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Air-Cooled Porsche 911s Continue To Set The Classic Car Market Alight

Air-Cooled Porsche 911s Continue To Set The Classic Car Market Alight

A practical daily driver, a status symbol, a performance benchmark and a race-winner, the Porsche 911 is one of the most versatile and important performance cars in motoring history. What is more, with over 70 percent of the 410,348 air-cooled 911s produced from 1964 to 1998 still on the road, the marque has built a reputation for quality and durability unsurpassed by any sports car brand.

This provides the 911 collector with a wide range of models, variants, engines, options, and of course, prices to choose from. As a result globally, Porsche values vary hugely, from about USD 35,000, approximately £25,733, for a 1979 911SC to over USD 1.25M, or £920,000 for a 1996 GT2.

Almost every air-cooled 911, from the first short-wheelbase cars of the mid-1960s to the very last 993-generation car in 1998 (a blue one that went to Jerry Seinfeld), is worth far more today than it was just six or seven years ago with most pundits expecting the trend to continue.

According to UK insurance company Lancaster Insurance, classic Porsche 911s are the most valuable historic vehicle on the UK market, with the nameplate worth over £900 million to the UK economy.

Research from the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation estimates that the value of the 23,029 registered cars comes to an estimated £911 million. This puts the Porsche 911 way ahead of the next collectable, the E-Type Jaguar that stands at about £371 million for 4,120 cars.

The report suggests that the average Porsche 911 is valued at around £39,000 – a figure derived from data collected from a number of sources including AutoTrader and eBay.

These Are The Most Collectable Air-Cooled Porsche 911s Today

The Most Collectable Air-Cooled Porsche 911s Today

Not long after the 911 celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, values of classic air-cooled 911s skyrocketed with the 911 becoming one of the hottest vehicles in the collectable car market during the boom years from 2014 to 2016 – often doubling or even tripling in value over a few short years. Even though the rate at which these cars appreciate has slowed, most classic 911s are still doing well.

Air-cooled 911s are broadly classified as:

  • Short Wheelbase/Long Hood Cars: 1964 to 1968
  • Long Wheelbase/Long Hood Cars: 1969 to 1973
  • Impact Bumper/Mid-Year 2.7 Cars (aka G-body cars): 1974 to 1977
  • 911SC 3.0L: 1978 to 1983
  • 2 Carrera: 1984 to 1989
  • 964: 1990 to 1994
  • 993: 1995 to 1998

On average, early 911s from 1964 and 1965 fetch the highest prices among ‘60s 911s as they're the rarest and purest of the breed, with short wheelbase models often fetching upwards of USD250,000, or £180,000.

High-performance models like the ‘S’ that came out in 1967, also command a premium that can often raise prices to over USD 300,000, the equivalent of £220,000 in the UK or about €258,000 in the EU. But even the less powerful ‘T’ that debuted in 1967, is highly collectable.

However, one of the most collectable and expensive 911s dates from the 1970s - the highly desirable 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight.

Canadian auction house RM Sotheby’s sold three Lightweights in 2018 for prices ranging from USD 1.325M to USD 1.48M – which at today’s exchange rate of 1 USD to 0,74 Pound sterling would put them at £970,000 and just over £1 M, respectively. Meanwhile, in the UK in April 2021 a RHD 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 Coupe’, believed to be one of only around 100 right-hand drive UK-market cars built, was sold on auction for £381,000.

Even at the other end of the price range, 1970s era 911s are achieving good prices, with a good ‘E’ comfortably breaking into the £145,000 price bracket.

The one 911 that has dropped in price is the early generation 911 Turbo (known as the 930). According to Classic.com the typical auction price for a G-body 930 dropped from USD 168,000 in 2017 to USD 106,000 in 2019, before recovering to USD 130,000, or about £95,000 in 2021. Nevertheless this is still about two times the original price.

Higher-volume models from the 1980s, such as the 911 SC or the Carrera 3.2 can typically be picked up for between £25,000 and £35,000, while the most sought after 911 of the period, the Carrera Speedster of the late 1980s sits at the higher end of the classic 911 market. A RHD 1989 model recently went for £160,000. Meanwhile, among the 964-generation 911s, the most popular models continue to be the Turbo, Turbo S and Carrera RS 3.8.

Superseding the 964, the 993 variant was the last and most developed of the air-cooled Porsche 911s. With many collectors considering the 993 to be the best-looking 911, this model is set to become one of the most sought after ‘modern’ air cooled 911s. Within the 993-generation the Turbo S, Carrera RS and GT2 currently command the most money.

However, on the back of the Covid-19 crisis, average values of the iconic sports car have seen a temporary decline of about five per cent from their 2018 peak. The drop, a result of a short-term change in demand, could present buyers with an unexpected investment opportunity.

Pre-impact bumper 911s, particularly the very earliest 1960s models seem to have held their value in the UK, still fetching around £100,000. The most desirable of the early cars remain the very first and the very last; in the right condition the latter, so-called 2.4-litre models, often breaking through the £100,000 range.

Also hard hit, the 1970s and 1980s models that regularly fetched £75,000 in 2018, are now tentatively being offered for as low as £50,000 with a number even going for less at auction. Later SC and desirable 3.2 models are down even more, as low as £25,000 and £35,000 respectively, representing a drop of around 25 per cent.

Still, the Targas and wide-bodied models like those with the desirable Super Sport Equipment package continue to command healthy premiums of 10 per cent or more.

Things To Consider When Buying A Collectable 911

 Things To Consider When Buying A Collectable 911

Whilst the most valuable Porsche 911s are low-production high-performance or track-oriented models like the 964 Carrera RS, or 993 GT2, there are many other factors that come into play when determining the market value of a collectable air-cooled 911.

Mileage: Unrestored Porsches with very low mileage, under 10,000 or even 1,000 miles (about 16,000 or 1,600 km), and like-new condition are the most collectable and therefore command the highest prices. So, if the car is destined to be driven frequently it’s best to look for a correctly priced car with a slightly higher odometer reading so its value isn’t adversely affected every time it leaves the garage. Also, track-oriented cars like the GT2 will go for more if they have never been on the track.

Service history: A full, detailed service record of work carried out on schedule and by reputable mechanics is very important, particularly on more complex later-model 911s.

Documentation: Matching numbers, ownership history and documented factory-fitted options are extremely important factors in determining a collectable 911’s price. Porsche can also provide a Certificate of Authenticity that more-valuable examples would require.

Colour: Depending on year and model, the colour can have a significant impact on a collectable 911’s value. Since the 911 has evolved quite slowly over the years, the colour option can help to make the car standout. Many collectors value bright or particularly rare colors like Speed Yellow on later cars or Bahama Yellow on early 1960s 911s. Special order paintwork also adds to the value, with Porsche collectors often willing to pay a surprisingly high premium for rare, attractive colors like Riviera Blue or Oak Green Metallic.

The reputation of the 911 for performance, build quality and practicality gives it broad appeal for enthusiasts and collectors, and Porsche itself is committed to keeping its cars on the road with an expanding inventory of available classic 911 spare parts as well as a factory restoration service.

Which is why classic air-cooled Porsche 911s continue to generate such interest amongst collectors, and why prices have been so consistently high despite the car’s relatively high production numbers over the years.

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