Vintage Porsches are some of the rarest cars in the world and have become classics over the years that have defined and refined the aesthetics and engineering of a modern sports car. The winning Porsche racing heritage has led each model and year to be carefully examined and weighed along with the drivers who raced their cars to victory or occasionally to spectacular wrecks. With cars as rare as many vintage Porsches, values have gone through the roof as collectors have sought to own particular cars as status symbols or to have the bragging rights of owning a piece of automotive history. Below are some of the rarest Porsche models, selected by the number of cars built, along with a bit of history about each.
5. The 1964 904 GTS
This beautiful racing car is also known as the Carrera GTS. It was built by Porsche in 1964 after Formula One losses in the early 1960s and featured a ladder chassis and a lightweight fiberglass construction that were both firsts for Porsche. Boasting a highly-complex air-cooled 198 hp DOHC flat four engine, the car achieved class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Spa, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Nürburgring and an amazing first overall at the Targa Florio. With a very low weight, the car can go from zero to 60 mph in less than six seconds. Just 116 904s were built, largely to satisfy racing homologation rules. The average price for a 1964 904 GTS is an impressive $1,442,156.
4. The 1953 – 1955 550 Spyder
The 550 was purpose-built for auto racing, as opposed to the earlier 356 model, which had only been entered in races as an afterthought. It featured a mid/rear-mounted air-cooled 1.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine that could produce 108 hp. With a sleek aluminum body and minimal windscreen, the car won its class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 1954, as well as in the Carrera Panamericana for that year. A production run of 90 cars was completed for customers, including movie actor and racing enthusiast James Dean, who had the words “Little Bastard” painted on his car after the moniker Jack Warner gave him for not vacating his trailer during the making of East of Eden. The average price of a 550 Spyder today is $1,258,108.
3. The 1969 – 1973 917 K/L/PA/10
One of the most classic and powerful race cars of all time, the 917 was raced at the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Sporting a 4.5 liter flat 12 engine with a four-speed gearbox, the car could achieve more than 220 mph. In 1970, a distinctive wedge-shaped tail was added to increase stability, and the car went on to win the World Championship that year and in 1971. The car also won the 1970 Daytona 24 Hours race with Leo Kinnunen and Pedro Rodriguez at the wheel. The ‘K’ model features a shorter tail; the ‘L’ model features the famous long one. The ‘PA’ model was the first 917 entered into the American CanAm races whereas the ’10’ model was purpose-built specifically for them. In 2012, one of the 917/30 cars sold for $4,400,000 at auction.
2. The 1992 Carrera 2 Cup Car
In 1992, the Carrera Cup racing series sponsored by American Porsche was canceled before it started, and the 45 cars Porsche had built for it were sold through dealers as street-legal vehicles. Looking nearly identical to a white Grand Prix Porsche 911/964, the car is different under the hood, with a seam-welded chassis, modified suspension and luxury features stripped out to boost performance and strength. The car’s weight is 200 pounds less than a stock Carrera 2. With a 3.6 liter six-cylinder engine, it boasts 256 hp. In concours condition, this Porsche model has sold for $224,000.
1. The 1948 356 Prototype
A two-seat unique prototype of the 356 rear-wheel drive production car was finished in early 1948. Featuring a mid-mounted 50 hp engine, it was built in an old sawmill in Gmünd, Austria, where Porsche’s engineering staff had been relocated to avoid the strife of war-torn Germany in the final days of World War II. This single-copy prototype has a body designed by Porsche engineer Erwin Komenda; internally, however, the engine and suspension were based on those of the VW Beetle, created by Ferdinand Porsche. Still, historians consider it the first official Porsche vehicle. Currently on exhibit at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, it has never been sold, and, therefore, does not have a listed price.
The total value of the cars on this list is $7,548,264, with the exception of the 356 Prototype, which remains priceless. The cars on the list are part of a selection of Porshes curated by internationally-known Porsche historian Lee Raskin.