Car sales: have we been here before?
With nearly a decade of buying and selling reputable Porsche to his name, Karl Meyer offers his views on how the marketplace has changed, and what’s in store in the months ahead
Let me encourage you to play a little game. Take ten people you know who love cars, and ask: “What do you think is going on with the premium car market today?” You may be surprised by the answers you receive. I certainly was.
The premiums GT cars command is a red-hot topic, and has been for some time. Everyone is talking about it, but what is the truth? What’s fact and what’s opinion? I found it sobering when I singled out individuals from the crowd to discuss the topic off the record, and their overwhelming and honest response was: “We really don’t know.” Whatever your opinion, there are some objective facts that can’t be ignored. The data suggests we have three eras to consider: historic past, recent past and the present.
Historically you may be surprised to learn how different things were only 15 years ago in the OPC network. 911 sales made up less than one per cent of car sales in the UK, and for Porsche Centres to find homes for their 911 stock allocation was, at times, challenging. Most centres operated a funding model where they could keep the car in the showroom for a maximum of 180 days, and after that period the Centre had to pay for it in full. Worse still, they didn’t have any means to tell the world about it, because Youtube hadn’t been invented yet. How times have changed!
This is a far cry from today’s problem, where Centre Principles fight their case to secure as many GT and special-edition cars for their customers as they can. In the recent past, the vast majority of GT and RS product found its way into the hands of your archetypal crazy gentleman racer, serious track-day enthusiast, car collector or European rally-type playboy. These were people seeking lots of fun who were happy to lose lots of money in the process. These happy days take us all the way to and include the 997.2 GT3 and GT3 RS, before things started to change again.
After the RS 4.0, it would seem ironic that the car to get the world talking about buying a car at your local OPC and profiteering from the experience was not a GT car at all, but the Sport Classic. Prices slowly started to creep up due to its tiny production numbers. From then on all enthusiasts vowed never to be caught off guard again, adamant that anything produced in small numbers would fit the investment criteria.
Subsequently, everything 991 limited and GT sold out months in advance – customers couldn’t get their deposits down fast enough.
With the rise in the classic car market, likely due to disappearing interest rates, air-cooled prices started rising, too.
So what now? I believe we have a combination of the two foregone eras wrestling each other. What we are seeing is 991.1 GT3S below list price. Meanwhile, 991.1 GT3 RS cars are changing hands, in the trade at least, for pretty much list money, and the premiums commanded by the Gen2 cars are a fraction of what the Gen1 cars were at release. Porsche AG has installed measures to curtail the ‘flippers’ out there, too.
A glance at some of our competitor stables also paints a bleak picture for some speculators: cars with delivery mileage are advertised a year later for nearly £100k under list money. These were clearly bought to be sold on. That’s a knock-out blow that will scare away a chunk of speculators from the marketplace, and is already changing the landscape.
As hot as the topic is, it’s good to be reminded that this fight has played out many times before, and will again, and so I would feel remiss not to give a nod to the unsung hero in the saga who, regardless of era, is tirelessly working in the background: your OPC sales team. Whether there are too many RS cars or never enough, it is they who walk the tightrope of pleasing everyone – both customer and manufacturer. They are seldom told the secrets of allocations until it’s too late, and it is they who must face the public’s questions. So let’s see what the next 911 brings. And, with the factory closure and 992 tooling upstarting, I think we could see 6 to 12 months of them all being a bit thin on the ground. So go and get one – any one… and simply love driving it!
Karl runs 2911, the smart new way to sell your Porsche. Uniquely linked to the OPC network and independent market, call +44 (0) 7779 100 069 with details of your modern, GT or classic Porsche.
ABOVE Karl remembers the days when Porsche Centres struggled to sell GT cars – a far cry from the present