The Anomaly of the Full Service History Car the difficulties in finding a GOOD car that result

This longevity has been exploited by unscrupulous owners and dealers to clock cars and falsify service records, making it almost impossible for anyone other than an expert to judge the "honesty" of a particular car. The result is that many older Porsches are falsely described and overpriced. Even when a car HAS covered the mileage claimed and the SERVICE RECORD is TRUE there is still a hidden minefield to beware of. So many dealers, specialists and magazine articles - advise buying a Porsche with a "Full Service History" that they have attached a false sense of security to that position - which in turn makes it very easy to sell cars with FSH. Buyers assume the car is A1 if it has FSH when in fact the opposite is often true.

The "true"services may only change oil, plugs, filters etc and then may identify numerous faults, which do not need to be rectified to obtain a service record stamp. In addition owners sell precisely when they find out - after a service -that their car needs hundreds or thousands spending on it (especially if they have had a couple of inexpensive years out of it). The result - you can buy a FSH car perhaps advertised as just having been serviced by a specialist (expecting it to be almost perfect) and immediately experience expensive failures or repair bills (well known to the previous owner). We know - because some of our customers - sell instead of repairing faults - with their service stamp correctly in place.

If "FSH" doesn't guarantee a good car, there is no cheap or easy way to buy a "good" reliable Porsche and plenty of examples of buyers (private and trade) making these typical mistakes and regretting it.

Even we can only buy cars that have the potential to be turned into good cars, as it is almost impossible to buy a perfect one straight off (even if they are almost new with FSH) as no one spends money on a car they are going to sell. Price is not always a guide either as values vary with "good FSH cars" being where the demand is and consequently expensive but holding their value better and being easier to sell on for a good price.

Rougher examples are becoming cheaper but are difficult or impossible to dispose of, as no one wants them. With superb engineering quality, superb appearance, and longevity, the whole model range provides exceptionally good value for money providing that the cars chosen are properly selected and maintained.

Most owners love the cars and everything that goes with them, so as long as the right model is chosen to suit driving styles and expectations and a "good" car is obtained - they are very hard to beat.

If the biggest mistakes are made because individuals cannot judge the condition of a seemingly nice example (even if service histories and old MOT's are available), you have to question the basic parameters that you are seeking to satisfy. Presumably what you really want is a car that is in the condition that you would expect if you could trust the seller, the history, the repairs and the mileage - not simply a car with low mileage on the clock and a full service history book. What you want is a car truly in a condition that you might expect IF the supporting documentation was true and relevant. If only things were that simple.

We do all we can to provide a car that is exactly like that, true mileage and full history, properly checked, repaired and guaranteed. However, you would surely agree that IF many cars have clocked speedometers and dubious histories - and IF the routine maintenance had been ignored - OR carried out by cheap amateurs, you would not be so happy about relying upon the traditionally advice "that it is safe to purchase a FSH car" and be seeking some other reassurance about it's true condition.

To protect yourself in this difficult market - it might be worth considering the purchase of an older (less expensive) car - first - and then if you find that you like the model range, the supplier and specialist support experienced, then you can part exchange and update later having not risked as much initially (and this method accounts for about 25% of our sales). However - if you have set your heart on a particular model and cost anyway - then even using this guide you are still exposed to considerable risks in selecting the right car.

We can help you avoid this problem because we carefully assess and check all our potential purchases (which weeds out bad cars), then we assess the condition (which establishes the potential and final quality) and finally undertake a complete renovation of all parts in need of immediate replacement or routine replacement (which often costs us £1500 to £2000). We can usually work out if unscrupulous sellers have used false rubber stamps or old service books (from scrap yards) and have grafted the appropriate pages into the true book. Even when the service record is true, many owners have the standard service carried out to obtain a specialist stamp, attempting the other repairs themselves (or by a local garage), with cheap parts or ignore the repairs altogether (as previously described). Only a specialist will have the experience and resources to spot this during a proper investigation. All this means that the traditional rules for choosing a used Porsche car are flawed yet despite this it is relatively easy for a specialist in the model to recognise the quality of a car. We therefore try to provide cars of the right quality, by careful choice and skilled preparation.

If we ever buy a car with some evidence missing (which is extremely rare) it will always be a very good car anyway for which we believe the evidence to be irrelevant to it's condition (and that it probably was carried out anyway) and we will always declare this and have confidence that there was no deterioration of the quality of the car as a result - and it will always be a very good example indeed. Often an owner will have his car serviced and repaired and charge the account through his business. When it comes to selling the car, they often find it too time consuming to obtain all the invoice copies from their previous company records (or need to keep them for future proof, Vat checks etc) and perhaps accept a little less in part exchange rather than trace or copy all the invoices.

