Coronavirus hits Classic Car Auction Sales

RM Sotheby’s has announced that its second auction at the annual Techno Classica Essen car show (which was to be held at the end of March) will be postponed to June 2020 due to the coronavirus scare.

“RM Sotheby’s today announces that its forthcoming Essen auction (scheduled 26-27 March) is postponed until the second half of June. RM Sotheby’s, along with all participants of The Techno-Classica Essen show, are working in consultation with the organisers of the event in order to establish a fixed new date. The decision to not proceed with original dates comes in light of the global COVID-19 outbreak and the need to secure the safety of the exhibitors, staff, auction and event visitors, and all decisions are being made in consultation with the health department of the German government.

“It is both our and the Techno-Classica organisation’s primary goal to ensure the good health of our customers, auction visitors and staff, while all parties are committed to reorganizing this incredible annual event as quickly as possible in 2020. RM Sotheby’s will do all it can to ensure the transition to a new date is as smooth as possible for all involved. We will be in touch with news of the new date as soon as it is settled.”

Techno Classica is a yearly ritual for me, so, assuming the fair goes ahead, I am heading for Essen. Having an auction on site is a handy addition and I will miss the opportunity to sit amongst bidders.

Last year’s auction – the first at Techno Classica – was held in a basement close to one of the furthest entrances from the centre. In previous years, this space had been filled by a mixed bag of enthusiast stands and trade sellers, none of whom one would place in the top tier of cars being shown. One had to leave the main arena to access this hall and, for those coming in from the main entrance, it was easy to miss it entirely.

Footfall was consequently low with many people skipping the hall through no fault of their own. One UK trade seller I spoke to at length who had consigned a Porsche 911 Turbo to the sale was disappointed with the bidding, but that might have been caused by a high asking price and a general lethargy around the model he was offering.

Sotheby’s press release after the event painted an upbeat picture. “RM Sotheby’s wrapped up the company’s first-ever German auction, reaching total sales of €18.7 million with 86 percent of all 229 lots on offer finding new homes. The two-day sale represents one of the most successful and significant collector car auctions ever held in Germany in terms of both total value and number of cars sold. The auction took place in a packed room on both days and drew bidders from 46 countries, with more than 40 percent of participants being first-time RM Sotheby’s clientele.”

This certainly sounds like an exciting result, but auctions rely on generating some fever and it felt a bit like the fever was going on elsewhere. A better spot for the auction might have been in one of the spaces between halls, where the buzz is constant and the sound of an auction in progress would build on that excitement. Sotheby’s always put on a characterful show and it felt wasted downstairs in the basement.

Porsche Auction Sales Mix

The catalogue for this year’s Techno Classica sale included several Porsches. The online catalogue shows 217 lots in total, with 203 being vehicles and sixteen being Porsches: two water cooled 911s in the shape of a 2005 996 Turbo S Coupe and a 2014 991 Turbo S Coupe, a 1992 928 GTS manual, no less than eight 356 models of various types and five air-cooled 911s/912s, including a 1977 Carrera 3.0 with little early history but offered without reserve.

The 2020 Essen Porsche auction mix is quite different to last year’s sale, which comprised 229 lots, 212 of which were vehicles. Seventeen of these were Porsche vehicles, including two tractors, one water-cooled 911 – a 2011 997 GT3 RS – three 928s and several air-cooled 911s. Everything sold except for two cars: both of which were air-cooled Turbos, which have been sinking from their overinflated prices in recent years.

While there is still decent demand for quality air-cooled cars sold by private owners and my consultation service for Porsche pre-purchase price checks has been busy all year, there is no doubt that the used trade and auction market is slow and air-cooled prices at auction have not been boiling over this year. I recently contributed to a piece in Classic Cars magazine on the 993 RS being offered at Sotheby’s Retromobile Paris sale on February 5th: a nice street optioned car with decent history, which failed to sell despite an apparently sensible estimate.

Auction Results for Sotheby’s Paris Porsche sale

The Paris sale was quite a low volume event. Just 97 lots were shown on the catalogue and only 78 of those were vehicles, with five of those offerings carrying Porsche badges. Two of the five failed to sell: one being the 993 RS and the other a black and gold Carrera GT modified from new by Gemballa for a footballer. The sellers were a 904 Carrera GTS at €1.9 million, a super low mileage 996 GT3 RS Club Sport that found a home at €250,000 and an ex-Porsche 924 Carrera GTS, which sold for over €200,000. Clearly there was money in the room for the right car, so it seems that the RS was not that example.

