The last few months have seen a slowdown in air-cooled Porsche market activity. Long-time owners who have watched their hobby become a speculator playground may have welcomed the lull, but there’s no guarantee of its permanence.
A seasonal slowdown has always been the way of classic Porsche prices. As the cars get put away through September and October, so the market tends to hibernate, with fewer cars available and buyer attentions elsewhere as Thanksgiving, Christmas and myriad other distractions keep people at home through the snowy winter months (northern hemisphere folks).
As the weather improves and the evenings get lighter, the classic car season starts to pick up. By the time we get to Essen TechnoClassica in late March/early April, the market is getting back up to speed and we begin to see where the haves and have-nots might be found, as record prices for particular makes and models are set in a retail rather than auction context, in front of Europe’s largest single audience of devoted classic car fans. Once Essen has happened, we start to see price trends taking shape for the year ahead and that is always an interesting point.
Falling prices for classic Porsche
A number of recent Porsche insurance valuation customers have asked how the fall in Porsche prices is progressing. Looking at current selling price data and the supply levels for RHD impact bumper cars in particular, I see no sign of falling prices for ‘regular’ 911s. 964RS and Carrera RS have come back a bit from their ultimate highs, but that adjustment happened a while ago and has stabilised since. Demand for ordinary 911s has not melted away and with constrained supply, prices are stable for now.
A market slowdown just means fewer buyers are out there, but when the sale is not an urgent one, you just sit it out and wait for buyer numbers to increase. That is what’s happening now. There has been no obvious fall off in prices for SCs, 3.2 Carreras and 964 Coupes since this time last year.
As an impartial market observer rather than a Porsche dealer, I see no obvious signs of a serious downturn for air-cooled Porsche selling prices. The biggest risk to prices would be a sudden spike in owners wishing to cash in their chips, but I don’t get the feeling that this is imminent.
Long-Time Owners mothball their cars
No doubt many owners have stopped using their 911s in recent years. As one Californian owner of a number of hot rods said to me recently: “my local shop is so busy that I can’t even get a quick re-seal done. It’s good that they’re busy, but an indicator that finding a shop that is both good and relevant is tricky at the moment. I also have to say that I am distancing myself from the early Porsche crowd on the basis that it’s no longer the same demographic. There are plenty of old crowd like me, kind of hiding out now: still with the cars but not out there in the public eye so much.”
I know my friend is busy on exciting new work projects and has less time available to socialise, but I hear the same story from lots of people, not just in CA. I’m in the same boat and I don’t really mind not using my 911, as I have lots of other stuff to get done and twelve other cars to busy myself with.
Despite the palpable changes in demographic and available leisure time, there has been no huge flood of much-loved cars to the market. These 911s form part of the owners’ life stories, they embody a lifelong ambition to own a 911 and of course, they are making money parked up. If the market were to collapse, it would utimately cost the owners nothing. Their 911s are bought and paid for, and a fall in prices and change in the crowd might encourage them to start using the cars again. So they are not coming up for sale.
No big influx of cars and no changes to the external factors = no big drop in price.
2017 Price Predictions
The owner/enthusiast in me hopes that average examples through Europe and the USA being advertised for ridiculous prices will all remain unsold through 2017 and encourage overenthusiastic speculators out of the market. You may think this unlikely and I am inclined to agree. My inner price geek expects realistically priced examples with good history in good condition to continue to sell at the current level, if not a tiny bit more as this year gets started.
The advice to anyone considering an air-cooled Porsche purchase of the common-or-garden variety (SC, standard Carrera etc) who might be waiting to see if prices come down remains as it has been for several years: stop waiting. Buy a good solid car with history and start enjoying it ASAP. That advice has not changed in the decades I have been watching this market and it still holds true today.