We find - that even with our own customers - the busiest amongst them frequently forget their service book, which doesn't then get stamped even although the service WAS carried out. Fortunately our records are second to none (going back 10 years) and any car that we have looked after will have a full-computerised record plus all our internal paperwork records (that were filled out during the service by the engineer) are also filed away for posterity. However our experience of our own customers reveals to us just how easily a true record can be missed. So it is possible for a good car to have some records missing, or a poor car to have them all present and any car may have been clocked during it's life - but may still not-necessarily be a bad car.

Understanding of the true situation about the way to judge the quality and value of a Porsche is gaining more recognition as a recent club guide to prices of 911's valued genuine low mileage cars with genuine full service histories about the same as higher mileage cars that had been properly renovated or restored. We agree except that we often find cars that have been extensively worked on (perhaps with a new clutch, head reconditioned, etc) often end up even better than lower mileage cars that are inevitably going to fail in the very near future simply through those same age (corrosion, perished rubber etc) or mileage related problems that haven't been addressed yet.

The Hpi car checking service has revealed that 1 in 2.6 cars checked has a record (38%), 28% of dealers never check a chassis No and 40% only check the log book provided, one in every 7 offered to the private buyer has been a write off, one in 144 stolen and one in every 3.6 has outstanding HP (prejudicing ownership). A recent survey found at least one in 4 used cars was clocked and Porsches more than average. In our age range of cars over 4 -5 years old, we find many are not true or genuine (despite 60% having apparent complete histories). Finally the top agenda on the following agencies (Crime Prevention Agency, RAC, DVLA, RMI, FLA, OFT & Dti) are cloning and clocking.

Clocking is without doubt the most serious problem influencing the choice of car, since they last so well and look so good that the inexperienced simply believe that a clocked car is a genuine mileage example. Several years ago we bought a beautiful car without any history, suspecting it had been clocked and declared all this in our sales documents. We did not want to add our name to the list of owners so we couldn't trace previous owners. However the next buyer did and traced all the history from every owner - confirming that it had full specialist history and the mileage was within 2K of our estimate. This car has since had three satisfied owners and has proven to be as exceptional as our initial impressions suggested, totally vindicating our original purchase and because we carried out all the remedial work based upon the expectations for that mileage, it was totally reliable.

If you doubt the seriousness and frequency of this problem, just look in the adverts for 4 and 6 year old Porsche's and you will find many of them have covered between 60,000 and 90,000 - much the same as that claimed for most - older examples!

Now there is nothing wrong with a higher mileage Porsche, as their reliability (once overhauled) should be just as good. However clocked or genuine high mileage cars do cost more initially to put back into tip-top condition and so you should pay less for them. To indicate how prevalent clocking is we have for example recently been offered a 968 Cabriolet advertised at 40K that must have covered at least 140K, and a Carrera 4 Cabriolet showing 90K but having covered at least 150K. To indicate the mileage that genuine examples often cover, we were also offered two Carrera 4's showing 130K and 150K respectively (which was probably true and reinforces the argument that most cars cover these sort of mileage's by this age). Incidentally we bought none.

In view of the longevity of a higher mileage car that has been properly overhauled by ourselves, they are a good purchase if you pay the right price initially and the relevant work has been carried out. Indeed some properly looked after higher mileage cars prove less expensive initially precisely because so many parts have been recently replaced.

If you ignore this very well intentioned advice which stems entirely from experience - you will simply pay too much for a car needing extensive repairs and overlook perhaps a better car showing true but higher mileage on the clock. Remember that the most common problem is clocking. The involvement of Trading Standards Officers and records at the DVLC and Hpi now contain mileage information, going back a few years, making the winding back of speedometers less common, so many cars that may not have not been clocked recently, still were earlier in their life. Cars up to 5 years old often cover high mileage's and the next dealer simply rewound the speedometer back close to the last service to reduce the mileage, return the car to a full service history record and increase it's re-sale value. As a result many cars with impeccable histories have never the less covered much higher mileages than on the clock. While this is not a big issue for a properly checked and repaired car it is important to establish the preventative maintenance and costs required for the true mileage covered.