Postponing the TechnoClassica sale seems like a sensible option, both for sellers who don’t want their car to fail to sell in public due to low footfall and the auctioneers who don’t want a flop on their hands so early in the life of an annual event. Of course coronavirus is also a concern, but timing is everything in Porsche sales and June may give these eight 356s a much better chance.

One has to wonder what will come of the TechnoClassica if Germany follows the lead of other countries and prohibits events gathering of more than 5,000 people at a time. My hotel is non-refundable, so there’s a good lesson to start with!

Photos by Dirk de Jager ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Porsche valuations in 2020

While the retail Porsche market is still pretty sleepy at the start of the year, Porsche valuations have been coming in fast across the first half of January 2020.

Regular clients have commissioned updated insurance valuations for cars including a 1972 Porsche 911E, a modified Porsche 964 with RS equipment and several standard-to-modified Porsche 3.2 Carrera models.

I’ve had a few enquiries from people looking for help to sell their 911s. Strongest at the minute is an early 911 project, unfinished but with most of the parts required to get it completed. I’ll know a little more about that in the coming days.

Pre-purchase inspections remain a bit of a theme. Early impact bumper 911s are in demand and the 3-litre SC (perhaps my favourite air-cooled 911) has come up in a few conversations. I’ve guided a few people on what to look for and there are a few potential inspections looming through January on apparently solid cars.

On the legal valuation side, I’ve been retained by a UK dealer group looking for an independent expert witness to help find the way to a settlement on a collectible later 911 and am also helping UK Trading Standards as an expert witness, in a case which comes to court next month. I did a report on classic Porsche values for some special cars as part of an overseas divorce case at the end of last year: that is an ongoing project.

Air-cooled Porsche market overview January 2020

The market remains pretty short of what I would call nice classic stock, particularly desirable 964 models with low mileage and sensible history. Those cars are increasingly hard to source and owners should ensure that they are properly insured.

Carrera 3.2 models are a bit easier to find but not the easiest cars to sell at the minute. Still, replacement costs for properly nice cars are high so insurance valuations are super important.

Early 911 SC is a definite point of interest. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are reading buyers guides more than ten years old and still coming into this thinking that the SC is a great starter 911. I mean, it is, but not for the reasons it was fifteen years ago.

The days when a Porsche 911 SC was a cheap car you could cut your teeth on are long gone. Good examples fetch strong money and the cars that look cheap are frequently cheap for several very good reasons: normally relating to rust, oil leaks and snapped head studs. 3.2s are often a cheaper way into air-cooled and fit better with a big picture of a buy now/sell in twelve months.

What are you buying? What are you selling? I am always interested in talking to people who are active in the market. Feel free to get in touch if you need any help or ideas.

Porsche Market Watch – Ruf BTR2

A rare 1995 Porsche 993 Ruf BTR 2 will be offered at Brooklands’ Historics auction sale on Saturday, November 23.

Ruf chassis number W09TB0367SPR06006 is one of five 420hp RHD BTR 2s produced. First delivered to Top Marques in Singapore and sold to a local businessman, that aspect of provenance could make it quite an attractive prospect for re-importation into a famously locked-down export destination where Porsches command serious prices.

The original car was finished in Aventura Green, but a later owner refinished the body in Guards Red. Personally, I love dark green cars but red is quite rare and suits the 993 shape. Somewhere down the line, the engine was also rebuilt by a New Zealand specialist. The original Ruf EKS automatic clutch system (think Sportomatic-ish) has been replaced by a more conventional arrangement.

The Guards Red 993 came to the UK in 2015 and sold to a retired engineer who took it to his place in France and maintained it in-house. It is now back in the UK. The sales description says it has been MOT’d but the MOT database says the last test expired in 2016, so crossed wires somewhere. The mileage is low at less than 30k from new.

Offered for sale with history including the original book pack, the auction’s pre-sale estimate is £68-84,000. We’ll have to see what the market is like at the end of November and how the changes to the Pfaffenhausen spec – including a colour change and non-Ruf engine rebuild – affect the car’s desirability.

