Automoblog Book Garage: Porsche 911: The Practically Free Supercar

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  • A new book on the Porsche 911 details how owning the iconic car is possible even on a budget.
  • Author Robert McGowan reveals the costs, concerns, and even the investment potential of the 911.
  • Our Book Garage series showcases what every gearhead and enthusiast should add to their library.  

Here’s a wonderful little book that’s a bit of a throwback. Porsche 911: The Practically Free Supercar was written and self-published by a Scottish fellow by the name of Robert McGowan. The book is, in addition to being a rather enjoyable read and a good source of Porsche information, a true buyer’s guide. Up until the late 90s or so, car buying guides were pretty ubiquitous things. Now, 99 percent of that info can be found on the internet – especially in marque-specific forums – but that didn’t stop Mr. McGowan.

And we’re all the better for it.

The full title of the book is Porsche 911: The Practically Free Supercar – The beginner’s guide to the smartest route into Porsche ownership. And it’s clear from the onset McGowan is of the Porsche faithful.

Setting The Stage

The first paragraph states: “The Porsche 911 is the best-selling and most iconic sports car in history. Some say it is the greatest sports car of all time. Whatever your view, one thing is undeniable. The 911 is truly special.”

Verily, that is written like one of the anointed, from the lips and soul of a True Believer. The only problem is how gearheads like this can literally be true believers about any car. I once ran into an older guy at a breakfast place years ago who told me, with a straight face, the Studebaker Avanti was clearly a better performance car than a Lamborghini Countach. This is the problem with True Believers. Logic does not apply. For them, this is a matter of faith.

For us gearheads, at least McGowan picked a good car. Although the 911 has its faults, it didn’t make it this far only because of its fan base. McGowan’s task is pretty simple: Convert you. Well, actually, he has three tasks: convert you, inform you, and entertain you. He does all three equally well it seems. When it comes to 911s, it doesn’t take much to covert a person. One ride is usually enough.

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In his book, McGowan provides a real-world account of owning three different Porsche cars. Photo: Robert McGowan.

Looking For Your Dream Porsche 911? McGowan Can Help

So, you come to this book because you’re in the market for a Porsche 911. Does it help? Oh yes, very much so! In addition to giving a well-written introduction of Porsche – both the men with the name and the cars – McGowan first gives you a primer on choosing the right type of 911; and then breaks down specific model types and special editions. He even takes time to give a brief once over to Boxsters, Caymans, 914s, and 924/944s.

The meat of the book is found in the sections where he guides you through finding the best value in a 911; various trouble spots with specific models; the buying and selling process; running costs; and the investment potential.

Related: Porsche versus the S&P: Can this classic sports car top the stock market?

Addressing The Pain Points

Running costs . . . aye, there’s the rub. Ask any sports car owner, and they will tell you buying the car is just the cost of entry; keeping the thing running is another deal entirely. 911s are, like all mechanical things, limited in lifespan. Even though they are seemingly engineered by guys who think Wernher von Braun was a lightweight, Porsches do have their issues. Unlike, say, a Camry, the cost of rebuilding a 911 engine is literally frightening.

The last friend I knew that had his professionally rebuilt said it would cost him “Eight.” He trailed off, gazing into the distance. He meant eight-thousand dollars. Yes, that is a lot of money, but there are two things to keep in mind before you run for the hills, jabbering like a madman. First, 911s need work like that very infrequently. And second, Robert McGowan is here to help you.

He takes a nice, deep dive into the running costs of three specific Porsches: the 1986 911 3.2 Targa Sport, the 2005 Boxster S, and the 1995 993 C2. He calls them “Owner’s Perspectives” and breaks down what it takes to purchase the car; maintenance over two years; taxes and insurance; and (in some cases) what he sold the car for.

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McGowan helps guide future Porsche owners through the process in his new book. Photo: Robert McGowan.

Future Considerations

It is worth noting a certain caveat at this point. McGowan lives in the United Kingdom, so costs are a little different for American readers. Insurance and taxes are completely screwy in the U.K. (near as I can tell) so those figures don’t necessarily apply for American readers. There is another caveat when it comes to cost: the age of the book. Porsche 911: The Practically Free Supercar is new, so do not go picking this book up in 18 years thinking all the money figures will still hold up. However, as a future reference on what to look for, mechanical-issue-wise and general cost-wise, this book will be handy for a long while.

One of Our Favorite Porsche Books

Plus, it’s entertaining to read. McGowan has a knack for telling the story all us gearheads know far too well: searching for, tracking down, and finally buying the car you’ve been dreaming of. McGowan confirms one of our sacred truths: mucking around with cars is fun. After all that, he includes a nice little bit about major victories and championships, plus a spotter’s guide for various 911 generations.

Is this the definitive 911 book? No, that would most likely be Paul Frere’s book, but Porsche 911: The Practically Free Supercar is still a very good Porsche 911 book. And it’s remarkably different from all the other countless books out there on the 911. McGowan’s book, for the way it is written alone, is reason enough to have it.

If you’re “in the market” for a Porsche 911, McGowan’s book is a must-have. It will help you on your search for your dream 911. And if you’re among the Porsche faithful, you probably own it already.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle formatFollow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Porsche 911: The Practically Free Supercar by Robert McGowan

  • File Size: 18651 KB
  • Print Length: 175 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1091444838
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Starbunker; 2 edition (April 25, 2018)
  • Publication Date: April 25, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

Price at the time of this writing: $7.89 (Kindle) or $16.99 (Paperback) on Amazon.

About The Author

Robert McGowan is an author, publisher, entrepreneur, and BSc qualified Architectural Technologist. He is passionate about travel, health and fitness as well as being a dedicated Porsche enthusiast. McGowan is an active and respected member of both national and international Porsche clubs and forums, and is currently on his third Porsche. While he enjoys writing and research, he enjoys nothing more than steering his Porsche through some of Scotland’s finest driving routes.

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