The Porsche brand has transcended the automotive world. It’s a global brand in its own right, it’s the car many people when you ask them to think of a sports car, the very name Porsche is ingrained within the public consciousness, which is why we all want one. And that’s fine, because Porsche isn’t just about the name, it’s also about what that name means. And what it means, for the most part, is quality, durability and with it, a healthy dose of speed. Though for that, we have to ignore the Cayenne. Which we’ll do, gladly.
Porsche was born out of a nasty man’s need to mobilise the masses. You know the fella, shouty little chap, silly moustache. It was his order to Ferdinand Porsche that saw the birth of the Volkswagen Beetle. A car that would go on to be one of the best-selling cars in history. But it didn’t really tickle Ferdinand’s pickle. Not that Ferdinand’s opinion on the Beetle mattered – he was imprisoned for war crimes after the end of WW2. It was during that time that Ferry Porsche, Ferdinand’s son, built his own car. Porsche had started dabbling in 1939 with the Porsche 64, but the war got in the way of that. The car Ferry was working on was what would become the 356. When Ferdinand was released (without charge), he joined Ferry and Porsche as we know it was born.
Over the years Porsche has been pretty consistent with its offerings. The 911, for example, can be found in the Book of Genesis. But Porsche is more than just the 911. It has made a whole host of other cars, too, and they have all since settled into different market price points. That means that we can all have a Porsche, and that’s a good thing. So with that in mind, we’ve picked five Porsches to suit every price point from the financially frugal to the insanely rich.
The Porsche 924 – From £1,500
The poor old 924. “That’s not a proper Porsche” people would giddily exclaim, as if they were the new host of Top Gear. “That’s got a van engine” was another popular taunt. But ignore those people, and instead laugh at them, because the 924 was every bit deserving of the badge as the 911. Not only that, it was the car that allowed Porsche to branch out from its air-cooled roots, and with it, give the company a better foothold for the future. The 924 was, in a way, the genesis for Porsche as we know it today. It took Porsche out of its comfort zone and pushed it further.
Yes, we’ll admit that the 2.0 naturally-aspirated cars are, with around 110bhp, anything but fast. But that’s about the only shortcoming of the 924. The water-cooled engine up front, mated to a five-speed transaxle at the rear made for excellent weight distribution and with it, handling. The 924 could seat four, it had a decent sized boot, and it wasn’t ludicrously expensive. It was an every-man Porsche, our chance to sit at the high-end, luxury sports car table. And it still is. You can get a (admittedly rough around the edges) 924 for a couple of grand. Three to four grand will get you a tidy car, where as five grand up will get you a minter. If you want a Turbo, a Carrera GT or an S, prices go up significantly, but they’re still (Carrera GT notwithstanding) at the cheap end of the Porsche market.
The Porsche 911 (996) – From £10,000
Oh, how we loved to hate the 996. Do you think the 924 had it bad? That’s nothing compared to the 996, which was universally hated because of one simple thing. It was a 911 that wasn’t air-cooled. Purists shunned it, claiming it wasn’t a proper Porsche. All because Porsche dared move the technology forward in a bid to make the 911 more reliable and capable of more power. The fact the 996 was and still is a beautiful car was beside the point. It wasn’t air-cooled, and that was that.
Despite being offered with a dizzying number of drivetrain and engine options, including the mighty Turbo specification, the 996 has never really been embraced. As such, it’s still low on the pricing scale. And that’s strange, because every 911 since has been welcomed with open arms, but not the 996. And that’s a shame, because the 996 is a car with performance, poise and presence. It still packed the all-important flat six, the engine was still behind the rear axle, it was still a proper 911. Yet because of those hard early days, and the fact the 996 was plagued by the early build quality and electrical issues, it’s still a cheap car. You can get a 3.4 Carrera for ten grand, the 4S is a bit more, while the Turbo is going to set you back at least forty grand.
The Porsche 928 – From £15,000
The Porsche 928 was the car that was meant to replace the 911. Walk into any Porsche dealership today and you’ll soon realise that it never happened. Much like the 996 with its ‘not air-cooled’ backlash, the 928 was already disliked by the purists because, well, it wasn’t a 911. Porsche, however, believed the 928 was the next logical step in the company’s evolution. It listened to the owners of the 911 who said it was cramped, difficult to live with and sometimes a ‘handful’ to drive. But when they presented them with something new, the 911 fans recoiled in horror. You just can’t please some people.
Maybe it was because the 928 was so, so different from the 911. The engine was in the front for starters, and it wasn’t a flat-six. Instead, it was a V8. It was bigger than the 911, it had pop-up lights, it was just all wrong… to the aficionados. To the wider motoring public that wasn’t grasping onto 911 ideology, the 928 was a belting car. A proper GT cruiser, it had space, it had space and it had the kudos. It was, with the people brave enough to take the plunge, a remarkable car. And it still is. But despite the following its found, it’s still not an expensive car. £15,000 will get you a rolling project, whereas twenty grand will get you a decent example. However, earlier 4.5 V8 are the cheaper ones, with later 5.4 V8 cars commanding high premiums. But honestly, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0 or 5.4, it won’t matter. It’ll still be a car you’ll be glad you bought.
The Porsche 356 – From £50,000
The 356 is the car that started it all for Porsche, the one that put it on the map, and it was the blueprint for the 911. It was created by Ferry Porsche because he couldn’t find a car that he liked, so he opted to create his own. The 356 took ideas from Ferdinand’s Beetle design, namely the air-cooled rear-mounted engine, and ran with them. Contrary to popular belief, the 356 didn’t use a Beetle chassis/floorpan. It was in fact an entirely new item designed by Porsche, and was designed to like the beetle, be mated to the bodyshell to create a strong and durable vehicle. It wasn’t a powerhouse though, with early cars being powered by an engine just 1.1-litres in capacity. Though over the years that did increase to a giddying 2.0.
Built from 1949 to 1965, the 356 went through a fair few evolutions before eventually becoming the 911. During its run though, it became an iconic machine. There was nothing else like it, which made it stand out and made the Porsche name known. The 356 was the car that developed Porsche and laid the foundations for what the company has become today. It’s a special car, but that brings with it a special price. You’ll be looking at fifty grand for a usable one, though prices can go a lot, lot higher, especially for early cars. You can get projects for a lot less, but parts are costly, so it you have to consider whether or not a lengthy restoration is financially viable.
The 991 GT3 RS – From £200,000
Lottery numbers come up have they? Or have you just sold your company, or your kidneys? Well then, if you want a Porsche to celebrate and also consume that newfound wealth may we suggest the mighty GT3 RS, or in this case the 991.2 911 GT3 RS. This is Porsche turned up the full volume, it’s hard, it’s fast, it’s built for going nothing less than ludicrous speed. This is Porsche at its best. Roll cage, bucket seats with carbon fibre inserts, a magnesium roof for lightness, six-point harness for the driver and 3.6-litre flat-six engine producing 513bhp and 470Nm and with a rev limit of 9,000rpm. It is, for lack of a better way of putting it, an absolute weapon.
Of course, with rock hard suspension, that aforementioned roll cage and seats and an obscene amount of power, the GT3 RS is hardly a car to be used every day. Then there are the running costs, like £500 for just an oil service, a thousand pounds per tyre and well into four figures for a major service. This is more a very expensive toy to be given an enjoyable kicking when the weather permits. And by very expensive, we’re talking north of £200,000, but remember that you’re buying an exceptionally rare car here, and one that is going up in value. And when you’re dropping such a large amount of money on a machine, that’s nice to know.