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What's driving the spike in air-cooled Porsche 911 prices

Classic car prices have been racing skyward in general, but prices for air-cooled (pre-1999) Porsche 911s are ascending like they're strapped to rocket boosters. It's been going on for years, and every year people are surprised by how outrageous it's getting: Classic Driver covered it this month, as did The Truth About Cars who included this example of a "scruffy" 1993 RS America with 215,000 miles asking $80K; Mike Spinelli at Drive riffed on it at length last year along with a host of classic-car-market observers; Porsche forums were at it two years ago; and let's not even get into the 993 Turbo, going for prices so high you have to lie down to look at them.

Speed Academy has run a piece looking at why it's happening, one theory being that regular-guy owners are hopping on the runaway-price wagon without any good reason. As in the example of that high-mileage, scruffy 911 RS America at Bring a Trailer, the owner sees pristine examples valued by Hagerty at $170,000, and even though the average value is $93,238 he thinks something like, "Mine's got to be worth half of top dollar ..." The tide - even one rising on air - makes it hard to find decent prices.

Then there is the flood of money into the market. In spite of articles that try to temper investors' outlooks on collectible cars, other articles in places like the Financial Times and the Guardian promote vintage metal as a safe place to put money and reap astonishing returns.

Speed Academy thinks one side effect of high 911 prices is that responsible enthusiasts are turning their attention to cars like the BMW 2002, E30 M3, and E9 3.0CS, saying their prices are "sharply on the rise." The entire article is worth a read since it goes into markets far afield from pricey German steel, but incredibly, the entire piece was actually inspired by a 1997 Acura Integra R that sold for $43,000 on eBay. So while this could be the best time to get into the classic car market if you know what you're doing, it is certainly the best time to do your homework.

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