The Porsche 968 in Polar Silver, courtesy of Gmund Cars in Harrogate
I still give him grief for that one, but there's no doubt the front-loaded Porsches have a big following. However in spite of the best efforts of my mate's Turbo, it's hard to deny the 924 has a whiff of hair spray about it, which is why I've been taking an interest in 968s instead.
'Rare' and 'in demand' are fitting words. For starters the one I wanted to see had been sold by the time I arrived! Andrew reckons that Porsche models are typically produced for around seven years in which time over 100,000 examples are built. But the 968 was made for barely three years and in that time no more than 11,245 units left the Zuffenhausen plant, with something like 1500 cars coming to the UK - which explains the number of LHD cars on the market.
"Well first off these are a three litre, four cylinder engine," Andrew notes, "so each pot is relatively big at 750cc and as a result they seem slow to turn over when you're starting one - but this is normal. The main points to watch out for are all the belts on the engine. There's also a chain connecting the cams together, and this is where the Vario-Cam unit alters the timing plus or minus 15 degrees. You need to know that it's been serviced properly and in particular when the belts were last done. The one we've just sold has done about 81,000 miles and the belts were last done at 71,000 - but that was nine years ago. There's a time issue there, so as a matter of course we've replaced those. Also, while we were in there we checked the chain tensioner and water pump as well. But it's a good car to work on - not so complicated. Depending on what needs replacing it'll cost between £500 and £1000 to get this work done.
It's not unheard of for 968s to rack-up intergalactic starship mileages, but as is typical with most Porsches, as long as they've been properly looked after this isn't an issue.
In terms of which one to go for, apparently that's easy, too. Andrew says that when people call Gmund to offer a 968 they don't even ask which one it is. There are two reasons for this: One is because they're more interested in how it's been looked after, and the other is because there wasn't really that much difference between the models. All had ABS, power steering, either a six-speed manual or four-speed Tiptronic gearbox, catalytic converters, variable cam-timing, and driver's airbags. Also they all had the same 240bhp engine.
When pushed, Andrew did reveal his personal favourite though: "For the last year of production, Porsche GB created the 968 Sport, which was a 968 Coupe loaded with options including the Club Sport suspension. Of the three models, this for me is the one to have. The Club Sport appeals to track-day people, but the lack of any rear seats meant that there was plenty of room on the market for the 968 Sport, and these cars were great value at the time. Personally, I think a 968 Club Sport is almost too nice a car for track-days."
If you were so inclined you could even make a show-standard car out of this one, but the new owner will hopefully rather be driving it, right?