However - even cars with accurate mileage's on the speedometer vary considerably in condition, due to the way they were driven, since most of the engine wear takes place on starting, wear on seats is related to driver size, weight, height, miles between stops, etc. The wear on clutches and gearboxes relates to how often the gears are changed and the clutch used and the wear on brakes and steering to the frequency of turning corners and braking hard. Even the length of time that the car is used is relevant, relating to the time sitting on seats, using wiper motors, heaters etc - which is related to the average speed driven.

If we consider a comparison between a genuine low mileage car (say 40,000) used every day for short journeys in a city at an average speed of 15 or 20 miles per hour and a genuine high mileage car (say 100,000) used on long motorway journeys at an average speed of 50 miles per hour, then the wear on the engine, clutch, steering, gearbox, seats, instruments and controls would be worse on the low mileage car with each car being in use for the same overall time in hours/day but the motorway car having considerably reduced wear and probably the better car. Many parts suffer simply with age not mileage. All rubber hoses and seals, gaskets and all metal parts deteriorate with age, so in addition to use and mileage's -age and whether a car was garaged at night (or at work) can all affect the car's condition.

Of course during their life, most cars have a mixture of the extremes of use described - by different owners - adding confusion to a complex subject, but hopefully explaining why we can easily assess the condition of a car regardless of speedometer readings or history - and that this assessment is a far more important guide to the condition and value of a car than any paper work - or the lack of it associated with the car.

These cars can easily cover 200,000 to 250,000 miles (properly maintained) and still be going well when others with an apparently genuine 80,000 + (or even a genuine 80,000 +) can prove unreliable and expensive.

If you are sceptical about these claims we suggest that if we have one in stock at the time, that you test drive one of our properly selected and prepared higher mileage cars and compare it with a lower mileage one available elsewhere and remember that as time passes value will be tied more to condition (and the repairs and preventative maintenance carried out) than the mileage and that if you intend using the car for comparatively low mileage's yourself then the Average Mileage will gradually return to normal anyway.

Of course we buy genuine lower mileage cars as well but because the basic car has such well engineered components - capable of extremely high mileage's -properly maintained, we often find that a slightly higher mileage car with several vital parts replaced ends up better than a lower mileage car in which those parts are still OK but will need attention at some stage in the future and for the same reason will cost the next owner less in say the next two years. As will be seen later, our own Lifetime Maintenance Plan reflects this completely by costing exactly the same regardless of the mileage covered initially or during ownership.

This guide was originally written to help people that wanted to buy cars elsewhere to avoid making serious mistakes, and because it was perfectly clear that many of them were buying very poor cars needing considerable work to bring them up to scratch. To some extent this is not surprising when you consider how much work we do to bring our cars up to the standards we would like to see, (even with our considerable expertise used when buying them in the first place).

The purpose of this guide therefore is to pre-warn prospective buyers intending to buy from non-specialist, unscrupulous or potentially unreliable sources, of the kind of costs they may incur in bringing their cars up to a satisfactory standard, to insure that they do not overpay in the first place and have the resources to complete the job thereafter. It is not our intention in any way to put off and prevent people from buying from other sources. Furthermore we are still very happy to look after their cars and to help them all we can in the future - if they do.

Remember always that a high mileage car (as most will realistically be) can be perfectly reliable and valuable providing that having established the true mileage - the right preventative maintenance and repairs have been carried out at the appropriate interval.

Our own experience of comparing the quality of a car with it's history, has revealed that the number of owners, history and mileage are an almost irrelevant guide to condition -which is what you are really interested in.

Although we pay high prices to buy good cars, as most sellers have not paid for repair work recently - we do sometimes buy previously good cars that we know need repairs (like a new clutch, stone chips, seat repairs or mechanical work) making a superb car afterwards. As a result of this expertise, the cars that we buy, generally need to have less work done on them than those that are bought elsewhere by our customers, who then bring us their cars for renovation and repair - often costing £2000.00 to £3000.00 to return to safe reliable condition again. Where we benefit is when we sell a Hartech car for the second or third time (typically from a part exchange upgrade of a satisfied customer), as the original work we did will last for many more years.

We are so fussy about the quality of our cars that on the very rare occasions when - even we - bought a car which we later found out during sales preparation to be below our exacting standards - we have actually scrapped them for spares at a significant loss rather than sell them on to anyone else. We got from this the benefit of the sales of some good cars, a pile of good used spares to help us and our customers in the future and the satisfaction that at least these examples would not be fraudulently exploited anywhere else for gain.

