There are few car manufacturers in existence today which can claim to match the illustrious status of Porsche. Admired for perfecting engineering concepts which others couldn't, and respected as one of the most dominant brands in motorsport, the Stuttgart-based marque have produced a string of wonderfully capable machinery for both road and track.
Founded by Ferdinand Porsche, the company which bears his name originally operated as an automotive consultancy firm, most famously commissioned to design the Volkswagen Beetle. Post-World War 2, Ferdinand's son Ferry steered the firm towards creating cars of its own. The culmination of his work was the 356
, which became the first car Porsche sold to the public.
It was Porsche's persistence with the 356's (and indeed, the Beetle’s before it) horizontally-opposed, rear-mounted and air-cooled engines which has resulted in what is now considered one of the most successful and iconic performance cars of all time: the 911.
Buying a classic Porsche
Today, the significance of the 356 to Porsche's history is reflected in values. Coupes and Roadsters cost upwards of £60,000, but the most desirable Speedsters, introduced in 1954, command prices beyond £350,000.
One year before the Speedster's debut came the 550 Spyder.
The stunningly beautiful road-legal racer is one of the most valuable Porsches of all, with a 1955 example selling at auction for €2.74million in early 2016. Its successor, the equally stunning (and even more successful results-wise) 718 achieves similarly incredible values.
The Porsche 911
, however, is the model which truly cemented the company's place among the automotive elite. The most valuable among collectors is the Carrera 2.7 RS. Produced to satisfy Group 5 homologation rules in 1972, two variants, a refined Touring spec and the stripped-out Lightweight, were sold to the public. Both achieve prices of comfortably beyond £500,000 today, with the rarer Lightweight edging very close to seven figures. Special examples of both the 964
also sell for as much as £300,000, though less exclusive Carrera models of each start from a much more palatable £30,000 or so.
was originally designed to compete in Group B racing, but after the category's demise it became known as a car which has arguably set the blueprint for all subsequent supercars to this day. Considered one of the most technologically advanced road cars ever produced on its 1986 release, it featured adaptive four-wheel drive, twin-turbocharging and a suspension system which featured adjustable ride height and damping. With a 195mph top speed, it was the fastest production car in the world. Approximately 330 were built, and today examples fetch as much as £700,000 at auction.
Buying a modern Porsche
Porsche ownership needn't be expensive, however, even if flat six power is a must. The Boxster
may have switched to a turbocharged four for 2016, but earlier iterations offer a gorgeous naturally aspirated soundtrack and sublime mid-engined balance. Late nineties 986 versions are available for less than £5,000. The solid-roofed Cayman
followed with the second generation of Boxster, and a solid example can be had for less than £15,000.
Most affordable of all the Porches remains the 924
. The front-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis was lauded in period, though the VW-derived four cylinder engines were criticised for lacking performance and character. Though values are beginning to climb, it's still possible to find sellers asking for around £3,000. The closely-related 944
is marginally more expensive, and was developed into something considerably faster as the years went on.
In 1998, the 996-generation 911
signalled the end of air-cooled Porsches. While many collectors consider these to be less desirable as a result, the good news is that 996 values remain fairly low. High-mileage Carrera and Carrera S models available for around £10,000, while even those which have covered fewer than 10,000 miles cost barely more than £30,000.
The most valuable of the common era are the 'hypercar' Porsches: the Carrera GT and the 918 Spyder
. The former was a result of a stillborn Le Mans prototype development, and features a 5.7-litre V10 producing 612bhp. The 918 is powered by one of the most advanced powertrains fitted to any performance car. A 4.6-litre V8 is supplemented by a hybrid system to deliver a system output of 874bhp. At the hands of Marc Lieb, the 918 achieved a staggering Nurburgring Nordschleife lap time of 6min 57sec. Production ceased in 2015 once 918 units were built. Values for the Carrera GT stand at £400,000 and beyond, while the 918 rarely changes hands for less than £1,000,000.
It's recommended when buying any used car to examine several before committing, but for high performance cars like the 911 this becomes even more important.
Thought Porsche have refined the handling of the 911 over the decades, the rear-engined layout is still famous for catching out the less experienced drivers. It's very important, therefore, to search for any evidence of crash damage, particularly around the rear of the car.
Circa-2000 Porsche flat sixes, fitted to both the Boxster and the 996, are known for potentially terminal engine faults. The intermediate shaft bearing has a reputation for failure, and results in severe damage to the engine's valve timing and other internals. It's difficult to gauge which cars are most likely to fail, but extended service intervals are a likely cause. Search for the most regularly-maintained examples to reduce the risk. As with most Porsches, it's well worth tracking down an independent specialist to examine any potential purchase before you buy.
Words: Alex Ingram