A factory 993 Turbo with less than 30k miles would be pretty good news, even in the current slow market. What’s the price jump (up or down) from a Ruf BTR 2 to a factory Porsche 993 Turbo, and what’s the net effect on that number of diluting the original Rufness through later modifications to an already modified car? Will we be able to look at the eventual auction result and say ‘that’s the correct answer’?

One-owner Porsche 912 sells for under £40k

A smart looking 1966 Porsche 912 with just one owner from new recently sold at the Bonhams auction in Knokke-Heist, Belgium. Chassis number 352139 was a rare and desirable early 912 with the 3-gauge dashboard. Built by Porsche (not Karmann), the car was finished in Bahama Yellow and had covered just 51,000 miles from new. Here’s the auction description:

This desirable early matching-numbers Porsche 912 was sold new in the beginning of 1966 in the USA via Porsche Car Pacific of Burlingame, California. Being one of the early 1966 examples produced it features the typical and desirable early series 3-clock dashboard, the enamel badged wheels and thin engine support. We are advised that the body of this car with chassis prefix ’35’ was produced by the Porsche factory itself where the vast majority was produced by Karmann.

Its first owner was Mr George Papageorge of San Jose (later Nipomo), California, who would keep the car until 2013 when it was sold to the current owner who unfortunately passed away and was never able to drive this car meaning this effectively is a ‘1 registered owner from new’ car.

A copy of the original Porsche Kardex is on file together with a State of California Certificate of Title and the 2013 bill of sale. EU duties have been paid. Still in its original (professionally repainted) colour scheme of Bahama Yellow with black (original) interior, this remarkably original Porsche 912 has led an easy life, as a single look will confirm. Even the carpets in the passenger compartment and boot appear original, and we are advised that there are no signs of welding or accident damage.

The odometer reading is circa 51,000 miles. We are advised by the vendor that the engine starts instantly and runs well, while the transmission is said to be in good working order. In addition to the aforementioned documentation, the car also comes with its original jack, service book, factory options book, and Blaupunkt radio instructions.

While the description clarifies some of the headline-grabbing stuff (i.e. it is not a one owner car and the 51,000 miles is not described as warranted), the price still looks reasonable. Such early 911s and 912s are notorious for rust and the condition of the bodywork has a sizeable effect on value. If the bodywork of this car is all in good order and the mileage is correct, this 912 was a good buy that should certainly be insured for a higher value.

Porsche Boxster 987 Market Snapshot

I was asked to take a look at a pre-purchase valuation for a Porsche Boxster S (987 S) earlier this week and it turned up some interesting data. The car in question was a very high spec car finished in nice colours, but with higher than average mileage of circa 70k.

A look at the other cars on the market showed that, while the asking price was at the very top of the scale for cars being sold privately, the mileage was in the top 30% of all cars available. This was definitely amiss. The seller had added a very high premium for some of the spec items that the average private buyer simply would not value as high. My advice to the prospective buyer was to keep his powder dry and watch for bargains turning up towards the back end of the year.

Anyone selling their car at the minute must remember that the car market has been hard work through 2019. Current new car registration figures shows a very small lift in September over last year but the month is down over 27% compared to the peak in 2016. The market is not at full speed and this is a reflection of the wider economic picture. All of this general lack of consumer confidence has a knock-on effect on the used car market.

Sports cars are non-essential purchases and their values are more subject to external market forces than most other sectors. While 4x4s can get a bit of a lift in winter regardless of the economic picture, and vans get a bit of a lift around Christmas when deliveries are at their peak, sports cars peak when the weather is good and are a fairly low priority for most people through the rest of the year.

My client on this valuation had just sold his Boxster: a 2.7 987 with 105k miles. “I sold my 2.7 for £7500: full asking price. I made it stand out, though: painted the bumper, put new tyres on, cleaned it properly. It was a 2007, 245hp manual model with a few nice extras, OPC and specialist history. I had it for 5 years and put 30k on it. Paid £10k when I bought it. Possibly the best value sports car ever!”

While all this sounds great, the devil is in the detail. The sale was not easy, as the buyer was the only person who actually came to view the car. The seller had loads of timewasters and dreamers, offering £4-5k or to pay the car off monthly.

A quick look on Autotrader for 2007 Porsche Boxsters with circa 100k miles shows 32 cars with prices running from £7,500 to £17,000. The highest price is an outlier with 11k miles, with the next lowest at just under £15k. The spread of private sales runs from £7.5k for a 99k-mile Tip to just under £12k for a 42k-mile manual.

