The online classic car auction scene has taken off since the first lockdown and I’ve been kept busy inspecting auction cars for sale, including all sorts of classic cars offered through On The Market and Collecting Cars. Now there’s a new online auction seller – Manor Park Classics – whose first sale on April 27th includes a pair of longhood Porsche 911 Targas.
I don’t know much about Manor Park Classics, but their web content appears to be the polar opposite of my taste in content, so it’s no surprise that the name is new to me. The debut auction currently stands at 137 lots: five motorcycles, various items of automobilia and number plates and around 92 cars if my maths is correct.
The sale includes several lots from the Vauxhall Heritage Collection, which will be offered at no reserve, including nice examples of basic Vauxhalls such as the Nova and original Viva. The other lots run the gamut, from Bentleys and Rolls-Royce to low mileage Jaguar XJS, several MGs and classic Minis and a handful of other run-of-the-mill bits and pieces that caught my eye, including a low-ish mile E28 520 at a fairly chunky guide price of £8-10k. I had quite a few E28s back in the day and I do love these cars. My mother began her driving career in a 1974 Renault 6 similar to the LHD 1972 example on offer with another perhaps optimistic guide of £5-6k, but we’ll see how that one does.
The first Porsche for sale is a 1973 RHD Porsche 911 E Targa in Gold, retaining its original tan leather trim but with a recent engine and gearbox rebuild costing some £8.5k. This is a decent engine out service on an MFI car atsome specialists so it is worth knowing what this rebuild entails. The 911 2.4E is my favourite longhood variant so that is a positive if the rest is up to scratch. Auction cars rarely are, so inspect things carefully before bidding.
The other 911 for sale at auction is a 1967 LHD Porsche 911 2.0 Soft-Window Targa in Golf Blue with black trim. In the UK since 1999, this car appears to be quite a good example, having come from its original owner with a huge pile of provenance and offered with body restoration bills for over £21k in the last few years. No mention of who this was with or what panels were replaced and that is important to know. Guide on the soft-window Targa is £90-110k. Bear in mind that there is a 15% Buyers Premium payable on all bids.
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I recently wrote my monthly column for BMW Car magazine. The piece followed up on a column from earlier in the year, pondering whether societal attitude shifts caused by the COVID pandemic would be reflected in consumer activity after the first lockdown. Would the virtue signalling being displayed in attitudes to clean air, pollution, globalisation and general quality of life be reflected in consumer behaviour through the remainder of 2020?
To look for signs of this change, I checked the latest new car registration data, which showed the state of play up to the end of September. Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that, despite a fall of less than 5% in year-on-year registrations during September 2020, year-to-date new car registrations are down some 33%. It was not hard to spot the biggest losers.
Diesel Sales down 56%
New diesel car registrations are down 56% over the year to date: 270,000 fewer diesel cars have been registered so far in 2020 vs 2019, with a total market share of 17%. This is partly explained by fewer diesel models post-dieselgate, much lower corporate sales (market majority players and traditional diesel buyers) and lower projected mileages of the remaining fleet buyers. Petrol car registrations are down 40%: some 485,000 units year-on-year, giving petrol a market share just shy of 60%. The big change is that ‘alternative’ – i.e. part- or full-electric – drivetrain vehicles are rising.
To the end of September 2020, 314,655 hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles had been registered. This means that alternative drivetrains now outsell diesel roughly 3 to 2 in the UK. The combined market share for part- and full-electric cars is now 25%.
Bentley, Porsche, Lexus and Toyota
Looking at new car registrations by brand shows the scale of the shift faced by some manufacturers. Of the forty vehicle manufacturers listed in the SMMT new car registration data, only four have seen a year-on-year fall in registrations of less than 20%. They are Bentley (down 17%), Lexus (down 12%), Porsche (down 13%) and Toyota (down 16%).
Volumes obviously differ between these brands. Bentley has registered just over 1,000 cars YTD, while Porsche is higher at 8,653. Lexus steps up a bit with 11,341 cars YTD, but Toyota has registered 73,067 units in the UK this year. To lose just 16% of sales this year versus last, while other manufacturers lose up to 50% year-on-year shows that Toyota has got something right.
Hybrids may hold the key
Cumulative sales data for the hybrid models in Toyota’s portfolio shows that sales of its hybrid models through 2020 are a touch up on last year: 50,608 units this year compared to 48,359 unit in 2019. Toyota’s global hybrid sales now top 15 million units, with the UK accounting for 356,000 Toyota hybrid sales in an EU total of 2.8 million cars (approx. 12.7%).
