by Angus Fox
What to pay when buying a Porsche 928 in the UK in 2020
"Judging by the car you have chosen, you are a motorist of a special breed, and you are probably no novice when it comes to automobiles." - Porsche 928 S4 owners manual
Prices rose astronomically from 2015-2020 even for ordinary and rotten cars with no history and zillions of owners. Many of these cars still do not represent good value and will require tens of thousands to be spend on missing maintenance, recommissioning and paint and fixtures. Dealers are sitting on expensive cars that have been around for a long time.
Notable exceptions are the truly mint cars with excellent histories and regular use which have sold for really strong money since 2014. The Egyptian embassy 928 S4 SE with 10,000 miles on it sold for £132,000 including fees, and a 30k mile Porsche 928 GT sold for £43,000 at the same auction on 14th November 2020. Caveat emptor though, these were exceptional cars. Please don't buy a rotten Porsche 928 unless it is inexpensive or it will break your heart. It is relatively easy to find good ones. It is relatively hard to find perfect ones. It is expensive to turn a good one into a perfect one. Start by coming to our meetings (when we can have them again), and talking to owners. There are over 800 on the road in the UK out of an original UK population of well over 4,000. The Porsche 928 is not a particularly rare car.
This guide is published only at 928.org.uk - the home of the 928 community in the UK and the 928uk mail list.
Please don't rely solely on this guide. Get plenty of advice and opinions from our community. Read on for full analysis. Not everyone agrees with me about pricing. I have only been monitoring 928 pricing for 20 years after all.
Anything under GBP 10,000 will be a basket case. Pay double now for a project car.
Pricing is blurring based on condition and history as the Porsche 928 becomes a classic car. This is a potential minefield as there are so many differences in a line of models built between 1978 and 1995 as to make comparisons extremely difficult. Additional exceptions for truly mint cars make this an inexact science. Don't assume that a dealer car is a really mint car. Read descriptions very carefully - one owner can be stretched by some people to mean the original dealer, my brother, then me with multiple keepers actually on the V5. Original paint can mean except all bumpers, or three colour changes. Genuine Porsche wheels might not be the right size or offset for the Porsche 928 and might not all be matched sets of parts. Full Porsche Service History is very unlikely now so look for recognised specialists. Big gaps in history indicate a stored car that has been restored. That can be fine but needs to be questioned. Walk away from cars with no history or a long story.
Porsche 928, 928S and 928S2 — I group all these cars together, I don't see any difference in value. First class cars with good provenance and well looked after around GBP 18,000 - GBP 25,000 seem very expensive to me. Running straight cars needing a little love will be GBP 10,000 at least. Non runners or cars with long stories should be GBP 2,500 but currently everyone thinks all these cars in whatever condition should be over GBP 10,000 so I cannot recommend them as a good buy. This is a problem for the new owner as you will need to spend money putting things right and it will probably never be as good as buying a good car in the first place. In the UK the most desirable are the first cars from 1978 especially manuals with no sunroof which make excellent track cars and the last cars known as 86.5's because they had a lot of the S4 running gear without the complexity.
Porsche 928 S4 (Pre 89) — The first S4 models are obvious to spot as they have an Analog Dash. First class cars with good provenance and well looked after are being marketed over GBP 25,000 (in 2015 they would have been half that price). Running straight cars needing a little love would not have fetched above GBP 6,000 in 2015. Non runners or cars with long stories of woe are being tarted up and unrealistically still asking for strong money and are not worth it. My favourite analog dash car is the 1988 Porsche 928 S4 SE. Prices are special for these cars. A rough guide is to find the equivalent GT and add 25%.
The analog dash ended with model year 89. Which also introduced polyamide pipes so no crimping 89 or later pipes! Buyer beware. S4 prices have risen dramatically and again to me just don't seem to be worth it.
Porsche 928 S4 (Post 89), GT, and GTS — These cars have a digital dash. First class S4 Automatics with good provenance and well looked after are being marketed over GBP 27,000. S4 Automatics had hovered around GBP 10,000 for years and were not as sought after as GT and GTS models but now all fetch strong and unrealistic money. For insurance I would say GBP 30,000 for a GT and GBP 30,000 - GBP 50,000 for a GTS. Importantly only really mint cars are really worth this money. There are a lot of over priced 928s for sale by greedy dealers on commission from greedy owners. Again, non runners, or cars with long stories of woe such as having been written off and repaired or with no history are unrealistically still asking for the same strong money.
Entry point is about GBP 18,000 for an average S4 and GBP 25,000 for a ropey oil burning GTS. Pay over double for a good one.
My model of choice here is an 89 GT. Average GTS prices in 2008 - 2011 was hovering between GBP 9,000 and 12,000 although some exceptional cars made double. In 2014 prices rose quickly as retailers snapped up good cars and prepared them for sale. This continued in 2015 with dealers stocking them who have previously mocked the Porsche 928 and especially the manual models and avoided them like the plague. Retailers sell with warranties of course. Dealers in 2020 are now expecting the moon on a stick but it is NOT WORTH IT unless they are truly mint cars.
