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Discussion Starter #1
I'm curious if anyone here has a 912 in their collection or have switched to a classic Porsche. I have pondered the idea of owning a classic sports car or something like a Morgan 3 wheeler. I really love the classic vibe and like the idea of driving a slow car fast. I think I watch too many Petrolicious videos :D. I have never driven a 912 or 3 wheeler and would be interested to see if anyone has any input.

Currently there are a few examples of 912's around $30k and the lowest Morgan is $38k. Hell, there are even some decent 60's Elan's in this price range as well.

On the flip side I do not like the idea of an unreliable classic and extra costs of maintenance. Also, the opportunities to drive something like the Morgan would be few because your exposed to the elements.

Note: I am mostly window shopping, nothing serious. Still love my Lotus:UK:
 

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I have a friend who bought a 912 for MUCH less than $30k about 5 years ago. I love driving old Porsches but these are old cars.

The carb needed work, the fuel line was clogged, all suspension joints were rotted out and the shifter bushings were completely shot. Finding a gear was quite an exercise. Luckily, this car was always in Washington and had no signs of rust, which is rare for these cars. You'd want to be prepared for alot of tinkering and trying to get everything working right. For some people that's part of the fun, for others it's not.

I drive a Miata so I'm not turned off by slow cars, but these old 912s are SLOW. So slow that it's hard to imagine that you could get yourself into much trouble by driving aggressively. But it's got that wonderful, almost living steering system and small communicative chassis.

They also have more vinyl coverings in the interior than the 911s. Even though the weight distribution is better than a 911, I vastly prefer the 911.

But there's no way I'd pay 30 grand for one. This is the wrong time to buy a Porsche. Not only are the prices ridiculously inflated, but they're dropping.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The carb needed work, the fuel line was clogged, all suspension joints were rotted out and the shifter bushings were completely shot. This stuff would be my fear... Finding a gear was quite an exercise. Luckily, this car was always in Washington and had no signs of rust, which is rare for these cars. You'd want to be prepared for alot of tinkering and trying to get everything working rightI do like the idea of tinkering but not in excess.... For some people that's part of the fun, for others it's not.



But there's no way I'd pay 30 grand for one I agree. This is the wrong time to buy a Porsche. Not only are the prices ridiculously inflated, but they're dropping. I have noticed them dropping here and there.
....
 

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I'm old enough to remember when the best use of a 912 was to put a Corvair engine in it. Nobody's doing that anymore, of course, mostly, I suspect, because you can drop a tuned type IV engine in and get the same power and reliability for less weight.

All of that said, the big problem with a classic sports car of any kind is that it's either all worn out or you're buying somebody's restoration, and trusting them to have done it right. The good news with something like an Elan, a 912, etc is that (at least until smog and collision laws hit around 1970), they're simple beasts, and doing a stem to gudgeon restoration just isn't that bad compared to, say, restoring a 280Z or a C4 Corvette.

Even if there's no rust anywhere (unlikely - all designs in those days caught water and dirt in some seam somewhere) it's going to have 1960s-1970s paint, fillers, and sealers on it somewhere which means (by modern standards) no paint at all. It will start to rust the first time you drive it in the rain unless you put modern coatings and fillers on in place of what came from Germany in the '60s. Further, anything that moves will need to be dismantled, cleaned, rebushed, and resealed - the entire suspension, the shift linkage, the steering column. You name it, that 50 year old grease is going to need to be flushed out and replaced in it.

Your alternative is buying somebody's restoration. It will not be complete. It will not be done the way you would like. And the rest of the car will still be 50+ years old and in need of love and care at a much greater rate than a newer car.

Lastly, I'll note that ALL the classic sports cars of the 60s and particularly the mid '70s are slow by modern standards. Yes, they're lighter than modern cars (partially because they're vastly more dangerous) but if you look at actual SAE net power numbers, the power/weight ratios aren't that awesome. Consider the 1600cc variants of the 912: 2127 lb curb weight and a 1600 cc normally aspirated 2 valve engine just flat isn't going to make more than 100 HP for very long. So your most optimistic weight/power ratio is 21 lb/hp. Compare with the 2020 Yaris hatchback at 19 lb/hp and you're being beat up at stoplights by a Toyota/Mazda subcompact.
 

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I've owned a couple of air-cooled 911's (73 and 82) and an Elan (69) in the past, so I have some experience with this subject. All were great cars in their day, but owning a 50 year old classic takes a lot of patience. Even though I did a very thorough ground-up restoration on the Elan and a less detailed restoration on the 73 911, both required more maintenance than my Elise by far. I did a fair amount of work on them myself, but some things I wasn't ready to take on. Specialists who truly know these cars are getting older and it's getting harder to find ones you can trust, depending on your location.