As the UK is a bigger market in European terms, with a usual share of the EU and EFTA market circa 15%, one might think that the lower penetration of hybrid technology into UK car sales may be linked to company car taxation policy favouring diesel models. However, taxable benefits made it a no-brainer for me to pick a Prius when I ordered my final company car some twelve years ago and that EV tax advantage has only increased since 2008. The UK’s obsession with premium brands and the slow adoption of hybrid alternatives offered by premium (mostly German) manufacturers encouraging a general mistrust of hybrid drivetrains may be a more likely explanation. As we see from the latest data, that perception is now changing rapidly.
Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid full electric range
Porsche recently announced an increase in the electric range of the plug-in Cayenne hybrid models, as part of a number of updates for the 2021MY. Gross capacity of the high-voltage battery has increased from 14.1 kWh to 17.9 kWh, extending the electric range by up to 30 per cent. All will shake their heads when they hear that the full electric range for the Cayenne E-Hybrid is still less than 30 miles, but this is a big old bus we’re talking about and the technology is still fairly young. It is worth noting that the projected range may be best-case scenario.
The purely electric powertrain in the plug-in hybrid Cayenne & Coupe comprises a 100kW electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, generating a purely electric top speed of 83 mph. Any increased power demand from the driver or switching to the Sport or Sport Plus driving modes activates the internal combustion engine.
Cayenne E-Hybrid (RRP £69,980) has a three-litre V6 turbo with an output of 340 PS, while the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (RRP £126,690) features a four-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine with 550 PS, giving a total system power output of 680 PS. Combined WLTP fuel consumption for the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid models is 68 to 74 mpg – pretty good.
Porsche sales resilience this year will be due to many things: a highly aspirational brand, attractive new models such as the Cayman GTS 4.0, a bit more disposable income around for core buyers and perhaps also its usual lead times. Most cars are ordered well in advance and built to spec, so there is some protection from cars ordered ahead of the full effect of the pandemic, but the manufacturer must also get some credit for shifting its product mix as part of Strategy 2025: Porsche’s plan to have half of its sales as electrified vehicles by 2025.
Porsche Profits 2020
The recent financial results from Stuttgart show that, on revenue of €19.4 billion from January to September 2020, Porsche recorded a profit of €2 billion: a 10.4% return on sales.
While this was almost 30% down on last year, things could have been worse and they know it. “Our young, attractive product portfolio appeals to customers,” said Porsche Chairman, Oliver Blume. “I’m optimistic about the coming months. The new 911 and our electric sports car, the Taycan, impressively demonstrate our innovative strength, and their sales figures have exceeded our expectations.”
Some 11,000 Taycans were delivered during the first three quarters of 2020, but more impressively (if such things impress old-school Porsche fans), Porsche delivered more than 190,000 vehicles to the end of Q3. China remained the biggest market, taking 62,823 vehicles to the end of September: a full third of all global deliveries. We will see how things pan out across the remainder of the year.
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Ferdinand Magazine is the personal blog of John Glynn, a writer, classic car and motorcycle valuations expert and court expert witness. To explore and enjoy more of my work, and to support the Ferdinand Porsche blog, you can:
I had a pre-sale Porsche valuation request from Lauren last week on her 2008 Porsche 997 Carrera 4 Cabriolet with just over 50k miles. Having just claimed the car back from a dealer who had failed to sell it for more than three months, she was about to sell it privately. Where should it be listed and for what price?
Sell your Porsche step 1: be a motivated seller
Lauren had been ready to sell this car for four months, so she was now super motivated and a quick private sale was her top priority. Following a bit of research and with no male bias about asking for help (men rarely ask for help, which causes many other issues), she came to me. Nothing reinforces the internal message ‘I am motivated to do X’ more than consulting a professional for input.
Having secured many quick and enjoyable sales over thirty years in the motor trade, there are several components which are essential to getting this done. The first step is to be motivated. If you’re going to tell potential buyers “if I don’t get the price I want then I will just keep it”, then step away from the keyboard. You are not motivated, the ad will frustrate serious buyers and advertising your car for sale now could hurt later sales attempts.
Be a motivated seller and ensure that your ad expresses this loud and clear. Get the car cleaned, take some great photos (i.e. not in your driveway unless the house is fantastic) and write a good ad. If you can’t write a good ad, invest a bit of money with someone like me and I’ll write it for you.
Presenting the car properly shows buyers that you are motivated. The text must reinforce that motivation. Efficient text with no errors, typos, or fluff assures buyers that time spent building a deal with you is unlikely to be wasted. Astute buyers react favourably to assertiveness and mirroring behaviour identifies a seller’s readiness as a call to action. While being friendly and personable is an important component of all sales, you must ensure that your response to all contacts is primarily clear and concise.