Retail asking prices for 2007 Porsche Boxster 987 2.7 manuals with 40-44k miles hover around the £11,850 mark, so assuming condition is more or less identical, how likely is a buyer to pay the same price for a private car as a dealer would charge for a car with 0% finance available and a warranty included? I think you know the answer.

The classified ads are full of private sellers asking strong money for average cars with the assertion that “if it doesn’t sell I will keep it over winter and sell it next year” or words to that effect. In this market, with book drops every month and very little likelihood of a bounce over winter, people need to take their first profit.

Many private sellers are going to have to try harder if they want their cars to sell. If they are really not bothered about selling, take their ‘meh’ cars off the market. Low supply of good examples is the best way to help the price of their car over time. If you want to sell, then get with the programme.


To learn more about my work and commission my valuation expertise, you can: 

On Modified Porsche Valuations

While my client work includes valuations for many standard Porsches, a high percentage of the original, unmodified cars I value sit outside the norm: perhaps they are low mileage/high mileage, left-hand drive instead of RHD or they may be restorations where the owner wants a higher percentage of the cost to replace taken into account compared to the one-size-fits-all valuation that a club or insurer might suggest.

Standard cars with minor deviations from average, run-of-the-mill examples are fairly straightforward to value. It is all about taking a view on the impact to the retail price of whatever change applies, putting that view into pound notes and deciding where the final calculation sits in the context of the market. Modified Porsches require a similar process, albeit the work takes place over several stages.

My earliest bespoke Porsche valuations were all for modified Porsches. At the time I was working for Glass’s Guide and had just bought my first 911. As an enthusiast of modified cars of all marques and the owner of several examples, I was spending a lot of time attending track days and modified Porsche meets, such as the monthly Ace Cafe German car night and annual Oulton Park RS day. This allowed me to meet and speak with owners of modified cars and understand just how exposed they were to serious financial loss in a write-off scenario.

Back then, Porsches were changing hands for much lower prices. I had a 964RS in my garage for six months; value was somewhere in the mid 30s. My modified 1976 Carrera 3.0 (which I still own today) cost me less than £20k and the higher mileage SCs that people were basing hot rods on were selling for less than £10k. A modified car based on the same SC with restored or upgraded bodywork, drivetrain and interior might have cost circa £30k to build, but, with no real data to go on, insurance companies were forced to look at selling prices for standard cars to settle total loss claims (all claims at the time verged on total loss, as the cars had such a low value).

My first valuation for a modified Porsche was over fifteen years ago, with a Ruf 911 Carrera RCT Evo. Based on a 964 Turbo-look Celebration/Jubilee model, this was a turbocharged car making 425 bhp and incredible to drive. The value was agreed with AON Private Clients in the mid-30s: the equivalent of a decent 964RS at the time. A few weeks later, the car went on a track day and was crashed. The repair estimate came back at well over £50k and so the car was declared a write off. To their credit, AON paid out the agreed value within days. The loss of such a great car was a sad event, but the owner emerged unscathed and everyone ultimately went away happy.

Valuing the Ruf RCT was not too challenging. We had recent market data and the car was well under six figures in any case. Nowadays, things are not so straightforward. Some cars can top seven-figure valuations. A number of my customers run modern GT3s with a list of modifications that can sometimes rival the car’s purchase price. I have hundreds of modified air-cooled cars on my books, from 356s right through pre-’73 911s and up to 964 and 993 retro builds. I also value cars with incredible history: calculating what a famous previous owner or unique race history may add to the value can be an interesting exercise.

While it doesn’t happen that often, I sometimes get valuation enquiries from owners who want to value their car based on a total receipted cost to build. In such cases, I will usually decline the opportunity to provide a valuation, as the desired or target number is simply too high. No market data exists for their aspirations and defending that statement in court in a total loss situation would be difficult. If your current valuation is based on that approach, just bear the overall market data picture in mind.

I work along the lines that there are three end users for every valuation I provide: the owner, the insurer and my own reputation. The client and the insurer are equally important: fairness will always be key to an amicable settlement. Even on modified cars where no similar examples have recently come to market, one must have some form of market data to support the valuation. If an insurer queries a valuation in the event of a claim, I want to be in a position to answer that query with links to data on identical or comparable cars.

