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Buying a Porsche 911 SC in the USA

by | Oct 25, 2010 | Classic Porsche Blog, Project Cars

I just got back from California: my third trip in two years. Before my last visit, I bought a sweet little 1980 Porsche 911 SC Coupe on Craiglist. The car had been owned by the same guy since 1989 and was an honest, rust-free 911.

Sure, the paint had weathered a few storms and the trim had seen better days. But, riding on Fuchs, with an engine rebuilt to Euro specs – new pistons and cylinders and SSIs too – it pulled like a train with a Tornado strapped on top.

I used the SC (christened The Varmint) for ten days and over 2,000 miles. Let me tell you: there is nothing like ripping around sunny California in your very own 911. I went everywhere: across the Golden Gate, along Mulholland Drive and down the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, at sunrise and sunset.

When the trip was finished, I shipped The Varmint home.  A friend made me an offer I could have refused, but chose not to. I put the money away for next time.

A few weeks before we were due to leave this time around, I started looking for Varmint Mk 2: something that wouldn’t break the bank, but could transport us in SC comfort for a week, before we sold it on or shipped it home. Shergar would have been easier to find.

In the year or so since buying Varmint, the exchange rate had shifted, the economy had lifted and the number of affordable 911s on offer had drifted away. Between the breakers and the other European speculators, California had been drained of sub-$10k 911s.

My regular trip to Essen earlier in the year had showed there was no letup in the number of 911s finding their way back to Germany from the USA, but California is Porsche nirvana: these cars are everywhere! I couldn’t believe how fast the tap had dried up.

Markets shift and money follows. Economies ebb and flow, and cars like the 911 move around the world. My first 911 lived in 5 countries before I bought it. Of the three I have now, one has been registered in three European countries, another has been though four states and three countries and the third has just left its fifth state/country, en route to the sixth. Pretty busy stuff.

When I first got into 911s, left hand-drive was the cheap option. UK dealers were buying in Stuttgart and selling in Stoke on Trent. I prefer left hand-drive, so it suited me fine, but it wasn’t long before Germany woke up to the UK bargains and took the left-hookers home. The same thing has happened in west coast USA.

Now however, the Euro has slumped to a four-year low against the Dollar, so might the USA begin buying cars back? Ebb and flow is how it goes. In the middle of it all are the shippers: making a living, whichever way the cars sail.


  1. Phil Raby

    I'm seeing a migration of cars to Australia at the moment, they're lapping up 1988 3.2 Carreras – the last ones you can import without paying duty.

    More importantly, I love the first photo on this page! 🙂


    • johndglynn

      Yes! The work of our friend John Gray, who owns the second two cars in the post. But you already knew that 😉


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