Happy 60th birthday, Porsche 911! In fall 1963, Porsche unveiled a new sports car, at first called “901,” as a successor to its first model, the 356. The new car entered production a year later and not long after got a badge change to “911.” This sports car icon remains in production, in much evolved form and with a choice of 25 variants this year. To celebrate 60 years, Porsche is offering a new pinnacle 911 model, called “S/T,” after a lightweight race-prep 911 from the early Seventies. Porsche will build 1,963 of these special 911s, with a starting price of $290,000.
What does $400 million buy today? It was enough to take home about 1,200 of the world’s finest collector cars offered at the 2023 Monterey auctions held from August 17-19. That was down from $475M in 2022, and the sell-through rate was lower, too. Just the same, some stellar automobiles traded hands in Monterey at auctions held by Bonhams, Broad Arrow, Gooding & Company, Mecum, and RM Sotheby’s. The top sale was a 1967 Ferrari 412P racecar for $30.2M at Bonhams, while a 1957 Jaguar XKSS, one of just 16 made, was #2 at just over $13M.
What better prelude to the 72nd Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance® than to buy a car (or few cars) from the auctions held in conjunction with this pinnacle event? If you’re bidding or selling, the action is at the auctions, of course. We’ve assembled the auction itinerary here and selected some highlights from the Bonhams, Broad Arrow, Gooding & Company, Mecum, and RM Sotheby’s sales.
The spark that launched Porsche’s road racing dynasty began with the “Fuhrman engine” in the landmark 550 Spyder racecar. Bringing that engine to the 356’s option list in 1956 and calling it “Carrera” boosted Porsche’s racing pedigree while also setting the foundation for special high-performance Porsche models to come. The expensive and complex Carrera engine was rarely ordered when new, and cars so-equipped demand a huge premium in the collector car market today. A 1956 Porsche 356A Speedster Carrera offered by Mecum Auctions in Monterey is expected to sell for up to $1.2M, or nearly 400% more than a Speedster without it.
Even as Porsche moves toward electrification across its line, the German automaker keeps ratcheting up the performance from its gas-fueled sports cars. The recently revealed 718 Spyder RS becomes the ultimate rendition of the Porsche Boxster and arrives next spring. The Spyder RS is basically the open version of the 718 Cayman GT4 RS available now. Both of these incredible mid-engine cars use a 493-hp naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine from the 911 GT3
Can a track-focused sports car be too track-focused? That’s what one major auto magazine suggested after testing the BMW M4 CSL, a special lighter, more powerful version of its M4. While the “lesser” BMW M4 Competition xDrive model (which is not a competition car, btw) is quicker in some acceleration tests, the 40-hp more powerful, 240-pound lighter, $58,000 more expensive M4 CSL is the faster car around the kind of private membership tracks whose clients this car is intended. You’ll pay for that capability with reduced comfort in everyday driving, but would you care?
When Lamborghini puts the “Performante” badge on a vehicle, you can be sure it’s the hottest version and ready for some track thrills. The Urus Performante lives up to that badge’s promise, but at a cost in both extra dollars and reduced comfort. This carbon-fiber-festooned hooligan is meant for pavement only. For Lamborghini purists, having an exotic SUV with plenty of room that also thrills in track driving might be worth the sacrifices the vehicle demands.
If you’re keeping up with the Porsche 911 family, there are currently 28 different versions showing in the Porsche U.S.A. website configurator. (Yes, 28!) Not a single 911 could ever be considered middle-of-the-road, but sitting around the middle of the lineup you’ll find five versions of the 911 Carrera GTS. Hotter than the Carrera S but not as extreme as the GT3 track machine, the GTS delivers a wallop of supercar performance while remaining street-friendly for everyday driving if you please. The intense fun starts at around $152,000.
Forget March Madness, Florida brought the heat to the collector car world with the quartet of Amelia Island auctions booking $186 million in sales, a record for the venue. The top sale, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider, accounted for $18M by itself. Ferraris grabbed 13 slots across the four auctions’ Top-10 lists, and Porsches took four. Modern supercars made some auction Top-10 lists, including $5.3M for a rare Pagani Zonda and $2.4M for a McLaren P1. A 1931 Duesenberg put the spotlight on Pre-war cars with a $4.3M sale.