4 May 2016

When the market adjusts, this is why scarcity matters

Classic Porsches have been soaring in value over recent years, particularly since the 911s 50th anniversary in 2013. While demand remains high for virtually every air-cooled machine that rolled out of Stuttgart, it’s the flagship 911 that still tops wish lists.

There’s no shortage of machines to collect. Porsche made hundreds of thousands of air-cooled cars, but as the market begins to slow, rarity is increasingly sought after.

“I don’t think we’re going to see the value increases that we’ve seen over the past three years, in the next three years,” says Paul Michaels, chairman of Hexagon Classics – a leading classic Porsche specialist in the UK. “People will become much more selective, so they will want the cars that have total provenance.”

In this case, we’re talking about a particularly rare 911 that Hexagon has recently acquired for sale – a 1993 964 Turbo S Flat Nose, or Flachbau. It’s a car with just 1014 miles on the clock at the time of writing, and intriguing ownership history.

A glance down the spec list reveals rarity upon rarity. 964s have always been popular, so add the smaller-production, more powerful 3.6-litre turbocharged engine and the attraction rises. Then there’s the low mileage, and the optional X84 performance package that boosts power to 385 horsepower. And of course, the very rare Flachbau option that gives the car its unusual front end. “It was a special factory thing,” explains Michaels. “You needed to know it even existed because it wasn’t publicised, to make it exclusive, almost “under the counter”. Just seven Flachbaus were built in right hand drive, and several went to this particular machine’s former custodians – the Brunei royal family.

Was it driven by the Sultan himself? It’s impossible to say, but it was certainly acquired new by the royal estate, and judging by its current condition, hardly touched afterwards.

“You’ve got remember that this guy owned thousands of cars,” says Michaels, “so my guess is that it was one of the cars bought by the Brunei family and never got used. It was very tired [when it was bought] from being in an underground garage and I doubt it had ever been cleaned. But once it was clean, what you see is what you get, because it had never been anywhere. We never had to do anything material to the car; it’s a time warp.”

This author was privileged to have a short and tightly chaperoned drive, in order to shoot the pictures you see here. For a 23-year-old machine it’s in remarkable material condition, and based on the quick squeeze of the throttle that I couldn’t resist, very few of the 385 horses have bolted over the years. It’s a car that, even at low speeds, feels full of potential and haptic texture that modern 911s can’t recreate.
Don’t expect it to sell quickly though. With an estimated price tag of $550,000, potential customers will want to do their homework on the car, rather than buy on impulse.

“Very rarely will a car like this fly out of the showroom,” Michaels says. “It’ll likely take months to sell because people are very careful. And this is one of the most important Porsches we’ve ever bought.”

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