Automotive milestones, ’40 Fords, and roads for Hot Wheels

Mitsubishi putting 1917 Model A on modern hybrid platform | Mitsubishi MMA photo
Mitsubishi putting 1917 Model A on modern hybrid platform | Mitsubishi MMA photo

You may not recognize the automobile in the photograph, but that’s likely because only about 20 of them were produced, and it happened a century ago, and most likely they all remained in Japan. The 1917 Model A, largely based on the Fiat Tipo 3 though using all Japanese-produced parts, including a four-cylinder engine, was the first motorcar by the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Continue reading

27 Porsche 911s to be auctioned in online sale

A 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera, black with a black-leather interior, is the earliest car in the auction | LiveAuctioneers.com
A 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera, black with a black-leather interior, is the earliest car in the auction | LiveAuctioneers.com

The rapid rise of values for Porsche 911s has brought many of them out of hiding and onto the auction stage, with the earlier model-year cars still commanding unheard-of prices.

The latest Porsche collection to hit the bidding circuit is being offered in an online auction with 27 cars from a private enthusiast ranging from a 1974 911 Carrera coupe to several low-mileage 2013 911s. Pre-auction value estimates range from the low $30,000s to $166,000, with all the cars carrying reserve prices. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1971 Porsche 911T

The 1971 Porsche 911T recently received a $20,000 restoration, the seller claims
The 1971 Porsche 911T recently received a $20,000 restoration, the seller claims

After attending the festivities in Monterey for a week, we thought it was time for a more-sensibly priced sports car, so for Pick of the Day, we have a car that is always hot in Monterey, the fabled Porsche 911.

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Navigation-audio system designed for classic Porsches

Earlier 911s can now be outfitted with built-in navigation from Porsche | Porsche Classic photos
Earlier 911s can now be outfitted with built-in navigation from Porsche | Porsche Classic photos

Even classic Porsche drivers get lost, though they would be the last to admit it. So to help them avoid having to ask for directions, Porsche has developed a thoroughly modern update for its vintage cars, and designed it to look like it was supposed to be there all along.

The Porsche Classic division of the Stuttgart automaker has created a combination audio and navigation system using a 3.5-inch screen that installs in the dashboard of air-cooled 911s from 1964 through the mid-‘90s, in all 914s and in early front-engine cars. The unit replaces the standard radio.

“Thanks to the appearance of the black surface and the shape of the knobs, which are supplied in two authentically styled versions as standard, the navigation radio blends harmoniously into the dashboard of classic Porsche models,” Porsche says in a news release.

The navigation radio fits directly into the dashboard
The navigation radio fits directly into the dashboard

Porsche, which said it designed the system in response to “the growing demand for a built-in device for classic sports cars,” noted that the navigation radio is equipped with the key features of modern systems.

“In addition to low-interference radio reception and precise navigation, it has interfaces for a variety of external music sources that can be controlled from the display,” according to Porsche. “A smartphone can be connected via Bluetooth. In addition, the classic radio not only has a built-in microphone but also comes with an external microphone.”

For the navigation system, the news release says, “Drivers have a choice of arrows and two-dimensional or three-dimensional maps to display the route. The maps are stored on a micro SD card with eight gigabytes of memory and are updated regularly.”

The Porsche Classic navigation radio, which is available in Germany, is undergoing testing for the U.S. market. Availability and pricing will be determined upon completion of testing, Porsche said.

More information about Porsche Classic is available on the automaker’s website.

Arizona auctions showed Porsche 911s’ rapid rise

A 1973 Porsche 911S crosses the block at Gooding & Company | Bob Golfen photos
A 1973 Porsche 911S crosses the block at Gooding & Company | Bob Golfen photos

I walked into the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale last Saturday just in time to witness a 1966 Porsche 912 being hammered sold for $75,000. No, not a proper six-cylinder 911 but a mild-mannered four-cylinder 912. With auction fee, the sale price was $82,500.

I don’t mean to be disparaging, but this seems like a heap of money for what is essentially the 911’s weak sister. However, with prices of early 911s going through the roof, this seems to be the new reality as 912s are dragged up from the value cellar where they have existed for so long.

The 1966 912 at Gooding was restored in 1990
The 1966 912 at Gooding was restored in 1990

The entry-level 912 has essentially the same iconic styling as the 911, so that apparently goes a long way in this overheated 911 market. The landmark shape of the original 911, which has held up so well through its generations to the present day, appeals to classic car enthusiasts of all ages, so the prices should hold up as younger collectors and hobbyists enter the market.

Values for 911s have spiked so fast that they were termed “explosive” and “meteoric” by the expert panelists at the Sports Car Market seminar last week. While Porsche prices pale compared with the run up in Ferrari values, they have been climbing rapidly, with 911s and their ancestor 356s hitting surprising numbers in just the past few years.

“Porsches are still on fire,” said Jonathon Klinger, a spokesman for Hagerty classic car insurance and Hagerty Price Guide.

Full disclosure: I am the owner of a 1962 356B T-6 Super coupe, not one of the great models but still a car that has risen in worth during the relatively short time I have owned it, according to various price guides. No matter, though, since I have no plans to sell.