All valuations for modified cars begin with a look at the base vehicle: what is under the skin of this machine.?Then we get into the list of modifications and the quality involved. ‘Who did the work?’ beats ‘what did it cost?’ As I work around these cars most days of the week, I have seen lots of examples of work by various specialists and they are not all the same. Modifications carried out by a technically proficient owner may have cost less than specialist prices but the work can be of a much higher quality. The quality of the build has a significant impact on any insurance valuation for a modified Porsche.

As so many owners admire the standard appearance of factory bodywork, modifications are often limited to purely drivetrain and chassis mods. Engine rebuilds are popular and they certainly do add value, whereas aftermarket wheels and track day tyres have much less of an impact. Changes to the interior such as a full retrim to rebuild the seats and delete tired body-colour piping can make a sizeable difference, but smaller, reversible changes such as the fitment of a Porsche Classic radio may only make a noticeable effect as part of a wider theme.

Porsche Resto-Mod Valuations

The appetite for modified Porsches has led to several specialist workshops emerging for resto-mod builds on air-cooled 911s, including SC, 3.2 Carrera, 964 and 993. These workshops build cars to a unique specification for private owners but not all owners hold on to their cars. Even when sold close to the date of completion, the selling price for a distinctive build can sometimes be well below what the car first cost to put together, so it is important to bear this in mind when valuing for insurance.

Owners who keep their resto-mod builds for a number of years might interpret this as putting them at a disadvantage, but every case is valued on its own merits. The beauty of escaping the one-size-fits-all mass market valuation methodology and switching to a more tailored approach is that what you end up with fits you and you alone.

My aim is to provide a valuation where your unique situation is covered to the very best advantage and where the insurer understands that time and effort has gone into achieving the right valuation. In claims for theft or total loss, this start point leads to hassle free settlements. That result is well worth the modest investment in a bespoke valuation.


To learn more about my work and commission my valuation expertise, drop me an email or: 

First ever Porsche fails to sell at auction

Repercussions from the failed sale of the so-called “First Ever Porsche” – the 1939 Volkswagen Type 64 – at RM Sotheby’s in Monterey continue to be felt. If you missed it, the short version of events is that a mis-hearing of what was being said led to ridiculous numbers on the price boards and the car failed to sell. Others see things in a different light.

Auctioneer Maarten ten Holder opened by saying that Sotheby’s had an opening bid of $30 million. The screens were duly set to this. As Maarten called out the bids, the numbers on the screens (facing away from the auctioneer) went up in $10 million increments until the podium displays read $70 million, at which time the auctioneer said the bids were in fact at $17 million and the numbers should be corrected.

From videos of the sale, it is clear that Maarten is actually going up in increments of $500,000 from a start point of $13 million, and not ten million from a start of $30 million. However, the strongest criticism has come from claims of shill or chandelier bidding, where the auctioneer is increasing the numbers with no bids actually received. Auction watchers are calling this shady and pointing the finger at dishonourable conduct.

Bid Running at Auction

I am not presuming any guilt here, and there is no issue at my end. Anyone who thinks that this is unusual conduct at auction needs a reality check. The best auctioneers all make their reputations through generating a fever and driving bidders to ever-greater heights: the practice is known as running the bids. Having bought hundreds of cars at auction in my career as a retail car buyer, I have had the bids run on me more times than I care to imagine. It is part of the auction process.

I don’t remember one auction from the hundreds I’ve attended over more than thirty years in the motor trade where something that clearly was not worth the space it was taking up went for a higher price than expected. I have written several magazine columns about this crazy phenomena.

Private Buyers and Auction Prices

It usually happens when a private buyer comes along who has never been to auction before and the bids are run up to private sale money for a car sold as seen without prior approval. While it makes no sense to buy a car at auction without any sort of test drive, and pay the same price as one would from a bona fide private seller with a test drive before purchase, the practice is just as commonplace today as it ever was. Car auctions are not the best place to learn how to bid.

One type of auction where bid running was less common back in the pre-Internet days was disposal sales, where the auctioneers were getting a fixed price, regardless of whether items sold or not. This included Police and Lost Property sales held all over London and trade disposals, such as the old sales hall at Dingwalls in Croydon; probably now demolished to make way for a retail distribution centre. I bought a stack of cheap cars at London disposal sales in the late 1980s and early 1990s and they came at exactly the right price.

