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Coronavirus hits Classic Car Auction Sales

Coronavirus hits Classic Car Auction Sales

RM Sotheby’s has announced that its second auction at the annual Techno Classica Essen car show (which was to be held at the end of March) will be postponed to June 2020 due to the coronavirus scare.

“RM Sotheby’s today announces that its forthcoming Essen auction (scheduled 26-27 March) is postponed until the second half of June. RM Sotheby’s, along with all participants of The Techno-Classica Essen show, are working in consultation with the organisers of the event in order to establish a fixed new date. The decision to not proceed with original dates comes in light of the global COVID-19 outbreak and the need to secure the safety of the exhibitors, staff, auction and event visitors, and all decisions are being made in consultation with the health department of the German government.

“It is both our and the Techno-Classica organisation’s primary goal to ensure the good health of our customers, auction visitors and staff, while all parties are committed to reorganizing this incredible annual event as quickly as possible in 2020. RM Sotheby’s will do all it can to ensure the transition to a new date is as smooth as possible for all involved. We will be in touch with news of the new date as soon as it is settled.”

Techno Classica is a yearly ritual for me, so, assuming the fair goes ahead, I am heading for Essen. Having an auction on site is a handy addition and I will miss the opportunity to sit amongst bidders.

Last year’s auction – the first at Techno Classica – was held in a basement close to one of the furthest entrances from the centre. In previous years, this space had been filled by a mixed bag of enthusiast stands and trade sellers, none of whom one would place in the top tier of cars being shown. One had to leave the main arena to access this hall and, for those coming in from the main entrance, it was possible to miss it entirely.

Footfall consequently felt fairly low, with many people skipping the hall through no fault of their own. One UK trade seller I spoke to at length who had consigned a Porsche 911 Turbo to the sale was disappointed with the bidding, but that might have been caused by a high asking price and a general lethargy around the model he was offering.

Sotheby’s press release after the event painted an upbeat picture. “RM Sotheby’s wrapped up the company’s first-ever German auction, reaching total sales of €18.7 million with 86 percent of all 229 lots on offer finding new homes. The two-day sale represents one of the most successful and significant collector car auctions ever held in Germany in terms of both total value and number of cars sold. The auction took place in a packed room on both days and drew bidders from 46 countries, with more than 40 percent of participants being first-time RM Sotheby’s clientele.”

This certainly sounds like an exciting result, but auctions rely on generating some fever and it felt a bit like the fever was going on elsewhere. A better spot for the auction might have been in one of the spaces between halls, where the buzz is constant and the sound of an auction in progress would build on that excitement. Sotheby’s always put on a characterful show and it felt wasted downstairs in the basement.

Porsche Auction Sales Mix

The catalogue for this year’s Techno Classica sale included several Porsches. The online catalogue shows 217 lots in total, with 203 being vehicles and sixteen being Porsches: two water cooled 911s in the shape of a 2005 996 Turbo S Coupe and a 2014 991 Turbo S Coupe, a 1992 928 GTS manual, no less than eight 356 models of various types and five air-cooled 911s, including a 1977 Carrera 3.0 Coupe with little early history but offered without reserve (below).

The 2020 Essen Porsche auction mix is quite different to last year’s sale, which comprised 229 lots, 212 of which were vehicles. Seventeen of these were Porsche vehicles, including two tractors, one water-cooled 911 – a 2011 997 GT3 RS – three 928s and several air-cooled 911s. Everything sold except for two cars: both of which were air-cooled Turbos, which have been sinking from their overinflated prices in recent years.

While there is still decent demand for quality air-cooled cars sold by private owners and my Porsche valuation service including Porsche pre-purchase price checks has been busy all year, supply of the best examples through the used trade and auction market does seem a bit squeezed and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I recently contributed to a piece in Classic Cars magazine on the 993 RS being offered at Sotheby’s Retromobile Paris sale on February 5th: a nice street optioned car with decent history, which failed to sell despite an apparently sensible estimate.

Auction Results for Sotheby’s Paris Porsche sale

The Paris sale was quite a low volume event. Just 97 lots were shown on the catalogue and only 78 of those were vehicles, with five of those offerings carrying Porsche badges. Two of the five failed to sell: one being the 993 RS and the other a black and gold Carrera GT modified from new by Gemballa for a footballer. The sellers were a 904 Carrera GTS at €1.9 million, a super low mileage 996 GT3 RS Club Sport that found a home at €250,000 and an ex-Porsche 924 Carrera GTS, which sold for over €200,000. Clearly there was money in the room for the right car, so it seems that the RS was not that example.

