Many of us look longingly at the Porsches bought for six- and seven-figure sums at international auctions. So after reporting a few of those sales, we move on to cars closer to our hearts – these sold for real world money at a classic car auction near you
Every year in late January a bunch of filthy rich car enthusiasts gather at a series of posh events in and around Scottsdale, Arizona in the US for the year’s first round of classic car auctions. These whose jet set lifestyle hasn’t afforded a window to attend but fancy bidding stay on the sunbed and do so by phone or on the web.
And this year the usual crop of super valuable classics shifted from one securely garaged collection to another. RM Sotheby’s’ highest priced Porsche sale was of a 1987 959 Komfort that made $1.16m, (about £784,244), over £96,000 ahead of its pre-sale estimate – a sum that would have bought you a 959 a dozen years ago. RM also achieved healthy prices on several modern Porsches including number 196 of the 356 997- model Speedsters introduced at the 2010 Paris motor show, which sold for $280,000 (£196,800), an appreciation of nearly £53,000 over its new price in 2011. And did someone say the 996 is the unloved 911? RM took $428,500 (£301,100) for a 1996 RS 3.8, based on the Carrera Cup car and serving as an homologation car for GT racing.
Over at rival auction house Gooding & Company funds were flowing fast, with at one end of the age spectrum an outstanding, late 356 Speedster from 1957 making $553,500 (£389,000) and at the other a 2004 Carrera GT achieving $715,000 (£502,400) and underlining how after a wobbly start in the collectors market the carbonbodied V10 roadster is accelerating towards price superstardom.
But these two auctioneers were upstaged by the efforts of Bonhams, which had managed to consign an actual 1958 works Porsche 550A Spyder with provenance flooding off its curvaceous aluminium body: second in class at the 1958 Le Mans, wins at the Nürburgring, and 10 entries to the Mille Miglia re-run. One of 40 Spyders built, it’s reckoned to be one of the top three examples in the world, and it sold for $5.17m (£ 3,63m). This lot alone earned Bonhams around £330,000.
But that’s enough about how 0.1 percenters amuse themselves in winter. What was going on in the cold and damp auction halls, the places to frequent should you be in need of a cheap set of Porsche wheels?
In its Christmas sale in December, Barons, which stages its sales at the Sandown Park race course in Surrey offered a pair of 944s, a 1987, 93,000-mile 944S and a 1990 Turbo with 149,000 miles, their reserves somewhere between £12,000 and £14,000, and £11,000 to £13,000. But neither found a buyer, so it would seem that although 944s are now appreciating, they’re not doing so as fast as some sellers believe.
However, there were no unrealistic hopes for the 1997, 96,500-mile Boxster 2.5, the tidy looking car in silver and oh-so-1990s orange leather probably a decent buy at £4500. A 2005, 69,500-mile Boxster 3.2S, also a manual, made £10,450 – hard to decide which of this pair represented the better value, but it sure shows that if you want a cheap Boxster, get your bidding registration in at the local classic auction, because this is where early 986s are increasingly to be found at more than affordable prices. At the same sale a 2000 996-model 911 Carrera Cabriolet looked a sensible £13,000 worth, especially since it was the manual version (many are the less sought after Tiptronic), had covered just 76,000 miles and even came with a factory hardtop.
Anglia Car Auctions runs regular classic sales that usually attract “anything goes” entries, someone at the January event paying £450 for a barn find 1964 Morris 1100 that appeared to have some of the barn inside it, and £400 securing someone else a Sinclair C5 minus battery and unused for many years. There were scant details on the 911S “modified in the style of a 993 RS”, which had been in the previous owner’s garage for almost 20 years, but it made £29,680, which was £3680 over its top estimate, this perhaps reflecting the current popularity of 1970s 911s, whatever form they come in. A more run of the mill offering was a 1998 Boxster 2.5 with a maintenance history from 2002; possibly the main challenge for the new owner, who paid £4345, would be living with the turquoise paintwork.
While Barons did not shift its two 944s, a buyer at the sale hosted in late January by South Western Vehicle Auctions in Poole, Dorset took home a respectable 1986 example in white for £5600 plus purchase fee. It seemed to be the car so many seek: a warranted 63,000 miles, 22 main dealer stamps, cambelt and water pump at 45,000 miles, the last owner for eight years, and even two keys. SWA also sold a white 1979 930 Turbo, a right-hand-drive, Australian spec car for £52,500 plus premium, which seemed reasonable value given how the value of this model has rocketed over several years.
If you’re looking for an ordinary Porsche at an ordinary price, the local classic car auction is where you’ll find it, and the auction environment is much more “safe” for the inexperienced buyer than it used to be, so there is no reason to be put off. There is even an argument that there is greater transparency than in many private sales, because major issues on the car are not hidden. And the adrenalin rush following a successful bid on a £5000 Porsche 944, or similar, on a wet Wednesday afternoon can be as big as when buying a £5m Spyder in the Texas sunshine! PW