In recent years there’s been a marked trend with increased interest in ‘young’ Porsche models, with a significant number being snapped up at auction. These cars are much in demand and, thankfully for buyers, the market is serving that demand with plentiful supply. For example, in February 2017 the auction houses Artcurial, Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s offered together a total 50 Porsches in the three auctions held in Paris. As a result of this burgeoning demand, the question asked by many collectors is whether the interest in young Porsches is sustainable.
One of the factors that influence the demand for cars is the age of the buyer. Enthusiasts are often interested in the cars from their youth; the cars that they admired when they were young remain forever engraved in their memories. As they were too young (and without sufficient funds), the car remained very much a dream at that time. However, once the means were at their disposal, these enthusiasts could finally buy the car they coveted so much in their youth.
This largely explains why the cars from the 1920s and 1930s were collected mostly by enthusiasts who are now in their senior years, and that the cars from the 1950s and 1960s are usually the choice of the people who are over 60. It is therefore not surprising that the buyers who are now in their forties and fifties are interested in the sports cars from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. But there is more to it, because it is not only a shift in the interest of the collectors.
If you want to buy a sports car from the 50s or 60s, you can choose from many brands. English brands include Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, Bristol, Jaguar, MG and Triumph; Italy offers Alfa Romeo, Cisitalia, Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati. If you want to buy a German sports car, your choice is between BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Some of these cars were made in series production, others in relatively small numbers.
But if you want to have a sports car from the 70s, 80s or 90s, your choice is somewhat more limited. This is because in these decades there were fewer brands that produced sports cars. Austin-Healey, Bristol, MG and Triumph had expired the production of sports cars, just like Cisitalia and Lancia. Mercedes-Benz made touring cars. In addition, not every brand had in these decades the reputation of making high-quality, reliable sports cars. This was true, for example, of some of the cars made by Aston Martin and Maserati during this period. Because of this, current owners need to take into account the high maintenance costs. That affects the demand.
Next we need to consider usability. When we look at the scope to use the sports car for a weekend trip, or even to take it on a week-long tour – including luggage, of course – then there are fewer cars to choose from. As gorgeous as they are, who would want to regularly travel with a Ferrari 512 BB, Testa Rossa or 348 GTB? Another example is the Lamborghini Countach – the ability to take a trip with this this car is not great! These restrictions do not apply to Porsche’s sports cars. They are not only considered to be very reliable, but also offer excellent usability usages. The difference in reliability and usage (from day-to-day use to longer trips) is reflected in the distances that are being driven with the cars. It is not unusual for a Ferrari from the 70s, 80s or 90s to have seen less than 20,000. For a Porsche from the same period, it’s not unusual for such a car to have more than 100,000 miles on the odometer.
The third factor that plays a role is that the Porsche 911 is an iconic model. Since the debut of the first model at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963, Porsche has retained the appearance of the car for more than 50 years. The latest state-of-the-art Porsches still has clear similarities with the original model. Therefore many people have grown up with the iconic image of the Porsche 911, meaning that enthusiasts are now in a position to choose the model of their dreams, regardless of era. A Porsche from 1995 can fulfil the yearning of our youth just as well as a model from 1975.
The result of this is that the interest for Porsches has increased greatly… and a result of the increased interest is a rise in prices, especially the most sought-after models and variants that were made in relatively small. The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 from 1973 is one such car that has realised high prices. Porsche made 1,340 of this variant. In August 2000 Brooks auctioned a 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring for almost £30,000. Last year, several cars were auctioned for almost £400,000. In May 2016 RM Sotheby’s auctioned the same model for £480,000.
Introduced in the late 1980s, the Porsche 959 was the top model manufactured by the factory. In May 2011, Brooks auctioned a Porsche 959 Komfort for £145,000. In 2016 these cars realised prices between £700,000 to £1,000,000 at auction. Porsche made 292 cars in the Komfort trim and only 29 in the Sport trim. In February 2017, RM Sotheby’s auctioned a 959 Sport for almost £1,700,000. Following the huge rise in value for these rare models, the prices of a lot of other versions of the Porsche 911 also increased. Examples of this are the 911 Type 964 Turbo S, 911 Type 933 Turbo S and 933 GT2.
In recent years, classic Porsches were not only purchased by enthusiasts, but also by other interested parties. These cars turned out to be good investments and, naturally, attracted investors who were keen to capitalise on the high potential return. But given the long-term trends and the large number of enthusiasts attracted to the marque, it would not be correct to call the increase of the prices merely ‘hype.’ Although in 2016 there appeared to be some ‘air’ in the price development of certain cars, it is not likely that enthusiasts or collectors will turn their backs en masse on the brand, primarily because there are too few good alternatives offering these levels of usability, reliability and nostalgic, emotional connection.
1993 Porsche 911 Turbo 3,6 Type 964. Geveild door Bonhams in September 2016 voor € 238.625 (£ 200.300). Foto Bonhams.