Prices As Porsche's age, the difference in quality of a well looked after or carefully restored car is much greater than an average one that increasingly needs more doing to it as repairs are neglected or cannot be afforded by the typical purchaser of a cheap car. The value (or price paid) for a good car then sharply increases compared to an average or poor one, which eventually become uneconomic or impossible to restore. This causes some confusion in the market when a glut of poor but cheap cars tend to make some very good ones look expensive by comparison (particularly to those who do not appreciate the cost or quality implications of trying to use or restore a poor, neglected example). The graphs comparing Hartech and non-Hartech running costs demonstrate this clearly (pages 46 and 47).

The right price to pay is one of the most difficult areas for new customers to understand, as they will frequently see quite large price variations between cars advertised that on the face of it seem very similar.

Usually, for very old cars, the classic car specialists set the market prices while for newer cars the trade buyer's guides do their bit. Unfortunately the age of most used Porsche's renders them too new for the traditional classic car market system and yet the trade guides are often hopelessly inaccurate because some use auction prices as guides (and very few Porsche are sold at auction except rough or dodgy ones) or the formulas that they use for similar cars do not apply to Porsche's. The two most popular trade guides (for example), disagree on the retail prices of the following similar mileage and condition -cars, by the amount listed (both taken from January 2001 editions). 1989 911 3.2 Carrera Coupe - £1075, 1990 944 S2 Coupe £2545, 1990 930 Turbo Coupe £2535, 1991 Carrera 2 Coupe (964) £4435. More recently the Nov issue of the previously most accurate guide showed a '92J 944 S2 with 88K on the clock to be worth £650 more than a 92J 968 with 44K on the clock!

So because values vary so much and trade price books rarely go back more than 10 years (and are often inaccurate anyway), we operate our own computer system which records all prices Nationally for each model and year, to find out what is really going on. This reveals the lowest and highest price, seasonal and overall trends etc, average prices etc. Care is needed interpreting this average price as it is only a mathematical average with most cars being cheaper and rough, fewer being nicer and more expensive and hardly any actually at the "average price" (with numerous lhd and written off cars confusing the issue). It must also be remembered that nice examples will be taken in trade exchanges so a higher proportion of cars advertised privately are actually unsuitable for trade re-sale. This means that even the average price of advertised private sale cars is misleadingly low.

Consider the average of 10 similar cars, 2 written off or lhd wrecks @ £3500, 5 rough ones @ £5000, two reasonable prospects (needing work to restore) @ £6500 and one very nice one @£7500. The mathematical average of these is £5,250 yet this would only be the price of the rough ones - not even as high as the reasonable ones needing renovation. With these figures, our system would value our cars @ £6,375 which is clearly a bargain for a fully sorted out and guaranteed example costing less than the reasonable prospects needing restoration (hence our success). These prices are similar to other specialist outlets

(where we doubt that our preparation or back up services will be matched) and agree almost exactly with the top dealer buying guides on the market. They are neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. General family car sales outlets will be cheaper but offer little else, while back street part time dealers and private sales are often remarkably cheap but usually cost more after the cars in question have been sorted out (if they can be sorted out!) which are rarely the nicest anyway and with no meaningful back up.

As a result of this care assessing market trends, prices and our own experience, we think that eventually the year of manufacture will become irrelevant and that since each model was only manufactured for a few years before being superseded, the condition of a given model will become the only variable to dictate price (and several specialist dealers agree, by advertising models without registration dates or associated number plate indexes). So although the value of new cars depreciates both with age and mileage, eventually the condition, history and specification of a particular model, becomes the most important factors.

Our analysis of the older and more established 911 market prices reflects this with nice examples built between 1971 and 1981 having the same value, despite differences in mileage's and specifications. Models made between 1982 and 1992 are in most cases still in the process of finding that final long-term value with older ones level or appreciating and newer ones still depreciating a little.

In December 1999, the Express reported classic cars appreciating by around 5%/year and reinforced our opinion about the long term virtues of a classic Porsche and their suitability as an every day car, highlighting the benefits of fully restored examples.

But what do we mean by depreciation or appreciation?

If we consider two identical cars (age, history and condition) apart from one having covered 50K miles and the other 150K miles, then the lower mileage car would be worth more even though it is the same age. So depreciation/appreciation cannot be judged on age alone. Indeed we could only really trace true annual depreciation if we were comparing cars that always had the same mileage (and were therefore never used). So since most cars are used, their value must reflect the gradual increase in mileage covered, making generalisations about appreciation or depreciation, very difficult.