The correct way to examine a 911
The correct way to examine a 911

The strong six-figure sales of 911s are getting lots of attention. Arizona Auction Week was packed with Porsches, mostly 911s, concentrated primarily in the higher-end sales at Gooding, RM and Bonhams as owners attempted to cash in on the new enthusiasm for the classic rear-engine sports cars. As expected, they did quite well with most of them going a good distance into six figures.

This is a fairly recent phenomenon. In 2011, the sale of a rare first-year 1964 911 coupe in great condition was an absolute shocker when it reached a record $222,500, including auction fee, at RM Auctions’ Amelia Island sale. Now, according to the latest Hagerty Price Guide, that ’64 911 in good to excellent condition would go for $242,000 to $303,000, not including the customary 10 percent auction fee. And nobody would raise an eyebrow.

Although 911s have always been popular collector cars and vintage racers, the boom in interest and prices for early 911s – the so-called “long hoods” from the 1964 through 1973 model years (before the advent of DOT bumpers) – started to climb after two things happened:

A 1969 911T heads toward the RM block
A 1969 911T heads toward the RM block

• Porsche 911 turned 50 in 2013 – The birthday was marked from when 911 debuted with much acclaim at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. While such anniversaries are celebrated regularly for many car models, the 911 anniversary seemed to resonate with old-car enthusiasts everywhere, maybe because Porsche AG did such an excellent job of getting them out before the public eye where everyone could rediscover how totally cool they are.

• The sale of the Steve McQueen 911S from the movie Le Mans – Of course, the $1.375 million sale in 2011 of the 911S driven by McQueen in the opening sequences of Le Mans is a total outlier, far and away from any logical value of a non-ultra-celebrity 911S, but it did serve to focus attention on these cars.

I remember first seeing Le Mans years ago, and those loving shots of the car rambling through the French countryside made me long so much for a 911. Before that car came up for sale at RM’s 2011 Monterey auction, the film sequence was shown endlessly on numerous websites and blogs, and I’m sure those feelings of 911 longing were renewed for many of the people who saw it.

Plus, 911s are known for being sturdy, reliable cars.

“Unlike a lot of other collector cars, they do work every day,” longtime classic car expert Simon Kidston said during the SCM seminar. He also noted that the cars have excellent parts and service support from Porsche and a host of private concerns.

The 356 models are still holding their value
The 356 models are still holding their value

In Arizona, the Gooding auction was packed with Porsches, with 20 of them on the docket out of a total of 130 cars. Before its sale, Gooding had estimated the 912’s value at $60,000 to $80,000, so the result was right in there. Guess those guys know what they’re doing. Although that seems very pricey when the Hagerty Price Guide has the 1966 912 listed in good to excellent condition from $29,400 to $39,000.

Gooding had the deck stacked with all manner of Porsches – 356s coupes and cabriolets, including an appealing “barn find” 1958 Speedster and a high-performance Carrera 2 coupe; a wide variety of 911s ranging from the valuable early models to a powerful 2011 997 GT3 RS; a 1988 version of the rare and hotly desired 959, the all-wheel drive supercar of the 1980s based on the 911, which sold for $1.7 million; and one of the stars of the auction, a 1966 906 Carrera 6 race car that sold for $1.98 million.

The early 911 prices were solid at Gooding, most of them more than double what these cars were worth just two or three years ago. But Gooding’s pre-auction estimates were even more aggressive, and most of the cars sold for less than the auction company expected. Still, these are serious numbers for the cars that sold:

1965 911 coupe, $253,000
1966 911 coupe, $170,500
1967 911 2.0 S coupe, $253,000
1972 911 2.4 S Targa, $132,000
1973 911T coupe, $115,000
1973 911S coupe, $145,750
1973 911S coupe, $187,000

RM Auctions had 12 Porsches cross the block at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, including three pre-1974 911s. Again, big prices compared with the very recent past:

1965 911 coupe, $297,000
1969 911T coupe, $121,000
1969 911S Targa soft-rear-window, $286,000

At Bonhams, the 911 results seemed a bit softer but still healthy:

1967 911S coupe, $137,500
1970 911T coupe, $93,500
1972 911T coupe, $71,500
1973 911E Targa, $104,500

And it wasn’t just the high-end auctions where good results were posted for 911s. One of the top-selling cars at Silver Auctions’ laid-back sale was a 1975 911T coupe that sold for $59,940, which may not be as-big money but still shows the strength of the brand in a less-elite auction environment.

Later 911s, such as this 1976 Turbo, are moving up
Later 911s, such as this 1976 Turbo, are moving up

Later-model 911s are starting to follow the “long hoods” up the value scale, with formerly cheap coupes and convertibles from the late-’70s, ’80s and ’90s getting due notice, notably the desirable performance models.

Klinger said “1980s 911S prices continue to go through the roof,” pointing out the strong sales of several of the later cars at Bonhams, all of them achieving the top-dollar No. 1 values listed in the Hagerty Price Guide.

Some of the experts at the SCM seminar expressed concern that the rapid rise of 911 values might constitute a bubble that could burst with an unpleasant financial aftertaste. But given the dramatic upturn in today’s collector-car marketplace, especially for European sports cars, Porsches seem to be right where they should be. And still moving up.

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