A prime example of how not to deliver clear and concise contacts is using your landline phone number in the ad (something that anyone could answer) or replying to an enquiry with “I will check later and email you back”. Always reply with the information, not a holding email. Always thank people for the enquiry and add any questions you might have in response. The number one thing to ask back is a version of “where are you in terms of readiness to buy?”
The three parts of a Porsche buying journey
Remember ACD: the three parts of the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration, and decision. Studies show that, by the time a buyer looks at sales, they are as much as 90% of the way through their buying journey. The buyer you want is through stage one, most of stage two and approaching stage three: the point of decision. You want that buyer to contact you. If your ad is not getting this reaction, then assume something somewhere is wrong. If you have done your homework, motivated buyers should be reading your ad and getting in touch.
A note on ‘timewasters’
Once the ad goes live, private sellers need to watch carefully, as it is easy to invest time into answering enquiries from people who are not at the end of stage two. Knowledgeable private sellers educating buyers so they can go off and buy another car costs time and attention that should be spent on better leads. This ‘educational time’ is what drives many people to burn out on sales and say something like “so many timewasters and tyre kickers on eBay” or whatever.
Most of these people are not timewasters – they are just not far enough along in the buying process for your purposes. Dealer margins account for some of the time these people occupy, but private sales have no such luxury. So be mindful of qualifying your buyer contacts – not all leads are the same. Educate people when they have invested some effort and come to see the car. Add any obvious missing info to your sales text. Remember: “where are you in terms of readiness to buy?”
Back to consumer psychology
The psychology is clear: buyers who have completed stages one and two now either change their requirements and go back to stage one or they move to decision. Assuming they have stayed with stage three and are now looking through your ad, your ad must move them deep into that final stage. If you can get them most of the way through, you may well sell your car without a viewing.
If the right buyer is given the right information and the right opportunity at the right time, they do not need to touch the product. It makes no odds that this is a £30k car: if a buyer is happy buying a toaster online, then they will happily buy a car online, assuming it’s presented properly.
This absolutely works. I have sold many cars and motorbikes to people who sent the money before collecting their purchase. So the first important step is to show you are motivated, by presenting your item well and with plenty of detail in the ad text. We will explore the text in a bit.
Step 2: compare the market
To be successful, sellers must make themselves aware of what else is out there and what is selling or not. If you are selling your car, you must take an unbiased look at the landscape through the eyes of a buyer. Asking for price guidance on a forum full of biased owners is not the best way to do this. Get into the classifieds and see what else is around. Be aware that pricing off one source of reference or previous asking prices is insufficient research.
UK used Porsche stock varies greatly: some Porsches are verging on oversupply, but many classic 911s have been in low supply for a while. I took a look at Porsche 997s on Pistonheads classifieds and found 220 cars for sale: 54 of which were Cabriolets. 18 of those were classed as automatic and just six of those were priced up to £30k (a guideline price for Gen 1 997s at this sort of mileage).
Running the same search on Autotrader’s slightly different search methodology showed 17 Gen 1 997s cars (Coupes and Cabs) but only three cars were Gen 1 Cabs and one of those was sold. It was repeated on Pistonheads. Combining Autotrader and Pistonheads classifieds gives a fair indication of national stock, so this was a pretty rare car, at a time of year when Cabriolets were in demand and with lockdown driving good levels of market activity.
Step 3: build your information including options and history
I looked at the car on the old dealer ads and (unsurprisingly) found that the sales description was badly put together. Research revealed that the dealer had reduced the price by £2,000 over the three months it was listed, so the dealer didn’t seem to have done any homework on Porsche 911 specifications, market trends and and what made this car stand out against other market offerings.
Looking at the photos showed several sought-after options that were not mentioned in the description. The car was finished in black, with black leather and a black hood – all good for wide market appeal and avoiding depreciation. Condition looked excellent in the photos. It was the sort of car I would buy if I was in the market.
One potential downside was the Tiptronic transmission. My philosophy of Tiptronic marketing is to actively market against manual buyers. Put Tiptronic in the title and perhaps (briefly) state the benefits of Tiptronic against manual transmissions. As I have said many times, Tiptronic is not the kiss of death. I like the automatic on later cars: it is perfectly acceptable for normal use and many buyers seek it out. The ability to flick gears up and down using controls on the steering wheel is essential, however.
