Peak Porsche?

I read a story on Petrolicious a few weeks ago that piqued my interest. It asked whether we’ve reached ‘Peak Porsche’ yet – a question to which there is no certain answer but one would have to hope that the silliness will end some time soon.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Porsche 911 is a rare and truly worthy recipient of the over-used ‘icon’ label. It has endured. No matter which model you talk about over the car’s 50+ year history, the 911 has always been elegant, reliable and in the top quartile of the performance scale for it’s generation. And that’s probably being a bit harsh.

So was it really under-valued for so long or have things gone a bit nuts over the last 3 years?

I’m really not sure, but here’s some of my personal experience.

Back in 2013 I sold my Alfa Romeo GTV6 and I was looking around for a fun car to replace it. I eventually bought my 968 Clubsport for $30,000 and that amount of money was a stretch for me. I briefly considered buying an air-cooled 911 at the time and believe it or not, I could have got one for that money. It would have most likely been an import, a less desirable 2.7 from the 1970’s or something in need of significant repair (see my vehicle value maxim) but it was possible.

The one that caught my eye the most was a UK-Import known as a Carrera Super Sport. It was for sale for $45,000 here in Australia at the time (2013).

Porsche911

So that was then. This is now.

The cheapest 911 in Australia right now that isn’t a) a 996, or b) a cabriolet, is a 1978 3.0 911SC going for $59,000 and it’s a UK car rather than Australian delivered. This would have been a $30,000 car back in 2013, without doubt.

The prices rise quickly from there, too.

The 2.7 model that preceded the SC used to sell for even less given that it’s perceived to be a weaker engine. It was the least desirable model back when I was looking around, regularly available in the mid-$20K range. The cheapest one I’ve found on carsales today is selling for $79,990 at a dealership in Victoria.

Porsche911272015

Then there’s the 1971 2.2 Targa that was originally Viper Green and LHD and is now Guards Red and RHD. This would have been a $20-25K car back in 2013. Not only is it a targa (go ahead, ask a purist) but RHD conversions were some of the lowest value cars back then. This one’s now offered for sale at $80,000.

Porsche911222015

Of course, there are a lot of people speculating on the Porsche they bought 5 years ago. They see the prices going nuts and they want a piece of that action. Prices have been going particularly loco on Porsches up to 1974, which is why this buyer has the temerity to ask a price that would have had people rolling in the aisles just a few short years ago.

If you don’t get it, you’re not the only one. Yes, Porsches were probably under-valued for a few years prior to the recovery from the global financial crisis. You have to bear in mind, however, that there are so many 911’s on the road. These cars were made in big numbers and they’re very reliable, meaning there are still a lot of them around compared to other high-end sports cars.

I can certainly understand them going up in price over the last few years, but I’m not sure I understand them going up by this much.

Is it a Petrolicious effect? Is it a Magnus Walker effect? Is it simply that people are placing a premium on having an air-cooled Porsche experience?

Whatever it is, the 911 is now well and truly out of my price range, which makes me a little bit sad. I’m going to keep myself as debt-free as possible so that I can take advantage the next time that prices bottom out.

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The 968CS I bought?

968’s are currently selling for between $24,000 and $39,500 but none of those are ClubSports and my guess is that none of them are going to sell quickly. That was always an issue with the 968. It’s an incredible car but few people really know about them and fewer still want to spend their hard-earned on one.

I sold mine for the same $30K I’d paid for it and I was happy with that. It might be worth a bit more now, but it hasn’t kept anywhere near pace with the growth in the 911.

I probably should have stretched myself for that Super Sport.

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And for what it’s worth, if I was looking for something right now…..

This BMW M Coupe just sold for US$15,500 at auction on Bring-a-Trailer. You won’t get one for that price in Australia (or Sweden) but it seems like a very good way to spend some fun-car money.

I’ve never been a big BMW fan but I do love me a clown shoe.

BMWclownshoe

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15 Comments

  1. Interesting how prices have risen in the past few years. I once found a 912 listed on eBay for less than $3000. It had an underpowered VW engine and needed some work. But I did consider it. Hemmings recently offered a wrecked, non-running, rusty 912 for $6900. I like Porsches but there comes a point where it’s a bit over the top.

    1. Back when I was looking around, there was a nice black 912 for $28,000. I think one or two popped up cheaper than that, but the black one was the pick of the bunch.

      Right now, there’s only one 912 on the carsales website. It’s got an ugly body kit and an engine from…………. wait for it………….. a Buick in it.

      And they’re asking $39,900

      What do they say – a rising tide floats all boats?

      Or maybe it just drowns people 🙂

  2. Goodness gracious, I’ve not paid any attention, but a (very) quick trip to cars.com reveals the most pricey 911 to be hovering close to US$800,000/AUS$1.12 million/Euro 750,000! As you’ve said, the 996 models are reasonable (for the water-cooled cretins they are), but the remainder are sky high. I just can’t reconcile that kind of money for any car.

