As with many European sports cars, the market has been very kind to Porsche's 911 over the last few years. And why not? Iconic design and legendary performance have long been Porsche trademarks, and the market habitually rewards both.
Porsche bet the company on the 911 (and the 4-cylinder 912), a replacement for the aging but still popular 356. In hindsight it's hard to imagine why there was any trepidation at all up in Stuttgart (sorry, Zuffenhausen).
Sought after the world over.
Maintenance and repair costs.
Somewhat vague shifter.
Everything about the 911 turned out to be just right. So right, in fact that it had a 25 year run ahead of it. While some will argue that DNA stretches all the way to today's version, we think that's a bit of a stretch. Other than the shape, general cabin layout and position of the engine, 60's technology is nowhere to be found!
The S model was added in '67 and is coveted by Porsche enthusiasts the world over. With a 30hp bump to 160, performance jumped markedly. The party lasted for a year, and the S was dropped here for '68 due to emission difficulties. Or a persistant plug fouling problem, it depends who you talk to!
In it's stead a new L (Luxus) model arrived. Basically, it was an S with the standard 911 engine. A semi-automatic transmission was available this year, too. The "Sportomatic" (ugh) is a value killer.
The early cars (through '68) carry the original short wheelbase and 2.0L engine. For 1969, Porshce's famous philosophy of "endless tinkering" brought a slightly longer wheelbase, suspension tweaks, flared fenders and more weight. But the 911 got a little less tail heavy, the ride was better, and they looked as good as ever. Models proliferated. The previous Europe-only T hit these shores, as did a new E model with unique self leveling front struts. Most importantly, the S returned, this time with 190hp.
The news for 1970 was an increase in engine displacement, to 2.2 liters (2195cc). Power was up across the board, ant the top two engines received Bosch fuel injection, greatly increasing their flexibility.
For 1971 Porsche took a breath, with no major changes for th 911.
Engine displacement increased again for the 1972 mdoel year, to 2341cc. The T lost its carbs in favor of the Bosch injection system of the S and E. The wheelbase grew again too, although we're not sure 3mm qualifies as a stretch.
A very special model arrived late in '72. The 911RS lightweight used a lightened 911 body with no sound insulation, no rear seat, and virtually no amenities. It was meant for competion and carried no emission controls, so it wasn't sold here. To top it off, the engine was enlarged to almost 2.7 liters. Power was up to 230hp (SAE) and weighing under 2000lbs. It is one of the most desirable factory production Porsches of all time. A regular RS version was also availabe, outfitted with S equipment and body but retaining the RS mechanicals. Both are highly coveted and quite expensive today, and neither is covered in this profile.
After the '73 model year the 911 grew US mandated 5 mph bumpers and got another displacement increase to offset stricter power robbing emission requirements. Porsche handled both situations better than most and the 911 rode and drove better than ever, but the first real break from the original look had occured.
2020 Update: The chrome bumper 911's were some of the hottest cars in the market during the last decade, more than doubling in value in just a couple years. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Hemi craze of the decade prior. One of the differnces with the 911, though, is a worldwide enthusiast base. While Hemi's appeal mostly to collectors in th U.S., the 911 is sought after everywhere, fueling the demand that inflates values.
Still, values have eased off about 20% for most examples in the last couple years and it appears as though the downward trend is continuing, although at a much slower pace. As a long term investment, however, you can rely on that worldwide enthusiast base to keep values reasonably stable during any general downturn. When the next market rise occurs, were pretty confident these will get more than their share in that rise.
(C) Copyright 2016- VMR International, Inc. All rights reserved. This article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Collector Car Market Review.