Jerry Seinfeld's Porsches shine at an auction that might be the peak for classic car market

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.Several auction experts, including Hans Wurl of Gooding & Company, called this Porsche 550 Spider from comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s collection a highlight of the auction. House sale estimate: $5-6 million.

Ferrari remains the top dog in the collector car market. It has been that way since prices began to take off, and remains so during the current decade, as prices began to outperform most other asset classes.

But at a Gooding & Company auction at the famous Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance next week, it will be Porsche that steals the show.

This will in large part be due to comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who will sell 16 Porsches from his personal and extensive collection, considered to be one of the finest Porsche collections in the world.

“It’s really unprecedented,” Hans Wurl of Gooding & Company said.

But what the auction means for the incredible growth rate of collector car prices — or the market for Porsches alone — is a matter of debate.

“I really think the Porsche market is expanding … but it’s a wave that’s going to crest,” Phil Skinner, senior market editor at Kelley Blue Book said.

And that crest, Skinner said, may take place at the Amelia Island auction — meaning Seinfeld has picked the perfect time to sell.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera IROC RSR, driven by Peter Revson at the International Race of Champions.
Brian Henniker/Gooding & Co.
A 1966 Porsche 911

Wurl agrees, and expects that to a certain degree the market will experience a 'correction' in the near future.

But while prices on most models will fall, certain cars will likely remain immune to such a correction.

'We're at a time where collectors are paying top, top money for every top, top example that comes up,' Garth Hammers, also of Gooding & Co, said. 'Those are cars that will continue to accelerate.'

And that is pretty much the consensus among experts; the very best models will likely not settle, even if the rest of the market does.

'We are still in a market that can set records,' Hammers said.

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.
This 1990 Porsche 962C is an iconic and highly-successful Porsche race car. Estimate $1.5-2 million

Even within widely-produced models, examples that have a notable heritage or are immaculately restored or original create their own kind of rarity, inoculating them from the market's ebb and flow. And smart collectors know this.

'We have always advised our clients to look for the best possible examples,' Wurl said. And Seinfeld's collection is made -- almost exclusively -- of some of the best possible examples of each model represented.

As for the rest of the market, the astronomical growth in prices is most likely a thing of the past.

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.
1973 Porsche 917/30 Can Am Spyder.

'You're not going to pick up a classic 911 for $40,000 soon. There could be a 30 to 40 per cent dropoff (in prices),' Skinner said. 'The guy with the great '57 Chevy -- worth $100,000 to $120,000 this year -- might next year be $80,000.'

Blanket expansion of prices, even for middle-of-the-road examples, is a pretty good indicator of a bubble in any asset class. It's a symptom that has even been displayed by market-king Ferrari -- or for a precise example, its short-lived attempt at a low-cost sports car.

'Look at the Dino, a car that doesn't actually say Ferrari anywhere on it,' Skinner said. 'It's a $30,000 car that is going for six figures.'

That, Skinner thinks, is almost certainly unsustainable.

Brian Henniker/Gooding & Co.
A 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster.

The four major auctions in Scottsdale Arizona this year were down about 15 per cent in total sales, but it is difficult to extrapolate from one data point.

Sales of that size can be affected by a large number of factors ranging from the prominence of the collections offered, the state of international exchange rates, or even the performance of the stock market during the weeks previous to the sale.

But the flat results were enough to make many market-watchers nervous.

For Seinfeld, a man whose knowledge of Porsche and the collector market is unquestionable, the timing may be perfect for a big sale.

Here are some of the other examples offered from Seinfeld's collection.

Seinfeld took fellow comedian Kevin Hart for a drive in this 1959 Porsche 718 RSK on his show 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.

Here's the episode.

This 1958 597 Jagdwagen was Porsche's response to Jeep and Land Rover.

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.

He is also offering two Volkswagens, including that other famous design of Ferdinand Porsche: the Beetle. This is an immaculate 1960 model ...

Brian Henniker/Gooding & Co.

... and also from VW, this 1964 Camper.

Brian Henniker/Gooding & Co.

Experts single out Seinfeld's collection not only for its breadth of excellent models, but for the uniform standard of care that every single one has been given. This is a 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster.

Brian Henniker/Gooding & Co.

The prototype Porsche Carrera GT from 2000.

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.

Just this small slice of his collection is a veritable history of Porsche. It even includes modern race cars like this 1998 Porsche 993 Cup RSR.

Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Co.

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