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Cars to buy in 2019

The winter road salt is beginning to recede, and the days are getting longer and warmer. Summer is on its way, and with it, the promise of another season of driving excellence at the wheel of your favourite Porsche 911. But which 911? If you’re thinking of a change to your stable or have your eye on something new for 2019, then look no further than Total 911’s annual and ever-popular ‘cars to buy’ guide to help steer you in the right direction.

There remain bargains to be had when comparing 911s with other models in the same price point, while many other models still represent guaranteed investment-grade quality, providing you’re prepared to play the long game. There’s also a host of 911s ready and willing to provide you with oodles of fun – more fun than any amount of cash in the bank can offer. So wether you’re looking for road or track-based frolics, a great value 911 or a decent investment proposition, we’ve got the answers readily compiled for you over the next 12 pages.

And don’t just take our word for it. Once again we’ve sought the opinions of experts from around the industry, those who work within the Porsche marketplace on a daily basis, and whom in the ensuing years have seen values of cars peak and dive, and trends come and go, building a healthy resistance against market naivety as a result – and their knowledge and insight is hereby being passed exclusively to you. We’ve asked more specialists than ever, our panel this year offering wisdom from a combined 101-years of experience selling fine Porsche. As a result, no other resource will offer such a compelling insight as to what 911 models you should be focussing on for 2019.

This year, to reflect the breadth of 911s on offer, we’ve split the experts’ choices into three categories: best value, long term investment, and outright fun, all of which provide compelling options for a variety of budgets. It makes for a tantalising read: have your wallets at the ready as we present the 911s to buy for 2019…

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996 40th anniversary: coming of age

Forty: one of the big ones, passing into the fourth decade tends to be a significant generational marker. To celebrate or commiserate, though? Porsche obviously decided to do the former – after all, producing a sports car for 40 years is an undeniably notable achievement.

It was a while ago now, too. It’s incredible to think that with the 992 we’ll see the 911 tick over to 60. That’s in just four years time, so it’s been nearly two whole decades since this Anniversary model was introduced.

Back then the 911 was the 996. Old enough to be in its second generation, Porsche’s awkward transitional 911 benefitting from the revised headlights that were introduced with the Turbo. As we all know, the 996 brought water-cooling to the 911, it igniting a debate that still resonates to this day, the 996 arguably the most divisive 911 in our favourite sports car’s now 56 years. Time heals, or at least softens resolve, and the 996 has found favour in its advancing years, the Turbo, GT3, GT3 RS and 4S all generating justifiable praise.

The Anniversary should be included among them as, unlike Porsche’s ill-considered Millennium Edition of 2000, the ‘40 Jahre’ car’s specification verges on perfection. Visually it is a demonstration of dignified restraint, perhaps with the exception of the shot-blasted and polished 18-inch Carrera II lightweight wheels. With the finish of those wheels prone to damage, many Anniversary cars have had their alloys refurbished with a more conventional painted finish. That might rob them of their originality, but does arguably improve the looks.

Elsewhere the Anniversary follows a proven Porsche formula that defines a special model. It does so without dropping any weight; as any 40-year old will testify, shifting bulk is tricky. The 996 is fairly light as standard though: the Anniversary’s kerb weight of 1,370kg matches that of the standard Gen2 Carrera. Instead of losing mass, Porsche focused on other facets to improve the offering with the Anniversary, particularly relating to how it drives.

Key to the Anniversary’s spec is the addition of an X51 Powerkit. It’s an option that would have added around £9,000 to a standard Carrera should you have asked for it back in the early 2000s. The X51 sees the power rise to 345bhp. Admittedly it’s not a significant gain over the 320bhp Carrera, but writing off the X51’s revisions on the modest bhp gain alone is to do the not-insubstantial revisions it brings a serious disservice.

The Powerkit adds cast-aluminium intake manifolds with a modified cross section, the exhaust ducts too benefiting by being larger in their width and being flow optimised thanks to machining and polishing. The valvetrain differs too: the valves and their springs, caps, guides and seats are changed over the standard car, allowing increased movement to benefit the X51 camshaft’s greater inlet valve stroke and modified inlet and exhaust timing.

The lubrication system is improved with a different dual-chamber suction pump for cylinder bank four to six, new oil lines and the oil pan coming with bulkhead baffles to help prevent high g-force oil surge. The changes via the X51 are anecdotally said to improve the durability of the 3.6-litre flat six because it counters the under-lubrication of cylinder six, with the benefit of helping prevent overheating and premature wear.

Controlling all that is a modified engine map which, like all the X51 Powerkit’s development, was apparently the work of the Motorsport department. That arguably makes X51-equipped cars ‘under-the-counter’ GT machines, and worth seeking out.

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993 v 991: wild Porsche GT2s

The year 1994 offered something of a step change for Porsche Motorsport. After multiple notable racing successes with naturally aspirated 911s such as the Carrera RSR and RS 3.8, the company once again turned its attention to turbocharging for elite GT racing. A new car was born out of the 993 generation, wider and wilder than ever before. The name given to this new high-performance 911 was simply the racing class it was to participate in: let us say hello once again to the now-legendary 993 GT2.

However, these cars were badged ‘GT’ – as can be seen below its huge rear wing. To compete in this class Porsche had to manufacture and homologate a street version, which became available as early as April of 1995. Little did Porsche and 911 enthusiasts know at the time, but it would become an absolute icon of a car, and one of the most sought-after today.

