Need good advice from community, shopping...

Hi,
I got blessed by my best half to waste up to 45K (but preferably around of 30-35K) for my 38th birthday present. :) I generally was thinking about 2003-2006 Targa, if I`ll be able to find one,
manual.
It has been my lifelong dream to own one but now I have concerns. It has been probably good 9 years since I drove anything regularly with stickshift (prior to that I had 3 cars with stickshift so I basically should know how to drive one). I never even tried Porsche in the traffic. Is its clutch really stiff? If I anticipate 3-4 weekly trips in 1-1.5 hour long jam - will it kill my foot?
Other more important question - I am in Boston, MA. Looked at classifieds - did not see much. I see plenty of 911`s in CT and VA. Where would you shop for one? Does anyone have a grip on current market? Are there any 'sweet spots' driven by recession?
Other stuff on my mind - what specifically should I look at buying old 911, other than checking Carfax records and obvious stuff like struts, oil on engine, etc.? Are there any specific areas 911 has usual problems with?
Any help will be greatly appreciated. It is a big decision and right now I am still in research mode.
Thanks, Paul.
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Never been a bit fan of the Targa, but whatever floats your boat...

I think Porsche clutches are no different than any other car. They are very smooth when new and then tighten up when they start to wear. The clutch on my car is great, but if it's a daily driver and your commute is bumper to bumper stop and go, you might be wishing for an automatic, which on a Porsche for those years ain't bad.

Check back issues of "Excellence" magazine. They often post current prices of Porsche models. The condition of the car is generally more important then the year. A really clean, low mileage car may be a better deal than a newer car in need of repair. Every model of Porsche has had its problems, and most are well known and often fixed by the time it hits the used market.

Research the year you want and make sure any problems with that year were either checked or fixed. Older cars will often leak oil, but it's expected in a boxer type engine. Usually an easy fix on any Porsche, but no fix is cheap.
Make sure to have the car checked out by a reputable Porsche mechanic, and just be prepared for expenses down the road. You can't go into your neighborhood AutoZone and pick up Porsche parts and advice.
Otherwise, the cars are a blast to drive and very enjoyable to own, with a plethora of expensive add-ons if you wish. Your price range is in line with some older Turbos, and they will hold their value forever, maybe even appreciate. My car is a '79 SC, and I can sell it for what I paid for it in '89, which is more than I can say for some of my stocks.
One more thing. Be careful with color. While bright colors are really cool on a 911, they are also easier to pick up by the cops. If you buy a car to get noticed, you will, and not always in a good way. :-) Get a good radar detector!
Hope this helps, a little. Enjoy the car, and the adventure of finding it. I"m not rich by any measure, but can't seem to part with mine. The way it's running I'm sure I'll die before the car does.
Sheldon

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My daily driver is a 993, I drive it in LA rush hour traffic, I never noticed any clutch issue - of course my daily driver before the 993 was a 944, and before that a 356A (and before that a morgan +4), so maybe my expectations differ from yours. you should not be riding the clutch much even in stop/go traffic - at least not unless you need to crowd up on teh car in front to keep some idiot from cutting you off -
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My boat is very unsettled so far.
Generally I think I can afford 2003-2005 996 or 2006 997. Non-turbo most likely. It is very big question whether to search for 997 or settle for 996. As I actually do not plan to drive it in winter so I mostly care it to be in perfect shape and be alive for next 10 years at least with minor surprises.
What is community perception of 997 advantages? Does it have any critical advantages over older 996?
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I think I made a mistake here - 996 was done in 2004, right?
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Paul Atkin arranged the ones and zeros to read:

Hi, Paul,
    Sheldon already offered some sound advice to which I will add: be patient, double and triple-check your choice to ensure you are getting what you want, and have it checked out by a reputable Porsche mechanic (Sheldon mentioned this, but it bears repeating). Not a generalist, but rather a specialist. If you do this, you will keep the car for many years knowing you made the right decision.
    There are several sources of Porsche knowledge on the web that deserve mention:
http://www.rennlist.com / http://www.pca.org / http://forums.pelicanparts.com / http://www.6speedonline.com/forums /
    ...and probably others that I am missing, but you can only read so much and these are the big ones in my book. I have gleaned mountains of information from these and you can too. Usenet (here) has slowed down while people flock to moderated forums like these for mostly sane conversation. No spam, trolls or flamewars. Well, almost none.
    There are wonderful books too. Bruce Anderson has the 911 handbook, and Adrian Streather has written very comprehensive and specific books on the 993 and the 996.
http://www.911handbook.com / http://www.adrianstreather.com /
    The market is currently soft. Deals can be had and that is probably flattening out the prices. I see 2001-2002 Turbo's in the mid to low $40k range and up. I see one 02 Targa in my area for $32k...black...it looks verrry nice.
    It took me 8-9 months to find my current Porsche. I looked while on business trips, but was never satisfied. I shopped all around the country (in person or electronically) for what I wanted and ended up finding it 35 miles away. I even checked (gulp!) fleaBay.
    I drive mine daily and after 65k miles the throwout bearing finally went last month. This equates to a new clutch, but that is the only major fix I've done. I don't mind the clutch stiffness (but it is stiffer than my one-ton truck) and to me a sports car should not be an auto, but to each his own.
    To find the right car, be willing to travel a little. A one-way plane ticket and a nice long drive home would be a wonderful way to spend a weekend getting introduced to your new car. It's all about the experience, no? Contact the regional Porsche club for mechanic references in a particular area to identify someone reliable. Then have the owner take the car in and await the results. It is difficult not being there, but sometimes a Porsche club member will volunteer for such tasks. It's really not a bad way to do it. Having more experience, they might have a more discerning eye about some things. Of course, you could always attend the process in person, but you might book several flights finding the right car.
Oh, and to help with Craigslist, try these sites:
http://crazedlist.org/index.cgi http://www.allofcraigs.com /
    You probably already understand basic things like: East coast cars are subjected to salty roads in the winter which is something to consider when hunting. Texas and California are dry. Anywhere in between is a toss-up. It depends on the car's quality of life and how well the owner has cared for it. Records, etc.
    I could blather on, but for everyone else's sake, I won't. Let us (at least those that still hang out here) know what you do and the last thing I will say, is welcome to the club!
DS 95 993 Coupe (Arrest Me Red)
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Thanks very much for excellent advices, thanks everybody! I have no real preference to specific model at this point, I generally was interested in Targa just for its big sunroof - I am not a big fan of convertibles, in Boston it is not that useful anyway due to our weather.
I testdrove several 911s, mostly 2000+ years so I am pretty openminded about particular model. I just want to find good one. :)
I am afraid of Turbos a bit - I afraid it may be a nightmare to fix it if breaks plus I`m not going to race it that much. But if it fits the budget - well, sure. :) But I did not see any for sale recently for any reasonble price.
I looked at some auctions results - and i saw 911 of 2004 year going at 25K with 50K miles and clean carfax history. I was pretty surprised to say the least. I also noticed that private party offers in classifieds are almost up to 5-10K higher than comparable offers from dealers. I guess market has really went down. Still it is an open question to me how to approach this. To buy it from an auction in PA, say, seems to be an attractive option but it has to be done remotely via agent there so it seems as a very dangerous adventure, to get something that expensive without looking at it. But currently amount of offers around 50 miles from Boston is pretty low.
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Private parties always think that their perfectly-preserved garage queens are worth far more than they can actually sell them for. Also, many people are under-water on their car that they bought two years ago.
As others have said, don't get in a real hurry. Decide what you want then wait for the right one to become available, at the correct price. Autotrader and cars.com are great tools to use to compare prices. I would also use a large area: I bought our Boxster from a guy in Sacramento, even though I live in Seattle. Lots more of them available in the Bay area than in Seattle- Vancouver-Portland.
FloydR
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Floyd Rogers pecked a pattern from a keyboard:

Floyd brings up a good point. When I was looking in California, I noticed prices were 10-15% cheaper there. There are not nearly as many cars in the northwest and I am sure the same is true for Boston.
Head south...
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I have heard, though I don't actually know if it is in fact true, that 50% of all Porsche production is sold in Southern Ca - if that is even close to true, it certainly tells you where to look
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Paul Atkin wrote:

I am sorry. I did not mean to imply that you should get a Turbo. I actually think that for you to begin your Porsche journey, you should stay with a normally aspirated car. Turbos are simply among the models that I currently look at. ;~)
Bruce Anderson says to buy the newest example that you can afford, but there are exceptions to this rule, I think. Sprinkled through the years there are good examples to own with the last cars in any series being the results of much refinement. I think to start, these would be the cars I would look at (The order largely depends on my mood and I am 911-centric because I know them better, but others can chime in if they like):
88 911 Any 993 02-04 996 C4S Any 997 2001+ Boxster S - if they suit you, bargains abound. Cayman S

While newer is certainly better, Type 996 cars can be a real deal. Some reasons for this are that it's the first of the water-cooled 911, they made considerably more of them, and there were problems with the first few years. In part, another reason may be that some felt it wasn't Porsche's best design effort with flattened and widened headlamps and its body being more streamlined. While this is certainly a subjective area, I happen to like cars that have a hip. Thus my admiration for 993s, Turbos, C2S/C4S and the Cayman.

The Porsche clubs have some very reliable people that might be willing to help. Nobody hates looking at another Porsche.
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well, i am pretty much got my mind set on 'Any 997'. 2004-2006 most likely, with <30K miles and 1 owner. it is a trick to find one btw. just a 3 days ago in CT 2004 Targa was sold for 40K with 13K miles and in perfect shape. Perhaps that is the current price point.
I still wonder if I should try PA auctions directly - 99% of dealers cars are resold after they get them from auctions. The only downside will be to spend time to get it down to Boston.
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Paul: I've owned and driven Porsches since 1971. I recently had to trade my 2006, Carrera-S to get something that with 4 doors; however, in the 2 years I owned it, I didn't have a single issue. It was absolutely the finest driving 911 I've ever driven, and it was a pleasure. If you can find a '05-'06 in your price range, with less than 50-60K mi and solid maintenance, I'd grab it. Oh...if you're going to drive it several days a week in really nasty traffic...get one with "Tiptronic" automatic. Oh...stay away from the targas. I haven't been in one of them that the glass top didn't rattle.
Regards from Texas!
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is its performance much slower than manual one like any other auto transmission? somehow i never had a chance to try it, this tiptronic. is it like one on bmw or better?

thanks, i`ll keep that in mind.
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snip
one thing to consider - the last of the air cooled cars was the 993 - if your dream involves an air cooled porsche, you will want to go back to the 96, 97, 98 model years - they are a different car, which is the best match for your dream is something you should decide after driving.

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