Opinion: the crying shame behind surging classic values

As Ferry Porsche never said: “The 911 is the only car that will look great standing forever motionless in your private collection or at a museum.”

The preceding statement is of course a fictional twist of the former CEO’s famous (and entirely accurate) observation that “The 911 is the only car you could drive on an African safari or at Le Mans, to the theatre or through New York City traffic.”

However, with sale prices of halcyon air-cooled models at auction continuing to rise sharply, that fictional statement could well be the more apt axiom for the Porsche 911s legacy.

I say this with good reason: just this past weekend at the RM Auction in Monaco, a 964 RS sold for a staggering 240,000 Euros – and that’s before the 12 per cent premium, plus VAT. That equates to around £225,000, an extortionate figure for effectively a 964 Carrera with 120 kilos of weight pared.

The said 964 had only covered 12,000 kilometres in its 22-year life, and with an exuberant owner shelling out over a quarter of a million pounds for it, it’s unlikely to see too much of the asphalt in the future. And that is the greatest shame of all.

The 964 RS: a £250k car?
The 964 RS: a £250k car?

Ferry’s eternal words on the driving ability of the Porsche 911 were for good reason: these sportscars are built to be driven, and so we currently find ourselves at conflict with the marketplace. Prices of classic Porsche 911s have been surging for the last two years, but the last 12 months in particular has seen values rocket – and there’s no sign of them slowing down. With these cars now carrying sky-high price tags, they simply become too valuable for the road – undrivable, even.

The 2.7 Carrera RS proved the catalyst here. We’ve documented in Total 911 magazine how the first 911 RS could be had for £30,000 at the turn of the millennium. Now, they’re comfortably valued at ten times that – with a Lightweight even selling for £847,200 at Gooding & Co’s Amelia Island auction last month. The result? These now priceless motorsporting icons are lost to a life of sitting pretty in a collection. Up until a few years ago, these homologated race specials could still be seen gracing racetracks around the world, being driven to their limit exactly as they were built for.

Sights like this 2.7 RS on the road are increasingly rare not because of age, but because of value, Lee says
Sights like this 2.7 RS on the road are increasingly rare not because of age, but because of value, Lee says

Simply put, a car is for driving, not for storing. When I hear stories of owners who’ve cherished a 911 for years and “only covered 1,000 miles in it,” I don’t get excited. Firstly, I feel sorry for that poor flat six that’s sat there so idly, those tyres that haven’t had a chance to get hot, and that exhaust for failing to emit that flat six howl when on full chat. Without the Porsche 911 being driven, it cannot come alive to excite as Ferry intended. Instead, it is merely nuts and bolts and panels. And that’s not worth a quarter of a million pounds of anybody’s money.

I don’t blame owners for choosing to store their iconic Zuffenhausen sportscars – after all, it is simply now too risky to drive such an asset on increasingly swollen and decrepit public roads. What does frustrate me is the carelessly wild contemporary marketplace that’s dictated this shift to a life under covers for many of Ferry’s flat sixes. Values are now too high for these cars to be driven, to be used for the very purpose they were built for. And that’s the saddest statement of all.

Do you agree? Comment below or tweet us @Total911 with your thoughts.

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Comments (4)

  • Derek Price

    Have you ever shelled out for your own 911?..or run one as a long term owner?…far better that these cars are seen as good investments as well as terrific cars..after all it was Ferry Porsche who set the premise that a Porsche is a “longlife car”..the rising values are a balancing act that sits with the rules for supply and demand, another Porsche brand ambition..if you owned a car that was appreciating in real monetary value I think you might not be spouting such undermining drivel…by the way your magazine is terrific…DRP 6T

  • Stuart Quick

    I’ve never understood the premise by many Porsche owners (especially those in the PCGB) that once the car is seen as average or slightly above average mileage, it’s bad thing. I’m now over my must have the latest 911 and have a 964 C2 now which I love. it’s not standard by any stretch of the imagination and will evolve over time into My 964, a lighter more powerful fun car to drive. Its already covered 232,000KM’s and whilst not driven everyday, I will be driving her at any opportunity, there will be no mileage preservation here.
    I do understand, that for most people owning a car that has become seriously high value, the thought of taking it onto the track and he or some other out of control driver damages your car, Fine with me if they conitnue to rise in value and they will do as long as there are people willing to part with the cash in order to own one of these fantastic little cars.

  • Michelle Hambly-Grobler

    I totally agree why have a Porsche and NOT DRIVE IT everyday !! No matter how old – we Porsche mad peeps are so lucky as everything we need for our babies is available and replaceable and they do make mewing sounds when standing for too long!

  • Porschephille

    I have a 74 911S Targa. A daily driver. It’s my first Porsche and as such I never tire of driving it at every opportunity. If I can’t put a smile on my face then it’s time to go for a drive.