A look at the MOT history showed nothing of concern and the ad mentioned good service history. Having owned the car for over two years, lifestyle changes (dogs and a new SUV) meant Lauren was keen to sell. She had bought the car from a specialist who I knew routinely borescoped all cars before offering them for sale. All of this had to go in the ad.
Step 4: create your minimalist masterpiece
Your ad is a tool to do a job. The job is to bring in the right buyer and take them as far as possible from the end of stage two (consideration) to as far through stage three (decision). The ad is not there to give a Porsche history lesson, open the door to student buyers, reminisce on your many road trips or to share how your partner loves the car and wishes you were keeping it. If what you are writing is not focused on the job, delete it. Create a minimalist masterpiece.
Split the ad into sections. I typically work along the lines of:
Introduction to the car including why you are selling
Details of the car, clearly expressed
Link the text and photos so no loose ends
Put the asking price in context (demonstrate buyer empathy)
Detail any inspection, payment or collection conditions
I had done my research on Lauren’s car and had a good idea of where to pitch it. She had already put it online with an asking price a little lower than I went on to suggest. As she was happy to accept that price, we tweaked it slightly (always take £50 off any even thousands) and clearly stated that no offers would be considered. Here is the text I suggested:
First registered in April 2008, this C4S Cabriolet with 5-speed Tiptronic transmission is in very good original condition, as my detailed photos show. The car has been a delight to own over the last two years: a lifestyle change means it is now available to a good home. Finished in the desirable colour of Basalt Black Metallic, the car has an excellent service history and a great factory specification, including:
PSM – Porsche Stability Management
PASM – Porsche Active Suspension Management
PSE – Porsche Sports Exhaust
PCM 2 with Bose upgrade, Bluetooth and colour navigation
Heated seats (so important on a Cabriolet)
White dials and extended leather (dash and console etc)
Multifunction Steering Wheel
Both original keys
Depreciation-proof Basalt Black paint with black leather trim & black hood (triple black)
The car benefits from full service history, with five stamps in the service book. It has excellent Pirelli P-Zero tyres all around. Recent maintenance includes:
Borescope at 44,350 miles with no issues recorded
Service May 2020: New battery, new bonnet release, replaced sump plug & washer, pollen filter, oil filter, engine flush
Service April 2018: full inspection, A/C service, brake fluid change, spark plug change, replaced rear brake discs and pads, replaced all six coil packs
Additional work April 2018: replaced wiper blades, supplied towing eye, supplied tyre foam, replaced front lower bib spoiler, replace front air deflectors, replaced both air condensers
As lady owner who loves cars and treats them with respect, I have maintained this one correctly and put considerable effort into preparing this car for its next owner. Serious buyers will note that it is the cheapest low mileage 2008 S-body 997 Cabriolet on sale in the UK. Finished in the desirable ‘triple black’ combination of colour, trim and hood, it comes with excellent history and a full range of highly desirable options. For the right buyer, this car will be a keeper. Drives perfectly and first to see will undoubtedly buy. No offers and definitely no time wasters.
The results: a sale within 24 hours
Lauren edited her ad based on my suggestions. The next morning, I checked out her ad to get a feel for the changes and was surprised to see the car listed as sold. I sent her an email to get more details.
“The first person who saw the car basically handed me £500 deposit and begged to buy it from me, zero haggling,” said Lauren. “He said he’d been looking for one for a couple of years now and this was the best by far and cheapest he’d seen. He was amazed by the condition: he only found one scuff on a wheel that needed fixing but said he’d happily pay himself for that. He also said I was was way too trusting and made me take the £500 to secure it. Not sure if I mentioned, but I got home from the dealership and the front window seemed to have slipped its runner. Didn’t bother him at all, he said it happened to him with a new car before and was easy to fix.
“This experience was so refreshing from most of the timewasters I’ve been dealing with previously trying to convince me how much I needed to knock off the price. It helps when buyers know their stuff, and also most people I am sure have been dealerships trying to buy a bargain to repackage and sell for more! Thanks for your help – it made a huge difference.”
Now, you could look at this story and decide it was pure luck – right time, right buyer, right ad – but there is little luck involved in consistently repeating this success (James Clear has written beautifully the concept of absolute vs relative luck). When we optimise all of the factors within our control, the results are inevitably going to be better than leaving certain items unresolved: especially things that are important to buyers.
This system of marketing directly to buyers who have already completed stage one and are most of the way through stage two works well. It brings in buyers who have done their homework and are absolutely ready to send money – even if only to scratch the itch and stop spending hours poring over the internet. If you’re interested in playing around with it, practice it on smaller items and hone your skills and technique before trying it out on a car for sale. Let me know how you get on!
