Buy what you like and you can't do that well unless you buy what makes you happy. It's a blend of emotion and rational thought
Not everyone can make it as a successful Porsche collector. It takes a blend of emotion, knowledge, and temperament to put together the right cars at the right time to end up with something special.
Like most things in life that really matter-a great marriage, a meaningful and productive career, and warm relationships with friends-a great car collection takes time and patience to develop. Sure, you can buy a Porsche or three pretty quickly, but it won't be a collection until you live with them, understand how to keep them operating, and decide which are important to you and why. Here are ten tips on how to have fun while you are at it.
1) Timing is everything, so buy when people are selling. This requires what is often in short supply in the vintage Porsche hobby-patience. While obvious, this advice can be tough to follow. I've made some good buys when no one else wanted the car I was chasing and some even better buys when I didn't really want the car badly, either, which gave me wonderful negotiating room to see how badly the seller wanted to unload. This can only happen when the timing, on both the seller's and the buyer's sides, is right.
2) Buy what you like. I don't think anyone can do this well unless you buy what makes you happy. This is a blend of emotion and rational thought. As an example, I've had and sold a handful of 356 Speedsters over the years, and although they are great cars, our weather here in the upper Midwest doesn't make them easy to use. I need a car with a real top, and I wasn't willing to settle for a sunny-day toy. Although I knew they would be valuable someday, Speedsters just didn't work for me. Today I'm not sorry I don't have one, as I never would have had the desire to keep one long enough to matter, and if you don't really have a desire to get behind the wheel of a car, it really doesn't matter how much it goes up in value. What's the point?
3) Always start with a car with "good bones." Except in rare cases, buying Porsches that have been thoroughly run through the wringer and rusty and crashed and bashed to within an inch of their lives is not the way to have a great collection. Starting with a car where the essential body and chassis structures are straight and in decent shape puts you miles ahead of having to rebuild from the ground up.
4) Get cheap/free warehouse space. This is one of the subtle secrets that allows you to take chances and buy Porsches you otherwise couldn't afford to keep. Some of my best cars only made sense when I bought them as long as the space to keep them was free-or at least paid for in a way that made it seem that way.
5) Get the family involved. Find ways for each member to have something to do with the hobby, such as doing research, cleaning parts, scouting at swap meets, re-organizing the garage, or finding great places to eat along the way to events. At this year's 356 Holiday, my wife and I gave our People's Choice concours votes to our two boys for them to cast. They took their mission very seriously.
6) Be an expert, but not a know-it-all; study diligently and admit what you don't know. Most of us will only have sufficient time and desire to be really knowledgeable in a fairly narrow area of Porsche collecting, so don't act like you can follow every car and every part of the hobby. By finding a period and type of Porsche you like, you can leverage your knowledge to make smarter deals.
7) Welcome all opportunities to buy. There is no one way to get a great buy, so look at cars for sale even though most cars won't be right for you. I recently got a call on a rusty 1969 911T coupe that had sat in storage partially ripped apart for about ten years. Not at all what I seek, but the fellow who called was such a nice guy, I took a look anyway. The car was much better than he described and has loads of excellent parts we can use. At $1,000, it ended up being a great buy. Look at lots of cars for sale; you never know what you might find.
8) Keep as many Porsches as you can in running order and drive them absolutely as much as possible. Nothing helps value more than having a running car, and nothing hurts more than having a rusty, dead heap. Selling an abandoned project is always the worst way to realize value.
9) Understand that Porsche collecting is not like gambling, i.e., you won't suddenly "strike it rich" overnight unless you get extraordinarily lucky. Much more likely is that your involvement over many years will allow you slowly to start making fewer mistakes and getting luckier in small bits that finally start to add up.
10) Do as many favors for other Porsche collectors as you can. These favors will pay off handsomely. Be generous with your knowledge, fully realizing that some will take advantage of you (like the friendly acquaintance who recently insisted he was going to buy a Porsche from me but only wanted to spend a few hours driving cars at my warehouse and never bought a thing). In most cases, you will be amply rewarded. It's the karma thing.
Does this work? I have had all manner of wonderful favors done for me, some small and many large. One fellow-who I didn't know but for whom I did a very modest favor-sent me without warning a highly valued 356 Carrera wood steering wheel as a gift, and he refused to accept payment. I was floored and found a few ways to return the favor, but his gesture was real and he expected nothing in return.
Building a great collection takes time and patience, but for most who have persevered, the joy more than pays for the tough spots along the way.