Unlike the car it was based on – the new 993 Turbo – the GT2 offered 22bhp more and offered a host of upgrades to the drivetrain, body, suspension and equipment, to name but a few. The big news was that the GT2 would be rear-wheel drive only, the 200kg weight loss over a Turbo mainly being attributed to this change. With the GT2 Porsche had made it perfectly clear it was not about to relinquish the ominous widowmaker moniker too easily. Rear-wheel-drive 911 Turbos were until then aimed at the more experienced driver, but the change to four-wheel drive left a gap at the very top of the 911 range, one that was to be filled by the motorsport-inspired GT2 street car.

Fast forward more than 20 years and until recently customers had to look to the naturally aspirated GT3 RS model to have race-inspired thrills. However, as a final swansong to the 991 range, Andreas Preuninger and his GT team developed and manufactured the most powerful production 911 to date. One can ramble on about the finer details of this machine, which you would have read in previous issues of Total 911, but there is no better way to sum it up than the 6:47.25 time the 991 GT2 RS set around the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife.

In South Africa where the owner of both these exquisite cars opens the garage door, I find myself subconsciously drifting towards the 993 GT2 first. The door feels light in my hand as I pull its handle. I lower myself into the Recaro bucket seat and shut the door, the thud reminiscent of a whole era of air-cooled Porsche. The seat offers side support from your hips all the way up to your shoulders – the goosebumps on my forearms already demonstrate this is an exceptional place to be!

The cabin is basic, but not Clubsport or race car basic; after all, this is the more comfortable ‘Strasse’ specification. However, there are no rear seats, only carpets with the neat ‘GT’ inscription, as is the case on the back of the car below the rear wing. The cabin is compact – you sit close to the dashboard and windscreen in classic 911 guise. I hold the leather-trimmed, three-spoke steering wheel, impressed by the fact there is not a button in sight.

I’ve been privileged enough to have driven a few 993 GT2s before, and every time it is a particularly memorable occasion. Today is no different. A quick peek in the side mirror gets me all excited again as those monstrous, tacked-on wheel arches fill the view. These were added to enable the GT2’s enormous 11-inch-wide wheels to fit under its arches.

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Is the 928 GT the Classic Porsche to Own?

The 928 has never had the sporting credentials of the 911, but is the penultimate variant one of the best classic Porsches to own? Over nearly two decades in production the 928’s output increased from 219 horsepower to 345, and displacement from 4.5 to 5.4 liters. Changes to the model were more than simply adding power. Porsche’s traditional method of evolution rather than revolution meant that the 928 improved year after year. While the widebody GTS, has long been a collector-favorite, is the more subdued GT actually the car to have?

The GT is often forgotten in the 928 hierarchy. The largely-similar S4 was a much stronger seller and was on the market for several years longer than the GT. Unlike the S4, the GT was available only with a manual transmission. This extremely-sporting 928 was also equipped with a computer-controlled limited-slip differential derived from the 959 supercar. Power was also up by 10 horsepower compared to the S4. While 10 horsepower isn’t much, more is always better, right?

According to reviewer JayEmm, a Brit with a James May-like affection for aggressively patterned shirts, the 928 GT may be the classic Porsche to own. With plenty of interior space, a large trunk, and a torquey, flexible V8, is the 928 the ideal classic Porsche for the modern driver?

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Richard Attwood drives a 964 3.8 R restomod

road car. A race car. An engineer’s car. The 911, more than any other car, is a product of continual automotive evolution. Porsche’s enhancements have kept it relevant for the road, competitive on the track and have cemented its reputation as the enthusiast’s car of choice. That evolution isn’t just limited to Porsche itself; an entire industry out there takes 911s backwards and forwards in time, improving, re-imagining, personalising. The 911 is an eminently adaptable basis upon which owners can build the car they want from it.

With this 964, that’s exactly what RPM Technik has done for its owner Ian Humphris. The idea was for a fast road car that could be track driven, adding contemporary performance while being respectful to the classic feel and engagement a 964 brings. Using a Carrera 2 as its basis, the build process has been meticulous, seeking improvements in every area, this now a 964 that can run with its more recent GT department relations, yet offers a driving bandwidth that enables it to be enjoyed on the road, too.

Of all the many branches of 911 evolution and sub-species, this visceral, exciting 964 arguably represents the most appealing opportunity for perfecting and personalising, taking a tired Carrera and reviving it as a car that can be enjoyed. Its performance absolutely eclipses a 964 RS that you’d be too scared to drive. What RPM and Humphris have created is the perfect riposte to a zeitgeist where vehicular value takes president over the value of driving itself.

PART ONE: ON TRACK

It’s a sunny day at Bedford Autodrome, our track time exclusively reserved for RPM Technik’s 964 3.8. Owner Humphris likes his cars too: there’s a 997 GT3 RS in his garage, alongside some other special machinery, but it’s the 964 he’s animated about.

It’s obviously not standard, but to the uninformed could just be a neat, small, red Porsche 911. Its lowered stance could be missed, its split-rim BBS alloys less so. Humphris admits that they’re his road wheels, having a set of Cup 17-inch wheels with some cut slicks for serious track work. There are subtle hints to its revisions visually then, the black-rimmed headlight surrounds an RSR nod, the small lip splitter a neat addition under the front bumper.

There’s no surprises seeing the brake intakes on the front bumper, though they’re framed by darker indicator lenses. These, like those headlight surrounds, contrast perfectly with the red bodywork. Around the back the build follows the same understated enhancement route, this 964 retaining a single exhaust pipe, though the engine cover suggests that single pipe is attached to something a little bit different from the norm. The sticker, not badge, says 3.8 R, a model that’s entirely of its owner’s making, and justifiably so. Specification or naming purists be damned, this is a car that defines purity, a car built for an individual, with their – and only their – ambition and goals for it driving the entire project.

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