ROBERT BAR­RIE

IS IT WRONG TO TALK ABOUT PRICES, PON­DERS ROBERT, AS SOME SEEM TO THINK? THERE’S DEF­I­NITELY MOVE­MENT IN CLAS­SIC PORSCHE VAL­UES, WITH SOME RIS­ING AND SOME FALL­ING…

Classic Porsche - - Contents -

On val­ues – and more

Ien­joyed Clas­sics at the Cas­tle again. It was less dy­namic with­out the pa­rade runs down the drive­way but, as al­ways, there were great cars to see, peo­ple to meet and plans to be made. I spent some time with pub­lisher Clive and ed­i­tor Keith at the Clas­sic Porsche stand. We re­mem­bered a pub lunch a year or two back con­vened to dis­cuss the con­tents and di­rec­tion of this very mag­a­zine. One of the at­ten­dees took the out­side-the-box ap­proach.

Itʼs called Clas­sic Porsche, he said, but does it re­ally need to be about Porsche and do they re­ally need to be old? We con­sid­ered the idea care­fully be­fore con­clud­ing that, on bal­ance, it prob­a­bly did need to be about Porsches and they prob­a­bly did need to be old. En­cour­aged by the open­minded am­biance, I sug­gested we might add a col­umn cov­er­ing mar­ket con­di­tions. It turned out to be an aw­ful faux-pas.

The as­sem­bled com­pany was ap­palled. Ab­so­lutely not, they all said im­me­di­ately, and at once. You can write about al­most any­thing you like, but you never men­tion buy­ing or sell­ing, or the prices of cars. I have not been in­vited back…

I am ex­ag­ger­at­ing slightly, of course, but only slightly. Itʼs clearly not the main thing for the en­thu­si­ast, but I donʼt think many of us are – or can af­ford to be – com­pletely in­dif­fer­ent to what our cars are worth. Here, then, for those that care, are some ob­ser­va­tions on the sub­ject. The pu­ri­tan­i­cal should prob­a­bly turn the page. For the rest of us, the key point is that the mar­ket has slowed.

Vol­umes are down and prices have stopped ris­ing. Cars are still chang­ing hands, and some­times for very large amounts of money, but itʼs on a more con­sid­ered ba­sis. A clearer dis­tinc­tion is be­ing made be­tween the mod­els and ex­am­ples that are gen­uinely his­toric and rare and widely ac­cepted as such and cars that are sim­ply old. The lat­ter can still be a lot of fun, as we know, but it should­nʼt be par­tic­u­larly ex­pen­sive fun.

We have gone, as the old cliché puts it, from a mar­ket with more buy­ers than sell­ers to one with more sell­ers than buy­ers. The main price in­dices are roughly flat. To put that into per­spec­tive, one of them – the His­toric Au­to­mo­bile Groupʼs HAGI in­dex – sug­gests prices rose at a peak an­nual rate of al­most 50 per cent in late-2013 and were still ris­ing at a dou­ble-digit rate last year. They went up a long way and for a long time.

The in­dices re­flect trends across the mar­ket as a whole. In­evitably, some of the con­stituent parts do bet­ter than the head­line num­ber and some do less well. Hagerty, the in­surer, sets out its num­bers in some de­tail. They reckon the prices of Car­rera 2.7 RSS in av­er­age con­di­tion have fallen by roughly 15 per cent in the past three years. In­ter­est­ingly, they also reckon the prices of 356 Speed­sters in sim­i­lar con­di­tion have risen by roughly 20 per cent. We can ar­gue about the ex­act num­bers, but the gen­eral pat­tern is prob­a­bly right.

The mod­els that were bid up most strongly, such as the Car­rera 2.7 RS, are the ones that have seen the more re­cent cor­rec­tion. Those where the price rise was more mod­er­ate, such as the 356 Speed­ster, have not suf­fered so much.

The Hagerty num­bers also make a fur­ther point. They sug­gest the prices of Car­rera 2.7 RSS in the top con­di­tion cat­e­gory have con­tin­ued to rise in the past three years, as those in the av­er­age cat­e­gory have fallen. Itʼs the mar­ket mak­ing another dis­tinc­tion.

Few of us are in the for­tu­nate po­si­tion of be­ing di­rectly af­fected by Car­rera 2.7 RS and 356 Speed­ster prices, but what is true of those mod­els is also true, to a lesser ex­tent, of oth­ers. The early 911 mar­ket has been more volatile than the 356 mar­ket.

So, what might hap­pen next? I men­tioned pre­vi­ously that I used to make fore­casts for a liv­ing and gave up as soon as I re­alised I got most of them wrong. How­ever, while I was at it, I learned that mar­ket move­ments can, and of­ten do, go fur­ther and/or faster than ex­pected. That is, af­ter all, what hap­pened on the way up.

Most com­men­ta­tors con­tinue to ex­pect a mod­est cor­rec­tion this time and, for the most part, I think they are prob­a­bly right. Itʼs still not clear what could trig­ger a harder land­ing. Even so, if I were ad­vis­ing on ac­qui­si­tions and re­ten­tions, I would stress the need to own the right car and not just any car.

As be­fore, that means the mod­els and ex­am­ples that are gen­uinely his­toric and rare and are widely re­garded as such. To mud­dle my metaphors, the ris­ing tide lifted all boats. Now itʼs go­ing out, weʼll see who is wear­ing the Speedos and who, in the words of War­ren Buf­fet, has been swim­ming naked. CP

“THE EARLY 911 MAR­KET HAS BEEN MORE VOLATILE THAN THE 356 MAR­KET…”

Speed­sters are hold­ing up well, with even av­er­age ex­am­ples show­ing a 20 per cent rise in value

Robert Bar­rie is a clas­sic Porsche en­thu­si­ast through and through. As well as com­pet­ing in his­toric events with a va­ri­ety of early Porsches and or­gan­is­ing track days, heʼs also a pur­veyor of fine clas­sic au­to­mo­biles

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