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Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:
My work on court and legal valuations for classic cars and motorcycles has been busy all through the UK coronavirus lockdown and I’ve added more miles to the Honda Civic Tourer. Now that conditions have eased a bit, it’s easier to get out and about for private clients. I did my first private job of the month last weekend: an inspection on a 1988 Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera for sale.
The car was for sale down near Reading. Under the care of the present owner for almost ten years and showing pretty high mileage for one of these cars, the ad was not the most flattering I have seen. I was expecting a cheap car run on a budget and a fairly quick inspection fail.
I met the prospective buyer on site and things began to warm up as we entered the property. The location was a dream when buying privately: an immaculate house in an affluent area and unlikely that this car had been run on a budget. The seller was friendly and amenable and let us get on with it.
Classic Car Market and Coronavirus
There is a much chatter right now about about how the market is depressed and prices are about to crash. This does not tally with my view of things in recent weeks. Most people who have money tied up in cars are old enough to realise that all crises create opportunities. If a close brush with coronavirus means a shift in life goals and long-term plans for a classic Porsche owner and results in a car being offered to market, this increases opportunities to buy, but that potential effect has not yet kicked in. For now, impact bumper cars remain in short supply with no shortage of buyers.
The notion of a slow market has a knock-on effect for those wishing to upgrade. The seller of this 3.2 had his eye on a 996 GT3, as that is closer in character to the cars in his regular touring group. Lockdown meant that he had more time to throw at the search, but wanted to be sure of a sale on the 3.2 before starting looking in earnest.
This created opportunities on both sides: seller already checked out of the 3.2 and mindful of the opportunity that cash in his wallet would create for his next purchase and a buyer who had been to see several 3.2s but missed them by hours as the busy market around these cars outpaced him. If my inspection went well, we were in very good shape for a deal.
How to inspect an Impact-Bumper Porsche 911
I only carry out inspections on Impact Bumper 911s. I know these cars very well and enough of them change hands in the UK to keep me as busy as I want to be. There is a very simple procedure to follow to get a good idea of condition pretty quickly. Make a list of any areas to follow up as you go along, so you don’t forget later.
While the mechanical side of any purchase is important, and of course we want to check that the car is not two cars welded together, rust is the main concern, so that is what to focus on looking for. I always bring a small magnet along to help me with this job, as magnets do not stick to body filler.
Looking for rust
Starting with a quick walk around the car, check for obvious rust in the front wings, scuttle panel and windscreen corners. Doors do not usually rust on later impact-bumper 911s, but check them for signs of paint or repairs. If the doors are open, check the latch panels with your eyes and your magnet. Note the smell when you open the doors (see below).
This is a critical area on these cars: the intersection of the latch panel by lower rear corner of the door and the rear quarter panel. All impact bumper 911s rust here and it is unusual to find no repairs in the kidney bowl/sill area at this stage of a car’s life. Any rust here – however small – can signify a sizeable incoming repair bill.
Moving on from the kidney bowls, check the rear wings under the windows, looking for filler here in front of the rear wheel, look around the rear lights as this is often filled on a very rusty car. Check the tail is secure and check the rear panels for any damage. Check for corroded bumper ends as the aluminium bumpers need special treatment and new paint to correct this.
With the car open, pull the bonnet and prop the front lid open if the bonnet struts don’t work – does the owner have a pole under the front for this purpose? Check the chassis number against the log book – it should of course be unmessed with.
Set a rug or blanket on the ground and pull everything out: carpets, tools and spare wheel. Check for rust slowly and carefully. Fuel tanks rust along the seams, inner wings rust along the tops by the front wing mounting bolts, bumper mounts rust in the front lower corners, battery trays can show some signs of rust, front pans/tank supports rust also. Also be mindful of crash repairs.
Check the wiring here – pull the fusebox cover and check for any new fuses. Note what circuit/s they are on, as you will tie this back into service history later. Finish up front and move to the cabin.
Open the door and immediately notice the smell – is it damp? Musty? Or does it smell like an old Porsche? If you don’t know what an old Porsche smells like, put your head in the door pockets and breathe in. They do not tend to get damp, so keep the right smell for years.
What you are looking for is the tell-tale smell of a car that has lived outdoors or been used in all weathers and been damp for a while as a result. Window seals shrink and allow water in over time and this finds its way into the thick carpet underfelts, causing all sorts of issue with trim. A car that has been damp inside for years needs extra attention. This car was fresh inside so we could get on with it.