The Elise has a rare combination of vintage/lightweight feel and simplicity along with modern safety, reliability, and performance envelope. A drive in my Elise doesn't result in coming home reeking of unburned hydrocarbons, as was the case in the Elan. When it comes time to sell at that point in time when you are ready to move on, the Elise will have a larger pool of younger buyers than the vintage cars will. My Elise has been the least expensive sports car to maintain that I've owned in years. Toyota reliability with a few Lotus quirks to keep it interesting.
 

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tmr,

Agree.

I totally restored an Elan, drove it for 20 yrs and yes, lots more work. Lots.

Elise has been damn reliable...for any car, let alone a sports car.

--

Having driven a Honda S2000, I knew that car wasn't getting me out of the Elan. Nor Miata.

Elise, revelatory. Brilliant. Don't know if we'll ever see anything like it in future.
 

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I think you have to want the entire vintage car ownership experience for it to really be worth it. Yes, the classic lines and old school feel are great, but you'll also need to get your hands dirty tinkering with things. Or be alright with having the car in someone else hands that can do that for you every so often

The elise manages to have the light, analog feel that's missing from almost every other 'modern' car. And while it isn't exactly the same as a true vintage, you can't beat the smiles per mile.

Oh, and I second the fact that while they are awesome I'd never pay 30k for a 912. Too many other great cars (vintage and not) in that price range.
 

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I currently own a 1971 Elan and a 2005 Elise. The elan was a spectacular car by 1960s standards and the Elise is great by 2000s standards. They are both terrific cars, just from different eras, the Elise required a new steering rack at 15000 miles, and a switch pack a few hundred miles later, but other than that very little maintenance. The elan needed a full restoration at 70, 000 miles (which included quite few wiring upgrades) but other than tensioning the cam chain, changing the oil and emptying the drip tray that sits under it it hasn’t required any more work than the Elise in the last ~5000 miles. The Elise will drive circles around the elan in the dry, the elan is more predictable in the wet, but to be honest for fast driving in the wet I would rather drive my VW sportwagon. A well sorted classic that is a weekend driver should be as easy to own as the Elise but it helps if you are happy tinkering. The upside with many 1960/70s classics is that there isn’t that much that requires specialist skills to fix, but you will likely have to buy a drip tray or two.
 

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I've had a 1979 911SC since 1995, and about a month ago acquired a 2006 Elise. The 911 was my daily driver for many years; I've put over 115K miles on it. I also race a 1972 MGB roadster.

I don't suppose you'd call the 911 a slow car, but certainly by modern standards it's no screamer. Still, it's relatively light, responsive, comfortable, small, demanding, and an awful lot of fun. It has not been particularly expensive to own in terms of operating costs, maintenance, insurance, etc.

The MGB is similar in weight and size to the Elise. I love a low, open, light car -- you get that go kart feeling, very connected to what's going on. But it's 60 year old technology and while I love racing it, and it's more agile than many cars of its era, it's not all that fast.

The Elise is, obviously, from an entirely different era. It has everything I like about the MGB (other than being vintage and primitive), but it's a go kart with rockets up its ass. When I drive it I feel like I'm the road and the road is me. The 911 is not a nervous car, but it's responsive enough that you need to pay attention. The Elise, however, requires full attention at all times lest an errant input teleport you two lanes over.

Whenever I get into the 911 after not having driven it for a while I fall in love all over again. After driving the Elise for a few weeks I thought some of that might diminish, but it absolutely has not. Both cars, in very different ways, make you want to stay on a beautiful road forever.
 

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I never drove my Elan in the wet and do not drive my Elise in the wet if I can help it. The safety of the Elise is much better, as you'll be in a body bag if someone hit you in an Elan or just about any old smaller classic.
 

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The Elise is lovely, but my go to driving choice is nearly always my 1948 MG TC. Slow and antiquated but handles surprisingly well, smells like leather and hot oil, makes nice noises, and is like flying a biplane. Gets way more thumbs up than any Lotus, Ferrari, etc. But TMR’s point above is a good one, so I drive it like a motorcycle. Life is short... live it up.
 

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I’m in the same boat as the OP. I find vintage things appealing. I’ve narrowed down my top two choices to either an Elan or a 240Z. But on the flip side I don’t want to deal with the inevitable repairs that come with vintage cars. So my other option is to save up for the potential new Exige that may come to the states. Fingers crossed.
 

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How about a vintage Lotus Seven?
I will admit to being attracted to a Seven for the same reason I was attracted to the Elise - it's an elemental sports car. They're stupid simple, which is definitely a mark in their favor. Utter death traps, of course, but probably no more so than a 356 or 901 (original 911-912) Porsche.

Hard to live with in some ways though - I've never seen a good/easy/functional/attractive top solution for one, for instance. I'll note that it's never raining when Number 6 is driving his around.

The biggest sticking point for a vintage Seven, though, is probably the weird drivetrain. It's a big step away from a recent Toyota transverse FWD driveline in reliability and parts availability. Beam axle rear is not terribly appealing, either.
 
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