Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
I'm going to say the new Porsche Cayman was my favorite car launched at the LA Auto Show this year. I wasn't a huge fan of the old Cayman's styling and, from new, the car always had the image that you bought it because you couldn't afford a 911. A pity, because the Cayman has long been established as a great driver's car.
But now it's pretty and fast and hasn't gotten just a little too bloated like the latest 911. Even though it's an "entry-level" Porsche, it's still way too expensive. But that's OK, because there are other entry-level Porsches you could have for far less money, and as they were not particularly loved when they were available new, they enjoy something of an underdog status. Which is cool.
The Porsche 944 looks like a product of the 1980s, with its square front and those iconic phone dial wheels. It's kind of nostalgic and a reminder of how cars used to look before everything got super slippery. Even though this 1989 944 isn't a turbo, it has a revvy 2.7-liter four-cylinder with a respectable 162 horsepower for what is a relatively light car. But it's really balanced too, and with that flip-up back window and "back seats" you could almost call it practical.
The one I found here is a standard red/black color combo that's in just fantastic shape and it only has 28,000 miles. It looks showroom fresh, and it had better at a starting bid of $14,000. Therefore, it's not a fast time machine, but a well-sorted, good looking one that's probably going to give someone a good time.
But if the 944 is too much of a reminder of the 1980s, there's always the digitally remastered version – the 968. Introduced in 1992, the 968 has a substantial number of revisions over the older 944. About the only thing that wasn't substantially revised was the styling, but even that got smoothed out and incorporated the fancy headlights from the 928. And it's more exclusive than a 944, which found about 50,000 homes in the US. Fewer than 5,000 968s were ever sold here, and there are only 12,000 ever made.
This black 1995 coupe is one of the last and most rare, and the last front-engined sports car Porsche's made (don't mention the Panamera).
It thankfully has a six-speed manual mated to a
3.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower 5.7-liter LT1 V8 out of a Corvette that's wedged in there, instead of the dull four-speed Tiptronic like many 968s have. I wish it were more original and had the Cup wheels instead of these gaudy white things and it has a fair bit of mileage on it for a $13,000 car, but I bet it's still a high-revving joy to drive.
Prices of these formerly overlooked Porsches have been climbing because of the respect they earn among the circles who can get over the fact they don't own a 911. A 944 is tempting, a Turbo even more so, but I always like a 968 and its smoother styling and massive four-pot – except in this case it has double the cylinder count. It satisfies my '90s fixation more than a Boy Meets World spin-off ever could.
Which one for you, though — the 944, 968, save up for a Cayman or do you say "It's not a Porsche unless the engine's in the back"? Sound off in the comments.
Photos credit eBay, Cars.com