Contrast this to a job lot of cars I bought at a well-attended Colchester sale around the same time. This was a job lot of ex-Tesco fleet cars in the colours of the Tesco logo (all non-metallic red, white and dark blue) and I paid well into book for all of them. They were all presented in good condition, ready to be sold, so I knew I could make a profit on the lot, but the auctioneer made it bloody expensive for me. I never went back there again.

Likely repercussions for the Type 64

“Once bitten, twice shy” will probably affect some reputations for a while, but all auctioneers will feel Maarten ten Holder’s pain. The car was already cooling off after Porsche took the unusual step of publicly denying any special Porsche provenance for the Type 64, over and above its undeniable importance as one of the early VW-based racing cars built by Ferdinand. It was down to ten Holder to do his job and get things cracking in the hall and he had a good go. The problem with the numbers turned things into a bit of a joke, but did he really get the bids?

Before the sale started, the car had already been offered to everyone who was likely to buy it and all had refused at the asking price. Bids supposedly went to $17 million in the tent, but the car is still listed as being for sale. It is clearly worth buying, just seemingly not at that price.

The car now sits in storage in California, where its market value has been described as “f**ked” by people who should know a bit better. The truth is that good collectors are switched-on investors who get into this for the long term. Their experience and love of a deal makes then savvy and open to taking a risk. There is no doubt in my mind that the most up-for-it vultures are already circling above the Type 64.

The scandal surrounding the car and its first trip across the block has added to its story and therefore its appeal in certain quarters. Commentators who put a pre-sale value of up to $5 million on it may eventually learn that the car has changed hands privately for more than this: it would not surprise me one bit. It depends on the mindset of the owners: if there’s a lawsuit pending, then all bets are off.

The car is unique with exceptional early year history. I value it higher than $5 million and, if I had the money, I would be making enquiries and trying to inspect it in person. It’s an interesting story and perceived long term value of these things is all about the story. If you don’t already know this, you will never make a good auctioneer!

Photo by Jack Schroeder ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Porsche 991 Options vs low spec Carrera

I enjoyed an interesting conversation and follow-up exercise this week with a good friend and Porsche 991 owner about the relative desirability of factory options on a 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera.

The car in question is his own. In the fleet since the middle of 2018, he was gearing up to part exchange it against a 987 Cayman. I have a couple of people on my books looking for a well priced 991 with full Porsche history and preferably the manufacturer’s warranty. The Guards Red 991 for sale ticked all those boxes, apart from the spec: it was a relatively simple car with manual transmission, Xenon lights, electric sports seats and a diff.

Many reviewers will claim that the perfect 911 is a simple “driver’s” spec with very few options, but try getting a buyer to go down that road. The 911 has always been sensitive to specification and buyers are aware of this. The notion that one will spec a new car to appeal to the next buyer may seem slightly twisted, but the reality is that this is how it has to be if you want to easily exit the car when the time comes to sell it.

I am not sure that a perfect spec exists: it really depends on your plans for the car and how long one intends to keep it. I like a sunroof, good lights and heated seats. A rear wiper is nice. Multifunction wheel is nice but not essential. DAB radio is kind of a must but overpriced factory navigation is something I can get by without.

That would be enough for me on a new 911, but bring a used car like this to market in a challenging colour and get ready for some pain. Buyers like dark metallics, they like navigation, they are not too bothered on sunroof, but PSE (sports exhaust) and PASM (active suspension) are acronyms they appreciate, and sort of expect.

I ran the 991 past a couple of people who I thought would click with the basic spec and classic profile, at a price in the mid £40ks, but it soon became obvious that this conversation was not going far. They don’t necessarily want a high spec car for themselves, but again they were looking to the next guy.

When it comes to options and setting a price for what the car comes with, it is usually the case that a car with reasonable spec should be the market average. Lower spec cars should cost less, and really high spec examples will fetch more. Paint to sample with high spec is the creme de la creme and well worth the premium (assuming the shade is your sort of thing). Personally, I like the simple life and lean towards simple Porsches, but buying a simple Porsche should only be attempted at an irresistible price.

1972 Porsche 911 2.4S restoration insured

I recently enjoyed a good discussion on insurance valuations and the state of the market with the owner of a very smart 1972 RHD Porsche 911 2.4S. 

