Jan 12, 2011

In Search of the Elusive RS America

The deal of the century comes about once every two weeks.  Yes, I know it does. I just seem forget every 2 hours or so. 

Okay, so my Cobra has sold and left me with some cash and no brains. I have reread my blogs and determined that I need to put my Cobra money into a car that will be cool in an esoteric way, hold its value and be a Porsche! After budget evaluation and taking into consideration that more complicated cars are more complicated financially I've decided to keep it somewhat simple too. No OBD-2 diagnostic computers, no Varioram, no side curtain airbags, no navigation and no AWD. Oh, and no watercooling. Leaving me with a clear winner:


1993 964 Porsche 911 RS America. aka the RSA.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Ebay car.  I bid my entire budget  but lost.  20K miles.

Following the time honored tradition of paying more, getting less and going faster the RSA has no back seats, no door pockets, no power steering and has up-tuned suspension. I personally think the lack of leather is a bummer, but a true enthusiast will endure such shortcomings. Originally, these were actually the cheapest 911 available in 1993-4, but not anymore.  They are often almost double what any other 964 Carrera will fetch.  More detail about what an RSA actually is can be found at http://www.rsamerica.net/whatis.htm

They made limited numbers of these cars but the values are not so exploded that I can't afford one. I feel it's a safe place to sink the Cobra money into. The tough part is they are often turned into track cars, being designed for track days they often do find a life on the racetrack and hence get modified. Also they are a bit limited in creature comfort for street use, so owners often modify them for speakers and power seats. I'm looking for a car that can go back to stock with little trouble.
I'm searching Craigslist, PCA., RSAmerica.net, Panorama, Rennslist, Autotrader and Ebay currently. You'll find interesting differences in the sellers from each source. Sellers are more suspicious and less responsive if they are advertising on a free site for some example. An entire article needs to be written about how to shop on the web for a specialty car. The short version is:

Get off your but and call on the phone, you passive, lazy bastard.

If you're not excited enough to call on the phone, then you are shopping for the wrong car.  If they don't have a phone number listed, email and simply state you are serious and would like to call them. Perhaps also asking them to tell you if the car has sold might help. You can exchange emails later if you must. You really must call first to establish your credibility. Email isn't great for building a rapport with someone long distance. Prove you are for real. Trust me, I've emailed about 40 people so far and have only received replies from 4. Also, nobody pulls a free add when these cars sell, leading you on wild goose chases.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Another car who's owner hasn't replied to an email
I won't go into too much about buying from a dealer, but don't. Unless, of course, you've got something really special and want to overpay.  Personally, I'm looking for cars owned by members of the PCA (http://www.pca.org/) whenever possible. Lots of people can afford a used Porsche, but I need to see evidence that they are passionate about it. The PCA is clearly the best place to verify that. Now that's not saying I'd pass on a car owned by a non-member. We all hope for that ignorant person who doesn't know what he/she has. Be honest, you've had that dream too…

I've got around $34,000 to spend, and could buy a car anywhere in the country. That looks at bit below what people are asking on the RSA website, but I've found that many have lowered the price, just not lowered the listing prices online. So I'm still optimistic.  After all they are not collectors items yet.  Naturally I'd love to see a stock RSA in Seattle, but a rare car like this will require shopping over a broader area.  Rare is a relative term,  many of these cars were bought as second cars, so there are more low mileage examples out there than one  might think.  If I had more patience I could wait for one to surface locally, Seattle's got a few around.

I just keep telling myself:  The deal of the century comes along about once every two weeks. 

After getting a good gut feeling I make sure I'm comfortable with the following:
  • Mileage, I'd like under 75K but service history is more relevant w/cars this durable.
  • Owner history, my resale is hurt by multiple owners. 1 owner would fetch my attention most.
  • Paint condition this is naturally important. Color is not  (but I will pay more for my favorite).
  • Carfax is clean. People read them so it affects my resale too.
  • Modifications. Holes for stereos and intake modifications are bummer, but okay I gue$$.
  • PPI is essential, but  I may pass if I know your mechanic. 
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
No "improvements" here.  Most, however, can be reversed.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Know of a homeless RSA?  drop me an email at pharmacistadam(at)gmail

Addendum:  Jan-19-11  

I almost lost my way after posting blog above.  


