A Turbo Cabriolet is almost a poseur among hard-core Porsche folk, a car to be seen in rather than a car to drive fast in

In series production from 1975, the 911 Turbo married a KKK turbocharger to the 3.0-liter engine, a combination that delivered a stunning 260 hp and a top speed of 153 mph in road trim. The Turbo's characteristic flared wheel arches and "tea tray" rear spoiler, introduced on the RSR models, were matched with an exceptionally luxurious Porsche interior. The engine was enlarged to 3.3 liters in 1978 and gained an intercooler in the process. Horsepower rose to 300 and top speed was 160 mph for the fastest road car of its day.

Porsche's 1965 911 was initially designed to be a cabriolet as well as a coupe, but at the time, pending U.S. legislation forced the Targa to be a "halfway house" between a full convertible and a closed coupe. By 1981 a revival of the 911 product line was underway, under the direction of Peter Schutz, Porsche's German-speaking American president. He wanted a way to broaden the appeal of the 911 without spending vast sums of money and his answer was to dust off the plans for a fully open 911.

Introduced to wide acclaim in 1982, the first production Cabriolets hit the market in late 1983 but it wasn't until 1987 that the first factory Turbo Cabriolets became available. While not as rigid as the Coupe, the Cabriolet lost little in chassis rigidity compared with the Targa, due to its unique stiffening pieces. The top, which was fast and easy to manipulate, featured a zip-out plastic rear window similar to the one found in the last convertible Porsche, the 1962-65 356 B and C T-6.

This 911 Turbo has covered approximately 81,000 kilometers from new. A left-hand-drive model, it has the later, wider Speedline wheels from the special 3.6-liter cars. The body is refinished in Guards Red, complemented by a black leather interior and completed by a tonneau cover. This ultimate 911 is described by the vendor as being in very good condition.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1988 Porsche 911 Turbo
Years Produced:1987-89
Number Produced:2,002
Original List Price:Approx. $60,000
SCM Valuation:$28,000-$35,000
Tune Up Cost:$1,000, including valve adjustment
Distributor Caps:$50
Chassis Number Location:Alloy tag under front hood
Engine Number Location:On passenger side of alloy casting just aft of fan support
Club Info:Porsche Club of America, P.O. Box 5900, Springfield, VA 22150
Alternatives:1983-88 Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet, 1986-88 Mercedes 560SL
Investment Grade:C

This flared 1988 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet sold for the bargain price of $24,922 at Bonham’s Goodwood auction on July 11, 2003.

The Turbo Cab is something of an enigma, making the market for these cars rather thin, although prices here in the U.S. have stayed strong for correct, ultra-clean, no-stories, original-paint cars. So does this sale price-a good bit below the $28,000 lower range of our SCM Price Guide-sound the beginning of the end for the up-to-$35,000 values that most Turbo Cabriolets are good for? Not exactly.

Turbo Cabs are rare, at least in part because Porsche didn’t seem much interested in building them. The first ones were launched over a decade after the Turbo Coupe. The official explanation was always that the open cars-Targas included-were simply not stiff enough to accept the extra loads of the wider track and fatter wheels, the heavier weight, and of course, the extra power.

One of the biggest reasons for the 911’s long-term appeal is the great pleasure derived from using the car as much as possible, in good weather and bad. That’s the first caveat with any open 911: A car just for sunny days cheats the owner out of so much potential driving pleasure. Oh sure, you can drive with the top up, but why pay extra and hardly use the feature that commands the premium?

Around the globe, no one gets more use from convertibles than Americans, mostly those residing in sunny western and southern states. This has helped keep the Turbo Cabriolet market here in the U.S. relatively strong. Still, open cars are usually bought as toys and, more often than not, owners tire of them after a while and move on.

All 911s also have a serious side-none more so than the Turbo models. Chassis flex is the enemy of stable high-speed handling, and the Turbo needs every bit of stability it can find. The factory finally found a way to adapt the Turbo package to the open body, but most serious Porsche drivers still prefer coupes. This has made the Turbo Cabriolet almost a poseur among hard-core Porsche folk, a car to be seen in rather than a car to drive fast in.

From its chassis number, we can see that the 911 Turbo pictured here was indeed both an original Turbo (by the 930 in the number; the first two digits, “93,” and the fifth digit, “0”), and an original Cabriolet (by the sixth digit, “2,” for Cabriolet).

Several factors contributed to its low price. First, the auction took place in Europe, where the taste for Cabriolets of all types is far lower than in the U.S. Second, the 50,000 miles, not at all heavy-duty use for a Porsche, is well out of the range of “around the block” miles that high-dollar buyers seem to look for. Third, the wheels are wrong, and while this isn’t hard to correct, people pay the most for Porsches the way the factory delivered them. And finally, the car has been repainted, which always hurts the value.

That all of these lesser issues conspired to drive down the price of this particular Cabriolet made it a good buy, assuming the maintenance records are up to date. When the new owner was reached on his cell phone so that we could confirm the serial number of his car, he was driving it, and reported that it was running very well with no surprises or disappointments.-Jim Schrager

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