Next, fold down the rear seat backs. This usually shows the original colour of the carpets (how faded are they? Will you change them?) and also points at how the car has been used. You can also see whether the car has three-point rear belts (desirable and only on later 3.2s). Check the condition here – again look for damp and mould. Check the heated rear screen elements are not damaged. Check the rear parcel shelf is not warped due to damp. Check rear speaker cones are not falling apart due to damp.
You are not looking for speaker condition here: you are looking for signs of water and damp that has been sitting on the rear parcel shelf and possibly causing rust in the firewall. This is particularly important on SCs and earlier.
Finish in the back and move to the front of the cabin. Check the seats – seat cushion splits are common on impact-bumper cars as the material dries out. Some materials are no longer available. Bolster repairs to cloth, vinyl and leather seats are expensive and particularly so on high mileage cars with body-colour piping like this 3.2, which had quite a bit of wear to the linen leather on the driver’s seat.
On electric seats, check the buttons are all there and that the motors all work. Check heated seats work. Sit into the car, check a leather dash for any damage (expensive to fix), note if it is a plastic dash. Check the wheel for splits, current or impending, or any loose stitching. Check condition of the gear lever – is it original? Note the radio – is it old/new? Does it have an aux input? Will you keep it or sell it? Add it to notes on potential spend.
Kneel by the driver’s seat and look up under the dash: how tidy is the wiring? Anything jammed in and secured with lots of tape? Check the pedals: any side-to-side play? Does the carpet show signs of the throttle pedal regularly being pushed hard into it? You are checking several things here – potential for wear in throttle bushes and swivels (common on SC and earlier), saggy carpets hampering performance and of course a driver who likes to drive a car hard.
Swap sides and check the glovebox. Pull out any CDs and note what is left. Check for fuses – any new ones here same as new ones in the fusebox? Is there a spare DME relay for 3.2s? Any notes for breakdown companies or bits of paper for European recovery? You would be amazed at the things I have found in gloveboxes over the years that have later saved thousands of pounds in negotiations.
There is normally no need to check floors on later IBs but do check early cars. The floor carpets should lift out easily. If they are glued down, then ring some big warning bells in your head and stop there. You need to look at this car a lot closer and preferably on a ramp.
Assuming we are still good, pull the engine cover release and move to the rear. Lift any rear wiper off the glass (rear wiper is desirable in UK) and lift the engine cover. Look for rust around the edges and underside. Look for damage to the rear panel. Look for damage to the rear reflector.
Now the engine. First job is to check that the engine number matches the paperwork and that it has not been tampered with. Now look for evidence of rodents – droppings, bits of paper being dragged into the bay, damage to the engine bay sound pad etc. Rodents love to hibernate under engine shrounds of 911s that have slept in garages from October to March and their nests can block cylinder fins. It can be a serious issue, not just in the UK.
Using a torch, look all over the top of the engine for damage, fluid leaks, obvious signs of recent wiping. Is it hot or cold? Has the owner started it before you arrived? This car was warm but not hot. The engine bay was in good condition as the car had a top end rebuild within the last 5k miles. Although the engine had been out, the sound pad had not been replaced while space allowed and the bay had not seemingly been steam cleaned – that was a bit disappointing.
Check for damage to the chassis rails in the engine bay. What oil filter is used? The red Porsche filter is OK, but the Knecht OC54 filter is perhaps the best one and a specialist mechanic would know this.
Now we have been through what can easily be seen, it is time to check underneath. Ideally you will jack the car up and support it on stands, but an owner may not permit it. Call this another flag but be mindful of how you would feel if it was your car. Either way, it is an idea to have some bits of wood that the car can be driven up on to allow you to slide underneath.
There is a lot to look at under a 911, but some important areas to check include front pan, leading edges of floors, jacking points (3.2), rear anti-roll bar mounts (most cars) and floors around jacking point (all cars). Put your hands into the rear arches and check the fronts of the kidney bowls, full door latch panel, rear of carbon canister (3.2), underside of window edges and all along the rear seam to engine bay. Dig into any waxoyl to try to find flaky bits. Put your hands into the front arches and check for rust along the top seam to front wings (all cars).
When you are done with the rust check, check the oil system. Any kinks in oil lines? Are the lines secure front to rear? Has the thermostat been messed with? Is it secure? Now leaks – check for leaks or suspiciously clean sections of oil lines. Look for rust in the lines and connectors.
Now the engine underside. Here we check for black spots on heat exchangers and exhaust joins denoting leaks. Check around the base of cylinders for oil leaks. Check rocker covers for leaks: early mag covers can warp. Check the heater flapper boxes fully open and close – these love to rust and are a pig to change. Check condition of all hoses. Really just be slow and methodical and check everything you can see. Rusty tinware is a big deal – these parts are also pricey.
