Why Didn’t This Porsche 908/3 Sell at Amelia Island?

The sale of the Drendel Family Porsche collection last year at the Gooding Auction during the Amelia Island Concours set more records than we could count. So with that experience still fresh in our minds, and knowing that a 1973 Carrera RS had just sold for $550,000 at the Gooding Auction, we were hoping to see some serious action on Chassis #04 of this 1970 Porsche 908/3.

Porsche 908/3 Chassis #4 getting rolled onto the auction block

Porsche 908/3 Chassis #4 getting rolled onto the auction block

There was a lot of buzz before the auction and what appeared to be quite a bit of interest during the preview and bidder's reception. As a result, when the 908 was rolled onto the auction block they opened the bidding at $750,000. A high price for sure, but one that was immediately accepted by a bidder in the reserved seating up front.

The auctioneer works the crowd during the sale of the Porsche 908/3

The auctioneer works the crowd during the sale of the Porsche 908/3

As the auctioneers worked on the crowd a short, but exciting, bidding war took place and the pricing quickly went north of $1,000,000. Things were looking good. We were up front by the turntable taking pictures so it was hard to see just who was bidding, but over the next five minutes the auctioneers worked the crowd providing more details on this former test mule.

On the stage

On the stage

Provenance for this Porsche 908/3 includes:

  • Number four of 13 examples produced
  • Just four private owners over 37 years
  • Factory test-chassis of the Targa Florio-winning model that contributed to Porsche’s 1970 and 1971 Makes Championship
  • Two-and-a-half-year restoration completed in 2005
  • Recognized as authentic by the Porsche factory
  • Exhibited with, and vintage raced against, some of Porsche’s greatest drivers
  • Lightweight aluminum chassis with precise handling and powerful performance
  • Ideal for vintage racing events and concours d’elegance

While anyone bidding on a Porsche in this price range already knows its complete history, the auctioneers ad-lib to fill time, give their people time to work bidders on the phone and for those in the crowd to decide just how high they want to go. RM obviously knows what they're doing as bidding continue to creep up until it reaches $1,300,000 (that's before any buyer's premium). Unfortunately, that's also where it stalls. Going no higher and having not met an undisclosed reserve (we got the feeling we were close to it) the Porsche 908/3 doesn't sell.

No Sale!

No Sale!

Why Didn't it Sell

When we originally posted about this Porsche we thought it would go for much higher than its estimate of $1,400,000 to $1,700,000. Obviously we were wrong. What we wondered is why? With so many other Porsches doing so well at other auctions, why didn't this one sell? Was it the wrong car for the wrong crowd? Perhaps, but there was definitely money in the room and we saw a number of well known Porsche collectors. While we can't say for sure, and it's only our opinion (all though a number of people we spoke to agreed) we think there are probably some "stories" that go along with this 908/3. Combine that with the fact that this Porsche was/is a test mule vs. a racer with wins and events as part of its provenance and there's a good chance this is why the hammer didn't fall on a higher number.

What about you? Any thoughts on why this example didn't sell?

Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
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10 Comments

  1. Steve Hermeyer says

    Frankly, I think the bidding frenzy for these cars, and many other marques, for that matter, has faded into history. Buyers are now very selective, and either want the genuine article with lots of documentation, or something unique that is going to stand out from the usual selections. I also feel the prices have peaked and are going through a correction.

    • 993C4S says

      Steve,

      Thanks for speaking out! We wish your opinion were correct. However, given that a ’73 RS 2.7 that was, in our opinion, not that great sold for $550k we think it’s safe to say the prices are still on the rise. This 908/3 must have a few “stories” beyond its lack of provenance…

  2. says

    The test mule appellation had to hurt. It’s certainly a beautiful car, professionally and accurately restored but without a record of some famous behind in the seat at some famous race, it’s “just another race car”. Having said that, I would, had I the cash, offered $1.5M and with it in my garage, hired Brian Redman to teach me how to drive it so I wouldn’t kill myself. Then I would do every one of my Region’s PCA track event and scare the bejesus out of everyone in the red run group…

  3. Ronald Sieber says

    There are so many factors in bidding and selling. The right bidder just wasn’t there at that moment, or it may be too early in the auction year for selling it. Given that these sometimes sell after the auction closes, it would be useful to keep an eye on this, especially if it goes to Pebble in the fall. Methinks it would sell there no sweat.

  4. david meyer says

    well. a factory tube frame was all there was to this car from new. everything else was sourced from a variety of individuals and many of these components were made in someones basement! So why in the world would you think this is a $1.5m race car! Also, the 2.7RS mentioned above. was def. just a AVERAGE car at best and the sad part about it is the motor was a restamp!! Of course the seller and the auction house did not disclose this and they, in fact, stated numerous times “matching numbers”. Well, I guess it is, but matching only due to someones stamping the block post production. Amazing, people buy cars and do no homework whatsoever. The new owner will be quite saddened to find out his overpriced car is also a non numbers matching car. No due diligence and high net worth def. makes for a perfect storm for the Seller!!!

    • Ronald Sieber says

      David:
      If what you stated checks out, the two examples indeed make them dodgy propositions. Especially restamping the case and all that.

      There were a few 356s at auction, and although they received high bids, a few of the knowledgeable posters on the 356 Registry forum had checked them out and found repair and finish quality issues in each. However, I don’t think there were issues of provenance or faked numbers. Then again, the profit potential wasn’t nearly as great.

      The 356 Registry is pretty good about keeping an eye on its own. Is there such a forum for race cars such as the 904, 906, etc examples?

  5. John Patterson says

    This 908 suffered from the “Now that you’ve got it, what do you do with it?” syndrome because telling your friends that it was a test mule just does not impress. Bragging rights are hugely important in this price range.

    relinuca

    • 993C4S says

      @John,

      Turns out there is even more to the story. Besides not having the racing provenance that most collector are looking for, most of this 908 was rebuilt using various parts leaving barely anything as original. We also heard that it might have suffered a fairly serious accident at one point in its history, but have not yet verified that so we don’t know for sure.

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