Postponing the TechnoClassica sale seems like a sensible option, both for sellers who don’t want their car to fail to sell in public due to low footfall and the auctioneers who don’t want a flop on their hands so early in the life of an annual event. Of course coronavirus is also a concern, but timing is everything in Porsche sales and June may give these eight 356s a much better chance.

One has to wonder what will come of the TechnoClassica if Germany follows the lead of other countries and prohibits events gathering of more than 5,000 people at a time. My hotel is non-refundable, so there’s a good lesson to start with!

Photos by Dirk de Jager ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

Porsche cars to watch at Sothebys London

Porsche cars to watch at Sothebys London

RM Sotheby’s end-of-year London sale takes place this Thursday at Olympia in Kensington. Fifteen Porsche cars are amongst the lots on offer and half of those cars are being sold without reserve. Here’s a look at three of the no-reserve Porsches that caught my eye.

1965 Porsche 356C LHD Coupe – estimate £50-60k

Chassis number 221132 is a Porsche 356 C 1600 Coupe. Finished in Light Ivory, Sotheby’s website doesn’t offer too many clues, but the car had previously sold at Goodwood Revival in 2008, so I dug out those details.

This ‘65 C Coupe began its life in California, where it was sold to a policeman from El Cerrito. In 1971, it passed from one policeman to another and stayed with him until it sold to the third owner in 1996. The third owner brought the car to the UK and kept it until 2008. It is offered for sale by the fourth owner.

The history includes an engine rebuild with 1700cc barrel and piston set at 112k miles, a transmission overhaul at 114k miles and a bare metal respray in its original colour, which was carried out in the UK. MOT history shows that the car has not been MOT’d since 2008, when it passed with a list of advisories including oil leaks and split CV boots. Interested parties should therefore proceed with caution, but a potentially solid 356C with sensible ownership since new and sold no reserve is worth a second look.

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet – estimate £80-130k

Chassis number WP0ZZZ93ZJS020221 is a 1988 Porsche 930 Cabriolet with two owners from new. Presented in Diamond Blue Metallic with Cashmere Beige leather trim, the odometer shows 26k miles but, as Sotheby’s description doesn’t mention the mileage, assume it’s unwarranted.

I put this four-speed Turbo Cab on my watch list, not because it is a great example of the breed, but because 930 prices are an important benchmark for air-cooled 911s and the market has been a bit shaky.

The 930 had the highest cost new in period and open sale prices for these cars highlight real-time premiums for turbocharged vs normally aspirated 911s. The 930 market has been under pressure since the high water line of 2015, so this unrestored car in an elegant colour mix offered with no reserve will lay down a useful data point.

1992 LHD Porsche 968 Club Sport ex-factory press car – estimate £35-50k

The car I am most keen to follow is chassis number WP0ZZZ96ZPS815075: a left-hand drive 1992 Porsche 986 Club Sport in Speed Yellow. This 968 has a super interesting history that was recently shared in 911 & Porsche World magazine. The auction entry may have been encouraged by enthusiasm around the piece and that enthusiasm could be rewarded on Thursday.

Detective work by the current owner with assistance from the Porsche archive revealed that this 968 Club Sport was the factory press car used in several notable articles on the model. Walter Röhrl drove the car in a four-way road test printed in Auto Zeitung and called it ‘the best handling car that Porsche makes’. The history is very well documented and includes several Porsche factory service stamps, a top-end rebuild, clutch and flywheel at Parr and a huge list of work carried out by its current custodian over almost two decades.

I have a side interest in cars like this one that passed through the hands of well known racer and dealer, Nick Faure, as my early 944 Lux is one of those cars. Faure is a true devotee of the transaxle Porsches and those who love these cars tend to love them for life. I adore the 924, 944 and 968 models and there can’t be too many 968 Club Sports with such enjoyable provenance.

