Riding The P-Wave: 1966 Porsche 912

1966 Porsche 912

It’s absolutely amazing to me what Porsches are going for these days! I still remember when you could pick up nice 912s all day for $10k or less. When 911 prices started to climb, it kind of made sense to me, they are fairly fast cars for their age and they have always been known as a high end car. I can even understand the rise in 356 prices, they are older and have a low survival rate. But I’m amazed at what the entry level 912 can earn these days! This ’66 is an early example and is in pretty good condition considering it a Tennessee barn find, but is it worth the seller’s asking?

1966 Porsche 912 BF

For those that don’t know much about the 911 and it’s lower priced 912 brethren, here is a brief history. Porsche introduced the 911 as a much more powerful and civilized replacement for the aging 356. The 356 had set a pretty impressive bar for an aircooled sports car, but anyone that has driven one can tell you they aren’t particularly powerful or fast. To remedy the issue, Porsche developed a more power air cooled boxer 6 engine to power the new 911. It transformed the car from a souped-up Beetle into a Autobahn warrior. It also jacked the price up and shrunk the potential market of buyers. There were hoards of people that loved the new look, but just couldn’t justify the expense or the snap oversteer. Porsche had spare 356 engines still sitting around, plus they were cheaper to manufacture than the new 6 cylinder, so they decided to slap these cheaper engines into that sexy new body. And so the cheaper 912 was born, although it didn’t fix the snap oversteer issue (at best it just made the car slow enough for it to not be much of an issue).

1966 Porsche 912 Engine

So what is the appeal of buying this 912 or any 912 for that matter? If they are slower and still expensive, why are people buying them? Well the best answer I can come up with, is that they are agile and fun to drive. They aren’t fun in the same way a V8 powered pony car is, they are fun in their speed maintaining abilities. They are the kind of car that pushes you, the driver, to carry more of your speed through the corner, rather than just depending on the engine for the power to catch up with the pack. It’s the same experience you get from a Sprite, Spitfire or any other small bore sports car. It might not sound exhilarating, but trust me, it is. Now as for why people would spend so much on one of these over any of those cars, well that one I can’t explain. I’m sure there are plenty of buyers who want them to drop 911 engines in, as it will bolt right in, but we see plenty of all original examples being preserved as they were built. So I can only guess it just has to do with the overall rise in Porsche prices. Any thoughts there guys?

1966 Porsche 912 Front Trunk

This particular car has its pros and cons. It looks to be solid, something we don’t always see with Porsches. For whatever reason, (low quality steel, no rust protection, or both?) Porsches rust in the worst locations. I see a few spots with a little surface rust, but I don’t see any major problems. That’s a huge plus for this car and likely explains why the seller feels it’s worth nearly $40k! I’m not sure I agree with their valuation though, as this car has other issues. The biggest I see being the poorly done respray. From a distance, I’m sure this car looks incredible, but take a look at the bottom edge of the body or open any of the doors and you see lots of overspray. I can deal with a little overspray, it happens, but I don’t think they even tried to mask off the front compartment or the engine. For a car that’s this expensive, that could be an issue.

1966 Porsche 912 Interior

On the upside, the interior looks great and the car is said to run. Apparently it doesn’t run well and needs a tune-up, but it’s been sitting so that’s to be expected. I would want to make sure it has good compression, after adjusting the valves that is. These air cooled engines can be great motors, but they need to be properly maintained.

1966 Porsche 912 Smuggler's Box

The seller claims everything is here and that it features the rare heater in the smuggler’s box option. That’s a term I had never heard before and had to look it up. Apparently there is a hidden cavity in the front compartment that was used to house the heater or illegal items for smugglers. While I’m not sure if that is a rare option, it definitely is an interesting feature I would want to study further.

Porsche 912

I can honestly understand the appeal of the 912. They are lighter and more barebones than the 911 and subsequently more agile, but I still can’t grasp the rise in values. Yes they are cheaper than 911s, but this is serious money for a car that was built to be a more affordable car. It wasn’t built to be a lightweight and bare bones sport model that just happened to be cheaper, like say a Road Runner, it was simply a cheaper model. That being said, I’d love to have one and I think this one could be a great option if you are in the market. If you are, you can find it here on eBay in Freehold, New Jersey. Special thanks to Jeff at BoldRide for this tip!

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Comments

  1. Ken

    Bought a ’68 912 ten years ago for $4900, told people at the time that I was looking for a 4-cylinder 5-speed car that got 25 mpg, and it was either the 912 or a used Saturn. Acceleration is leisurely but handling can best be described as a go-kart for adults. Since they haven’t been produced for 40 years, no one under the age of 60 knows the difference between a 911 and 912, everyone sees that iconic shape and assumes it’s mega fast and über valuable, and I’ve given up trying to educate them differently. If looking at a 911 or 912, beware the tin worm. A great percentage of these cars were killed by loving owners who washed them every Saturday, and all that water found its way to the suspension mounting points at the bottom of that soft steel unibody tub, and they died from the inside out.

