Selling Your Porsche at an Auction
By: Keith Verlaque
The 1993 Porsche 911 RS America – a total of 701 were made with only four in FLY yellow.
In 1998 I had a Guards red 911 Carrera. I had been in PCA-SDR three years, was an autocross instructor and Driving Tours Chair. On my way to a friend’s house I happened to see a bright Yellow 964 in a neighbor’s garage. The odd thing about this 964 was that it had a fixed whale tail rear spoiler. I thought all 964s (except the Turbo) had a small powered rear spoiler like a letter box that popped up at speed. I saw this car had a narrow body without the large fender flares so I knew it was not a Turbo. I was intrigued, so I went to the front door, knocked, and talked to the owner. Initially, I did not get a warm reception but after several ongoing conversations, I found out he was the second owner and the car was a limited edition 1993 model known as an RS America. I kept in touch with the him and he agreed that if he ever decided to sell it he would contact me. So around nine months after I first saw the car, I became its third owner.
The original owner of the car owned a detail shop in San Diego and would take the car to work every day and, if work was slow, he would assign the guys in his shop a specific part of the car such as the engine compartment, or the wheel arches and have them detail it. As a result, the car was in spectacular condition both inside and out. In March 1999 I bought the car with a total of 23,000 miles on it from the second owner who only owned it a little over a year.
I used the RSA extensively in San Diego Region mainly for autocross and back country driving tours but also for just about every other event the club put on. Once I entered it in a concours and pretty soon realized that competing in concours was not for me. To me it seemed like you spend months detailing every aspect of your car so you can present it to the judges and say “Hey, I have a really nice Porsche … and I challenge you to find something wrong with it” … and guess what?
I found that I definitely do not have the right mentality for competitive concours.
I saw that PCA National had an RS America Registry and joined immediately. After talking to the Registrar, I found that he was seriously considering giving up his position and was looking for someone to take it over. So in 2000 I took it over and created the rsamerica.net website, which I ran for roughly 19 years, and gathered data on 487 RS Americas – almost 70% of the total produced.
I contacted the Porsche Archivist in Stuttgart and learned that there were a total of only 701 RS Americas ever made and that of those 701 only four were built in Ferrari Light Yellow (FLY). This included one that was on display at the 1992 New York Auto Show when Porsche introduced the RSA as a new model for 1993. The color of the show car was so striking that three other enthusiasts paid a premium price and ordered an RSA in FLY.
Over the next 20 years I took the RS America to a total of seven PCA National Parades, 2000 Sacramento CA, 2004 Forth Worth TX, the 50thPCA Parade in 2005 Hershey PA, 2006 Portland OR, 2007 San Diego CA, 2012 Salt Lake City UT, and 2014 Monterey CA. All of which were incredible fun. If you’ve never been to a National PCA Parade, I strongly recommend that you carve time out of your schedule and go to one.
30 RS Americas at the 50th PCA National Parade – Hershey PA.
The 50thPCA Parade in 2005 Hershey PA was my all time favorite because through the PCA RS America Registry I arranged an RS America corral, plus I decided to have my car shipped in an enclosed trailer to PA. As a result, over 30 RS Americas were present and all Four FLY RS Americas ever made were gathered in one place for a once in a lifetime photo shoot.
A swarm of FLY’s.
In 2016 I bought a 2007 911 GT3 (which I still have), at which point I pretty much stopped using the RSA and it languished under a cover in my garage next to the GT3 only going out once a month for short-ish drives to get it up to temperature and ensure everything was running perfectly.
In 2018 while stopped at a red light in the RSA with no other cars around, I noticed a large SUV in my rear view mirror approaching me from behind at a fairly high speed. Oddly enough, when I looked in my mirror, I couldn’t see a driver in the SUV. It was pretty apparent that it wasn’t slowing down and as I was stopped in front of it, I quickly decided to put the RSA in gear and drive through the red light and I turned hard right. Just about then, a head popped up from below the dashboard and the SUV driver jumped on his brakes, locking them up completely and skidding straight through the junction where I had been stopped. Realizing how close I came to the RSA being totaled, that was the first time I seriously considered selling it.
