We first want to acknowledge that the information and speculation here may not be well received by the 924s/944 community. It is offered as just that – speculation – and to jar open some of our long-held conceptions about our cars. Lively debate is welcome, but let’s not devolve into argument and nastiness.
Here at 924S944.com, we keep an eye on the auctions and online sales for 1) bargains and 2) a pulse-check on what is happening with our cars. We were intrigued when a 1987 Guards Red 924S showed up on BringATrailer for sale – with 19K on the clock. Looking at this like-new car in the multitudes of photos in the listing, this was most certainly an exceptional car. HOWEVER, one problem…it was an automatic, not a five-speed. In amongst ourselves, we thought collectively that it was quite a shame and that the automatic was an “automatic disqualified” for most people – which would lead to a low final bid. As it was a “reserve” auction, there were doubts expressed that it would reach a number to clear the reserve.
Wow, were we all wrong.
The car sold on September 15 for $15,600. And no, we didn’t buy it. But looking it up in Hagerty’s valuation tool, a #2 EXCELLENT car is worth $15,500 – minus 15% for the automatic. That 15% deducts $2,400. So what is happening here?
Porsche didn’t make many automatics in this line. Officially published production figures are not available, but estimates have said that less than 20% of the total were automatics – maybe even less. The rumor mill also says that automatics were more popular in the 944S2, especially in the cabriolet. You can decide why.
In retrospect, we are also seeing posts in social media from folks wanting to find a nice 944 Automatic. The description goes like this…”I don’t want to get into why, but I really want an automatic. I NEED an automatic.” Hmmmm…
As of now, less than 1.3% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. have a stick shift. That number was 3.4% just ten years ago. And yes, automatic gearboxes have gotten much better over the past ten years and more – Ms. 924S944.com had a Chevy Vega as her first car, and it had a two-speed slush-o-matic mated to its aluminum 80 HP inline four. (You could shift it from STOPPED to BACKWARDS to REALLY SLOW to SLOW.). By contrast our 2018 Nissan Titan has a super-efficient seven-speed automatic that works its magic without a peep.
Could the increased interest in three-speed automatic Porsches from the 80’s is tied to a younger generation of buyers? And that those new enthusiasts are part of the over 80% of young drivers who cannot drive a stick shift?
Yes, recent figures say that only 18% of drivers in the U.S. can drive a stick shift car. In most cars, a manual transmission deducts as much as $2,000 in value, but in our Porsches the automatic seems to deduct 15%!
So what is going on here? We would like to hear your thoughts on this. Is the market changing? While 944 prices are on the climb, can that include the (dreaded) automatic at the same time?
On a side note, we have a 1987 924S Automatic that will belong to the granddaughter when she starts driving later this year. We purchased it for a song. She will learn on the automatic, but we suspect that a five-speed is in her future. But who knows?
What do YOU think?
September 26, 2020 – There is a very nice 1984 944 Automatic listed at Duncan Import and Classics in Nashville. Guards Red and black, it has just under 18,000 miles and looks new…and is listed for $26,500!