Between the $30,000 desk made from a Porsche rear end, collectible posters that cost more than a used Boxster, and a few hundred Porsche faithful gathered at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, there were bound to be some expensive cars at this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Auction conducted by RM Sotheby’s. The sale achieved $25.8M in total sales with a 92-percent sell-through rate as numerous historically significant race cars, rare special models, and factory prototypes crossed the block—many at no reserve.
While not every price was massive and a few cars missed reserve, these six cars really surprised us.
The fourth-to-last car of the sale, this 924 has pretty humble origins, but its price was one of the most staggering of the entire auction. People were poring over it during the preview days, and many let out an emphatic “wow” before moving on to the next 911 or 356 in the lineup. Well optioned from new, pampered like a 911, and pretty much all original, this 11,272-mile 924 has to be among the best in the world. And at almost $54,000 it better be.
For years, the 924 has been pretty much the cheapest thing with a Porsche badge. It’s the model that a lot of car people just love to hate. Many 924s have led hard lives and plenty of them aren’t even on the road anymore. Does all of the above make the car worth three times our Condition #1 (Concours) value? That’s up for debate, but this sale was nevertheless an absolute home run for the seller.
The 928 GTS was the last, fastest, and most developed of the V-8 928 series that dates all the way to the 1970s. The GTS models are also worth more than earlier 928s and have typically led easier lives, but even though this is a 16,400-mile example in rare colors, it’s a massive price that stretches past our current Condition #1 (Concours) average values. The result is even more surprising given the automatic transmission, which is typically a 20-percent knock to value.
Color counts for a lot in Porsche world. In this case even more so. The shade in question is Willow Green, and even though it looks fantastic, only two such 914/6s were brought to the United States when new. Restored mechanically with performance upgrades in the 1990s and then restored cosmetically about 10 years ago, it is currently showing 119,835 miles but nevertheless looks like a fresh car. It sold for well over our average Condition #1 (Concours) value of $125,000. For reference, another perfectly good 914/6 in a more common shade of metallic green for just $95,200.
This Speedster has basically no interior. Hard-to-find trim pieces are missing, the brakes don’t work, and the original paint was all sanded off back when The A-Team was still on television. But that barn-find mystique counts for a lot. Out after more than 30 years in storage near Dallas, and complete with plenty of dirt and dust, it sold for what a much better driver-quality example would normally expect to bring. Is it worth restoring? Absolutely. At this price, however, it will be a labor of love.
While the auction was packed with ultra-rare, historic, and totally unique Porsches, the most highly anticipated car of the sale was probably the 993 Turbo “Project Gold,” a showcase for Porsche Classic’s craftsmanship and a sort of 70th birthday present from Porsche to itself rolled into one. The car started as a new-old-stock body shell sitting at the factory, and over the 18 months Porsche Classic worked with Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur (Porsche’s bespoke personalization department) in building a brand new 993 Turbo up out of available spares, while adding custom touches in the process. Among those touches are the black trim pieces, carbon-fiber mirrors, and of course the Golden Yellow Metallic paint that was applied in three stages. On the inside, there are more custom touches like carbon fiber trim, special gauges, gold contrast stitching on the seats, and even gold stripes running down the headliner. Although Porsche completed the car this year, its VIN is one digit after the last 993 built in 1998.
Project Gold was so highly anticipated because a car like this hasn’t really ever been sold before and because there were several variables for bidders to consider. First off, the car doesn’t comply with the safety and emissions regulations that we live with today, so it can’t be registered for road use. Another factor was that although the car was present (and looking fantastic) during the auction preview, it is currently on its way back to Germany and the winning bidder will have to take delivery in Stuttgart. But aside from those caveats, proceeds from the sale went to the Ferry Porsche Foundation, a non-profit charity, and the sale presented an opportunity to buy a totally unique, fresh-out-of-the-box air-cooled 911 straight from Porsche.
The most expensive 993-generation road car ever sold at auction was a 1995 GT2, sold for $2,476,320 at RM Sotheby’s London auction two years ago. RM Sotheby’s also sold a 1997 911 GT1 Evo in Monaco the same year for $3,134,700. Neither of these cars is quite as unique as Project Gold, however, and while Project Gold can’t be driven on the street, 911s that are this collectible don’t see much (if any) use on the road, anyway. The large premium typically added for cars sold for charity is another element that can’t be ignored. So while this price is massive—even jaw-dropping—it’s also not entirely unreasonable.
The Porsche 959 famously won the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in 1986, but the car’s first go at the event was in 1985, when three examples ran but did not finish. While powered by normally aspirated Carrera engines, the cars had the all-wheel-drive system and other cutting-edge technology that eventually made it to the 959 road cars. Driven by former Paris-Dakar winner René Metge, this one dropped out with a ruptured oil line after winning two stages of the rally. The 1985 rally was the car’s only competition outing.
This result was about twice the low estimate put out by RM Sotheby’s and is the most anybody has ever paid for a 959 at auction. It is also almost six times as much as the factory 959 prototype sold a few minutes before, and it was easily the most expensive car of the entire auction. Provenance and race history certainly count for a lot, but this result was still a shock.