If you can jack it up and get the wheels off the ground, chock the car and release the handbrake. Spin each wheel to see if the calipers stick. Note the condition of the tyres and their dates, note the condition of the wheels – Fuchs should retain their original anodising. Repairing damaged wheels is very expensive. Good tyres are a must. Check for lips on brake disc edges. Check driveshaft gaiters and other rubber parts front and rear.
Now we’re getting to engine start time. Sit in driver’s seat, push the clutch down and hold it (is the pedal stiff or heavy?). Turn the key to the ignition position – any noises? All lights on? Engage the starter and listen for noises – the engine should fire first turn. Note any immobiliser procedures here. You may want to delete the immobiliser after you buy a car.
After the engine fires up, slowly release the clutch. Some drivetrain noise is normal – especially on early cars – but it should not be very loud. Look at the oil pressure gauge – what does it read and is it steady? Allow the warmup to continue and step out of the car and look and listen in the engine bay.
Here we are looking for leaks, smoke, smelling for burning and listening for unhappy mechanical noises. Work the throttle a little – does it rev quickly and settle back down to the same happy idle? Or is it a bit lumpy? Slow to settle? On an SC or earlier, what do the throttle swivel bushes feel like? Sign of good maintenance by someone who knows air-cooled 911s. Not all service history is the same.
We’re getting close to test drive time, but there are still a few more things we can check. Work the clutch a little more and select the gears one by one. They should all be found fairly easily. Check the gauges are moving – we’re ignoring the oil level gauge for the minute. Turn the sidelights on – they should all work including the numberplate lights. Check the indicators all work. Check the mirrors adjust. Check the sunroof works. Check the windows work. Check the wipers and washers (including the rear wiper if fitted).
Turn the heater fan on to max, set the levers to demist and check there is heat coming to the front windscreen at a reasonable rate. 911s have a lousy air blower, but you should still feel the heat here. Now turn the heat off and the air should quickly cool down and be no warmer than ambient. We want to check the heater boxes are coming on and off. Anything other than heat/no heat in the right places needs checking out as this system is pricey to repair if blowers or heat boxes are an issue. Check the A/C if fitted.
On the test drive
Now we drive. Check the seat belts for no fraying and an easy action to the inertia reel. Set your mirrors to suit. Engage first gear and pull off. Once you’re out on the road, you’re checking steering feel and listening for any noises/clunks from suspension. Ask a chatty seller to stop talking while you concentrate. Gears should all work well – go up and down through 1-2-3. Synchros are important to check on 915 cars.
We may have already checked brakes not binding but what do they feel like on the move? There should be good braking from cold. The front should pull up in a straight line, no pulling one way or another. The car should roll to a halt – not a sudden sticky ‘jerk’ at the end to denote a seized caliper. The tyres may be flat spotted if the car has sat in storage for a while – factor that into your post-purchase budget.
The drive can all be in the lower three gears; one does not need to drive far or fast. Try engaging fourth and fith just to check them. On returning back to base, leave the engine running and check the oil. Remove the oil filler cap and the revs should fall a bit. Take the dipstick out and give it a wipe. Put it back in, remove it and read the back – the marks are clearly shown. 2/3rds is the ideal level for a 911 and the oil should be clean. An oil change will take at least 11 litres on a 3.2 and the oil alone will cost £100 if bought from a specialist.
Again check for smoke, leaks, put your hand on the centre of each wheel and feel if one is warmer than others (brake issues). Have a look around the car again before switching off the engine. Assuming things are still all good, it is now time to check the paperwork and look back at your notes before considering an offer and starting negotiations.
After the drive and doing a deal
This car checked out very well. It had an excellent service history with two very good specialists, plenty of bills from recommended parts sources such as Type 911 and the relative positions of buyer and seller were very encouraging. I found a few spots of corrosion and several other minor issues which I advised the buyer on resolving but the car was a solid example overall. The main thing was the car was honest, from an apparently good home with excellent history and with nothing untoward for the year and mileage.
I was happy to help a little with negotiation before leaving the final settlement to both parties. The net result was a deal done on the day, car paid for and driven home by a delighted new owner. That is definitely how to do it at the minute – low supply of honest RHD examples with proper history mean that buyers should not hang around when a nice car presents itself.
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RM Sotheby’s has added more Porsche content to its rescheduled 2020 Essen Techno Classica auction on June 24-27. The catalogue now totals 215 lots, including twenty-nine Porsche cars: nine 356s, one 914, two 912s, seventeen 911s and a 904. There is also a Spider replica with 1600cc Beetle running gear.
