Why the phrase 'thousands spent' makes Elliott run a mile


Author: James ElliottPublished:

Clicking on yet another tantalisingly priced 928 on eBay last night, while the page loaded I had a little bet with myself about the content of the description.

Sure enough, as soon as I could read it, I won and awarded myself a gold star (well it was a pint of amber nectar, which is close).

So what was the bet about? I wagered that the ad would definitely contain the phrase 'Thousands spent'.

Why? Because all 928 ads seem to.

And that is probably why I have never bought one.

NB: none of this blog refers to these specific cars

Even though it is surely better than thousands not being spent on a car, the connotations of thousands having to be spent on a bargain-basement classic V8 GT that you can buy for a pittance are wholly negative.

It says that it has bankrupted its previous owner (who is now having to sell it for considerably less than the thousands he has spent).

It adds that it probably needs thousands more spent just to keep it legal and will probably bankrupt its new owner, too.

It suggests that any small problem with this car is a pricey one.

Worse than that, it decrees that there are no such things as 'small' problems with these cars.

In short: thousands spent = 'you can't afford to run me even if you can afford to buy me'.

Such a commonality of description is far from unique to 928s, of course, but it is shared by most of them – just as 'small amount of welding required for MoT' is de rigueur for all 105 Series Alfas, 'easy restoration' is applied to all sill-less MGBs and most Lotus classifieds suggest that 'electrical gremlins should be a simple fix'.

So, unless it is being used to describe a fully restored minter, if anyone can find a positive in the phrase 'thousands spent', please share it!



I always laugh at the phrase "one careful lady owner"


'Goes like a bird squire!'  (The wings flap and it drips on the ground)


Last year I went to see a Jensen Interceptor that had been treated to a £67,000 restoration. The owner couldn't pay the bill, the garage doing the work went bust and the receiver was handling the sale. I offered £10,000 for the car which was turned down and they subsequently sold it for £12,000 which was all it was worth. So it isn't just a matter of how many thousands you throw at a car, it is also a question of how well those thousands are spent.

As a general rule I would always prefer to buy a well-maintained original car than a totally restored one that has previously gone to rack and ruin. No matter how much money you chuck at them, restored cars never seem to drive as well as original ones.

As for Ferraris, Astons (and to a lesser extent Porsche 928s), just forget it - the initial purchase price is invariably just a modest entry fee to a world of endless financial pain. Call me an idiot, but it still doesn't stop me buying them! I can resist anything but temptation...



I owned a 1986 928 S2 for 18 months which I paid top dollar for and it was the least problematic car Ive ever owned, not a thing went wrong in the time I owned it. I spent less than £1000 in the time I owned it and that included a cambelt change. With 928s you really have to subscribe to the theory of setting a budget and then buying the best model you can afford, for example never buy an S4 for £4k, buy an S. Never be tempted to buy the model later!


I would like to give another perspective. Plenty of people buy brand new cars these days and suffer horrific depreciation and seem to keep doing that without qualms because basically they get a monthly bill for depreciation - its called their loan repayment or lease payment. Depreciation decreases your wealth exactly the same as running costs it is just that you don't get presented with a big unexpected bill. You just get an unexpectedly low trade in. I think ultimately driving a magnificent car like a Porsche 928S or even 2 such cars (so one is always running!) would cost less than buying some new diesel box that depreciates horribly. After a recent horrific depreciation experience I have vowed to only own reasonably priced classics or youngtimers that don't depreciate (or not much), that I can buy with cash rather than borrowing and use the money I would pay on repayments or lease payments on a new car to maintain it. My life will be much more interesting as a result and I will probably save money.


The difference between Porsches and other cars is that the others will all have been totally rebuilt at that age whereas the Porsche will just have had running repairs and prtobably not even have needed repainting. These cars are economical to run particularly if one does one's own repairs.Secondhand parts are often obtainable: it isd often the labour cost that bumps up the reair costs because many houres often need to be expended to fix things. You cannot equate the costs/time to an MGB, try a Maserati or Ferrari or Lamborghini as a more relevant comparison and the Porsche will work out cheaper to run by far,
and a well maintained one will spoend far less time broken down than one of the aforementioned. .

Cover maker to the cars.

928 Fan

If you want to buy something cheaper to run and find less to moan at, buy a Midget with an A series OHV engine. You cannot state that a 928 is ruinous, as with all classics, some are looked after and others clearly not.

Running a classic is not always about economic sense. You buy it because you love it. Much like your partner. And I would wager my partner costs me a lot more although my 928 does not leak oil once a month nor suffer sporadic ECU issues!

There are a number of specialists that provide top level quality repairs with prices similar to a fleet car service - indeed most of the regular servicing can be done by your average mechanic - especially if you have workshop manuals. There is also the other end of the scale where Porsche aficionados' rejoice at the thought of another service well done, carried out by trained and certified main dealer technicians from the manufacturer and signed off with an embossed piece of Croxley Script which will live in a leather bound service folder, with patina relating to its journey through the years... This owner at some time decides to sell on and the beautiful car goes onto to fulfil the next user’s schoolboy dream, where they get to play Joel Goodsen and scream around with tyres burning, sun-glasses adorned, whilst being accompanied by girl of the week. Hell that’s why I bought one! You get what I am saying here; both owners share the same dream, but the reality is that the running cost to keep these cars where they need to be is not that expensive, but it does require the ability to put aside a slush fund for when things start to go wrong. If, however, the maintenance is not followed to the letter, the result can be devastating. I speak from experience here, my first 928, an 'S', suffered premature head gasket failures on both sides after a long hard drive. The cause? Pattern part water-pump that had a flaw in the casing causing a weak spot. Cost to rectify from Porsche OEM (Chiswick)? £5,500. Actual cost to repair from a specialist? £1800 with original gaskets. That’s a big difference.

