From one-off Porsche 993 Turbos to record-setting lap times in the Porsche 919 Evo, you won’t have failed to notice that Porsche is 70 this year.
In addition to Porsche’s own celebrations, the anniversary is being celebrated by RM Sotheby’s with a special auction at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia on October 27 2018. The Porsche 70th Anniversary Auction is entirely dedicated to the sports car firm, from pristine examples of the company’s road and race cars to associated memorabilia.
It’s clear RM Sotheby’s is expecting some big numbers on the day, with some huge estimates on some of the cars. Some of those numbers are unavoidable in our own selection, but below you’ll find our pick of the more interesting cars crossing the block later this month.
1983 Porsche 956 Group C
It’s no surprise to find a 956 commanding the highest estimate in Atlanta, at $5.25m-$6.75m. Winner of the 1983 Brands Hatch 1000km and 1983 Can-Am at Road America – and with entries at Le Mans in ’83 and ’84 – it’s being billed as the most original of the nine surviving WEC privateer 956s.
The 956 is among Porsche’s most famous racers, drawing its performance from a 2.65-litre turbocharged flat-six making more than 630bhp. This car’s two big wins are testament to the car’s status, but other statistics include a top speed of up to 362kph on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, and until the Porsche 919 Evo reset Porsche’s own record, the fastest ever lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a 6:11.13.
1985 Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar
Another iconic Porsche racer, this Paris-Dakar 959 is as interesting for its recent history as it is for its purpose in period. One of three campaigned in the 1985 event, all failed to finish, with this car suffering an oil-line failure. It’s one of seven development cars – five of which are owned by Porsche – and the only complete, running car in private hands.
It’s also fitted with the correct naturally aspirated 3.2-litre Carrera engine, as unlike the road cars, the Dakar versions were not turbocharged. It retains the correct Rothmans livery, too, and has previously been on display at the Royal Automobile Club in London and has run up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the hands of Jacky Ickx. Given its provenance, the $3m-$3.4m estimate is unsurprising.
1985 Porsche 959 Prototype
Another 1985 959, this time one of 12 prototypes, of which only three or four are believed to survive. This car was number seven, primarily built for electrical system and hot-weather testing during the 959’s development.
It’s spent most of its life as a display car, as a result of its prototype status and a requirement by Porsche of the first owner that it would not be returned to the road unless it had been refurbished by the factory. It was returned to running condition in 2002 and earlier in 2018 had a comprehensive service at Porsche Centre Reading with a $32k bill. It’s offered for sale with a $1.3m-$1.6m estimate.
1980 Porsche 935 K4
It takes a lot for a car to look more dramatic than a Porsche 956 or Dakar 959, but this 750bhp Kremer 935 manages it. The second of two 935 K4s built by Kremer, RM Sotheby’s describes it as having ‘tremendous vintage racing potential’ and it’d certainly be a shame if the car never saw circuit use.
Not least as it’s also described as being as fast as a later 956 or 962, though it does require a ‘mechanical re-commissioning’ before it’s race-ready again. The car has an IMSA history, achieving a highest-place finish of 3rd in the 1982 season. It’s expected to achieve $850k-$1.1m in Atlanta.
1994 Porsche 911 (964) Speedster
Back to the road cars now, though how far you’d be prepared to take this 19,000-kilometres 911 Speedster with its $200k-$250k estimate is another matter. It’d certainly get noticed should the owner choose to enjoy it on the road, with a distinctive Guards Red-over-red colour scheme and red accents inside.
The car was bought in New York in 1993 and is well-specified, including climate control, cruise control and a limited-slip differential. It remained with the original owner for more than two decades, and its most recent service took place in December 2017. Not the most exotic car at the sale, but distinctive and doubtless interesting to drive.
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight
The archetypal classic 911, and with an $875k-$1.1m estimate, a perfect representation of the incredible rise in value of classic Porsches. It’s being described as ‘possibly the finest restored example in the US’ and there’s certainly no arguing for the specification – the green and white paintwork, lightweight Sport specification and comprehensive history all make it deeply desirable.
Like many 2.7 RS 911s, it also has a racing history, despite now being presented in road-going trim. Campaigned by racer Eugen Strähl, it competed at ten events in 1974, three of which were at Hockenheim. Since then it’s changed hands a few times, with the most recent owner having it restored. The engine is matching-numbers, but the original gearbox succumbed to its period racing exploits so was replaced early on, and has since also been rebuilt.
1980 Porsche 924
To the other end of the Porsche scale now, though with an estimate of a remarkable $30k-$40k, this Porsche 924 is certainly at the upper end of non-Carrera RS versions of the nameplate. There’s no doubting the condition or originality, though, and with 17,000 kilometres from new this 924 has lived a life more like that of some of the rarer 911s on sale in Atlanta.
With a rear reflector panel between the tail lights, leather trim, early two-spoke steering wheel and a series of dealer options it’s gloriously retro, and its history is impeccable. It was meticulously looked after by its first owner and kept pristine by the second, who bought it in 2014.
1971 Porsche 914/6
Precursor to the 924, the 914 was Porsche’s previous affordable model, though the six-cylinder 914/6 was perhaps less attainable than the modestly-powered standard models. In this colour – Willow Green – it’s also very rare, believed to be only one of two ordered in this shade in the US.
Unlike many at the auction it’s been driven and enjoyed over the years, with over 191k kilometres on the clock. At around 117k – admittedly 25 years ago now – the engine was rebuilt and upgraded, expanded to 2.2-litres, fitted with Mahle pistons and rebuilt Weber carbs, with the underpinnings also improved. Since 2009 it’s also had a cosmetic restoration. The estimate of $100k-$125k is steep for a 914, but perhaps not surprising given both Porsche’s place in the market and the quality of this particular car.
2018 Porsche 911 Turbo Project Gold
If you’re looking at this car wondering why it’s listed as a 2018, you must have missed the news about Porsche building a new 993 Turbo from scratch under its Classic Series banner. Project Gold is the result, built 20 years after the original car went off sale, and aside from the level of preparation and modern techniques used in its construction and painting, it’s essentially a perfect 1998 Porsche 993 Turbo.
The let-down is that the car is not road legal as it has not been homologated for road use, and the buyer will have a fair distance to travel from the auction in Atlanta, too, as it will need to be collected from Stuttgart. On the plus side, proceeds from the auction will go towards the Ferry Porsche Foundation, dedicated to education, social issues and youth development.