Opinion: the sense behind the silly values of classic 911s

Much has been made of the surge in values of classic 911s this year. We’ve focussed on it a lot here at Total911.com, reporting on the action from every auction room sale as soon as the hammer falls.

To Joe Public, the astronomical sale prices of these classic 911s are simply inconceivable. The 964 RS sold at Monaco started the outry. “£225,000 for a pared-back Carrera?” was the main line of heresy bounding about social media in the aftermath of that particular sale. We’ve also seen a million-dollar 1974 3.0-litre RS sell at Pebble Beach, and to top it all off, just last week a 1973 S with the less desirable Targa top sold for £195,500. Madness, you might say? Absolutely not.

1973 Porsche 911 S Targa
This 1973 911 S Targa has classic, purist appeal and is from the low-production era of manufacturing, increasing its provenance.

Here’s why. Just look at that ’73 S Targa. Sure, its main USP is classic engineering and aesthetics, replenishing a lack of any discernable driver aids with retro charm by the lorry load. But, most importantly, there’s an added bonus of provenance attached to the car too. Just 5,054 examples of the 2.4-litre 911S were sold by Porsche, compared to over 15,000 997 Carrera S variants. And that’s in rear-driven form only, and not including the M97-clad first generation 997 either.

Modern sporstcars may be more accomplished to drive, but they're made in high numbers, denting their appeal as collectibles.
Modern sporstcars may be more accomplished to drive, but they’re made in high numbers, denting their appeal as collectibles.

The crux of my argument is, on top of their zesty appeal to nostalgic buyers who grew up surrounded by cars from “the good old days,” we have to accept these classics carry a premium due to their hailing from a low-production era of automotive manufacturing. There’s simply less of them on the face of the earth than today’s machine-built, mass produced (and even platform sharing) sportscars. As production increases – Porsche themselves this week announced a 12% sales increase from last year – these early cars will only become rarer.

So, regardless of that idiosyncratic Targa top, all of a sudden £195,500 for a low-volume classic appears to be an absolute snip for such a car.

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

Comments (3)

  • neillwatson

    I’ll bite… 🙂

    You really need to compare the early Porsche 911’s with cars of a similar era. Comparing a 73 911 with the 15,000 997’s built is like comparing an E Type Jaguar with the XK8 / XK Coupe series of today. I see what you’re driving at, but it’s not quite a comparison.

    I think the big issue has been that, with the exception of the 2.7RS, 911’s have been undervalued for many years, especially the limited production run models. Many people now see this as simply an adjustment long overdue.

    Personally, I can see that argument, but I now feel that it’s possibly swinging too far the other way, with the market having the potential to overheat. This week’s failure of the RM Auctions 993RS to make it’s reserve is a possible sign, although that car was ex-Japan, which always has some impact.

    So has the market topped out, or will we see a half million GBP 964RS? I doubt it. That’s Ferrari F40 money.

  • Paul Harford

    Maybe off the wall here, but with present day 911-ish Porsches commanding near six figures out the door, guys shopping in that price range have the disposable cash to flirt with an oldie, but a proven goodie. When they tire of it, the potential depreciation loss, even in a subjective market, will be less than one of the ‘new’ Porsches. Smart money attracts smart moves sometimes. I won’t get into the new-money-mindset and the wanna-be/look-at-me new P-car drivers

  • rcellig

    It is like the many other cars and motorcycles supply and demand and business situations..true to some extent that not many were made and few have survived thru the the years from trend customization and other natural disasters. I think it it more like a trendy ego thing among the those that have money. I’ve got something you don’t have. Muscle cars once were at high range but since have taken a dip in prices. Custom Harley-Davidson clone motorcycle manufacture by various TV show builders were way over the moon. Now the some TV show builders are broke/bankrupt and people can’t even get that cycle sold. It is human nature to be like everyone else but not themselves, spending money like mad to be part of the crowd..then someone else comes along with a new twist and trend and off we go for another lets be like everyone else crowd spending spree. It is what make the world go around. Take look at past history of auctions..What was hot in yesteryears and it is hot to day????Do Your own comparison. Bean counters call it a business cycle. Lets flip houses today. I remember when the housing market in the 80’s dumped. Gee I once got 14% interest on my saving account..maybe .01% today. Buy it because you want, not for investment purposes.