The light blue 930 has a fairly bullish estimate at £80-130k given the condition seen in the photos, while this apparently perfect 968 Club Sport at £35-50k feels relatively conservative in comparison. I suspect it may do slightly better: everything depends on who’s in the room when the cars come over the block in Kensington and whether there’s any hangover from the Type 64 debacle in Monterey. I would love to be there in person, but the dentist is calling…

Pics by Tom Gidden, Dirk de Jager and Adam Warner for RM Sotheby’s

Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support this blog or to engage with me in other ways, you can:

Porsche 924 Turbo goes back together

Porsche 924 Turbo goes back together

It’s been almost five years since I took my 1981 Porsche 924 Turbo apart for a repaint and the car is still not back together. Family life and motorbike fun just keeps getting in the way of my available time to work on this beautiful old car and get it road legal in the UK.

The most recent burst of activity on the 924 Turbo stopped after I bought my 1150 GS Adventure two years ago. Last year’s addition of another boxer – the 2004 BMW R1150RT that middle daughter Ciara and I enjoyed two great European tours on last year and which I fully rebuilt bar the engine during this winter just gone – meant that the 924 was left unloved for another twelve months. However, it is now in the way of another big project, so I’ve been putting that right at weekends and it’s looking much more like a car again.

The latest work is reassembling the engine and getting it running again, so I can move it to finish the inside of my new garage build. I took the induction apart in 2015 to check gaskets and vacuum leaks, powder coat some parts and to get to the cam belt to change it, but soon realised what I really wanted to do was to pull the engine, transmission and front and rear suspension to refurb everything after my complete body repaint and full strip and rebuild of the interior. I decided to just have a good look, tidy things up and make a list of bits to start collecting for a more detailed refurb at a later date.

I really like looking at and working on this car and am excited to begin working on a complete powertrain refurb at a later date once this new garage workshop is sorted. Good-as-new mechanicals and underside parts will really make the 924 Turbo something special. My intention now is to get it running cleanly, take it for another MOT to help get it UK registered and then send it away for the summer while I sort this garage space for project use.

I took a few pics when ripping this all to bits in 2015 and am I glad I did: the brain soon forgets where stuff goes. During reassembly, I’ve found a couple of bits that could do with changing and ordered some more new parts which should hopefully get here this week. One thing that would really be nice to change is the the vacuum capsule, which has a cracked bracket, but I can’t find one in my stash at the minute. It is on the list for the future.

I have a few more bits to put back together, then the brakes need to come off: discs will be de-rusted and the calipers will be dismantled before a system flush with fresh fluid (it is absolutely black at the minute) and then we can run it and see what else needs looking at. I bought a set of tyres for the original wheels and have fixed everything thrown up by the previous MOT, so fingers crossed that it all works out.

Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

Festival of the Unexceptional

Festival of the Unexceptional

Contrary to what you may read in today’s press, the UK’s greatest festival of motoring held in the grounds of an old country house doesn’t start for another three weeks. Roll on July 22nd, and the Festival of the Unexceptional at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire.

Keep your manufacturer-sponsored traffic jams and exhibition runs up the garden path for friends of his lordship. Instead, cue the oddball and unloved motors of our youth: the stuff that sensible people scrapped when the repair bills at MOT time topped £100 and were therefore more than the cars were worth, all those years ago.

Festival of the Unexceptional

First held in 2014, the Festival of the Unexceptional is a grand day out for fans of the ordinary. Witness a Light Blue 1.6-litre Honda Quintet and wonder how you ever forgot they existed. Spy a Pale Green 1.3-litre Ford Escort and remember how the neighbours took you and your sister to see Snow White at the cinema in an identical model (No? Just me, then).

Previous winners of the Concours de l’Ordinaire a competition of fifty of the best examples of unexceptional cars built between 1966 and 1989 – include a Nissan Cherry Europe, a Morris Marina pick-up truck, and a Hillman Avenger Super Estate, all of which get my vote for working class motoring eye candy. I am very excited to see what turns up this year.

Will we find Porsches at the 2017 Festival of the Unexceptional? By rights, yes, we certainly should. Stuttgart made its fair share of unexceptional vehicles to 1990 (the show’s cut-off point) and I have driven a healthy proportion of all those produced. But this could be classed as treasonable talk nowadays, especially in front of potential ‘investors’.

Unexceptional Porsche – Judge’s Choice

My wet-dream Porsche for top honours at Stowe would be the pic at the top: a nice early RHD 924 Lux in Yellow with the basic alloys and a straight, simple spec. A natty little car in anyone’s book but unexceptional in the great scheme of things. However, now that 924s are changing hands for silly money, some 924 folk have sought to rewrite their steeds’ proletarian roots. Perish the thought of putting pop-up Porsche lights to an unexceptional grindstone for these proud PCGB’ers.

