February 6, 2023

The 30K Dollar Check: Introduction

porsche 911 turbo
We all have our day dreams….What would be the first car we would buy after hitting the Lotto? I have limited myself to 5 cars from a couple of brands… 5 Porsche’s, 5 Ferrari’s, 5 Mustangs, 5 Corvettes etc, etc etc. So that leads to my “Short List” this is a realistic list of cars that I want to own before I die. Funny thing is……What if I told you that a lot of the cars on my list could be had for around 30k each?

So let us throw out the whole lotto thing and just for a moment, think what car you would buy for around 30k that would be used as a second or third recreational car. I was amazed at how long that list turned out to be after just a few minutes of pondering. Most of these cars are members of the Super Car alumni. In the coming months, Me and my comrades here at CAM will mix in with our madness, a series of articles entitled “30K Check” Where we will focus on one car that will faithfully fulfill childhood dreams, stop traffic, and hit a high rating on the Maverik Factor. Maverik Factor you say? This is the cars ability to generate attention while stopped at a local Maverik convenience store…..Think I am kidding? Try it some time. In each article we will dive into their history, price trends, and real world purchase and maintenance. This month, I will focus on an old school classic. The Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera, 1976-1989.

In the mid 70’s, Porsche started looking into building a turbocharged version of its venerable 911 sports car for racing purposes. Originally intended as a homologation production to allow the 911 body/shape to be legal for Group 4 Silhouette racing, the idea quickly gained momentum. At the 1974 Paris Auto Show, Porsche announced under much hype and secrecy, that it intended to release a Turbo charged 911 to be known as the 930. To qualify, Porsche had to build 400 examples to sell to the public by 1976, but found that they had no trouble selling out 400 by mid-1975. When released to the public in 1976, a loaded 930 tipped the wallet for $25,850! Compare that to the cost of its mortal brother, a loaded 1976 911 at $13,845. That’s almost half the cost! It was the fastest production car from Germany and only a select few others could best it on top speed.

Officially known as simply the Turbo, or Turbo Carrera in the states, It truly was the beginning of the Super car. While it looked very close in appearance to its 911 brother….its flared fenders, and GIANT whale tale made a statement even standing still. Also hidden under the wide flares was a unique wide track suspension and brakes from Porsche’s race cars. Due to its high horsepower and torque, Porsche had to saddle it with the stronger 4 speed manual rather than the new cutting edge 5 speed that the normally aspirated 911 was equipped with. Many customers grumbled over the seemingly lesser 4 speed but make no mistake, this small short coming was of no circumstance when the skinny pedal was depressed. Another problem the 930 had from the start was a massive turbo lag. An unfamiliar driver would impatiently stomp the pedal further into the carpet wanting to help the power along. This only compounded the problem when the power did arrive in huge bucket loads and many ended up in a ditch pointed the opposite way staring at a beautiful swirly twisty pair of black skid marks!

The 930’s legacy was further enhanced by its buyers. In the late 70’s it was a sign of success to own a 930. Movie stars, Rock stars, Pro athletes were among the elite list of 930 owners. It was a who’s who list of owners, but its reputation was catching up with it almost as fast as the car itself. The volatile nature of the car had finally caught up with it, and with several lawsuits involving fatal accidents, Porsche had to first offer customer training for consumers who purchased a 930. By 1980, Porsche halted the import of 930’s to the US due to emissions requirements and safety altogether. For five long years, the US would see no new (Legal) 930’s. Then in 1986 the 930 came back until 1989 when the 964 replaced the 911. The Turbo version was released in the 964 model in 1991 and became official known as the 964 Turbo. In 1989 when it was canceled, it had a list price of $51,200.00.

A quick glance over my search software yields a number of clean, well maintained examples ranging from 21k to 95k with the nicer cleaner drivers falling between 30k and 45k. The 930 unique components are the most important thing to focus on when searching for a used 930. All of the regular 911 items must be checked as well as hoses and belts. If the A/C is not working, find out why. Most 930 A/C components are shared with the 911, but two or three parts might give you fits if replacement is required. If tire wear is uneven, find out why as unique 930 suspension components can be expensive and hard to find. In this case…brand new tires may be a red flag. If upgrades have been installed, it is a bonus to get the original parts as they seem to be pricey and hard to find as well. The engine, like any 30+ year old super car, requires regular service and adjustments in valve lash and timing. Allowing one of these engines to operate outside these parameters can degrade its life very quickly. Oil maintenance is also crucial as these cars are turbocharged and air cooled, the oil works mega overtime and must be changed and monitored to an “over the top” extent. Pull out the dipstick and look at the condition, preferably after a test drive. Does it have a burned smell? Is it dark or light? Get the car in the air and look at the engine case from underneath, you should not see oil leaking from the seam or heads. Take the air filter out and peek down the air intake. Light oil is normal more oil present is a sign of blow back, a compression check would confirm a problem here and is also a MUST!!!! Lastly on my 20 minute walk around is the clutch. It should have a firm, consistent feel and actuate in the middle of the pedal travel. The US cars are more common, but the big power slick looking Euro cars seem to hold a tempting lure. A Euro car is just fine as long as proper paperwork and mods were completed to make it legal…once again, footwork.

There seem to be four types of 930’s for sale.
1. All “DEALER” service Records.
2. All service records from self or European shop
3. Very limited or no service records
4. Modified Cars

While I would not be scared away from a car with non dealer records, I would definitely shy away from no service records at all as I have heard stories of people buying a “Deal” for 19k and then spending close to that amount to get it right….again, its all in the footwork here.

A PPI is your best friend but be aware of things that can be missed, Your homework and research will always be your best tool for getting a great car. I hope I have not scared you but instead given you a quick look at the great potential that these cars offer. When you do your homework and get a good car, the maintenance should be easy to keep up with. Having knowledge in old VW bugs, I have found that these cars are a piece of cake to keep up with if you, or someone you know is familiar with the Vee Dubs as most of the car is along the same German engineering. Having had the honor of driving one let me just say this…if you are not up for the kick of owning one, just drive a 911 and forget I ever said anything…because once you drive a 930, forever will you be hooked! Pull up to the Maverik in a 930 and watch the responses that follow.


Photo by: The Dalogs
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A true car nut with a passion for all things auto. Ford OE parts guy, closet racer, and hopeless auto dreamer. Always have wheels in my heads turning for the next auto project.

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