This particular Porsche 911 is quite a rare bird. Said to be one of just two RHD ’72 cars originally finished in desirable Viper Green, the car has just been through a full restoration costing more than £120,000. The body and trim was redone by a well known shop in the south east, while the engine and transmission were refurbished by RPM Technik.

It is rare to find a Porsche owner who doesn’t have a rough idea what their car is worth, and this owner was no exception.  The restoration had taken over a year, putting the purchase date back in the high days, so the expectations were somewhat in tune with that. I never like to disappoint on value, so I did quite a bit of work to try and get to the owner’s preferred number, but we still ended up meeting somewhere south of the initial proposal.

While demand across the classic Porsche market has softened since the high points of 2015 and early 2016, buyers are still looking for good opportunities to invest in rare RHD examples with warranted low mileage and an attractive original spec. A 1972 RHD Porsche 911 S definitely meets that criteria, but few are keen to pay 2016 prices in a much softer market.

UK dealers are currently offering a range of 71-73 911S models with prices ranging from £130-£250k. My opinion kicks off somewhere in the middle of that range for lived in but well presented  RHD examples.  £200k is a lot of money to spend on an early car without an RS badge and there are some good opportunities elsewhere from an investment point of view. 

A 911 S in RHD in just-restored condition is a handsome machine that would turn my head every day of the week. There are always going to be people (mostly those who rely on early 911 sales to make a living) who would argue that selling prices for these cars are still in the mid £200k-bracket, but whether the market would really stand over £200k to buy a car like this right now is debatable. That said, it’s the ballpark I would advise on the nicest examples for insurance purposes. 

Porsche 997 Targa 4/4S – pre-purchase price check

I recently did some pre-purchase price consultancy with a client who was contemplating changing his Porsche 997 Gen 1 Tiptronic (automatic 911 Coupe) and going for a Gen II Porsche 997 Targa 4. The dialogue was interesting and part of what we discussed is worth sharing: see below.

Porsche 997 Gen II Targa 4 buying insight

The Porsche 911 Targa (Gen 2 997 Targa 4) is a rare car that is on the ascent. RHD 997s are a small percentage of total production and Targas are typically 3-5% of total numbers. So we can comfortably say that Gen II Targas were built in very small numbers and Targa 4 or Targa 4S in RHD is a low production car. I have a few on my books and the low mileage, one owner examples are a £70k replacement value.

However, there are some nice early Gen II cars – pre-PCM3 – cars under £50k. If there was a £20k part exchange allowance available for a clean Gen 1 997 Coupe – quite possible if the Targa margin was healthy – then you are looking at a cost to change of no less than £25k.

There are several advantages to buying the right Targa.

  • The cars are not going to get much cheaper if at all
  • PDK transmission which is much better than Tip
  • Perceived advantage of Gen II 997s regards bore scoring and IMS etc
  • Much better trim and cabin giving an improved driving experience

Let’s say you finance a £25k cost to change over three years, you are going to pay something like £1200 in interest at 3%. If the market stays as it is, then the car will still be worth £40k+ in three years.

The running costs will be roughly the same as a Gen 1 Coupe (assuming no engine blow ups) and you can run the bills through your company or claim the mileage to offset. So that is the same. Therefore the worst case scenario is losing £5k on the car and £1200 in interest: £6200 over three years, so it costs you a bit more than £2k a year to drive a PDK Targa.

Let’s say that the coupe stays – if the Targa falls in price, then the coupe will also, so that is going to come down a bit in value every year and cost a bit more over time to run. So it may be a good idea to sell now, especially if it is starting to look a bit tired here and there, as so many Gen 1 997s do. This is a good time of year to sell a 911 as we are mid-season.

Selling your car now and then banking the cash until making a purchase at the end of this year or the start of next may help you do well on a Targa, as you would theoretically be buying out of season.

The only real issue with the numbers is the size of the cost to change. You are selling a reliable but less desirable early 997 and buying into a more desirable and quite rare later car, close to the peak of the season. It may look like the numbers do not make sense at such a huge cost to change, but if you were going to hold on to your next 911 for a while, then it could be a very smart decision. This change will cost you £2k a year compared to running a new £45k Audi or similar, which could cost £7-8k per year in depreciation alone. Old 911s make sense when one takes a view of the bigger picture.

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