That was the first one. I sold that at a loss of around £1200. I owned it for six years and the cost during those years was about £5600, so you could say the value lost was a bit more than a thousand per annum. The second, a 928 S4 was a beautiful car. Better equipment, more refinement. A bit softer and the auto box (again) which was a fantastic leap over the first 3 speed. I had an auto box replaced, the torque tube also, and a radiator and some pipe work too. These are on-top of the normal consumables such as tyres and pads/disks. The cost of this car for the four years, was about £8,000, although most of this was in the second year and it was relatively ‘cheap’ to run for the remainder.

My current 928GT, has received an engine rebuild, a rear suspension overhaul, a power-steering overhaul and now it requires new springs, shocks, some wheel refurbishment and some paint. A friend owns a paint shop so he will do that for me, but I still estimate it costing circa £2,000 but this would apply to any car given the fact that it’s on original paint and its twenty-two years old. In the last 5 years of ownership it has cost me around £9,000, but that includes tax and insurance, and at £240 fully comprehensive with a classic policy, that takes a lot of the pain out of the ownership and I typically enjoy the look on my friends faces when I explain that their rep-mobile costs twice as much to insure – agreed value of £15k as well. The previous owner had the car for eleven years, and before that he also had a 928. The thing about these cars is they get under your skin. They are not super-fast by todays’ standards, are not particularly easy to drive really quickly (an Evo or Saburu will laugh at the effort you’d have to give to keep up) but they are very unique and the car makes you aware of that whenever you drive it.

I’ve been very fortunate to own a myriad of cars ranging from Ferrari’s, Lotus, a Lamborghini and an Ultima GTR, but what I can say is that I ALWAYS look forward to going out for a ride in the GT, with nowhere in particular to go as every journey brings its own sense of occasion. I’ve owned nine-twenty-eights for over fifteen years (alongside more mundane metal) and I still think they represent excellent value for what they provide and their overall cost of ownership.

If you were to buy a flagship seven series for £80k. In a little over 5 years they are worth ten percent of that and the servicing is mammoth (it is for my 730D). I would wager that if you buy a decent 928, in 5 years’ time you will get your money back, minus the cost to keep it. As others also testify, that it’s not as much as you think it might be as long as you get it right when you buy it!


        I have owned my 1982 928s Anniversary special for nearly 18 years. Fuel consumption is heavy at about 24 mpg but running costs are low. Parts are very reasonable with Porsche themselves lowering prices, but plenty of specialists world wide and in particular an Englishman living in Texas posting parts everywhere. The engineering is straight forward and if you carry out the maintenance yourself its cheaper to keep on the road than a Toyota or Honda. Excellent 928 forums worldwide.


Congratulations on your self awarded gold star James.

But to me it seems something of a naive and somewhat hackneyed viewpoint so single out 928 as expensive to maintain. These are Porsches that are 18 to 30 years old for sure but they dont deserve to be singled out. Dont you want to protect your classic cars value or make it your own? Would a 1979 911 or a 90's 968 or a 1995 993 Turbo never need any maintenance, paint or new accessories?

On my buyers guide we recommend setting £1,000 a year aside as a project budget after consumables and over time this planned approach can bring a 928 to where its owner wants it to be without unpleasant surprises.

People can and do run a 928 on this kind of budget using the specialists and the community here in the UK and worldwide, as some of your erudite commenters point out.

Many 928 owners use them as daily drivers because they have uncompromising Porsche build quality and reliability and were designed for daily use. This is not possible in many of the 928's contemporaries.

There are only three or four things on a 928 that can be expensive surprises and all of them should be completely avoidable by proper planned maintenance checks and planned replacement in line with manufacturer service guidelines coupled with our community knowledge.

We have lots of owners with mileages over 100k and many in the 200k's now. Planned maintenance should see the 928 go on essentially for as long as replacement parts are available. Everything is currently available new, reconditioned or tested from a breaker. Parts and consumables are surprisingly cheap in many cases especially compared with more modern equivalent cars.

Given that you can buy a 928 from £1000 to the limit you set of course some will need more work than others and become an emotional labour of love and a hobby. These are cars that people can work on themselves, with plenty of encouragement in the UK community of owners.

Why dont you come to one of our meetings. You'll be astonished at the variety and passion in our owners.

928.org.uk (A 500 strong UK 928 community of V8 lovers)


Well said James Elliot!  Those brave remarks apply to all cars as asking prices have now reached ridiculous levels - just watch for a repeat of what happened last time when prices went out of control.  It just needs an interest rate increase and all the investors will be rushing around to sell and get their money earning again. Only the wild (misguided?) enthusiasm of people with more money than sense keeps the overpriced restorers and parts people going.............what "credit crunch"? 

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