I have no such aversions and would happily run any Porsche of mine to this festival long before I ever considered taking one to the Festival of Greed. Mrs G and I have discussed getting the 924 Turbo over to the Stowe car park for a day on the lawns. I’m sure it will make for a grand day out if I can get the water pump back on, timing belt replaced and all the fuel injection shoved back into place in the few days I have free between now and then.

Who needs UK reg plates when it’s back roads to Stowe all the way from here? Famous last words – don’t you just love them…

Röhrl-approved tyres for classic Porsche sports cars

Röhrl-approved tyres for classic Porsche sports cars

Porsche has just added a bunch of new N-rated tyres to its list of approved rubber for older Porsche sports cars. The fact that Stuttgart’s release considers anything pre-2005 as classic is something we’ll gloss over for now – not going there on a Friday afternoon.

Porsche N-rated Tyres on Classic 911s

The Porsche tyre N-rating system is a subject of much discussion amongst classic 911 owners: probably in the top three conversation starters along with “what oil should I use?” and “I once turned down a 964RS for £20 and a half-eaten steak and kidney pie.” Not fitting N-rated tyres to your old Porsche won’t make it fail the MOT or invalidate your insurance, but there may be some comfort in fitting tyres which Porsche has tested on your classic. It also leaves you with plenty of headspace to worry about the engine going bang or whatever people worry about these days.

Classic Porsche tyres N-rated 1

Pirelli, Continental, Michelin and Bridgestone all have rubber on the latest classic Porsche N-rated tyre list. As impact bumper 911s are closest to my heart, it’s nice to see that Continental Sport Contact tyres continue to be available in 205/55 and 245/45 ZR16 for 7- and 9-inch Fuchs wheels as fitted to my Carrera 3.0 (albeit the Sport Contacts on my car at present are not N rated). For those who follow a Porsche-approved lifestyle, 959 owners are stuck with Bridgestone RE71s (plenty noisy at 80dB), 964RS drivers have a better choice of Sport Contacts, Michelin Pilot Sport 2, Pirelli P Zero Rosso or Trofeo R compounds, while 924 Turbo drivers have the Sport Contact, Pilot Exalto 2 or P Zero Rosso to choose from.

Porsche Tyre Test Drivers

Porsche invited Walter Röhrl along to help with approvals, the former World Rally champion offering input based on a long history of driving classic Porsche models. Many of the current works drivers also have a classic 911 tucked away somewhere – would be interesting to see one of them drifting a pre-’73, abusing a set of N-rated tyres (Pirelli CN36 or P6000 if you must have the N). It is also interesting to see Walter leaning on a pair of P7Rs (sexiest tread pattern ever IMO) but those tyres are not on the Porsche approved list as far as I can see: P7 Cinturatos yes, but not P7Rs.

Classic Porsche tyres N-rated 2

“The driving properties in the early years were not as full or balanced as they are today,” says Walter. “The new generation of tyres is more fitting than ever to the driving style of a challenging sports car.” Porsche tyre tester, Dieter Röscheisen, said of the newly-approved tyres: “The new tyre releases will make it possible for classic models to follow the curve into the modern era with exceptionally good and balanced driving properties.” (I imagine it is more likely that a PR person said this. My hope is that Dieter was overexcited after spending an afternoon shredding 993 RS rear tyres and couldn’t elucidate.)

Classic Porsche tyres N-rated 4

I don’t have N-rated tyres fitted to any of my five old Porsches. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, as my cars are eternal works-in-progress and only one of the Porsches is currently road legal (a classic 2004 SUV model). I have a set of part-worn 205/55 16 Bridgestones for the 924 Turbo, which will be next to go on the road. I like Sport Contacts on the 911, but tend to lean toward Michelins as my overall tyre brand of choice: they drive so well, right down to the wear bars. All that will go out the window if you can now get P7Rs to fit the 911, as they are soooo s-e-x-y.

Track day fans on my 911 forum at use a load of different non-N-rated tyres on long road trips and pretty intense driving conditions and no big problems reported there. Bridgestone S-02s have long been a good choice for spirited ’74-’89 911 driving if you can get a set to suit: you can still buy 205/55 and 225/50 16s in Porsche N3 rating from places like Camskill, but I don’t think 245s are easily available.