We solve this by a formula that compares prices of cars of the same mileage but different ages and cars of the same age but different mileage's, and later combine the results.

When trying to interpret the results there are also Macro economic factors to consider, such as interest rates, the housing market, insurance rates, new car sales etc - which all influence prices short term across the board, on top of which we also add our own interpretation of the market for unusual causes.

For example during the autumn of 2000 the fear of UK new car prices falling in line with European prices, made the market jittery and encouraged potential buyers to delay decision-making. Also, many owners - having ignored the housing market for several years - decided to move before house prices went too high and sell the "third classic car" to help finance it - increasing supply and reducing demand. This lowered prices for the first time in years. Porsche also sold a lot more cars in the mid 1980's than at any time before (with a much bigger model range) and as this "baby bulge" of Porsche cars is now becoming 15 to 20 years old there are too many of them for that market -lowering prices. However - despite increased numbers available - it is also increasingly rare to find a nice, genuine, well looked after example and these still have a market and command good prices that are much higher than the generally advertised market prices.

The drop in new car prices has also reduced part exchange values so much that those wishing to upgrade can be very disappointed by trade in values or find themselves in negative equity, reducing general trade and prices.

Many forget that the price of the newer car has also fallen significantly (even possibly more) so for those upgrading, or buying a Porsche for the first time the recent changes have had little or no impact (except for those in negative equity), although customers are ironically often more upset about the drop in value of their old car than they are pleased about the drop in the cost of it's replacement -that's human nature. The Porsche Boxster originally priced from £39K in 1996 - despite being improved and with a bigger engine - is now available from £32K -demonstrating this dual edged sword of general price reductions in the UK.

Some did not expect all this to affect the specialist second hand market, but it has because as New Car prices have fallen then so must each car - year older - follow suit. However the effect on Porsche cars over 5 years old is comparatively small compared with much newer cars and other manufacturers - perhaps averaging about £2K over the last 6 months. By comparison, some other makes of 12 to 18 months old cars have actually dropped in value, by £10K or more. We recently part exchanged a 4 year old BMW (at book price) that had lost the owner £28,000 from new retail to trade buy in - £7000/year.

Because we buy and sell in the same market (and thanks to our market price checking system) we have been able to respond quickly to price fluctuations and have recently enjoyed one of the busiest sales periods ever, proving that demand is still there for quality vehicles at the right price.

Overall we feel that prices of rough used Porsche's have probably dropped by over £3K or more. The market for very nice examples is still there but has probably fallen by about £1 to £2K. Outstanding examples (or those benefiting from extensive refurbishment) have fallen by about £1K and it is these that we expect to rise again as they are rare and in our view have only fallen as a result of the difficulties in the market generally and the response of traders to the recent situation, which should stabilise. As previously reported, 993 's are presently appreciating and the demand for Boxsters seems to be growing which will ultimately help preserve their values. Once the prices have settled down and as the public gets over the recent changes, pay more off their finance (so negative equity values disappear) and seek attractive examples, demand may well exceed supply and relative prices will almost certainly rise.

It seems that nice examples of 924's and 944 turbo's are now old enough (or rare enough) to begin the gradual appreciation to mirror 911's and that 944's and 944S2 Cab's are following. The 944S may suffer from bad press due to the camshaft and engine stability problems afflicting them first (being the oldest 16 valve variant). Similarly a lot of S2's have reached an age where they need £2000 to £3000 spending on them (after which they will be good for perhaps another 10 years or 80,000 miles - apart from service items like tyres and brakes etc) and are being offered for sale cheaply to avoid the repair costs. As a result, prices of these poorly maintained examples have temporarily dropped. However the remedial work necessary (or the consequences of ignoring it) is being widely publicised, which will probably restore higher prices for good examples - across the board once the preventative maintenance or repair work is completed and quality and reliability are recovered.

Pricing is always a complex issue with classic cars and is more difficult for a Porsche than other make, because although the price for a well-restored example can be (and should be) much more than the average price or the price for a worn out wreck, it does not follow trends for other cars. For example, a poor example of a Jaguar Mk2 may be 3K whilst a nice one can be £15K and a "rebuilt as new" example £50K. A rusty MGBGT may be £800, a nicely restored one £8K etc. This puts a potential multiple of perhaps 10 times between a rough and nice example of these old classic cars (and sufficient to consider a restoration commercially viable). By comparison a rough old 911 may be £4K or restored, £12K - a multiple of only 3 times. A rough, high mileage and nice low mileage 1987 944 may cost £3000 and £6000, or a rough and nice S2, £6000 and £12000 - multiples of only 1.

