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1983 Porsche 911 For $7,500!

1983 Porsche 911 SC

We’ve talked about the Porsche price bubble quite a few times here, as the prices just seem to keep climbing. Well this 911 might be the cheapest one I’ve seen in a while, with an asking price of $7,500. Of course it needs a ton of work and is missing its engine, but given what they seem to go for these days it might actually be a good buy. I don’t see any serious rust, but I do see some body damage and there are a lot of missing pieces. You can find this project here on eBay in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. So what do you do with a 911 that’s missing its engine, transmission and just about every other important bit?

Porsche 911 Missing Engine

As I was looking at this project, I had a thought! I’ve heard plenty of stories of people installing Porsche engines in their VW Beetles and Karmann Ghias. It doesn’t sound like a terribly difficult swap, so why couldn’t it be done the other way around? Now before you get mad and call me an idiot, hear me out. 911 engines aren’t particularly cheap to buy, while VW engines can be found just about anywhere and won’t cost you much. It would get the car back on the road until a proper engine could be sourced and it would make for an interesting conversation piece. Once a correct Porsche engine is found, you could swap it out and have a proper 911 again.

1983 Porsche 911

Restoring this car is really going to be a major undertaking, but it doesn’t look to be rusty. I see some body damage that worries me and I’m curious why the passenger side fender and door are from a different car. You’ll want to check for accident damage before clicking the Buy-It-Now button! So what would you do with this 911? Would you stick a VW engine in it or would you rather just track down a proper 911 engine for it?


  1. Avatar photo JamestownMike

    It’s sad that $7,500 is a bargain for this car (what’s left of it)! Overpriced VW!

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  2. Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    I understand the mystique and the quirky swing axle handling. What I didn’t understand was why Porsche kept the car air cooled long after it was clear, watercooling was needed for increased horsepower.

    The 911 after a certain point became just another Briggs and Stratton, except that it ridiculously expensive unlike the B&S.

    Get yourself a VW van engine and an overbore kit coupled with a Schwitzer, RayJay or Garrett Turbo.

    $7500 seems like a bit much but depending on rust and missing parts, might be a good deal.

    Love Porsche, just think they needed to go watercooled in the late 70’s. Porsche spent millions trying to avoid the problems encountered by air cooled engines because they were afraid their market would not support a non air cooled vehicle.

    Porsche eventually tried watercooling in one of their offerings but still being hesitant, it was the Boxster for a variety of reasons. Once satisfied their customers liked the offering, Porsche turned their attention to the 911.

    The horsepower gains increased immensely compared to the air cooled engine over the years.

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    • Avatar photo Alan Brase

      Uhhhh, swing axles, like in early VW, 50’s Benzes, etc? Last Porsche with swing axles was 1965 356C/ SC.
      Porsches were designed as efficient performance cars. They were not extremely expensive. (Though not cheap)
      In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s they were giant killers. They won very many races in their classes and sometimes, the factory race cars won LeMans overall.
      In fact, in racing of production cars, they may have won more races than any other marque.
      And some of these were very closely related to the car anyone could buy off the dealers floor.
      This fact alone probably drives the price run up now.
      To compare these with Briggs and Stratton or even a VW, just shows a remarkable lack of understanding.
      They bring these prices because at least two people think the car is worth it.
      I, too, am amazed at the prices. But also dismayed. I will never be able to afford an early 911S now. But nobody should be surprised.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo dr.d Member

    And sold, that fast.

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    • Avatar photo Fred

      Are not all cars really, in one way or another, air cooled? Block off the air flow to the radiator or oil cooler (radiator) see what happens.

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      • Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Fred, NO!

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  4. Avatar photo robert

    I have a 1973 Porsche 911 Targa that I bought in 1976. Forgot what I paid for it but new they sold for around $7500 (I think) . I drove it for a few years and nice car but finally shoved it in my garage and it has not seen the sun light for 30 years and not driven on the street since 1984. I thought of selling it till I seem one on Barrett-Jackson go for $175K. It was nice but had more miles than my car and my interior is completely stock and like new. Maybe I’ll send in a Barn fine picture for you guys and gals to see.

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  5. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    A few years back, when these were selling for reasonable money, I test drove an ’83 911 like this, but a different color. And it did have an engine, otherwise it would not have been a test drive. This is going to sound odd, but it literally had trouble reaching 50 MPH. Strangely the seller didn’t seem to think that was odd, but I guess it came on gradually. Sometimes people just don’t notice the obvious if it comes on gradually.

