Total 911 investigates: auctions v dealers

You’ve read all the road test articles and can probably quote all the relevant Total 911 Data File stats by heart. You’ve finally decided which model will be right for you, and you’ve enough money in the bank to purchase it. That leaves you with one final but crucial call: how are you going to locate and buy your perfect 911?

Before the internet made the world a much smaller place, you were limited to chasing up possible contenders on the phone and assessing which examples were worth a day’s drive for a viewing. Today you can examine high-resolution images of a potential purchase from every angle and check its full history file, irrespective of whether it’s located in New Guinea or New York. This means the pool of available cars is much greater, but the reality is that most of us still want to buy something we’ve had the opportunity to see and touch with our own eyes and hands. 

Private sales have always been popular, but with these cars generally now commanding greater sums of money, buyers are increasingly choosing to use the services of specialist dealers and top auction houses. Total 911 has decided to investigate the pros and cons of both routes. Representing the auction houses will be the highly regarded Silverstone Auctions, and flying the flag for specialist dealers will be Paragon Porsche, voted Best Independent Porsche Specialist (Sales) in the 2015 Total 911 Awards.

It’s worth knowing 1.5 million cars worth a collective £42 billion are sold by auction houses every year in the UK, many of them tired trade-ins or anonymous fleet cars. However, specialist auction houses such as Silverstone, Coys and Bonhams concentrate on the classic and exotic market sectors.

Since 2015, Silverstone Auctions has held an annual sale exclusively for Porsche cars, the jewel of last year’s sale being a 993 Turbo S on which bidding peaked north of a quarter of a million pounds. Plenty of 911s sold in the more accessible 20 to 40 thousand pound bracket, though. This year’s auction is scheduled for 29 September, but Silverstone also included some choice 911s on their Race Retro Classic sale list recently, and we couldn’t resist going along to find out first hand if an auction room really is a viable place to buy a Porsche 911 sports car.

First though, we had an appointment with Silverstone Auctions’ operations manager Harry Whale. Harry has a love of 911s dating back to when he raced one as a 17 year old. We asked him why a buyer should purchase through a Silverstone auction, rather than use a specialist dealer. “There are advantages to both. It’s down to each individual car. We carefully select our cars – if the condition isn’t right, or the provenance isn’t right, we won’t sell it. We turn away far more cars than we accept and we go to great lengths to ensure the cars are what they say they are, and are valued realistically. Auctions are perhaps not for everyone. In the past people looked down their noses at auctions as just a place to dispose of cars, but in recent years specialist auction houses have changed dramatically. We have got to where we are by doing our due diligence to the highest possible standard. We build very good relationships with our buyers and sellers, many of whom have been working with us for years.”

For the full Total 911 investigation into the world of auctions vs dealers, pick up your copy of issue 165 here for direct delivery to your door. Alternatively, you can download the issue to your desired device via Apple Newsstand or Google Play

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