    “Clown shoe.” I’ll never look at one the same way again.

  3. A lightweight 1973 RS sold for $1,400,000 USD over a year ago. A light weight with a race history and perfect resto is a $1 Million USD car. This has dragged up the good “tribute” cars to 150K to 200K. I am not sure if they are worth this, but I am on the other side of this in that I own one and bought it farly cheap a long time ago and put $50,000 into it making it it mechanically and cosmetically a very nice car……also drive it !0,000 miles a year.

    I do have to say that a 2100 lb. 911 with 220 HP, 9″ and 7′ wide wheels with big tires and great brakes and stiff suspension is a very satisfying car to drive, and a very reliable car as well. Any more modern Porsches I drive always seem to leave me wanting. It is noisy and has very stiff almost harsh suspension, but it is a go kart, or like a 4 wheel motorcycle.

    Swade has ridden in it when he was in CA a few years ago. I think he remembers……

    I was not brilliant when I bought mine…..I just liked the idea of a lighweight RS. If I were brilliant and knew they would go up, I would have bought that $75,000 USD real RS lightweight for $75K back in 1998….that would be up to 7 figures now!…..but I would probably not drive it.

    I am not sure if it is a bubble….I just enjoy my car.

    Magnus Walker effect? I know Magnus a bit, and your know he is a jerk in my opinion. But what do I know…..well I do know that his latest shunt is embarrassing, but won’t slow him down!

    1. The rise in prices is (in my mind) is primarily due to a) the 911 being a great car, and b) the recovery from the GFC.

      But it’s interesting that the last three years have also seen a dramatic rise in high quality online video with interesting stories, and a lot of them about Porsche 911s. It’s very much a secondary factor but those videos have seen heaps of views, they’re well made and they make the cars look very desirable.

  4. Peak Porsche? Maybe but maybe not. The thing about a bubble is that no one sees it coming, until it busts then everyone says they saw it coming.

    The Porsche market is a mix of investment and classic car car enthusiast. Right now the prices are too high for the enthusiast to be comfortable that they are not paying too much. Whether prices fall is entirely down to the economy and the numbers bought on finance or by individuals who will need to sell up when the bust comes.

    Classic air cooled ’70s and 80s stuff is probably safe, the front engined stuff probably not so much. I’d like a good 944 as a ‘practical’ classic but it’s just too dear right now. A nice three door Saab might make it into the garage when finances permit.

  5. For me, Peak Something means the heydays are over and this Something will start to slowly fade into almost irrelevance where really few cares anymore about this Something because it is not important anymore. For consumer products with short life cycles that happens all the time due to newer tech or new trends. Cars have a longer life cycle, and sports cars have generally really long ones. Also, peak in relation to what time scale? I would guess that stuff like this have cycles where something is really hot for a few years, then cools off slowly, then are hot again with even higher prices, etc.

    Have the been iconic for this many decades, I guess they will more or less continue to be iconic for a very long time. Which mean buyers will be interested to pay a decent price for one. If there would be (for political reasons) some severe taxation on gasolin, gasolin powered cars and/or cars with x amount of BHPs then of course the market would react since fewer will be prepared to pay up the fun. Otherwise, I guess a Porsche is a good investment in the foreseeable future – except for those who worries over repair bills… 🙂

    (BTW, welcome back with the site…)

  6. The thing about 911s is that the shape’s remained so consistent for so long, that even relatively savvy car people have a hard time telling the difference between models. That drives value for the platform, since far too few people buy cars for their intrinsic merits and far too many buy them to make a statement.

    All of which reminds me of a fellow I used to know (back in the early 90s), who made a killing buying salvage title 911 hulks and welding them together to make whole cars. If you were the least bit savvy, you’d run away from these Frankenporsches, but most people weren’t and jumped at the chance to buy a $20k 911.

    1. A similar phenomenon happened here in the US with classic muscle cars. I’m not sure many were welded back together, but certainly many mass-produced plebeian models have been up fitted to meet the market demand for the performance versions.

  7. The Clown shoe / Bread van … is as close to a perfect mass produced TVR as you could get …. M version of course …

    Porsche …. mmmmmmm …. well was never a BIG fan besides the 944 / 968 …. now they are where they need to be … with all the guys who have more money than sense ….. so to speak … not to pin point anyone (and I have not read all the comments above, so hope I have not offended anyone)

  8. Oh … and remember the late 80’s EType … early 90’s MGB … and 90’s Austin Healey 6’s …. they go up up up .. then come back down down …. to sensible monies ..

    They are like houses really …. the good ones stay to close top money … the bad ones become known and fall away back to real prices (may not get totally back … but come to a sensible price range)

  9. Hello Steven,

    Nice to see you back, still in sweden?.

    Peak Power will be achived when some bloke in a garage somewhere straps on a great big WH motor on each front wheel……..Then we will see pigs fly.

    Apologies I know that’s a bit off topic, but maybe??