Data Dive

The rise, fall, and resurgence of the Porsche 911 Turbo

by James Hewitt
4 August 2022 3 min read
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Gooding & Company sold this 1975 Porsche 911 Turbo for $544,000—a shocking resurgence in values for a car that had plummeted just a few years ago. Photo by Photo by Juan Martinez courtesy Gooding & Company

The Porsche 930 Carrera Turbo, the first 911 to carry that special T-word on its rump, has a reputation for being incredibly exciting but also a bit of a handful. The same could be said from a valuation perspective. It’s one of the most volatile vehicles in the collector market.

I don’t care who you are, where you went to school, how many spelling bee plaques you have on the wall or letters you’ve accumulated behind your name: The Porsche 930 market is a challenge for anyone to comprehend. From cold to hot to cold in a year to piping hot again, it’s always on the move.

That wasn’t always the case. In 2010 you could get a 930 in excellent condition for a little more than $40,000. Shortly after that, the collector vehicle market went crazy— especially Porsches and Ferraris. Homologation cars and “firsts” found themselves in the crosshairs of collectors around the world. By 2016, that same $42,000 930 was now $235,000. Give me a shout if you could have predicted such a rocket ride. Then, by 2020, values tumbled to $140k. I’ll buy you dinner if you predicted that and the prior increase.

The roller coaster ride has only sped up this year. In 2021, we saw eleven 930s sell for more than $200k. In the first seven months of 2022 we have seen 19 cars sell above that threshold. That includes a world record price (excluding Steve McQueen’s car for $2.145M) set in March 2022. Is this the second coming of the 930?

Given all that volatility, you'd need to have a screw loose to try and predict what might come next. And yet, here I'm about to do just that.

Skeptics think we're talking out of our tail pipes when predicting markets and values, and we can understand why. Many data sources come together to create a complex story of a vehicle's market. The 930 is one of the more tumultuous tales. Yet data from the insurance side of Hagerty's business can help provide context here.

First, we can get a sense of how active the market for 930s is at any point by looking at the 12-month count of 930s added to insurance policies. That number peaked in June 2015, exactly one year before the average sale price peaked at $148,000 in June 2016.

As the average price rose, the 12-month number of cars added to policies dropped. By June 2016, the activity was down 30 percent from 2015. It bottomed out in August 2019, when fewer than half as many 930s were being added to Hagerty policies. Put another way: high demand led sellers to increase prices, which led to fewer people buying them. Economics 101 at work.

Now let's look at more recent activity. In August 2020—before we detected any big movement in selling prices—the 12-month count increased a staggering 90 percent. It stabilized at that level through the better part of the pandemic until March 2022, when it began slowly dropping. March 2022 happened to be the month when a new record 930 sale price was set. If we are looking at history repeating itself, then the 12-month average sale price will drop off one year from now.

That 911 Turbo values would be so sensitive to demand makes more sense when we step back and think about where it fits in the realm of valuable cars. We're talking about mass-produced vehicle (global production exceeded 30,000) that appeals to the well off and to the ultra-rich alike. This is the magic formula that allows Porsche today to sell both a $100k 911 and a near $300k 911 Sport Classic with a $12,830 "paint-to-sample" option. Yet it also means 930 prices cannot be sustained by a handful of top-tier collectors. When prices soar too high for the masses, demand dries up.

The demographic details in our insurance data bear out this narrative. At the beginning of the last decade, there was strong interest in the 930 from Gen–X collectors. Around the 2016 peak in 930 prices, they dropped out. The vast majority of people calling us for quotes on insurance on these cars were Baby Boomers—the generation with the most wealth. As prices receded in 2017 and 2018, the Gen–Xers came back, along with some Millennials and Gen–Z buyers.

Even more telling is the percentage of buyers who are top-tier collectors at any given time. In Hagerty-speak, these folks fit under the SSG, or Signature Services Group. On the whole, they represent a small but significant chunk of people who call Hagerty for insurance quotes on 930s—usually between 5 and 10 percent. You might think these deep-pocketed collectors have the ability to steer values—and they likely do to a certain extent. Yet what we see with the 930 is that after prices peaked in 2016, and "regular" collectors receded, interest from SSG clients was not enough to hold up prices. When values bottomed out just before the pandemic, the regular collectors returned, and the cycle started anew.

What we have here, then, is a car that seems volatile but is, in the long-view, quite stable. The 930 Turbo appeals to a broad set of collectors, both young and old, a few of whom have more resources than the rest. That means the car's value has a clear ceiling—when prices get too high the masses leave—but also that it always has a clear floor—because, inevitably, the masses come back.

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Comments

  • Bluesy Vette says:

    Hard to believe these prices for a mass produced auto; must be the turbo option?

    • Mark A McKinnis says:

      Massed produced? Porsche built around 23,000 930 Turbos from 1975 to 1989. Ferrari built around 13,000 308’s from 1975 to 1985 and around 7500 328’s from 1986 to 1989. Never heard of anybody calling a Ferrari a “massed produced” car yet the production numbers are comparable.

      • François says:

        I agree with you on it, I would even say better than Ferrari. 1st generation of 930 Turbo, from 1975 to 1977, total production: 2880 units (an average of 960 per year). Ferrari’s production level is higher than that

  • louis giordano says:

    Would be interested to hear your views on which of the 930s are more valuable-the coupe,targa or cabs?

  • Vincenzo says:

    Targa

  • Stewart Carlough says:

    Coupe

  • Ian Ducoff says:

    I am a 930 owner, I have been for 35 years.
    I have a 1976 930 Turbo Carrera this is the very first real supercar. Face it look what was on the showroom floor back in 1976 not much to compare it to. My 930 has been converted to a 505 slop nose option extremely excellent job. The rest of the car is in excellent condition

  • Flatop says:

    Having owned a 1987 Turbo I can say they can be fun, but hard to work on (10 lbs of Crap in a 2 lb bag). Parts are very expensive, (1600$ cat), must buy used parts. Needs lots of attention and service. Alas, any recent V8 Mustang will wipe off your German pastry, ( yes I own one). Waaaaaayyyyy over valued.

  • Flying Squirrel says:

    I agree that any current V8 Mustang will blow by me in my ’77 930. Then again, so will a Civic R. That is not the point for me. I like the 930 as it makes me think. All my skills have to report for duty on a day that I want to tackle the twisties in the 930. If I want to go fast and not think, then the GT3RS is the correct ride. The historical significance is the value builder, not the comparison of an old car against one that has the benefit of 50 years of automotive engineering advances.

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