The Monterey auctions wrapped up a few weeks ago and the dust has settled. I’ve summed up some of the 356 results. For what it’s worth.
There were some thirty 356s of various types that crossed the blocks in Monterey this year. Prices were strong, as expected, but with fewer over-the-top sales than some recent auctions. The usual players, RM, Gooding, and Bonhams, had nice examples that brought good money but Mecum had the most to offer with 19 lots. Of these, 13 356s sold at auction or post-block representing a 68% sell-through. This is lower than the typical 75-90% success seen at many recent auctions but better than the 50% rate that Mecum posted for the entirety of their 726 cars up for bid. Mecum is mostly a ‘muscle cars and more’ auctioneer but they heavily advertised their Porsches at Monterey, anchored by a 1959 550 Spyder that hammered for $3.75M before commission. So selling 13 out of 19 356s may be a sign that some sellers’ expectations were a bit too high for the market.
Below is a summary of the 356s that changed hands in Monterey. Of these, the ‘special’ cars included a Carrera Coupe, a Carrera Speedster, and a Twin-grille roadster. RM’s ’63 Coupe was also an exceptional car, drawing a final bid of $120K and selling in the territory of a comparable Cabriolet. The original warranty book, manual, and tools were part of the deal and probably helped suck top dollar from bidders with an abundance of cash. In all, the average hammer price for Coupes was $66K (excluding the RM Coupe, otherwise $78K), $127K for Cabriolets, $166K for Roadsters (excluding the Twin-grille), and $225K for Speedsters.
1963 Porsche 356 B 1600 Cabriolet: $121,000
1963 Porsche 356 B 1600 Coupe: $120,000
Gooding & Company Pebble Beach
1956 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS Carrera Coupe: $715,000
1956 Porsche 356 1500 GS Carrera Speedster: $1,485,000
1958 Porsche 356 A Super Speedster: $264,000
1960 Porsche 356 B Super 90 Roadster: $181,500
1962 Porsche 356 B Super 90 Cabriolet: $192,500
1962 Porsche 356 B Twin Grille Roadster: $253,000
Bonhams Quail Lodge
1957 Porsche 356A 1600 Speedster: $253,000
1961 Porsche 356B 1600S Coupe: $57,200
1957 Porsche 356A Speedster: $202,500
1957 Porsche 356A Speedster: $180,000
1959 Porsche 356A Coupe #1: $120,000
1960 Porsche 356 Roadster: $150,000
1962 Porsche 356 Notchback: $80,000
1963 Porsche 356 Coupe: $67,500
1963 Porsche 356B T6 Cabriolet: $102,000
1963 Porsche Cabriolet: $92,000
1963 Porsche 356B Carrera 2: $385,000
1964 Porsche 356C Coupe: $65,000
1964 Porsche 356SC Coupe: $80,000
1965 Porsche 356C Cabriolet: $125,000
1965 Porsche 356C Cabriolet : $130,000
Haggerty updated their classic car values last month as well, following their standard pattern of re-evaluating prices sometime around December, April and August. Valuations for 356s have increased about 6% across the board since April and about 7.5% since December. The price curve continues to rise and it may not be long before we see a S90 Cabriolet bring a quarter-million. This hardly seems rational with over 11,000 built (all engine types) but stranger things are happening (just look at recent sales for 190SLs).
Haggerty 356 Values for August 2013 (#2 condition cars)
1600 Coupe $50K
1600 Cabriolet $95K
1600S Coupe $58K
1600S Cabriolet $127K
1600 S90 Coupe $74K
1600 S90 Cabriolet $155K
1600 S90 Roadster $142K
1600 Speedster $276K
1600S Speedster $299K
So Monterey results and Haggerty valuations are pretty well aligned, though Speedsters sold for a little less money than expected. This may seem about right but it falls short of recent trends where auction prices have regularly exceeded the highest estimates. It may be that valuations have caught up or that the auction frenzy is beginning to slow, bringing bids better aligned with non-auction prices. Mecum may also be a factor, where the big money is normally drawn by the upscale houses catering to the high-roller type. The ‘big three’ auctions brought an average of $88K for their Coupes, $157K for Cabriolets, and $259K for Speedsters. It’s a challenge for Mecum to attract these bids with the wide mix of lots and mid-market cars they parade across the block. Condition factors in as well, of course. It will be interesting to see whether their Porsche strategy changes for next year.
Mecum’s decision to go heavy on Porsches this year is an interesting one. Ranging from the 1955 550/1500 RS ($3.75M) to a 2009 Cayenne GTS ($31K), 55 Porches were offered (about 7.5% of all lots) and 37 sold. The majority of the lots were 144 older Chevys (20%) and 116 older Fords (16%). The numbers of other European classics was small with 15 Ferarris (2%), 12 Jaguars (1.6%), 7 MGs (1%), 4 Alfas (0.5%), 3 Fiats, (4%), 2 Austin Healys (0.2%), and like numbers of a few others. Considering Mecum’s targeted buyer, this bodes well for Porsche demographics. The Mecum bidder is different from those at RM, Gooding, or Bonhams - more middle-American, where the average age and net worth is likely a bit lower. But Mecum understands that classic Porsches will attract their customer base, mostly ignoring the MGs, Alfas, Austin Healys, Triumphs, etc. that are becoming obscure remnants of past generations. Mecum specializes in the marques that attract middle-America like Mustangs, Shelbys, Corvettes, Chargers, and Camaros. Interest by younger generations and the future of these older classics is assured with the success of today’s modern versions. Porsche falls into this category as well with the 911 and its line of heritage, including at least the 356 and the 912. Through continuation of the 911 and strong sales of new SUVs, mid-engine sports cars, and sedans, passion for classic Porsches is likely secured for many generations.
So if 356 prices are too high, and due for a correction, it’s probably still OK to pay a bit too much. People will always be interested in your 356 or an older Porsche. I don’t think the same can be said for many of the cars in the list above. MG values have been flat at best, and decreasing slightly for the past five years. I don’t know who’d buy one that doesn’t already own one. Better known and better driving Miatas are more attractive to generations that never knew the MG. Ferraris, on the other hand, are coveted by most everyone but values are relegating them to garages. A Porsche, meant to be driven, should not be too valuable to do so. This is the quandary. A $25K 356 is no longer a good car and the price of an average Coupe is out of reach for many. So more high-roller ownership may be in the future, and that’s a shame.
I opined in January about a classic Porsche that is removed from many of the influences driving up the prices of 356s and SWB 911s. That car is of course the Porsche 912, which remains a good deal and a lot of car for the money. The production numbers are relatively low (29K) and it is rarer than other cars that have experienced recent run-ups. I spent some time looking for a good 912 this year and found an excellent, original, two-owner ’68 SWB with 70K miles in Southern California. The mechanics are sound, the interior is original, and the body is mainly rust free with mostly original paint. Others have written about similarities and differences between the 356 and 912, which you can find with a little research. The 912 is certainly a great entry-level classic Porsche. But in its own right, it is an exceptional car with a smile factor that approaches that of a 356. If you’re near Rochester before the snow falls, I invite you to visit and compare for yourself.
(January 2013 posting on Scottsdale auctions and prices is at http://porsche356registry.org/356talk/1/32505.html)