I maintain that the 1978-83 911 SC and 1984-89 Carrera are now the absolute best buys when it comes to air-cooled Porsches. While they don’t have the light, live-wire feel of the early 911s, they have a mechanical robustness that provides its own thrills.

I came close to buying an SC last December, but unluckily (or luckily depending on how you look at it), the first person to look at the car bought it (I was second in line). There is no shortage of 911s from this era on eBay and Craigslist, but as with any inexpensive sports car, you have to look long and hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Read all the descriptions carefully – the holy grail would be a car with long-term PCA-member ownership, decent miles (under 125,000), up-to-date service records, no boy-racer modifications and in good colors.

Even then, you want someone to actually see and touch the car before you buy it, as there are just too many ways to go expensively wrong on a 911, from engine problems to body fit.

Budget $20,000, and be patient. If you find a good car, it will pay you back with years of pleasure. Assuming you maintain it properly, chances are good that it will be worth more five years down the road than it is today. That’s not something you could say about any new car you’d buy.

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