Courtesy of Auctions America
Styling for the “Slantnose” 911 Turbo came from the legendary Porsche 935 race car. This factory option was executed on the raw body shell, allowing Porsche’s anti-corrosion warranty to be retained. Included in the price of $23,244 were sloped front fenders, retractable headlamps and air vents to ensure efficient cooling for the brakes and engine. Mechanicals, including the 3.3-liter engine and 4-speed transmission, are identical to regular production Turbos of the era. Finished in Nougat Brown Metallic with a Mahogany leather interior, this Turbo comes with service records and a Certificate of Authenticity. The vehicle cannot be sold in California due to emission requirements. The title is noted as “in transit.”

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1988 Porsche 930 “Slantnose” Coupe
Years Produced:1987–89
Number Produced:625, estimated
Original List Price:$68,700, estimated including Slantnose option
SCM Valuation:$45,000–$50,000
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:$35
Chassis Number Location:In front compartment, on horizontal bulkhead just aft of spare tire
Engine Number Location:On right side of engine case, just forward of the cooling fan
Club Info:Porsche Club of America
Alternatives:1986–88 Ferrari 328 GTB, 1985–88 Lamborghini Countach, 1986–89 Aston Martin V8 Volante
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 1130, sold for $126,500, including buyer’s premium, at Auctions America’s sale in Santa Monica, CA, on July 17–18, 2015.

Understanding this result requires untangling the various vectors of force at play in today’s exotic vintage Porsche market. Those forces include the desirability of Flachbau (“Slantnose”) models for long-term Porsche aficionados; the history of Turbo resale values; recent price trends; and finally, overall movement in the vintage Porsche market late in 2015.

Flachbau and the Porsche market

Generally, the Flachbau Turbos, although expensive and quite rare, have not been a “must-have” Porsche for those deeply involved in the marque. The data reveal limited production numbers of 625 units from 1987 to 1989, yet prices on the cars sold at auction have been, at least compared with other low-production Porsches, rather modest.

Traditionally, any list of must-have Porsches has included the 356/356A Speedster. Over 4,000 of those were made, yet one in similar condition to this Turbo would sell for at least twice as much as the price achieved here. The 1973 Carrera RS, of which 1,580 were made, also has a place on the list, and those cars sell for about twice the value of the Speedster.

The 959 — about 300 built — sells for more than the Carrera RS. And a 904 GTS, with just above 100 made, is about double the Carrera RS. Even given the relative rarity of Flachbau Turbos, they have not arrived on bucket lists of deep-pocketed Porsche purists.

Instead, the Slantnose 930s tended to be bought by more casual fans of the marque, or by those who simply wanted something special and different. However, today there is renewed appeal in the Flachbau design among younger players in the classic car market too, as those buyers continue to drive up prices on Countaches, Testarossas and other poster cars from their generation.

Lag, then boost in value

When 930s were just used cars, they had modest resale value, which was puzzling. Regular 911 models tended to hold their values quite well, especially with the introduction of the vastly improved and super-durable 1978 911SC. Yet near-perfect examples of Turbos languished at exotic-car dealers for long periods. Turbo owners had a hard time adjusting to the fact that their 930 cars were a hard sell.

As recently as a decade ago, standard Turbos remained tough to unload, having a reputation for sluggish performance at USA-legal speeds, turbo lag seemingly measured in minutes, and expensive repair bills for everything from replacement of distributor caps to the all-important KKK turbocharger. All that changed with the current upward movement in 930 prices.

While many values of vintage Porsches such as 356s are no longer rising quickly, Turbos have been the biggest recent gainers. Have Turbos been discovered as the next “must-have,” or are we seeing a typical asset class shift caused by momentum buyers?

Ride the wave

Momentum buyers do not tend to look carefully at the underlying assets they purchase. Instead, they see a path of upward prices and jump on, hoping to ride the wave and get off before it crests. It’s a game of musical chairs, just as we played in kindergarten, with money as the medium of exchange rather than embarrassment. As one category fades, momentum investors must find the next quickly appreciating asset class to avoid being left standing when the music stops.

In the Porsche world, 356s started the ball rolling and had great momentum, then slowly stabilized. Early 911s (1965–73) were next and began to wildly outpace “regular” 356s (i.e., cars without low miles, original paint, unusual options, celebrity ownership and so on). Appreciation for “regular” early 911 models also slowed, causing some movement in the 911SC and Carrera cars of 1978–89. And now, Turbos are rising in price as well.

But here’s where it matters going forward: Asset classes that “tag along” onto other, more enduringly popular items can rise quickly, but may fall just as fast when conditions change. So will Turbos keep their strong following, leading to buyers voting with their wallets? Or will they drop back as so many cars, even wonderful cars — like the Ferrari 275 GTB — did in the last great rout after the excesses of the 1989 market bubble?

Rarity drives the money

Fundamentals provide insight when predicting values, and one of the most powerful is rarity. The price rise in 911SCs didn’t seem sustainable, as tens of thousands of 911SC and the highly similar 3.2 Carreras were made — well over 125,000 copies. 356/356A Speedsters survive in much smaller numbers, Carrera RSs smaller again, and then we get to the really small numbers for the 959 and the 904.

For comparison, there were about 20,000 Turbos made in the original body style from 1975 to 1989. So fundamentally, the Turbo is not rare. The Flachbau option, however, is, as it was installed on just 625 930s. But that option has not led to significant price growth in the past, and it’s hard to say if it will beyond a few younger buyers hunting for their ’80s poster cars.

For this particular Turbo, the condition is a plus, but the color is not to everyone’s taste, nor is the Slantnose configuration. Another drawback is this 930’s 4-speed gearbox, in use since 1975, which finally changed in 1989 to a 5-speed unit, making a nice difference in performance — especially in regular driving.

This car’s price seems right at market for today. But the bigger question is where Turbo prices are headed tomorrow. No one knows when the momentum will shift, but that it will someday, as seen in the 356 and early 911 market, cannot be ignored. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.)


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