It is perhaps this relatively small price difference (compared to other classic cars) that explains why so many home mechanics find that they did not create a bargain by trying to restore an old rough but cheap Porsche (because the entry price even for a rough one is comparatively too high and the parts are relatively expensive) and why it is actually better financially to buy the best you can afford and look after it, because the gradual long term appreciation (or minor short term depreciation) of nice cars will protect values and meanwhile there is little or nothing to lay out for repairs or maintenance.

Really nice examples are always the most enjoyable to own, the least troublesome and the easiest to sell for good money when the market is right. Short-term market fluctuations have always been around but obviously we cannot respond to these in such a timeless publication, so we have attempted to assess the likely long-term future price of each model, in our opinion as a guide.

Compared to traditional "Classic Cars" the Porsche range has numerous features that render them an increasingly attractive proposition that should reflect on strong long-term values. The galvanising delays structural problems while the advanced styling maintains attractiveness for longer.

The engineering is always at the forefront of technology making the specifications topical for years. The performance exceeds most other similar sports cars and the reliability and engineering quality is unmatched -making the whole exercise affordable. It seems likely then that this long term gradual rise in values will influence Porsche's, more than any other comparable classic car and that values will always remain strong particularly with the more modern and user friendly 944 and 968 range, the 964, 993, 996 and Boxster.

The final price that each model will attain will probably reflect the differences in performance or specification in a ranking and also into which the traditional 911, MGB, Jaguar etc must fit. Now by most standards the 924 and square dash 944 are less of a car than a 911 so should always be cheaper. The curved dashboard 944, while a superb all rounder may not quite attain the 911 mystique, but the 944 turbo and S2, should in our opinion, always be worth at least as much if not more as they offer more in every department. The 968 should appreciate, as it is a fantastic car manufactured in very small numbers and the last "practical" Porsche made with styling similar to the very popular 993. The 964 (Carrera 2 & 4) may suffer a little due to a few teething problems and higher service costs but the 993, 996 and Boxster should exceed these values, representing a huge leap forward in the development of the 911.

Taking this into account and apart from temporary market fluctuations, by comparing quality and value with other classics and older 911's, we feel that-nice 944's that were manufactured between 1982 and 1985 will probably eventually rise to between £4000 and £5000, 1986 to 1989 models to between £5000 and £9000, early 944 turbo's £6000 - £10000 and S2's and 250 bhp Turbo's £9000 -£12000. Older 968's are currently fetching £12,000 to £16,000 with little depreciation and have probably bottomed out. Due to the recent price reductions and their influence on the market, prices are presently towards the lower end of this ranking, so we would expect really nice examples to appreciate as their rarity increases.

Porsche are presently enjoying renewed popularity with sales of new models increasing and the long life benefits of older examples being more widely publicised. The very old examples of 911, 924 and 944 are presently inexpensive to buy due to oversupply with too many faults for the buyer of a cheap Porsche to justify. However the more traditional classic car owner (who is used to serious renovation of an MGB or TR7 and enjoys work at home for a hobby) is now showing interest in their potential to become the most rewarding older classic sports car available at a modest price and this should mop up any oversupply and firm up prices when their fully rebuilt examples come to the market and command high prices.

n.b. This price trend information is provided to help prospective buyers understand the market and issues better, It has been prepared with the best of intentions, but we cannot be held responsible for fluctuations or trends in market prices, nor if they do not follow the above trends as they are beyond our influence or control.

As we successfully buy and sell in the same market and our costs do not vary much, our prices follow market trends anyway, always being competitive.

Cost savings with Hartech. Many dealers cannot understand how we can offer such extensively overhauled cars with such comprehensive after sales services at such reasonable prices. One of the reasons is by doing all the work and several different jobs at one time, in a large efficient workshop using special equipment and tools with highly trained staff, who specialise in the models.

Competitors. We do not run down competitors, concentrating instead on doing our best for our customers.

However there are many that offer similar prices but do not have the quality that we have, or the standards of workmanship or records systems so vital to providing planned maintenance. Others are much more expensive but the workmanship is no better and the costs far higher with often less personal service and more interest in the more expensive, newer cars.