  2. Fred

    I understand these are slow, but can’t they be hopped up like any VW? Or are the parts not made?

    • Dave Wright

      They are only slow as compared to a 911. Compare it to other 1600 CC sports cars they run quite well. And they can be improved from there. As I remember 125 HP from the factory. Few British cars will run with them. Even the 911’s were only 2000 CC’s and they dominated there class as well as larger displacement cars. I like 912’s alright but we’re always like a 55 Tbird. A nice looking woman’s car or a car for someone that couldn’t afford a 911. The prices are following the 911 off course and approaching the cost of restoration for a rough one. The conversation brings to mind my race with a Datsun 2000 in about 1969……..the rice burner was new, my 911S was a 1967……..the owner of the Datsun was an Air Froce Acadmey student boyfriend of my girlfriends sister……….he never spoke to me again, even after we were both in the service.

  3. 912

    Seller has the car several years and even doesn’t have a clue that the thing in his smugglers box is a BLOWER, not a heater…

  4. grant

    I love it. I don’t love it for 40 grand but I still love it. And Ken, I’m 40, and I understand the differences between a 911 and a 912. It’s more than the motors.

  5. Rob

    I bought a ’69 about a year ago. Not fast, but I really love the car! Easy to work on, huge parts and information resources, and enthusiastic and knowledgeable owner base. Yes, the prices seem out of control, but it was only a few thousand dollars more than the Caterham I sold, and well worth it. It is a truly “involving”, analog car. Probably the last classic I will own, as I will keep it and pass it on to my son.

  6. Matt Tritt

    The rust problem has more to do with the rust-proofing technologies available in the 50’s and 60’s than the vehicle’s build quality. Porsche’s were a brilliant design for the day, and utilized a number of unibody sections for lightness and rigidity that had no way to prevent condensation. Condensation = rust. I took a tour of the Porsche factory in ’66 with a friend from home who had ordered a 911 for European delivery, at the factory. All of those cars were hand-made by small teams of journeymen and apprentice auto workers, and extreme care and attention to detail was obvious. On a random basis, engines were test-run before installation in a test room with advanced diagnotics equipment. I was blown away by their mini-assembly line and somewhat liesurely pace and absolutely perfect results. I also sat in one of their grand prix cars, that was in a row of it’s siblings – all painted in the national colors of their intended owners. What a rush! I asked our tour guide how the workers felt about civilians walking through their work spaces, and he replied that: “we all completely understand that these are very expensive automobiles and that our customers are like a part of our family. Who would object to a family member visiting you at work?”

  7. MIkeG

    Car bubbles just show how trendy people are. They see a car becoming “popular”, never had an itch for one before, but now they JUST GOTTA HAVE IT!!! omg omg!!

    It will all come crashing down again, sooner than later…

    • Rob

      Not so sure a slow old 912 is The Car to have right now. What I found interesting after I bought mine was how many people in the 912 Registry are the original owners, or at least have owned the car since before 1970.

    • Horse Radish

      I better sell my 911 Targa then……..

      Just kidding,
      Before prices on these come down worldwide, YOU WOULD HAVE to witness the complete financial system collapsing.
      We had a glimpse of that in 2008 and it’s not impossible, but very unlikely.
      OR all Porsche lovers will have to die out, which is more likely, but will take another 20-30 years…..

  8. David Frank David Member

    I spotted this red Porsche on my local Craigslist yesterday and when I saw the $11500 price tag I thought for a just millisecond either it was a great bargain or I had gone back to a more sane time. But alas, I’d missed a zero, there are actually three zeros and the insanity prevails, escalating out of control. LOL! Are those really hubcaps? Can I get a set at Walmart? http://sacramento.craigslist.org/cto/5528783919.html

    • Horse Radish

      There is a reason why it’s worth $115k.
      From the description it’s a good painter, besides being an iconic Classic sports car.
      So besides driving it , it will work for you and make you additional income.

      “…paints very nice…”

      I don’t get this:
      “…its very very nice (what ?)…”

      MY guess is, that he has to pay off his student loans with that money.
      Somebody is making him go back to learn 2nd grade reading, punctuation and comprehension.

      No, really, all kidding aside.
      If I read an ad like this, then I assume there are some seller deficiencies….

  9. Dolphin Member

    I think a lot of things go into the high prices that people are willing to pay for cars like this. We call it a bubble, but it might not actually be a bubble. It’s a bubble only if the prices burst, but so far that’s not happening. Yes, prices came down in 1990, 2001, and 2008, but not back down to where they were some years before. And then they proceeded to go right back up after a fairly short time. The best vintage / classic cars are still a better place to store value than a lot of other places, which only helps with the valuations of the cars.

    These old Porsches have a lot going for them: a great shape, traditional German build quality, a fanatical following that seems to be increasing, and so on. Unfortunately, great driving dynamics isn’t one of them, but for lots of people that doesn’t matter, so they still get bought up even at too-high prices.

