Though certain Porsche buying market sectors slowed down considerably through 2017, other parts of the market remain active. There is strong evidence that the familiar seasonal trends are returning to the air-cooled Porsche scene, overturning the ‘gold rush’ mentality of recent years. It is also becoming apparent that the age limits of these seasonal trends have stretched to encompass certain water-cooled models.
Seasonal markets make sense for classic cars bought to be enjoyed. Activity is dominated by hobby car transactions done in more user-friendly weather, rather than being powered primarily by investment buyers. While investment buyers have not evaporated completely from the classic Porsche market, they are now more discerning than ever, with only the lowest-mileage examples exciting them enough to open purchase negotiations.
Similar buying patterns are becoming more prevalent in water-cooled 911s, up to the 2010 MY. This takes in the last of the 997 models and could even be said to include GT3s. Where a really nice Gen II GT3 would have once been in stock for a week at most, the present tone of enquiries is less frantic. When a seller is motivated, this creates opportunities for some interesting discussions on price, but it also highlights cars priced well above buyer expectations, added to the market at a level that suggests the seller is not bothered either way.
General market overpricing has been the biggest contributor to a drop in enquiry levels across several market sectors. Good examples of the trend include 997 Carrera GTS, which has now been priced off enthusiast shopping lists, and early air-cooled, where six-figure asking prices for average cars or homegrown hot rods have had a negative effect on demand.
Car dealers have a number of tools available to tackle market downturns, but the main incentive will always be price. The wider Porsche market may need to experience a serious re-evaluation of air-cooled prices before buyers once again feel confident of some return over time and happily put their money into Porsche products rather than other classic cars of a similar vintage.
Four-cylinder turbocharged 718s have not met an overly ecstatic reception, with many reviewers preferring the engine character of the outgoing six-cylinder models. Cayman GTS has been generating interest, as the cars offer an exciting drive in a well-priced package. Boxsters are slightly less popular during winter, but spring usually brings in the buyers. Boxster Spyder remains evergreen: these cars were built in very low numbers and are regarded as bona-fide baby supercars.
For those intending to drive their Porsches on a daily basis, PDK is increasingly popular. The flexible and forgiving double-clutch transmission is great for daily use, so the price gap from manual to PDK is less pronounced than the manual premium over older Tiptronic gearboxes. There is a preference for PDK amongst buyers in certain sectors, so three-pedal transmissions are not the essential feature they once were amongst the more workaday models. Truly sporting machinery still benefits from a manual shift, however.
Ideal dealer stock in January hovers around 80/20 per cent water- versus air-cooled. Dealers comment that a degree of price realignment will need to take place amongst air-cooled Porsches for the market to really get going again in 2018. Only owners can decide whether they are willing to let the cars go for less money, or whether they are happy to keep looking at them for another twelve months.
The first proper litmus test for 2018 will be the Sotheby’s sale at Retromobile on February 7th, where some interesting classic Porsche product has been entered. Early sales always set a tone for the opening months of a season, so UK collectors considering offering cars to market will likely make the final decision to sell based on the bidding in Paris and the dealer pricing of new market arrivals.