Following the success of the self-styled Supercar Sunday and Superbike Sunday auctions, the UK-based site Collecting Cars will tomorrow list an entire new Air-Cooled Sunday lineup of Porsches. Though not quite as alliterative, the impressive selection of P-cars ranging from highly original to tastefully modified ranges from early flat-four-powered 356 examples to the racing variants of the last years before Porsche transitioned the 911 to water-cooled engines for the 996 generation.
Unlike the previous Leonard Collection lineup that made headlines in 2021 thanks to a little Chris Harris appearance, and all of which sold from the assemblage of a single private individual, the newly dubbed Air-Cooled Sunday will feature cars from around the globe. In total, Collecting Cars plans to auction no less than 31 different rear-engined Porsches and one highly desirable 911 flat-six from May 29 to June 5, with cars based largely in the United Kingdom and Germany, plus a few hailing from Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy.
The Magic Of Porsche’s Air-Cooled Engines
The incredible increase in air-cooled Porsche values throughout the second decade of the new millennium helped to spawn today’s collectible craze, serving as the bread and butter for online auction sites like Collecting Cars and Bring a Trailer, which founder Edward Lovett readily admits inspired him to introduce a similar platform to the UK market. Now, Collecting Cars steadily lists a stream of impressive vehicles while expanding to markets like Germany, Italy, and over the course of the past year, the United States.
The exact reasons why air-cooled Porsches began attracting such big bucks range from unique design to excellent engineering and the lost sensation of analog driving engagement, though the market rush itself certainly bears some of the blame. Today, even formerly maligned models like the four-cylinder 912 and angular 914 can command bids that might give even serious collectors pause. From early 356 “Bathtub” Porsches to legit sports cars of the 993 generation that pushed the boundaries of turbocharged and all-wheel-drive performance, there’s an air-cooled Porsche for anyone — who can afford one.
Customs Enter The Frame
The range of air-cooled P-cars spans five full decades of generational and incremental evolution, as does the Air-Cooled Sunday lineup from Collecting Cars. But where Porschephiles once prized only the most highly original examples, custom visions like this backdated 1989 Paul Stephens 320 Touring 964-gen. Now finished in Crayon over 16-inch Fifteen 52 Outlaw 001 wheels, build specs include a 320-horsepower 3.6-liter flat-six, the desirable G50 transaxle, and lightweight replacements for the bumpers, mirrors, and engine cover.
But original cars also fit into the mix, including an early short-wheelbase 911 from 1968 powered by the reportedly originaly numbers-matching 2.0-liter mill and gearbox with only 93.005 kilometers (57.590 miles) on the clock. Whether high-end customs or pristine originality will fetch the most money for Collecting Cars come next weekend remains a question only time can tell.
Porsche Motorsports Heritage
Many of the cars set to open on Sunday, May 29, represent either Porsche’s competition history or homages to the best eras of motorsport. The listings on Collecting Cars attempt to clarify exactly how much work went into such builds, like this track-prepped 3.0 RS “Recreation” sporting a recently built 964-generation 3.8-liter powerplant pumping out 340 horsepower after leaving the factory as a 1972 911E . Mechanical highlights include a GT3 crank, GT3 oil pump, Carrillo connecting rods, Mahle forged pistons and barrels, a Schrick 040 cam, uprated valve springs, ARP bolts, Jenvey ITBs throttle bodies, and a Motec M48 ECU, while the cosmetics run the gamut from period-focused livery to a caged and gutted interior.
An All-Wheel-Drive GT2 “Evocation”
Other builds trend more in the direction of “what if” imagination, like this 1994 GT2 “Evocation” —given the extensive financial investment required to produce such builds, terms like “Evocation” and “Recreation” certainly seem more accurate than “Replica. ” Modified to resemble the 993-generation GT2 racecar, this 911 originally left the factory as a Turbo, and so still retains all-wheel drive to help harness the 402 horses produced by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat-six.
The Widowmaker Recreated
Another listing crossing the block hews more closely to the drivetrain that so famously leant GT2 cars the “widowmaker” moniker. Originally a base 993-generation Carrera, upgrades include a single K24 turbos bolted onto a 3.6-liter engine and resulting in an absurd 530 horsepower — all sent to the rear wheels only through a 75% limited-slip diff. The exterior certainly looks the part, as well, finished in Polar Silver Metallic over Tramont Cup 2 RS alloy wheels, with Recaro buckets and pull-strap door handles complementing the race-inspired build’s interior.
Prized Analog Driving Experience
A couple of early 356 and 911 examples dot the Air-Cooled Sunday lineup, though the majority of the listings (too numerous to fully cover here) hail largely from the 1980s and ’90s. Still, a long-time refusal to give way to modern creature comforts remains one of the major reasons that air-cooled Porsches attract such ardent (and wealthy) collectors today. Even as the industry transitioned to water-cooled engines full decades beforehand, Porsche only belatedly took the learnings from the 928 and 924 models to improve upon the reliability, performance, polar moment of intertia, and overall weight of Stuttgart’s famous opposed-piston powerplants, dropping them into first the 986-generation Boxster and then the 996-generation 911 by the late-1990s. The world-beating 959 supercar, which blended eras with water-cooled heads on an air-cooled block, helped to pave the way as Porsche attempted to homologate a rally car for the street.
A Legit Racecar, Too
One legit competition car serves as another highlight of the Air-Cooled Sunday listings: this 1994 Carrera Cup, reportedly one of only 30 true factory-built racers complet with competition history ranging from being piloted by former F1 driver Alex Caffi to victories at the Porsche -only “Targa Tricolore” Italian Championship. As desirable as air-cooled 911 variants remain today, this represents an opportunity to jump aboard the last of the wingless racing Porsches, since every subsequent variant added increasing focus on aerodynamics and downforce (not to mention the enhanced performance of water cooling for their engines ).
And Even A Standalone Air-Cooled Engine
Of course, a collection of air-cooled Porsches offered at auction can’t be considered complete without an air-cooled engine sold solo, so Collecting Cars also sourced an actual motor and gearbox from a 1970 911E. Displacing 2.2 liters and featuring the second year of Porsche’s early attempts at fuel injection, the engine features both its five-speed transaxle and air filter housing, as well as exhaust and cold-start injector components. Dirty enough to serve either as the foundation for a restoration or the beginning of a restomod, the powerplant could even go on to provide motivation for an air-cooled Porsche that might one day sell in another future Air-Cooled Sunday listing on Collecting Cars.
Sources: collectingcars.com, bringatrailer.com, and f1forgottendrivers.com.
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