The Certificate of Authenticity was WRONG! It states one of THREE RSA’s in FLY Yellow
I remember taking the car for a bi-annual smog check at my usual smog test station where it passed with flying colors. The guy testing it said “Wow… this thing is in unbelievably good condition for a 25 year old car” and he told me that the smog check numbers were within 5% of the readings from the last smog check. I immediately beamed with pride and remember thinking “Yup… that’s my car!” Then he added “mind you, the numbers should be the same, you’ve only driven 303 miles since the last check!” Realizing I had driven it just over three hundred miles in the last two years was the second thing that influenced my decision to sell. The final straw was that each year the RSA was costing me roughly $1,000 for agreed value collector’s car insurance just sitting under a cover in the garage.
Having been a significant part of my life for over 20 years, it was a tough decision, but it was time to part with the RS America.
So I decided that I was definitely going to sell it….. but where? I looked into numerous different websites buying and selling cars, including the PCA National Marketplace. I researched Du-Pont Registry and Hemming’s Motor News, and I also checked out some of the major auction houses. I looked into Bonham’s, Sotheby’s, Gooding & Company, Barrett-Jackson, and Mecum Auctions.
Having been to Monterey car week several times in the past and seen the number of Porsche fans in attendance each year, I decided that I wanted to auction the car at Monterey, but then came the problem of deciding who to sell it through – I definitely needed some help here.
Fortunately…. I knew a chap in SDR whose knowledge of cars is truly amazing. This walking encyclopedia of all things motoring is a guy named Mort and he is truly passionate about cars. Over the years he has sold over seventy cars at Monterey Auctions, which he attends religiously every year. He had extensive knowledge of every auction house and personally knew key people at each. He has taken multiple Ferraris, Mercedes, Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Jaguars and Porsches to Monterey and successfully sold them at auction. When I told him that I was thinking about selling the RSA, he volunteered that he would help me do so, and… he had a trailer.
After Mort made some enquiries with the auction companies, I pretty soon learned that most of them were not excited about auctioning a 26 year old Porsche with 93,000 miles on it – even if it was a limited edition, in tip-top shape and one-of-only-four special ordered in a Ferrari color. So the field of available auction houses narrowed somewhat, plus I then found that of those remaining, several auction houses were not prepared to accept sellers placing a reserve – which is a minimum amount which, if the bidding did not meet, the car would not sell. I decided a reserve price was an absolute requirement in my case and then anguished over the amount I wanted to set. Eventually after much counsel from my friend Mort, I settled on Mecum Auctions.
The way the Auction company’s make money is that when the car sells they charge the buyer 10% of the final sale price. If it does not reach its reserve and does not sell, they charge the seller 5% of the reserve. Buyers are eligible for Tax on the final sale price.
Spectacular … both inside and out.
In the continued spirit of being anal, I then did more research into what Porsches of my year, with my mileage had actually sold for. I soon realized that the boom prices for Porsches in the 2016–2017 timeframe, sadly, had now passed. In 2019 it was not going to fetch the crazy numbers I had previously observed during the zenith of classic car sales a few years earlier. After a great deal of consideration, I finally decided the absolute minimum I would accept was $100K. I submitted that number to the people at the auction house and they called me back saying they thought I had requested too high a reserve price, considering the year and mileage of the car. I told them I wanted to stick with the stated reserve and they cautioned me that they thought I would be trailering it home
A professional photographer from Mecum Auctions came by and took numerous pictures and I submitted text to the Mecum Office for them to place in their brochure to sell the car.
I then gathered up all the RSA parts and accessories I had to go with the car. This included the original sales brochure and option chart, the original leather document holder with owner’s manual, fully stamped up service/maintenance manual, the original tool kit, spare wheel, car cover, a Porsche front end bra and a 3” thick three-ring binder with copies of every maintenance receipt for the past 20 years. I purposely did NOT add up how much I had spent on the car over the last 20 years as I knew it would be considerable and strongly suspected it stood a good chance of being depressing!
