Should you buy a Porsche instead of a Ford?
It's a dull Sunday afternoon and there's nothing to do except trawl through the hundreds of TV channels, only to confirm what you already knew - there's nothing worth watching.
So, inevitably, you switch on your computer and delve into the World of 'used cars'. You may look out the window at your sensible saloon or hatchback and wonder what you're missing out on by having a car that puts safety, economy and other tedious things above speed, handling and driver involvement.
The idea of owning a 25-year-old supercar instead of a Ford or a Volkswagen has breifly been explored already on television and in various motoring magazines. However nobody has ever done it in a semi-sensible fashion. Instead, it's always been about who can buy the biggest bucket of rust with an Italian badge barely clinging on to the front of the car.
I recently found myself in the situation I have just described, and the search results Autotrader returned when I punched in reasonable criteria were remarkable. I set a limit of 60,000 miles; a broad price range covering the sort of budget people all over the Country may have - £12,000 to £22,000 - and anything over 10 years old. Quite a range of older sports cars met my parameters, and towards the top end of my price bracket there were some proper supercars within reach, including a few Aston Martin DB7s. But again, I was sensible and ruled them out due to running costs and also the cost of buying new parts when something breaks. (It would only be a matter of time before something went wrong.)
There was one car that was on every page of results though - the 911. As you might imagine, the examples for 13 to 15 grand were questionable, but some of the motors around the £20K mark were fantastic. I'm talking 11 or 12 years old, 50ish thousand miles on the clock and a very good service history. The best car I found at the time of looking was a black 2001 Carrera 4. Two owners from new, recent clutch replacement and 50,000 miles on the clock. And all that could be yours for 19 thousand pounds with some easy negociating.
In performance terms, the C4 has 300bhp, gets from 0 to 62 in 5.2 seconds and will carry on accelerating up to its top speed of 174mph. A 911 of that age is young enough to be as reliable as any new model you could buy today. And because it's a Porsche, it won't empty its fuel tank every time you try and achieve the figures it claims it can do.
After finding a car like this for the same amount of money as you recently parted with for a slow and sensible machine that can get you from A to B and nothing more, it may seem like a no brainer. But this is where previous attempts at showing people all the possibilities of their budget have fallen down. Yes, you may be able to get a very fast or very beautiful car for your money, but that just gets you the actual lump of metal and rubber. That's only half the story. The other half is paying for everything else like insurance, road tax, tyres, clutches, extra petrol and even engine rebuilds in some cases.
This is why I ruled out the old 'has-beens' straight away though, because if you do that and accept that the only way you're going to own a Ferrari or Lamborghini is by spending at least 60 grand in order to get a relatively new model, then you can be left with genuine propositions. The only major sacrifice you'd have to make with a decade-old Porsche is the extra room in the back. The moderate increase in other costs such as servicing, tax and MOTs doesn't hold much water as an argument against buying one because you have to admit that they're a small quantifiable price to pay, in exchange for a huge unquantifiable joy you would get from a car as good as a 911.
So, I accept that if you abslutely have to ferry two or more people around on a regular basis, then my suggestion might not be completely viable. However, for anyone else who can afford to lose a few inches of leg room, there really is no reason why you can't own and experience a truly great car.
Have a look and see what you could have on your drive.