    Will that stop? Not likely. Prices might come down a bit, especially if there’s another financial meltdown like the ones that Wall St is so good at, but for a while at least there will be no burst bubble for old Porsches, or Ferraris, or lots of other classic and vintage cars. More likely prices will just keep on going up, maybe not quite so fast, but up.

    The reason is that carmakers are now designing and producing appliances and gizmos that happen to travel on roads, but which will never have much collector value except for the kinds of geeks who collect old Apple II computers that have a tiny fraction of the computing power of Apple’s latest wristwatch. And like the latest Apple watch, you won’t be able to fix the things if they break, either.

    For anyone with any serious interest in a car as a great machine, or even anyone who wants to preserve value in a nonconventional way, the best classic and vintage cars will be a good choice, just like the best art continues to be. And just like the best art, the best cars for the purpose will be the rarer and the better looking ones, just like this early 912, even if it basically has a warmed over VW engine. That doesn’t matter because it’s rare and it looks truly wonderful, and a lot of people agree on that.

    • jpvogl

      Beautifully stated, Dolphin. Always appreciate your wisdom and insight.

    • Horse Radish

      Jep, a little more elaborate then my comment, but I agree 100%.
      Add to it that it’s easier to hide your money (and keep it) in an old car, than in a bank account.

  10. Luki

    Best execution of a terrible design. I own 2 of them.

    • Dolphin Member

      Luki,
      Best summing-up 1-liner comment on the 911/912 I’ve seen.

  11. jumpinjimmy

    I’ve owned a few of these and they were fun when they were inexpensive to buy, just like the 356s but I pity the chumps that would be willing to fork out big money for them just to ride the porsche wave. There are so many other more interesting cars that could be bought for a lot less.

  12. Dex356

    @912

    If you own an early 912 you should check your “Smugglers Box!” You will find the Heater!!! It may look like a blower but there is a gas line hooked up to it with a glow plug! They were made for 356 Carrera’s plus early 912’s and 911’s… They may have been only for ROW cars or special order New they were very good but after 50 years having gas deliberately burning next to the gas tank is not a very good idea!!!

  13. Woodie Man

    Well…..while the 912 is an agile much lighter version of the 911, it is well just a 912. I just sold a 3 owner original 1970 California 911 sunroof coupe with dealer installed coolaire, comfort package ( not really desirable as old people bought it as it had smaller wheels and no sway bar, S Group package and all original except for a color change (usually bad), for around ten grand more……and I thought I received a fair price and it left some potential for the buyer to make some money if he chose with a little investment. 187,000 original miles and looking like a five eyar old car. Just about the best driver I have ever seen, I owned it for about fifteen years. While I like 912’s there is absolutely no comparison other than the general body shape,

    • Matt Tritt

      Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. I owned a ’70 109 Land Rover with a full length Brownchurch roof-rack with ladder, 2 spare wheels and tires, overdrive, tropical roof, screens for all windows, spare injectors, tubes, sand ladders and on and on. It was 12 or 13 years old when I sold it for ten grand and I thought I’d gotten away with something. That car would bring about 10X that amount now here in California, which is too bad – but not as depressing as the current value of the 34 Packard 12 roadster I sold while in the service. I must’ve thought they said “pains” when they were handing out brains.

  14. moosie Craig

    Way back in the very late ’60’s/early ’70’s a friend (Randy,,,,,,,,,,, R.I.P.) bought a second hand RED 912 for a lot of (then) money and proceeded to drive cross country on a vacation. He got as far as Texas (from N.Y.) when the rusted out floor pan gave way, he rode the Greyhound back home. It was kinda freaky hearing that it rusted out so soon and completely to make the car junk, I guess back then people didnt replace floor pans like they do today ?

  15. Bob Prince

    Picked up my tangerine 912 soft window Targa on May 2, 1968. Spent a week at the factory and left with european headlights and Recaro seats. The car didn’t run worth a darn due to the new emission regulations but problem was solved when it arrived in the states and all emissions equipment was eliminated. Still have the car and the emissions bits and pieces in a box.
    While in Germany drove into Berlin on the autobahn through East Germany. Picked up an college student hitch hiking from an iron curtain country to her home in East Berlin. Arranged to meet here in East Berlin with blue jeans, magazines and other contraband. Guess where I secreted all of the above. Happily the East German border guards at Check Point Charley were not familiar with the car but it was certainly a scary( and ill thought out proposition in hindsight) as I could have been arrested and/or lost the car.
    Spent a great day driving around East Berlin with my bright orange 912. I can only wonder what the citizens of East Berlin were thinking.
    I show the car on occasion, and it has won numerous awards. It is a very entertaining car and in today’s world the price which it could command is relatively modest when compared to the cost of modern production line built performance cars.

    • Matt Tritt

      Great story Bob! As I recall, used Levis were a hot commodity in the East Block then. How many pairs did you stuff into that little cubby??

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