We concentrate all our resources in providing an affordable Porsche in exceptional condition or - for service customers - a way to keep a standard Porsche performing at it's best, reliably and affordably over many years and thousands of miles. Many other local competitors have different areas of specialisation or interest. They may prefer to concentrate instead on racing, tuning and competition, or spares from written off cars for example and only carry out servicing or standard repairs to increase turnover. A business will always be best at whatever holds it's main interest, whatever it's staff want to do the most and whatever it has concentrated it's main resources on and businesses that try and do too many things are never good at all of them. We are very clear about what motivates us all and what we have concentrated on throughout - the restoring or maintaining of a viable Porsche back to it's most reliable-original-standard condition, performing at it's affordable best as originally intended. This provides the most balanced car, ideal for it's purpose and preserving the best re-sale value. As a result, we offer unrivalled quality, service and value.

Tuning and track preparation. Providing more horsepower - often results in needing better brakes, stiffer suspension, greater cooling etc and can reduce long-term reliability - as more parts are strained beyond their design limits. Most "tune up chips" also stop the diagnostic system from being accessed by a remote computer and preventing re-setting of systems - taking away a valuable and cost saving benefit on most standard cars since 1992. So tuning can not only become an expensive vicious circle but also deter from the pleasure of driving on public roads and eventually - despite often-huge costs fitting the tuning equipment - it usually reduces re-sale values. We do not specialise in this area and will happily recommend suitable specialists to relevant customers.

Consumer Protection. Despite improvements in legislation, it is very difficult to obtain meaningful protection from most private and trade sources. There is very little comeback from a private seller, since they "cannot be expected to be competent to accurately judge the condition" of the vehicle they are selling. Many dealers do little more than just clean cars before selling them and most would not have the expertise to assess serious faults, which might be disguised within the car and the reason for its sale in the first place. Warranties provided by dealers tend to be of little use (in our experience), as they often only relate to actual failure of components and even then refuse claims where they consider normal age related wear and tear to be the cause.

With a Porsche over 5 years old and having covered many miles it is too easy to claim this as the cause and refuse to pay out. Even where guarantees or warranties may be provided - and honoured, it is also important to question the competence of some sales outlets with minimal repair resources. Non-specialist repairers, would almost certainly only have access to new parts anyway which can be very expensive and by contrast specialist dealers often accumulate perfectly acceptable used parts to help the owners of older cars keep them on the road at a more modest cost.

Unlike Hartech, very few dealers will put in writing an accurate description of a car (which would be legally binding), and if promises are made verbally, they are difficult to prove in law. As a result of the above, if you are considering buying privately, from a non-specialised dealer, or even a Porsche specialist that has limited repair facilities, our best advice is that you have a reserve of capital, of about £2500 (for a 924, 944 or 968), £3000 to £5000 (for an older 911), £3500 for a 928 and a 964 and £1000 for a 993, 996 or Boxster, to cover unexpected problems.

Write offs. Very few buyers would be happy to purchase a written-off vehicle. However even in this apparently simple area there are serious pitfalls. A "write-off1, is purely a financial consideration and is not directly related to the extent of damage that is to be repaired but more to the value of the car at the time. This problem is particularly highlighted with Porsches because of the very high cost of the original cars, and the high expense of genuine new Porsche parts, which has two contradictory influences making a Porsche more likely to be written off with comparatively minor damage.

As most repairers can only use new parts, and as some of these are very expensive, a small amount of damage can result in an older vehicle being written off. Because some new parts are so expensive, there is a huge demand for good quality second hand used parts, which are taken from these crashed vehicles.

As a result the price paid for a written off vehicle - by a breakers yard - is high, making it attractive for an insurance company to consider selling the vehicle on for salvage rather than repairing it. Realising this, many private individuals, and body repair shops, will buy a salvage vehicle from the insurers, and then repair it with used parts (which are subsequently much cheaper), resulting in a perfectly acceptable car ready for resale, at a reasonable profit to them, but with the stigma of having been "written off'.

Conversely, a Porsche that is only a few years old - is so valuable that it might not be recorded as a "write-off, even after an extensive rebuild - and appear to all the records as clean. This means that the stigma of "a written off vehicle" could easily be attached to an older car that has simply had its door dented, but not be attached to a car - that when it was much newer - had a major repair.

To make things worse, until 1995 you could remove a write off record by having the vehicle inspected and passed OK. However - since 1995 you cannot and the history is traceable. The history of LHD vehicles imported from abroad is almost impossible to trace and many are repaired before or after import, and then sold as "straight". (This difficulty and that in tracing mileages and verifying service histories has resulted in us avoiding the purchase and sale of LHD imports).