The 911s include seven impact bumper models, dating from a 1974 2.7-litre Coupe to a 1988 911 Turbo. All merit closer inspection.
Finished in Light Yellow with red leather trim, chassis number 9114102746 is a 1974 911 Coupe said to be in largely original condition throughout. Described by the auctioneers as ‘immaculate’, it has had a repaint in its original colour, and is accompanied for sale by a toolkit, space-saver spare wheel, owner’s manuals, and correct period radio.
The newest G-model 911 in the current catalogue is chassis number WP0ZZZ93ZJS000080: a 1988 911 Turbo. Showing just under 117k kilometres, the late four-speed LHD 930 is finished in Marine Blue with special order light grey trim. The driver’s seat is heated and this car also has a sunroof.
Finally for the impact-bumper cars, a 1984 3.2 Coupe in Grand Prix White with Burgundy trim The seats are showing the usual seam splits and the original wheel is missing, which sort of makes me wonder what else is up with it. All air-cooled 911s including early 3.2s like to wear valve guides and piston rings, so it would be good to see a mention of a previous top end rebuild to the engine.
There are ten more 911s entered in the sale. A total of eight 911s are up without reserve and I look forward to seeing their final prices. June will come up quickly after lockdown and it will be interesting to see whether any pent-up demand has accrued for cars of this era, or whether people will wait to see how the second half of the year shakes out economically.
Despite the doom and gloom one reads in the news, there is a quite bit of business going on behind the scenes during lockdown. I wouldn’t be too hasty to pronounce things dead as yet.
Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) and RM Sotheby’s have teamed up for an interesting charity auction with a money-can’t-buy delivery package appealling to Porsche enthusiasts. The auction’s only entry is the last-ever 991 generation 911 made: a unique Porsche 911 Speedster, one of 1,948 examples created to mark seventy years of Porsche sports cars.
Porsche Design is supporting the auction with the creation of a bespoke 911 Speedster Heritage Design Chronograph. The watch incorporates the vehicle’s historic design features, including a strap made in the exact same cognac leather from the Speedster’s interior and a silver winding rotor that mirrors the car’s unique wheels. Made in Switzerland, exclusively for 911 Speedster customers, the limited-edition timepiece with flyback function will feature the chassis number of the final 991 generation 911, making it unique.
In addition, the winning bidder and a guest will be invited to take a personal, behind-the-scenes tour of the Porsche AG Weissach development headquarters – including experiencing the test track – with Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser and Andreas Preuninger, heads of the 911 and GT model lines respectively. The car will also be accompanied by a one-off book illustrating the assembly and completion of the last 991, including photographs and an original sketch by the Speedster design team. Finally, the handover of the vehicle will be hosted by Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of PCNA at a dedicated event in North America.
“Not only does this mark the end of what, for me, was a special era but it’s especially rewarding that the last car to reach the end of the line should be the ultimate,” said Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “The Speedster combined everything we learned and is the 991 in its purest form. I hope this unique car can make a big difference to those who need help right now, and that the fortunate buyer enjoys it and drives it as we always intended.”
“We’re proud to support Porsche with this initiative, recognising the urgent need to raise as much money as possible for those most affected by COVID-19,” said Kenneth Ahn, RM Sotheby’s President. “This is a truly unique and unheard of offering for extraordinary times – not just the car itself as the last ever seventh-generation 911 ever to roll down the line, but all auction items including the exclusive Porsche Design 911 Speedster Heritage Design Chronograph as well as the chance to experience an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit to the home of Porsche with the two engineers who lead the creation of modern era 911s.
“Finished in GT Silver Metallic paint, the 911 Speedster remains unregistered, having covered just 20 delivery miles. It’s powered by a 4-litre, 500 horsepower naturally aspirated flat six engine with a six-speed manual gearbox. The auction Speedster features the Heritage Design package and was built in Stuttgart last December.
The last remaining 911 Speedsters are now in transit to owners around the world, but there can be only one final car and this specific Speedster is the last of the 911’s seventh generation. It comes with a letter of authenticity from Porsche confirming that its chassis number is the last off the 991 production line.
The auction opens for bidding via RM Sotheby’s Online Only platform at 11:00 am EDT on Wednesday 15 April, closing at 1:00 pm EDT on Wednesday 22 April. The 911 Speedster is offered without reserve, selling to the highest bidder. Potential bidders can find more information on the unique package being offered and the registration process at https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/0020.
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Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:
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