Customising your Porsche may make you feel better, says Peter Morgan, but it can knock thousands off the car’s street value… #2015 #Porsche-Concept
It sounds like a great idea for any enthusiast – personalise your Porsche so it makes a unique visual statement, or maybe ‘uprate’ the engine, brakes and suspension to make it go faster. But the reality is that changing the factory specification of virtually any production Porsche away from standard will reduce the value.
It’s tempting when your car needs replacement shock absorbers or engine renovation work to go for ‘sports’ options, hotter ECU chips or louder exhausts. But in an ultra competitive marketplace, originality is the key to a top value car. If it looks and handles as it left the factory, it will sell faster.
With their spectacular motorsport heritage, the engineers at #Porsche
have arguably forgotten more about how to make a car accelerate, brake and go round bends than anything that aftermarket tuners might claim to know. And in my experience, when I drive, say, a standard 993 Carrera that has received harder springs and sports shocks, it takes the edge off its confident driving manners. It degrades that important first impression because the all-round ride and handling comfort has been lost.
Body kits fitted after the car has left the factory not only compromise the authenticity, but new panels can also point to underlying extensive repair work. Factory fitted aerokits are always noted on the Vehicle Identification Label, but aftermarket aerokits are generally a waste of money on a collectible car and can hide a multitude of issues. This includes pattern problems so that the fit can be an instant turn off to the experienced eye.
‘Chipping’ Porsches has become an accepted part of the Porsche aftermarket industry. Nevertheless, changing the engine management map of, say, a 996 Turbo requires careful consideration. Yes, the car may be faster but it will be at the cost of fuel consumption and engine life. The tuners often suggest that the rev limit can be taken up by several hundred rpm, while altering the torque curve or maximum power. Not only does this use up the safety margin at the top of the engine’s rev range, when you put a diagnostic computer on the car the subsequent over-revs stand out. When you see a few of the over-revs some cars have been subjected to – with maximums in ignition range one (to continue with the 996 Turbo) and sometimes thousands in the IR2 range, it’s inevitable engine life will be degraded. With the 996 and 997 Turbos appreciating steadily today, you wouldn’t buy one without checking the ECU, if only to make sure there hasn’t been a ‘wild’ chip on the car. There’s nothing that shouts that a car has been thrashed to death more than a maxed-out over-rev log.
Another model that is progressing nicely on the rising tide of prices is the 996 GT3. The first series made for the 2000 model year are unique in the water-cooled 911 story and good ones are very desirable. However, what would you make of one that had had some £24k worth of customisation mods to the suspension, brakes and engine? The reality was that somebody had persuaded an earlier owner to splurge on the ‘improvement’ of a car that had (uniquely, compared to the later GT3s) been set up in the Motorsport department at Porsche. The present owner found the car at a price well below typical market value – and all because of the significant modifications. At a very attractive price, it represents a perfect project car that should, one day, be restored to its original specification – and value.
Meanwhile the custom parts may find their way on to an auction site. It’s not all negative when it comes to customising. There are some models for which a sympathetic modification can add to the standard car’s appeal. Usually they are faithful tributes to one of the faster RSs or GTs. Such mild customisation is best rewarded on the 964 Carreras, where the RS lookalikes always have a premium on similar condition/mileage standard cars.
Don’t ask me why, but such customisation doesn’t work with the 993s or any of the pre-’89 models. There are some really, really rough customised 1980s ‘flat nose’ cars in circulation that are begging to be restored to their original glory. Go back to the first 20 years of the 911 and (condition accepted) authenticity and originality is easily the most important factor in the value of the car. Original colours, original numbers and original specifications – at least on what you can see – are the critical requirements for a top value car.
The flip side is that if should you be looking for a project car on a budget, a customised mule can offer all kinds of cost benefits. And if the engine number isn’t matching, it can represent a further discounting on a car that would otherwise be out of reach. Customising sounds like fun and it can be. Just make sure you appreciate how far you can go before it seriously damages your investment.
If it looks and handles as it left the factory, it will sell faster.