This all started innocently enough. A friend gave me a ride to a Porsche event in her black 993. I hadn’t had a sip of that clattering air-cooled elixir for some time, and it was intoxicating. I immediately emailed my good friend and Porsche guru Jim Schrager, and asked him for the best buy in late-model air-cooled 911s (the 993 models). His response was immediate and definite. Forget the 993s. A first-gen 996 turbo with a Tiptronic (automatic) was his favorite. He owned one and drove it daily. He felt the turbo was a much-improved engine over the stock 996 water-cooled powerplant, and the 415 horsepower from the 24-valve, twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter made it an exceptionally good fit with the Tiptronic. He also believed the Tip was underpriced in today’s market. I touched base with SCM contributor Steve Serio and asked him what he thought. “Great daily driver; $30k gets you an okay example, $40k gets you a jewel,” Serio said.

What the therapist ordered

Then something happened that pushed things forward. I was lifting weights at the gym and put too much stress on my right pectoral muscles. During a resultant visit to a physical therapist, she mentioned that driving cars without power steering and with manual transmissions might put stress on my muscles while they were healing. She asked whether I had any sports cars with power steering and an automatic transmission. All the lights in the “A reason to buy a Turbo Tiptronic” pinball machine in my head suddenly flashed. I emailed my buddy Paul Kramer at AutoKennel, who specializes in Porsches and asked if he knew of any Turbo Tips being sold. Within five minutes, he had sent me a link to a 2001 black/black 911 Turbo Tip for sale at a Mercedes dealer near him, Rusnak, in Arcadia, CA. “It’s got 30k miles, two owners, and the dealer has just reduced the price from $44k to $39,995,” Kramer said. “I think this one is worth looking at.” I could now see the edge of the cliff as I slid towards it. Before I went any further, another expert weighed in. A collector friend in Boulder, CO, put me in touch with Porsche fanatic and racer Alan Benjamin of Boulder, CO. A quick email to him elicited this response: Overall, the 2001 996 Turbo is indeed a best buy, and the “bang for the buck” cannot be touched by anything out there. Fast, safe, automatic, AWD, and a bulletproof engine based on the Hans Mezger “GT1 Le Mans winning” design. I race all types, from a 67 S to a 996 GT3 Cup Car. But for a massive fun bang for the buck that you can put a family of four in as needed, it’s the best. I drive my 2007 997 Turbo 6-speed all the time; it is sitting with snow tires on it now, gets parked at the Denver airport in the cheap lot, and although I am 6’5” and my wife is 5’9”, we have occasionally put our 12- and 9-year-old kids in the back seats. I use the car to pick the kids up from basketball and dance all the time. These cars are 100% at the BOTTOM of the curve. Get one now. I bet in five years this $40k car is $50k. There is NOTHING cheaper with over 400 hp to run hard every day. Nothing. You will laugh and giggle as you blow by every 355 and 360. Zoom! — Alan Fast and practical.

Facebook to the rescue

I posted the AutoTrader listing for the Arcadia, CA, car on Facebook and asked the gang there whether I should buy it. A small percentage agreed with Benjamin and Schrager and thought the Tiptronic was a good solution to everyday traffic. However, most said things like, “I would rather shoot myself in the head than own a Tip.” I put up another post and asked if anyone living nearby could look at the 911 for me. SCMer John Wayne Carlson responded. “I am about two miles from Rusnak Mercedes, drive by it every day, and have bought a couple of cars there. I would be glad to check the car out for you.” I contacted sales specialist Mike Nite at Rusnak, and he arranged to have the car put on a lift so John could examine it. Nite also let John take it for an extended test drive. John reported that the car seemed very strong. Everything worked, and the only deviation from stock was a GT2 spoiler on the rear.

The tipping point

Things began to get hot. My credit union said they would finance 100% of the purchase price for seven years at 3.99%. My CPA said if we bought the car before January 1, 2015, we could claim a full year’s depreciation on our next tax return. So at this point I’m in the grips of the gurus, my physical therapist, my credit union and my CPA. My daughter Alex delivered the sucker punch. “Dad, you’re so into this pairing thing with your cars,” Alex said. “This isn’t really like buying another car. It’s just completing the pairing with the black/black 2000 Dodge Viper ACR coupe in the basement. A black/black 911 Turbo would look great sitting next to it. “You’re not adding anything — you’re just finishing something you’ve already started.” I found her logic compelling. A little negotiating followed, and for $37,750 the 911 Turbo was mine. Everyone is happy — the therapist thinks it is very astute of me to buy a car with power steering and an automatic transmission. Schrager, Serio, Benjamin and Kramer applaud my acumen in following their advice. The CPA thinks it makes good business sense. And Alex topped it all off by adding, “Remember the words of Coco Chanel: ‘Every garage needs a little black Porsche.’” Okay, I think Chanel was really talking about dresses, but I was too far gone to care. ♦

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