The 3″ three ring binder containing 20 years of receipts.
Then the day came to strap the car on the trailer and tow it to Monterey. The drive up was slow but uneventful. We travelled overnight and arrived in Monterey early in the morning and went straight to Mecum Auctions to register the car. Once registered, I was able to get a look at how the auction would run. The cars that were for sale sat under a long covered patio for a couple of days before they were due to be called into the main auction hall in order to give potential buyers a chance to check them out. The cars were all unlocked, each with the key in the ignition, and each with a bid sheet on their windshield showing the vehicle description including reserve (where applicable). This meant that anyone who had paid to get into the auction got to look the cars over, both inside and out, and although there was a notice saying “Please do not start the car” prominently displayed on each dashboard, several people got in the cars and started them up. Sellers were strongly advised by the Auction Company to take EVERYTHYING out of their vehicles that was not physically attached – as anything from cigarette lighters to owners’ manuals and tool kits had gone missing in the past. This was not a comforting thought – to put it mildly. As a consequence, I decided to stay near my car for the next couple of days.
The original Factory leather pouch with Owner’s manual, fully signed Maintenance manual, warranty and all other documents.
Full Factory Tool kit (complete).
I had prepared another ring binder full of pictures of parts of the car that could not be seen, such as the underside and the spotlessly clean wheel wells, plus all items included with the car, books, manuals etc., to show interested parties. Several people read the bid sheet but were then put off either by the mileage (93,000) or the price reserve. Overall most people I saw were respectful of cars that were for sale, but a few were not, and clearly just wanted to sit in a high-end sports car for a photo.
A typical shot of the wheel well with the wheel removed
Then on Saturday afternoon at around 4:00 the RSA was moved to the line to go in for auction, which closed at 6:00. My car was just about to be moved into the main hall when a guy in a MECUM jacket said that he wanted to put another car in front of mine. This car was a 1996 Ferrari 550 Maranello V12. The reason that the MECUM guy gave was, as they were both the same Ferrari Light Yellow, he said they looked really good together. I talked to the Ferrari owner and he said he had put a $150K reserve on his car.
I noticed that cars were now crossing the block at a significantly faster rate than they had been for the last day or so. I was told that this was because the auction was closing for the day in less than an hour and they still had a lot of cars to get through. Several cars were only given what seemed like a few minutes on open bid and consequently did not achieve their reserve. At this stage I was getting really nervous and everything seemed to speed up as my car came up on the block, the auctioneer summarized the bid sheet and bidding began …. at $60K. Bids seemed to be coming in slowly but surely, I was sweating and I had visions of loading the car back onto the trailer for the long haul back to San Diego.
Then, to my relief, the bidding reached my $100K reserve and kept going! All of a sudden the auctioneer dropped the hammer and I heard him announce, “SOLD for $120,000.”
PCA Parade 2014 Monterey CA.
The car was moved back to the covered parking area and when I went back to the car I saw the guy with the Ferrari, he told me his car did not reach its $150K reserve and he was shocked to hear what mine sold for, especially with 93K miles on it as his car had only 18K miles. I told him that my 15K service was around $800-$1,000 and suggested maybe people were not interested in taking on maintenance bills for a V12 Ferrari. He then told me the main reason that it was for sale, was because it was past due for a 15K mile service and he had been quoted $4K-$6K.
So then I had to go to the office to sign the release paperwork and pick up my check. Within an hour of my car being on the auction block I was done, paid and out of there.
Upon reflection, I think the bidding might have kept going up if the auctioneer had left it open a little longer, as he seemed to have done during the day. Maybe it was getting too close to auction closing time.
Having enjoyed 20 years of ownership, I hugged someone else’s car…. (gently)!
Bottom line: For 20 years I had an absolute blast in my RSA, I sold it for more than my reserve, I freed up a space in my garage, I had enough funds to pay off the loan for my new Porsche and had a little left over.
I can’t thank Mort enough for all his guidance and continued help.
Now to find something interesting to fill the space in my garage!!