Vintage Porsches are ascending to new heights among collectors.
It is called the giant killer. The Porsche 550 Spyder sits near the back of the Ingram family’s storied collection of Porsches in a beautiful old Studebaker warehouse in Durham, N.C. It lies in wait, ready to attack, like it did when it raced on circuits across the United States in the mid-1950s, slaying foes alleged to be much more formidable. Cam Ingram circles around the Spyder, taking in from every angle the unadorned beauty of the first production racecar Porsche ever made.
Porsches endure, in part, because they are arrestingly simple, even inevitable—and this car is a perfect example. It is silver and low slung, without an extraneous curve or superfluous rivet on its sleek aluminum body, penned by Porsche designer Erwin Komenda. The longer you stare at it, the more overwhelming the desire to climb in and take off.
Lately, Porsche fans have been putting up big dollars to indulge that need for speed. In the last four years, Porsche 550s have quadrupled in value, and 993s, the 911s of 1993 to 1999, have tripled in just the last 18 months, says Richard Sloan, who sells Porsches through Sloan Cars in New Haven, Conn. The surge of the 993 partly reflects collectors’ interest in air-cooled engines, as it was the last Porsche to have that type. “It’s just absolutely bedlam,” Sloan says of the market. The results at the January Scottsdale auctions prove his point: The average selling price for a Porsche was $336,200—more than triple what it was four years earlier, with prices buoyed by a 1966 906 Carrera 6 that fetched $1.98 million and a 1988 959 Sport that drew $1.7 million, both at Gooding & Co.
The spiraling value of Porsches coincides with an upsurge across the collectible car market, which started roughly four years ago and continues to accelerate, depending on the model. No surprise, classic 911s made from 1964 to 1999 are leading the pack. In January, Russo and Steele sold a 1974 911 2.7 RS for $302,500—the highest price for a 911 in Scottsdale this year. In Scottsdale overall, 23 classic 911s sold for an average of $166,698. No doubt, Porsche mania is alive and well.
Which leads us back to the Ingrams’ Spyder. The car was a technological marvel when it was introduced in 1953, with a design lifted from German airplane technology. Put wings on this bad boy and it would fly: The 1,498 cc Fuhrmann-type 547 mid-mounted engine launches the Spyder to a top speed of 135 mph. “You’re talking about a 1,200-pound car that has 150 horsepower,” says Cam Ingram. “It’s like a go-kart on steroids.”
(Continues on next page...)