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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