I'd found some cars that were total crap.  I'd also found some people that were total crap. Even sent Mom and Aunt Dee to inspect a couple in New Jersey. They've bought some nice cars at Barrett Jackson, so they are not to be "missunderestimated."   I had A couple close calls with nice cars.  Depression started to set in rapidly after giving up on Nick's very nice RSA in Bayonne. Perhaps I wore him out with emails, but hey....   Who doesn't have a smartphone these days anyway?  So his lack of responsiveness proved depressing.  I'm prone to auto-depression already.

I'm not good with my car money, I want to buy immediately!  Not a virtue I'm proud of.  But other than that one flaw, I'm basically perfect.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
If a guy doesn't love it enough to take a good photo, ask yourself the obvious question.

So after incorrectly thinking my budget just can't get me into an acceptable RS America, I foolishly expanded my search.    There are so many air-cooled Porsches worth buying.  Then you have flaws associated with each model that must be watched for.  Throw in the fact that I really don't want this money to depreciate and you've got to find a special example as well.  Lastly, pay $400 for pre purchase inspections a few times and your funds dwindle.  So now I must negotiate price BEFORE the PPI, which is counter intuitive.  Anyway, I'm rambling intentionally so you can see how overwhelmed I've become.  A clearer picture of my confusion can be seen on my twitter or facebook for sure, I'll spare you the links, it's too shameful. 

I found that a low mileage 993 Varioram negotiated down to $32,000 left me with enough extra cash to brave the risks of possible expensive problems associated with 1996 cars.  So I was ready to buy it just yesterday.  Heck my mother was going to deliver the check for me Saturday.  I was excited too, which is always a good sign if your about to buy a car you don't need.


Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
The temptress.  -60K miles, Varioram C2.  Good price, little documentation.  I can afford a 993, that's clear.  But I do fear I cannot afford to "own" it.  4 oxygen sensors, air tubes, valve guides, stability control, polen filters etc.   I keep having to reastrain myself, because it's a damn nice car.  But if it's in the garage waiting for money, it will be a lot like that girlfriend I left behind in college. 

Then the automotive gods then sent me a sign.  Another RS America on AutoTrader.  This one was $34,000 and had less mileage than many I was unwilling to overpay for.   I emailed and called this morning.  Naturally, I'm getting the feeling it's gone, or the guy won't reply because I'm on the opposite coast. Big mistake dude,  this money is burning a hole in my pocket.  

If he doesn't call that's okay.  What it did for me was create clarity.  I couldn't sleep thinking about how to speak with him, arrange payment, shipment and inspection.  In my sleeplessness I realized that no other car other than a RSA could create that kind of insomnia (at least no other car under $40,000 anyway).  So I realized that gone or not, that car was a reminder that patience will find me my car.  I'm in the best possible position to get one, I have cash and time on my side.  I just need to use them both more wisely.

So, although the luxury of the RSA is non-existent and I'm may enjoy other Porsches very much, I'm going to hold out for the car that is the smartest place to put my money.  For me it's clearly a non OBD-II car, all that computer stuff, oxygen sensors, handling controll.  Sounds risky to me.  Jjust because I've got some money doesn't mean I have money.   I can't afford such complicated systems to maintain.


Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
FOR SALE: 1993 RS America Guards Red, 62,673 miles. CLEAN CARFAX, Excellent Condition...
Sunroof Limited Slip Differential A/ C Stereo Nice paint, No dings, Great Interior with new carpets, Adjustable Shocks, Cat Bypass, and Strut bar.
Car is solid, Runs and Sounds Great. Drives perfectly. New Tires, Original Wheels. Florida car, never driven in snow. Not Many in this condition left.
Car located in New Jersey. $34,000 OBO Call XXX-XXX-XXXX  Always garaged, Must see, Non-smoker, Well maintained, ......  This car is not perfect,
but the low miles and overall paint condition have my attention.  It could use a new interior door panel, the rear storage box needs carpeting and the
 front bumper's wearing a "frown" from bumping the curb.  That's all DIY kinda stuff and might even be fun.  Working on a 911 is better than working
 on a Camry because they are made so well.


After further investigation, I found the above ex-race car was another project I wasn't willing to undertake.   I'm looking for a car in the best overall condition I can get for my money.   I'm thinking a 964 in beyond impeccable condition may be an option too.  Stay tuned.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Always supportive, but she does tease a lot.  My wife Catherine is as good as they can get.  This is a photo from one of our first dates.  She learned quickly what I was all about, but stayed anyway.


No comments: