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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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