Thought of the day: Shared 911 ownership
It’s a game I guess we have all played at some time. You open up the pages of Piston Heads Classifieds, or whatever your automotive advertiser of choice may be, and ask that famous question, “If I had 40 (or 50, or 60) thousand pounds to spare, which 911 would I buy from what’s on offer today?” It’s a great game because unlike when you actually hand over the cash, this way you don’t have to find another £2,000 for the insurance, have a £1,000 bill next month for a new clutch or lose £4,000 in depreciation when you sell it next year. The downside, of course, is that the lack of actual ownership expenses is matched by a lack of actual ownership thrills. But what if I told you I could show you a way to get that £40,000 911 for £10,000, the insurance for £500, the clutch for £250 and the depreciation when you sell it a mere £1,000? And no, you wouldn’t have to borrow a DeLorean to travel back to 1970 to do it.
So how will this remarkable trick work? Well, the clue to my plan is in the opening line above – it’s a game that so many of us play. At the same time that you are sitting at your computer in Nottingham lusting after that low mileage 2006 Guards Red GT3 for £40,000, so are three others sitting at their computers in Derby, Sheffield and Leicester, all with that same desire not quite matched by depth of pocket. In a world where we communicate constantly with everyone about everything, including what we had for breakfast, it surely can’t be that difficult to find a way to get the four of you in contact? Before you write off the idea as unworkable, let me tell you about my friend’s share in a glider. She and three others share a £50,000 glider, splitting all the maintenance costs and each getting a quarter of the flying opportunities at their local gliding club. She doesn’t feel this is too big a limitation – as she said, nobody wants to be flying a glider every day, do they?
And is a 911, particularly a GT3, that different? For most people a GT3 won’t be drive to work transport. It will be a treasured toy, a pampered pet to be taken out on warm sunny evenings and for those weekend runs across the Snake Pass. I remember seeing a picture of a GT3 owner who had replaced the solid wall between his living room and his garage with a huge sheet of plate glass so that he could look at it when he wasn’t driving it. And before you ask, yes, he was a bachelor. But for most of us, when it is not being driven, it just sits in the garage on the trickle charger. If there is that much money to be saved, why can’t it be charging in somebody else’s garage?
Realistically, I can probably imagine some of those reservations going through your heads right now, because they are probably the same reservations I would have. How carefully would those other three owners drive the car during their ownership weeks, for example? But think of those immaculate Audis and BMWs on main dealer forecourts that have come, via the valeters, straight from Hertz and Avis. How many drivers have they had, and how much emotional and financial buy-in to the car did they have compared with that of a part-owner? And then there is the issue of insurance. Depending on your age and the cleanliness of your license, 911 insurance can range from remarkably cheap to eye-wateringly expensive. I contacted my insurers and asked how they would react to my suggested ownership scenario. They admitted it would be slightly more complicated in an administrative sense, but felt that in terms of risk they would regard it as similar to a policy holder with several extra named drivers. It certainly would not be a deal breaker. So far so good, but what if something major fails, and the engine turns into expensive shrapnel – who gets to pick up the bill? Well, a really good independent extended warranty is certainly not cheap, but if you divide the cost by four it is certainly more reasonable, and could prevent sleepless nights of worry, or heated arguments over responsibility.
Of course, there are examples of car shared ownership schemes already set up and running. Many of these are so called fractional ownership schemes like ClubGT, where for a fee of a few thousand pounds a year you get a certain number of driving hours in a range of often very exotic cars. Now this sort of deal might be exactly what you want, but in reality these are really rental packages. There is nothing wrong with that, but it probably won’t put that song in your heart or spring in your step that actual Porsche ownership would bring.
So if you want (a share of) the real deal, how might you go about it? First, find your three potential fellow purchasers, and decide if these are people you could get along with when something goes wrong, which it inevitably will. Only when you all decide that you are happy on that score should you start discussing budgets and potential cars. Work out how you will share the time, who will handle the finance and what you will do when one of you needs to get their cash back. Write it up as a set of procedures that you can all agree to, and get a solicitor to check it before you all sign. If that makes it sound too much like a business agreement then that’s good, because my friend with the glider says that is exactly how you should see it.
But if it helps you get that kick I get every time I see my old 996, it will be worth it.