Porsche Caymans S vs. Alfa Romeo 4C: Which Mid-Engine Wreck Would You Salvage?

Two excellent track projects. One tough decision.

porsche alfa salvage
Copart

Don't try and claim that you haven't looked at salvage auctions and dreamed about resurrecting some of the more interesting smashed-up gems. It's something every car fanatic does, and there's no shame in admitting you'd love to see a totaled Ferrari come back from the dead, especially if its forever home is your garage.

But what if you had to choose between two fabulous mid-engine sports cars? It just so happens that Copart's deep well of salvage listings has turned up a couple of the most satisfying track cars of the past decade: an Alfa Romeo 4C and a Porsche Cayman S. Which one, given the funds and the most understanding significant other, would you rather save? 

2014 Porsche Cayman S

There's no question that the last of the flat-six Caymans will be a future classic. New 718 Caymans' turbo flat-four has left many Porsche fans underwhelmed, even though the Cayman is still the automaker's best balanced and most chuckable sports car. Many even think the Cayman is more fun to drive than Porsche's flagship 911 regardless of which engine is the middle.

So, consider this badly bashed Cayman S up for sale on Copart. For better or for worse, it comes with Porsche's fast-shifting Doppelkupplungsgetribe transmission. That's the dual-clutch transmission shifting faster than you can, but that also might bore your clutch foot after a while. [Editor's note: Just pretend it's a sequential manual.]

More importantly, it also has that brilliant 325-horsepower 3.4-liter flat-six engine with a mere 27,486 miles on the odometer. Copart claims that the engine starts up and idles, which is no doubt thanks to its backseat placement. Praise Ferdinand!

Copart

Hey, at least the airbag's only popped on one side.

The Cayman's primary damage is up front, where it hit something quite hard right in the middle. Could the fully extended pop-up wing suggest how this happened? Maybe! Needless to say, the alignment is off, the frunk is full of snapped-off parts, and you'll need a frame puller to get it back to normal. The driver's side airbag also popped, but if you're thinking of stripping this potentially salvageable Cayman down to be a track toy, you were probably thinking of replacing this with a detachable aftermarket wheel anyway. Win, win.

Copart

BONUS: A frunk full of bent parts!

No title information (as to whether it's a salvage title or something else) has been listed for this Cayman yet, and no auction date has been set. As such, there's no starting bid listed yet, either, although you can add it to your watch list here to be tipped off as soon as the auction goes live. 

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

If you're more into Italian cars, why not get the first Alfa Romeo to go on sale in the United States in decades? Here's a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C that's in slightly better shape than the Cayman, as the listing notes it runs and drives. Visible damage is limited to a mostly absent front clip. Score.

The Alfa Romeo 4C always felt like an alternate-universe update to the Lotus Elise. It was fast, mid-engined, came with a carbon-fiber tub and felt a little bit kludged together—just like the Lotus.

Sadly, it was a little porkier than the beloved Elises that left our market, and it never came with the manual gearbox that many track geeks crave. However, it does have a fast-shifting dual-clutch transmission and unlike the Lotii, it actually passed crash regulations. 

The good news is the 4C still weighs only 2,495 lbs. That's about 500 lbs less than the Cayman. It doesn't even have power steering, which was manageable thanks to being a featherweight car with the engine in the middle as opposed to on the front axle. 

Copart

You're with me, leather.

Sent to the auction lot thanks to some front end damage, this Alfa comes with 55,712 miles on its 237-horsepower 1.7-liter turbocharged inline-four engine. The front end is in pieces, but it's all in considerably better shape than the Cayman. The airbags didn't pop and the red leather seats inside are simply divine. Oh, and it also rides on some of the most beautiful stock wheels of the past decade. 

So long as the carbon-fiber tub isn't cracked—because if it is, you'll be sorry—you may be able to put this one back on the road, too. Per the listing, the car's title is an Oklahoma possessory lien listed by its seller, the financial institution/insurance company USAA. As long as you clear that up, the sky's the limit.

Like the Cayman, you'll have to add this one to your watchlist to know when it goes to auction, which you can do on the listing here. Yet, the Alfa is also a rarer sight than the Cayman, and perhaps that's important to you when picking a sports car. So few were ever sold in North America that a rumor that the 4C was leaving that market seemed plausible until a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles representative debunked it. 

Which One Would You Save?

There's no doubt that either choice here will send you directly into the pricey, time-consuming depths of Project Car Hell. Get through that ringer, though, and salvation awaits. Both of these mid-engine cars are adored for their balanced handling and go-kart stats. The only uncertainty is the choice that's right for you—which one would you pick to bring back to life?

If you're really serious about saving one but don't have a dealer's license, Copart has a long list of brokers who can do this for you. Most salvage auctions tend to offer similar services, so never fear, those extra-cheap cars are within your reach after all. Happy wrenching, but don't beg us to help fund the thousands in frame and bodywork if you decide to pick either the Alfa or the Porsche. That's all you, or your future YouTube sponsors.

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