    I think it was the same thing that caused an identical problem in a VW Beetle I owned many years before: the vacuum advance in the distributor was bad. As soon as I fixed that, my VW began to perform great…or at least as if it had all 36 HP working.

    I didn’t buy the 911, or any of the other ones I test drove, which weren’t that much better, at least by the standards of the car I was already driving.

    No surprise that this Ebay car sold fast, although it should be. The fact that it sold that fast despite a patchwork quilt of parts—-the ones that are there, anyway—-is what we have come to expect. And the incoherent description didn’t harm the sale either. Go figure.

    Ross: Without claiming to know for certain—but also without looking it up in Wikipedia, to allay the concerns of a couple people.…

    I think Porsche kept air cooling as long as they did because Porsche fans, particularly No Americans, wouldn’t hear of a change from P-car tradition. Makes sense, if you think what these cars are selling for now—for example, this one.

    And a wish for more HP wasn’t the reason for the change to water cooling for the 911, although it did allow for increased horsepower. The real reason was the ever-stricter emissions requirements, which were more easily met with a wholesale redesign of the engine, with water cooling. That also allowed 4-valve heads, which helped power output. You couldn’t get 4 valves into an air cooled 911 head and still have enough cooling to keep the thing from self destructing. Anyway, that’s the story Porsche put out around the time the change happened.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

      . Greetings All,

      Dolphin, I did mention the market, as did the head of Porsche AFTER they made the transition. I said, “because they were afraid their market would not support a non air cooled engine”. You do remember the 924/928 series. Those memories were ever present in 911 development meetings.

      928’s great mechanicals but suffered when developmental funding for interiors went away when sales did not materialize. Also remembered well.

      Porsche spent MILLIONS on getting heat out of that engine bay. Special castings, ductwork, passive aerodynamic cooling, ceramic coatings for Pistons.

      I watched and read, every year in multiple publications and the budgets what and why it was spent. They were chasing horsepower.

      Every year for example, GM would figure out how to gain 10-20 more horses out of a modified 50 year old casting. Porsche spent ridiculous numbers on getting 3-8 HP, sometimes 12.

      Then they decided on the turbo, more horses for sure but more unwanted heat. meanwhile Chevy plays around with altering their thin wallcasting designs along with heads and engine management and the last two decades have seen the horses go from 205HP in 1984 to 650HP for the top of the line Z06.

      Porsche had several clean sheet designs. You are correct with the 4 valve head but it was due to mass of metal and heat retention. Water cooled heads were trialed but it fell under the ALL or Nothing approach.

      With the money Porsche was spending on heat research, pollution control would not have been a problem. VW had old tooling to contend with coupled with much more relaxed design tolerances which tend not to maintain the emission standard over time. Porsche never had those issues.

      Making the emissions consistent over time, 100k miles much harder than making emissions alone. Porsche had plenty of wiggle room and the technology considering most cars were still manual, which are much harder to federalize because the human element has to be managed through the EMS.

      Have owned a 356, had fun with it back before they became retirement plans.

      Advance and distributor issues, can’t tell you the number of exotics I’ve worked on where every component has been upgraded at cost is no expense only to find out the distributor never had anymore work than cleaned, with a new rotor, cap and points and condenser.

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  6. Avatar photo cj32769

    Similar to what Ross said install a VW type four 2 liter engine and that will pretty much give you a 912E. I had a neighbor who had one of the 912e’s and it wasn’t a speed demon but it was actually pretty reliable and driveable and a lot cheaper to keep serviced than the 911 was back in the 80’s.

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  7. Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Cj, what I was thinking was more along the lines of 2180cc pressurized by a turbo for approximately 240 HP. Just a wee bit more than the 912E.

    Did a 550 replica with a 6 cylinder Subaru and a Turbo kit on a friend’s car. Originally though about the XT with the turbo but it lacked 2 cylinders. Corvair was the first choice but seem to remember there being some issues that kept it from working though they had a turbo version as an option.

    Exploit that power to weight ratio.

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  8. Avatar photo Alan Brase

    This is what happens when the agent for the estate lest the scrap metal guy into the barn first.The motor and trans were worth more than the shell. Though I was surprised it went that high.

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  9. Avatar photo skloon

    This cries out for a TDI swap

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  10. Avatar photo Jubjub

    Sad. You could’ve bought my running (correctly, reliably and fast) ’79 Targa for this money.

    This is nothing but $2500 fodder, if that. They’ve already made their money off the drivetrain and other bits. I hope no suckers come along.

    Like 0

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