Contrary to myth, 1965-68 SWB cars are not rare, with 44,943 units made-that's 40% of production from 1965 to 1973
This chart of 911 data has never been seen before. This is because the Porsche records are a mess, there are several massive typographical errors in the published data, and no one had taken the time to put all the conflicting data together over the past 25 years and try a "best effort" to make sense of it.
The data below, even though a great deal of work has gone into compiling it, should be counted a "best effort." It is subject to additional updates as better factory records are discovered. Part of the essential problem is that these cars bridge the period when Porsche switched from careful handwritten documents to computers, and as anyone who has ever lived through such a conversion knows, there is always data lost along the way. These errors were augmented by poorly proofread data charts through the years, with compounding and cascading errors.
This data is important since volume is one half of the value equation-the other being desirability. Porsche has always been in an unusual spot on the value scale, as a relatively high-volume producer in the low-volume sports car sector. Unlike Ferrari, Aston Martin, Maserati, Lamborghini, and other low-volume marques, Porsche has made a relatively large number of road cars, just like Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Mercedes (post WWII), and BMW. This makes it especially important to understand the number of various models involved.
The first thing to see from the chart is that it takes much more than rarity to make a Porsche valuable. Of the two lowest-production models, one is the most valuable street 911-the 1973 Carrera RS, at 1,580 units. The other-the 1968 911L, at 1,610 units-is among the least valuable.
We can also see that, contrary to myth, SWB cars, built from 1965 to '68, are by no means rare, with 44,943 units made, representing 40% of production during the 1965-73 period of the original body style. Targas make up a whopping 25% of production from these years, meaning they won't be rare anytime soon. Soft Targas, on the other hand, built mostly in 1967-68, were produced in small numbers.
Hard to see 912 or 911T in short supply
The most popular model is the 911T, with 39,333 built, even though it didn't get into worldwide production until 1969. Next in line, the 912, made only from 1965-69, has huge production of 31,270 units. Although many have been rusted and wrecked over the decades, it seems hard to imagine 912s or 911Ts in short supply any time in the near future.
The surprise comes as the third most produced model, after the "high value content" 911T and the "budget" 912-the "high priced" 911S. With 15,778 made, few collectors would call this a rare car. Yet the value of "S" cars has made a major movement upward in recent years. How to explain this? Is it an irrational bubble?
The value of older Porsches has remained strong, along with vintage cars in general, and the 911S has been one of the biggest gainers. Understanding a few of the reasons beyond scarcity will help us think about the future of potential price movements for this "top of the line" early 911, eclipsed only by the 1973 Carrera RS.
In looking at prices of vintage cars, the first correction needed is the condition of the car. So while you may see an auction report of a 911S that went for $70,000 and conclude that every 911S is worth a figure in that ballpark, the reality may be someone paid that kind of money due to the superb condition of the car. How much does condition matter? We believe the difference between a #1 and #2 Porsche is about 100%; i.e., a #1 sells at about twice the price of a #2. Until you compare like-condition cars, the value of the "S" model can be unclear, as there are some very nice "T" and "E" cars that can bring big numbers, if in great condition.
911S prices boosted by Carreras
Next, "S" cars are being dragged along by the explosion in values for the Carrera RS model, which now runs about $200,000 for a decent example. Many potential RS buyers end up as 911S owners, often at a fraction of the price and with a highly similar car.
Both the Carrera RS and 911S cars have been taken along by an important additional factor, beyond general market trends, and that is growth in Porsche allure in general. Have you noticed that vintage Porsche owners are standing in line for brand new Porsche GT3 and GT2 cars? Or that the new and limited-production RS cars are painted in bright orange and Kermit-the-Frog green?
Porsche's much-dreaded water-cooled cars have now caught the imagination of new car buyers, and each buyer of a new, full-zoot 911 is a candidate to answer the question, "Where did this car come from?" with the subsequent purchase of an early 911. Automotive brands grow by making great product, and Porsche is growing its brand. This injects new buyers into the market for old cars. It is only natural that some of these new buyers will want to sample one of the original "greats," and that would most likely be an early "S".
The final reason for the increased price pressure on the "S" model is simply the delight of owning one. Each 911 is a great car, and I feel there are no bad 911s to own. But the powerband of the "S," with its high rpm torque, makes it an especially fun sunny day driver. Somewhat like a 356 Speedster, the 911S wasn't really the best all-around daily driver back in the day, but it shines in its new use as pure pleasure machine.
To solve the price equation, the mix of supply versus demand allows us to determine value. Demand for Porsches, even in a relatively high volume, has been high and continues to grow. Does this mean Porsche prices will never go down? Absolutely not. But it does help us understand why prices are so strong, even when looking at large production totals.
Adapted from Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Porsche 911 and 912, 1965-73, by James E. Schrager, just out from RPM Publishing and available at Amazon.com.