Vintage air-cooled 911s may be fun to drive, but these classic Porsches have sky-rocketed in value over the years. And that’s not even including the restomods companies like Gunther Werks create. But there is a way to get the classic style and most of the vintage performance in a more affordable package. And it’s this week’s Bring a Trailer bargain buy: a Porsche 912.
The Porsche 912 isn’t just a discount air-cooled 911
Even back in the 1960s, Porsche fans were worried about 911 pricing. When the six-cylinder sports car first launched as a replacement for the four-cylinder 356, there was concern that the 911 would simply cost too much money. So, Porsche took the 356’s engine and placed it in the body of a 911, Road & Track reports. Thus, the 1965 Porsche 912 was born.
In some ways, the Porsche 912 is indeed an ‘entry-level’ air-cooled 911, Hagerty and Silodrome report. For example, there’s no wood trim in the interior, and instead of a wooden steering wheel, there’s a plastic one. The 912 also lacks a clock, and while a 5-speed manual was available, the standard transmission had 4 speeds.
The biggest difference, though, is with the engine. But not necessarily solely in the way you might think.
True, the Porsche 912 is less powerful than the contemporary 911. Its 1.6-liter flat-four engine makes 90 hp; as a result, it goes 0-60 mph in 11.6 seconds, PCA reports. That was respectable back in the day, but the 911’s 2.0-liter flat-six makes 40 more hp, RM Sotheby’s reports. That means the 911 goes 0-60 mph roughly 3 seconds faster. Plus, in 1966, there was an even more powerful 911, the 160-hp S model, Hagerty reports.
However, the Porsche 912 is also 250 pounds lighter than the contemporary 911, Autoweek reports. Plus, its weight is pushed more forwards compared to the six-cylinder car. The 912 is still a rear-engine rear-wheel-drive car, but it’s “a bit less of a handful to drive” than the 911, The Drive reports. But it’s still a lot of fun on a twisty road, Jalopnik reports.
The 1966 Porsche 912 on Bring a Trailer
The Porsche 912 currently listed on Bring a Trailer is a 1966 example, which is the first model year offered in the US. The 912 received a few updates during its 1965-1969 run, including a wheelbase-stretch in its final year. 1969 also brought improved electrics and ventilation, as well as an electric defroster, PCA reports.
However, while this 1966 Porsche 912 doesn’t have the longer wheelbase or later-year improvements, it does have the optional 5-speed manual and its original engine. Plus, its refinish 5 years ago included new black leather upholstery and a new steering wheel. Also, it has a Porsche-supplied slot-in infotainment system, including a touchscreen, satellite radio, and navigation.
As some Bring a Trailer commenters point out, this Porsche 912 isn’t cosmetically perfect. Its front hood gaps look off, and the passenger-side indicator is misaligned. A few suspect this car suffered front collision damage and was repaired sometime in the past. Though it’s worth pointing out that Bring a Trailer makes no report of any accident history. Plus, a look at the car’s underside reveals little to no rust.
What makes this car a bargain purchase?
As of this writing, this 1966 Porsche 912 is listed on Bring a Trailer at $8700 with 3 days left in the auction. Barring any accident or crash history revelation, that’s a fairly low price.
Porsche 912 prices have gone down slightly in the past few months, but a good-condition example is still a $30,000 car, Hagerty reports. And on Bring a Trailer, the average closing price is closer to $40,000.
Plus, this 912’s less-than-perfect visual condition may be a blessing in disguise. Not just because of the low price, but because there’s no worry about further minor damage. As Autoweek points out, too many vintage cars are locked away in garages by owners terrified of losing their investment because of an errant rock chip or too many miles. The Bring a Trailer commenters point out that, while this 1966 912 isn’t a Concours-level car, it’s still a perfectly serviceable fun or even daily driver.
We recommend, if possible, getting a pre-purchase inspection on any used car. But if you’ve been wanting to experience an air-cooled Porsche, this might be the most affordable way to do so.
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