Porsche never offered a front-engine car powered by its iconic air-cooled flat-six, but as evidenced by today’s Nice Price or No Dice Mooney you could get that layout in aeroplane form. Let’s see what this rare piece of Porsche history should appropriately cost.
From what I’ve been told, the official number of cats one may own before being considered a crazy cat lady is three. Also, it should be noted that the term “crazy cat lady” is not gender-bound. Replace cat with car in that phrase and, well, I’ll bet there are quite a few of us who might just be cuckoo for cocoa puffs.
Yesterday’s 2004 Jaguar S-Type R merges those two mental afflictions in one cat-named car that, based on the comments, quite a few of you wouldn’t mind adding to your collections. At $9,000, and in what looked to be very nice shape, it was deemed a Nice Price winner as well, earning a 73 per cent vote in the affirmative.
You like Porsches, right? I mean, who doesn’t? That being said, individuals among the cadre of Porsche fans typically fall into one of three primary silos. First off, there’s the old guard that considers anything after the 356 to be impure. Then there’s the group that shuns anything from the company other than air-cooled. Finally, there’s the more egalitarian and accepting group who appreciate anything with the Porsche name and appropriate exhaust growl. For that last group, today we’re looking at a Porsche-powered aeroplane.
This 1988 Mooney M20L is a unique little slice of history. It takes Mooney’s low-wing, retractable-gear body with its iconic vertical stabilizer design and melds that with a 3.2-litre air-cooled flat-six, derived from the motor of the contemporary Porsche 911.
As a family of light personal aircraft, the Mooney M20 has been wildly successful over the years. First introduced by Mooney International in 1955, the plane has survived economic upswings and downturns, as well as corporate buyouts and plant closures. Remarkably, it remains in limited production today. Over the course of its 65-year life, nearly 10,000 M20s have been built.
Out of that number, a mere 41 were L models, powered by the Porsche PFM 3200. That PFM stood for Porsche Flugmotoren or Porsche Aircraft Engines. The partnership with Mooney to build a Porsche-powered plane was one of PFM’s most notable achievements. At 161 kW, the 3.2-litre mill was seven-horses more powerful than the contemporary Continental six the M20 had been using in the prior M20K. It was also appreciably quieter and more fuel-efficient.
So if that’s the case, why didn’t Porsche go on to dominate — or at the very least become a significant player in — the light aircraft arena? The timing was a big issue. The economy in the mid-1980s began to sputter, and that stalled sales of both light aircraft and expensive cars. Porsche needed to regroup around their most profitable business, making cars, and so the PFM3200 project was halted. The next Mooney, the M20M, featured a turbocharged Lycoming engine.
This M20L is one of the 40 built in ’88. A single additional model was constructed in ’89. The plane looks to be in flight-ready shape, although being offered through the miserable Facebook Marketplace, the ad is woefully short on details.
It does note that the twin-plug mill has 2,400 hours in its logbook, a measure of usage akin to miles for a car. The SMOH, or time “Since Major Overhaul” is 400 hours. Two-tone paint adorns the exterior, along with the iconic PORSCHE script along the side of the engine nacelle. A three-blade composite propeller leads off the whole shebang.
The interior is custom upholstered in white leather, or leatherette, embossed and stitched with both the Porsche brand and badge. It all looks pretty sweet and VERY ’80s. Of course, this actually being a child of the ’80s, you don’t get big screens on the instrument layout. Nav is usually handled these days by an iPad tool so you still shouldn’t have too much trouble getting acclimated.
The bigger issue with using this Mooney is actually keeping it in the air. Porsche shut down PFM in 1991 and at that time stopped making any replacement or maintenance parts for the 3200. It’s different enough from its car-bound brothers to have a number of unique and very dear parts. There is a small cadre of fans who work together to keep these planes flying, but just know that you will have parts availability issues to deal with on this aircraft.
The asking price is $CA140,000 ($146,000). Interestingly, the plane has been on the market for months now with no takers. That could be because older private aircraft are a hard sell in this crazy COVID economy, or simply because no one is skimming Facebook for such fare.
OK, so this is going to be a tough one for you today. I know that not many of you are fully versed in classic aeroplane pricing, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t have fun. Go with your gut! What does that gut say? Is $146K a good deal for this Porsche-powered plane? Or, does that price leave it hopelessly hanging in the hangar? You decide!