Good news, ladies and gentlemen! Friday is upon us once again, and that means the time has come for Letters to Doug, a weekly column wherein you provide the letter and I provide the Doug.
And just remember: you, too, can participate in Letters to Doug! Just send your automotive-related query to me at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, and I will carefully consider your letter before selecting someone else’s. This week’s letter comes to us from a reader named Elton, who writes:
I truly enjoy reading your articles, as well as your book. So much better than reading actual news.
Anyway, here’s my question, which should suit you well considering your past work history. Why the heck do Porsche 911’s cost so much? I’m talking both new and used. They have to be one of the only cars that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars within the same model range, over a 25 year period! Seriously, I just looked at Autotrader, and there’s a 2015 911 turbo right next to a 2008, then a 1998, then a 1989, and they all cost around $220,000 each.
I get that they can be very technologically advance and are supposedly one of the best cars to drive, but being that I’m too tall to even get my leg inside one I’ll have to take other peoples’ input on that part. Still, I just don’t get it. Are they made out of unicorn tears or something? How can one car, made out of essentially the same raw materials and by the same humans as any other really good car, be THAT good for so many years that people would pay the exact same astronomical price for one that’s 25 years old as they would for a brand new one? Sorry, I think I technically asked three questions.
Looking forward to you proving me wrong.
For those of you who don’t want to sift through Elton’s letter – the only letter written to me this week to include the words “raw” and “unicorn” – allow me to sum up his question. He is asking: why the hell are Porsche 911s so expensive?
And I must say, Elton, that you’ve raised an interesting point, because Porsche 911 values seem to keep going up, and by God, maybe it’s time that Letters to Doug tackles this issue, or at least captures its flag.
First off, to address the exact vehicles you’ve asked about in your e-mail: the reason people are asking $220,000 for a 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo is because it’s an amazing car, full of luxury, and technology, and speed, and equipment, and engineering. The reason people are asking $220,000 for a 1998 and 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo is because they are high on methamphetamines.
Now to get to the rest of the 911 market. In today’s world, the Porsche 911 is experiencing something called a bubble. What this means is, the market was originally fairy normal, and then, like a bubble, it has grown, and grown, and now it’s one of those giant bubble gum bubbles that get 150,000 views when people post videos of them on YouTube.
These days, this is true of virtually all collector cars. Maybe the best example is the Jaguar E-Type, which is now an upper-five figure car, despite the fact that there are literally ten million excellent condition E-Types running around out there. Seriously: you cannot go to a car gathering without seeing a fully restored E-Type, even if it’s a gathering of lowrider pickup trucks at an Arby’s parking lot.
So what you’re seeing, with some of these prices, is people trying to take advantage of the bubble. People are seeing 1960s and 1970s Porsche 911 prices going up, and up, and up, and so they’ve decided to ask huge money for their 2000 911 Cabriolet with Tiptronic. “It’s the same as an older 911,” these people reason to themselves. “But even better.” Then they post it on RennList and everyone laughs at them.
With that said, allow me to provide a brief aside that may help justify the recent increase in 911 pricing.
As many of you know, I used to work for Porsche Cars North America, where I had a series of five different brand-new Porsche company cars, only two of which I crashed. These were amazing vehicles, with incredible performance, handsome looks, surprising practicality, and true daily driver capabilities.
While I was working at Porsche and since, I have amassed a car history that now includes 21 vehicles, ranging from an E36 BMW M3 to a Ferrari 360 Modena to a Lotus Elise. And none of these cars – not one of these vehicles – has ever been able to do what my 911s could.
The Elise was reliable, but not comfortable – and it couldn’t carry four people or any luggage. The Ferrari was gorgeous and fast, but you couldn’t drive it every day. The M3 was fun and practical – but it didn’t have the look of a 911. My E63 AMG wagon, my Skyline, my CTS-Vs – they all had some fatal flaw that kept them just shy of the 911 on my “perfect car” measuring stick. And whenever anyone asks me what car I would own if I wasn’t buying crazy cars just to write about, the answer is always the same: a used Porsche 911.
So yes, I’m saying there’s a bubble. But I’m also saying that some of it might be justified.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.