The Cayenne could soon shake up what it means to be a collectible Porsche

The Porsche market was the center of attention last week in a Scottsdale panel discussion, hosted by Hagerty and organized by the Porsche Club of America. While the conversation often returned to the familiar classic Porsche models, there was a surprise topic that fueled the conversation.

Held in RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction tent, the event centered around Hagerty research results, followed by a Q&A session. Approximately 100 people attended the discussion, while another 200 or so tuned in to the Facebook Live stream. The panel included RM Sotheby’s specialist Ramsey Potts, Columbia Valley Luxury Cars owner Nathan Merz, Hagerty Price Guide publisher Dave Kinney, and myself (Hagerty’s senior data scientist).

The discussion focused on how three Porsche models played among the four primary car collecting generations in the United States: Pre-Boomers (1920–45), Boomers (1946–64), Gen-X (1965–81), and Millennials (1982–2000). Based solely upon the number of insurance policy quotes from the past 12 months, the most popular models are fairly consistent, regardless of age.

Uniform popularity

1988 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe
1988 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe RM Sotheby's

What’s the most popular model for three of the four generations? The 1984–89 Porsche 911 Carrera. That stalwart of the Porsche model history is the top choice for Pre-Boomers, Boomers, and Gen-X. Offering a combination of high levels of performance in an analog Porsche experience, the 3.2-liter Carrera is plentiful enough and durable enough to remain accessible and desirable to many buyers. It is also the second-most popular choice for the fourth and youngest generation: the Millennials. What’s the top pick for the youngest group? The 1982–91 Porsche 944. That car also has excellent performance, but its lower entry price makes it much more popular with Millennials.

Eggcellence getting recognized

2002 Porsche Boxster S
2002 Porsche Boxster S Porsche

Another pair of vehicles whose popularity was a surprise were two models from Porsche’s fried-egg headlight period. The 986 Boxster (1997–2004) was second- and third-most popular for Pre-Boomers and Boomers, respectively. The 996-generation 911 (1999–2004) was more universally liked, as it was second-most popular for Boomers and Gen-Xers and was the third choice for Millennials.

Both models offer a lot of performance and modern usability for not a lot of money. The cars are near the bottom of their depreciation curve, and according to Merz, the supply is split between neglected used-car lot specials and carefully-maintained long-term owner cars. The former will have a diminishing impact on the market, but the latter will become more collectible.

A big surprise: the Cayenne

2004 Porsche Cayenne
2004 Porsche Cayenne Porsche

Dave Kinney’s surprise pick for the talk was the Porsche Cayenne. We have observed an incredible rise in the popularity and value of vintage SUVs the past few years, and when we think of a collectible SUV, we often think about first-generation Ford Broncos (1966–76), Chevrolet Blazers (1969–91), and early Toyota Land-Cruiser FJ40s (1968–83). Others may think of segment changing SUVs like the first-generation Range Rover (1970–95). Conspicuously missing from that list, however, is another groundbreaking vehicle, the Cayenne.

Although the Cayenne seems uncollectible among Porsche fans, over the past year quotes have grown substantially for first-gen models (2003–10). In 2018 quotes increased by 48 percent over the prior year. It is especially popular among Gen-Xers and Millennials. Compared to other model generations, the first-gen Cayenne is quoted about as often as the 964 (1989–94), but given the difference in usability and supply, it won’t stay that way for long.

A catalyst for the collectibility of the Cayenne likely appeared during the summer of 2018 in the form of a 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo that was tuned for off-road use by Peter Oszczygiel of Vancouver, B.C. While Porsche built the off-road-focused Cayenne S Transsyberia in 2010, the difference here is that Peter decorated his in the Rothmans livery that was featured on one of Porsche’s most successful off-road racers—the 1986 Paris-Dakar-winning 959.

When the Rothmans-inspired Cayenne appeared at Monterey car week last August and Rennsport Reunion a month later, it got people’s attention and gave them ideas. Just as it changed perceptions when it was launched, the Cayenne may be starting to change perceptions in the collector car world too.

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