Want a Porsche 911 for Cheap? Look North.
O, Canada, where a Porsche-phile can breathe free.
If you want to get a good deal on an air-cooled Porsche 911, then simply build a short-range time-machine. Travel back to the late Nineties, before everyone knew how bad the 996 was going to be, and snap up a nice Carrera 3.6 for a decent price. And hey, while you’re back there, why not incapacitate George Lucas with a shovel before he excretes The Phantom Menace? Cheers.
But failing fantasies of the Tardis-’n-mayhem variety, there is another way to get your hands on a classic 911 without forking over both kidneys and a lump of liver. You know those fur-hatted lumberjacks to the north? They’re not just sitting on the world’s biggest supply of freshwater and poutine, they’re maybe the last source of affordable air-cooled Porsches in the world.
For starters, your Canadian Porsche enthusiast is basically the same as his American counterpart. There’s the same appreciation for the breed, the same understanding of racing heritage, the same mechanical sympathy. If a European looks at a passing 911 and just sees a tool (driver or car), North American fans buy into the Porsche mythos in a different way. It doesn’t matter that the Canadian variety does so in two official languages and with a metric conversion; it’s the same love.
And, given that the Canadian market is relatively small and thinly spread out across the border, the country is already full of US-spec 911s that migrated North over the years. Mostly tucked away in garages over the winter months, these cars have lived lives just as pampered as those examples you might find in California or Nevada—they’ve just been indoors under a blanket more often. Rust in the Eastern provinces will be an issue just as it is in the Eastern states, but up there as well as down here, a 911 tends to be a summer car, kept away from salty roads and sudden sheet ice.
Now, it’s not the philosophy, nor the care that 911s receive up North that makes them affordable, but rather the terrible shape of the Canadian dollar. For rare stuff, auction houses are already adapting to the disparity between the U.S. and Canadian currencies, seeking U.S. dollars on any Canadian-owned high-value machinery. You’re not going to pick up a 1972 2.7RS on the sly for a third off.
But let’s look at the kind of 911 you might aspire to own as a third vehicle in your garage, the kind of car that used to cost less than a new 370Z. Take the purchasing power of your U.S. buck and multiply it by an additional third—nearly an additional 40 percent shortly, if projections are correct. Suddenly that ridiculously priced 911SC or 964-series 911 comes into the realm of reality. Factor in a paltry 2.5-percent import duty and the ease of importing anything older than a 25-year vintage into the U.S., and you’ve got a bargain. Compliance isn’t too difficult, the only requirement being that a kilometer-only speedometer be converted to show miles per hour. Many 911s located in Canada are already fully US-spec, even that’s sometimes not a consideration.
That’s not to say it’s easy. If you’ve always had your heart set on a 993-last-of-breed, they’re still expensive no matter how you pay for it, especially the twin-turbo cars. The hunt for the right color and options is still a time-consuming passion. PCA club members on both sides of the border are picky about who they want to sell their cars to.
But with the loonie stuck in a precipitous slide and the market lagging behind, there are still deals to be struck. If the 911 air-cooled frenzy has you tearing your hair out in frustration and disbelief, then calm yourself, eh? Cast your eyes North, slip on some plaid and learn to love the sweet, sweet taste of maple-flavored 20W-50 oil.