All this means that whether or not a vehicle has an insurance record, it may still have been involved in a serious accident and you could easily buy a car with no insurance history whatsoever that has been seriously damaged at some time in its life, or alternatively consider buying one that has an insurance record but which was for such a ridiculously minor element of damage, as to be totally insignificant. It must not be forgotten that owners do not always declare accidents, and that they may then arrange for their seriously damaged car to be repaired cheaply, at their cost, to avoid the insurance record and yet eventually come onto the market as apparently clean cars.

Ringers. The car that you may be considering may not indeed be the car that you think you are buying. It is not infrequent to find cars repaired by welding and connecting whole chassis sections not only from other cars but also from cars of a slightly different model or age, or indeed for a full ringer to be made available when the identity of a stolen car is changed to match the damaged one. The transfer of chassis numbers is carried out during this process, but rarely escapes the attention of an experienced engineer.

Checking History. Many Porsches have had several different registration numbers that can obscure the history and be expensive to trace. Despite this we try to check out each and every registration number and with the Hpi National Mileage Registers to check for discrepancies. This protects the next buyer from a car that may still have HP outstanding, have been stolen, or accident damaged.

Bodywork and Paintwork. By the time a Porsche is over five years old it will have picked up a considerable number of stone chips to the front and wing mirrors. Any nice looking example will therefore have quite rightly been re-painted and this is a perfectly acceptable practice if it has been carried out professionally. Colour matches may have been perfect at the time but new and old paint then fades at different rates, so poor colour matches need not necessarily reflect a bad paint job and most cars have had a minor bump or scratch in their life needing attention. Metallics cost more to re-paint as matching is more difficult and localised repairs are usually impossible requiring whole areas to be re-painted for minor damage.

Windscreens will often crack after a heavy impact, (although there may also be an innocent explanation). Look very carefully at the front and side of the vehicle, all the gaps around the headlights and the bonnet, the doors, and the general lines of the car should be smooth flowing and uninterrupted. If not, the car has been repaired cheaply. However most poor bodywork is not sufficiently serious to warrant discarding an otherwise good car, as it is one of the easiest tasks to undertake and correct. Although it is rare to see a car that is made from two halves, it is common to find a car where some parts of the front or rear end have been replaced from another vehicle.

The original chassis (in our model range) is made from zinc coated steel spot welded together in a process that is at a sufficiently high temperature to melt the zinc locally to the spot weld - creating a pure steel-to-steel weld. The zinc then flows back sealing up the joint.

Because the sequence of assembly cannot be reproduced for a repair - most repair panels are not zinc coated to ensure that repairers can weld the parts successfully. It is therefore sometimes preferable to either panel beat out a dent in a galvanised area (or replace with a used panel that is galvanised) and repainted to colour match. Providing the panel has been properly aligned, and professionally fitted, it can provide an acceptable (even preferable) solution.

Fuel changes to unleaded. Now that the availability of 4 star fuel is limited to lead replacement fuel and is widely replaced by unleaded petrol, many owners have become worried about the effect on their engines.

We are unconcerned about these changes as many of the models can run on unleaded anyway and those that are not recommended by Porsche may well run satisfactorily on the highest grade unleaded or LRP with normal use. Manufacturers are cautious about recommending anything that could backfire and their advice must also cover the most extreme cases - which probably means a flat out drive on unrestricted roads, for long periods, fully loaded over many miles, in hot weather in a high mileage car ready for it's next service.

In these conditions the thermal stresses in the engine would be much higher than those ever experienced by driving normally on our British roads. It is very likely therefore that the cars would perform satisfactorily for most occasions on more inferior fuel than that recommended.

Because all Porsche engines have alloy heads, the valve seats fitted are harder than a cast iron head and should stand up well anyway to resisting valve seat regression. IF there is only low grade unleaded fuel available (which we cannot foresee) then we can still modify engines, supply the re-mapped chips, or we can even re-programme the ECU to retard the ignition timing and increase the injector pulse width - on some models.

Our conclusion therefore is that the recent changes will have little effect on any of the Porsche range and that there will be several options available whatever happens. Additives will probably be increasingly available anyway for older cars (as they are in Europe) and if not most Porsche's driven normally run OK on the 98 octane unleaded or LRP. Further details relating to each model are available on request.

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