it, which makes for a cost per mile of $0.27. That may be more than the average — but it was still cheaper to own than my Mazda RX-8! Putting an average of more than 1,000 miles per month is pretty good when you consider it sat in a garage for 6 of those months while Vermont went through its annual ice age.
The new owner had me drop it off with the person who performed the PPI so that all the mechanical work could be done and out of the way before its trip to New Hampshire — and so, suffice it to say, the car should be pretty much perfect mechanically, and ready for its next 114k miles. I wish him the best of luck with the new car. We will miss it — and as much as we didn’t want to get rid of it, I am happy to see it going to a good home with someone who will take care of it. Plus, I’m hopeful that I’ll get a chance to drive his Triumph TR3 next summer, meaning we’ll be reunited!
*This image is not an "old car/new car" thing. It was taken as I walked away from the car for the last time before it had some work done for the new owner.
By day, Bill Leedy spends his time selling Mazdas to many lovely people throughout Vermont and the Adirondacks. By night, he attempts to fight crime and write things about cars. He can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram under the name Green Mountain Car Guy.
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