Used Car Face Off: 911 Targa Time

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!

You’re going to be hearing a lot about the Porsche 911’s 50th anniversary for the next year or so. It debuted in 1963, although not until the fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show. But Porsche got the celebration started at Geneva this week when they showed off the new GT3 that's controversial to say the least.


But let’s forget that new one for a moment and discuss a different longtime member of the 911 family that sometimes gets overlooked – the Targa. Introduced in 1967, the Targa represented a compromise after it was feared the US would soon ban convertibles over rollover concerns. They didn’t, but the Targa was the only way to get an open-topped 911 until 1983 when the factory started churning out the cabriolet. And then everyone who wanted an open 911 bought that, leaving the Targa the odd 911 out.

A shame, really, since the modern Targa incorporates a novel sliding glass roof and looks rather nice. But it’s much more complex than the classic Targa, which was just a removable panel that kept a window behind you and more structural rigidity than the full-blown cabrio. I get the feeling a Targa is a car everyone thinks is a good idea, but no one actually buys over a coupe or cabriolet.

This week, I’ve decided to round up two Targas for you to choose from – and boy, have 911 prices really jumped lately for something that isn’t a 996.

First up is a 964 Targa, so classic design but married to more advanced technology. At just shy of 70,000 miles, this 1990 911 Targa is probably what Porsche enthusiasts would call “barely broken in.” But what makes this one so much more special is that it’s a Carrera 4 set up, one of about 1,300 ever made. Before you get too involved in wondering why anyone would want a Targa with four-wheel drive, let’s just enjoy the rarity.


It’s in beautiful condition and black-on-black is always a good color combo for a 911. There’s no wimpy Tiptronic here, either. All of this makes it a relative bargain at just under $27,000. Yes, it’s 23 years old, but it’s one hell of a collector’s item.


What that nice 964 lacks, though, are the good looks of a 993. To my mind, and many 911 devotees, the 993 is the ultimate 911 and the one that will likely always best combine the past with the present. That’s where this 1997 993 Targa comes in, black-on-gray with a hideous steering wheel to match. But it’s on top where things change and when put next to a 964, it’s the newer car that looks just a bit more refined and just a bit more tasteful.


Well, aside from the steering wheel on this one. But the glass roof looks great and is definitely more useable in place than the older design. This particular 993 is a manual as well and is a two-wheel drive, so it has less weight to move around. Of course, the roof is more complex than the old style. And with 98,000 miles, $32,000 seems like a lot for this one. And even though the 993 Targas were only produced for two years, about as many were made as 964 C2 and C4 Targas. So they're not super rare.


This one’s tough for me since I love a 993 and one of these new-style Targas, but the rarity and originality of the 964 Targa 4 is a little startling. So is the price. I mean, $27,000 is a good price for any 911 that looks like this, right? But I’ll take the...

Let me get back to you on this one.

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