June 15, 2024

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

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Missing the Signs

Image: Ryan Merrill, courtesy of RM Sotheby's

I have spent years now studying and analyzing results from collector car auctions as part of my day job. I track which specific models are seeing softening prices and which are up-and-coming market sweethearts, all while looking to be the one to spot the next model right before it skyrockets in value. Of course, scouring results for hours on end does not mean finding the next big thing is a sure deal. The most recent example — and one I wish I’d seen coming earlier — is rising prices on the Porsche 968.

As a high schooler looking for my first car, a 944 was high on my list. My dad told me I was a glutton for punishment and talked me out of it. I eventually wore him down and took an even bigger risk buying an ’89 Jaguar XJ-S, but that’s another story.

Before selling in March of 2022, this 1992 Porsche 968 sold at RM Sotheby’s 2020 Amelia Island auction for $64,400.
Image: Ryan Merrill, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The 968 began to show up on my radar after I realized how much it shared with the 944. I added it to the bottom of my “must own” list, and with prices safely in the $10k to $20k range, it didn’t seem like a far-off dream. I could circle back to it later.

But I never followed through. My attention drifted to higher-priced Ferraris and Aston Martins.

Jump to 2022 and I now find myself swallowing a tough realization: 968 values have jumped, and I didn’t see it coming soon enough.

Bring a Trailer just sold a 1992 Porsche 968 in Amethyst Metallic for $169,000. Having traveled just 8k miles and a magenta and gray interior contrasting the purple exterior, the car had eyeball. It also had my jaw hitting the floor over its sale price.

Just two years ago, the car sold at RM Sotheby’s 2020 Amelia Island sale for $64,400. That was still a difficult sum to swallow, but it was it much more fathomable than $169k. Where had my head been?

Looking back a year, this proved to be less of an outlier than I thought. Just weeks before the sale of the Amethyst car on BaT, Gooding & Company sold a 1993 Porsche 968 in gorgeous Riviera Blue for $123,200 at its Amelia Island auction. Turns out that same Riviera Blue 1993 968 was also sold on Bring a Trailer in November of 2021 for the still-healthy sum of $89,250.

A 1993 Porsche 968 that last sold at Gooding & Company’s 2022 Amelia Island sale for $123,200.
Image: Courtesy of Gooding & Company

This had me thinking back to the moment when I should have refocused my attention on the ‘ol 968. It was last year when Gooding & Company had consigned a 1993 Porsche 968 Turbo S to its Geared Online May auction. I didn’t realize just how rare that example was when I first saw it — that is, until I scrolled down to the pre-auction estimate of $1m to $1.25m. It didn’t quite reach its seven-figure low estimate, selling for $792k, but it was still miles outside of my reality.

That may or may not have been the key moment for 968 prices — examples still do sell in the $50k to $60k range — but the sale of that Turbo S should have made me stop and take note of the model once again. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes just one example selling for big money can send prices soaring.

It just goes to show that no matter how much a person studies the car market, trying to predict what will happen next is not an easy thing to do. Unless you have a laser-like focus on a singular model, it’s easy to miss the signs of movement early enough to jump on the trend. It can happen to us all.

If only Vignale-bodied vintage Ferraris would stop showing up at auction, maybe I would have an affordably priced 968 sitting in my garage.