Mint to me means all original, no aftermarket anything, perfect running order, no need for shocks or mounts, good Porsche N0 rated tyres, on the correct wheels, correct mirrors, perfect body panel fit, a perfect interior with everything present including luggage cover, tools, compressor and gloves! And everything working including AC. There must be full provenance too if these cars are going to achieve these values. (Have them inspected, take a lister with you to see it). Check the history, all of it should be present.
LHD cars sell for less here in the UK but are worth more in Germany where 928 values are high too.
I talk to a lot of potential buyers in person and mostly by email. Most people today are not reliant on the 928 as their main car so they are spending a lot of time finding the right car for them. This is a good thing because its really important to have one you can live with in terms of colour inside and out and manual vs auto and then the rest of the spec. It is more important to buy a good one which has the basis to a long term project and to build it up to be what you want it to be. Its no good buying the right colour but neglected car unless you have very deep pockets. All 928s are getting old now so there are very few perfect or mint cars. Some of the so called perfect or mint cars in dealers do not stand up to scrutiny at all and their value is unrealistic in my opinion.
There are many good cars around though and when looking you should expect to see evidence of history of attention to upkeep as well as an ongoing list of things to attend to. These are the signs of a well maintained car. It is a question of keeping on top of things rather than thinking that you'll never need to spend a penny on the car. I personally budgeted for servicing and tyres plus one major project per year. That way I will get to things in a planned way. I was over budget for the first two years but still happy.
People always ask me about prices and I am afraid my opinion is unpopular. The truth is that although I have had three 928s now - two SE's and a GT, I will not pay the current prices that 928's are listed for. I think they are completely over priced. Think about it for a moment. If you look at a 928 today it is undated and shares a lot of family traits with the 996, engine size and fitment excepted! Only the wider panel fit, relays and whirring on startup and heavy wood construction interior door cards give away older design and production techniques. Many however have been neglected by owners who mistakenly did not commit to the planned maintenance idea and are surfacing now for sale and expecting a fortune. How can they be twice the price of the 996 model 911, or the same price as a 718 Cayman or Boxster even though they are 5-30 years older? It just does not make sense to me.
Many people disagree with me so you should seek other opinions, but I think only absolutely perfect mint/concours cars are worth more than £25,000. I think people buying expensive cars will suffer steep depreciation when the market corrects. I suppose with a bullet proof warranty I could see it but even so... You can buy a lovely 996, or a perfect last of the line original Boxster for GBP 10,000 so its not about what people in the 928 community think these cars are worth - its about what they are worth in relation to other desirable cars.
Condition is king. A really good GT is worth more than a smoky or poorly looked after GTS. Caution though. Traders think all the cars they have are the perfect ones. Near perfect cars in desirable colours are the ones that hold their value.
Recent history of Porsche 928 prices in the UK - how low is low, and how high is high?
Prices were stable over 2004. Prices rose for some models or stayed put in 2005. In 2006 prices held 2005 levels but only for cars in super condition with few faults. In 2006 a slide began in any imperfect or hard to resell colours. In 2007 prices dropped quite a lot more sharply with numerous bargains around GBP 6,000 in the Pre 1989 model year non-digital dash S4's. GT prices fell too. In 2009 Cheap S4's started at from GBP 4995 at 928.org.uk and on ebay.co.uk and even at dealers. In 2011 and early 2012 prices are firmer, but cars are taking longer to sell. In 2013 prices held, and firmed. Manual cars became more desirable (better for trackdays, less power loss through transmission). There appear to be more cars for sale of all classic car types due to the financial crisis. Prices slightly rose in 2013. In 2014-2015 928 prices rose steeply and as these cars were good value many have doubled. I do think people buying so called perfect cars high in this market will lose more as prices settle down during and after the brexit and whatever other external factors come into play. Prices continued firm in 2015 and rose steadily into 2018, although some cars moved from dealer to dealer and this indicates the fragility of pricing or perhaps that the cars arent as good as the descriptions. GTS and GT values are are rising above S4 values. Dealers seem to have come back to them now after many years of avoidance. In 2017 sellers report cars hanging around but selling eventually. In 2018 and 2019 prices continued to hold although cars took a long time to sell. In 2020 it is anybody's guess what will happen as we enter the autumn and winter.
Rarities like the SE continue to be extremely hard to value. These rare cars continue to come up and sell for extremely high prices from time to time. Caution though - even though these cars are the equivalent of the RS models in 911 land they may only have value to members of our community so are likely to remain uncertain going forward. Its especially important to get the right insurance for them - so that they don't get under valued as an S4 and written off all too easily. (voice of experience).
I would not recommend mileage as a good indication of value. Dealers over egg it. Porsche 928s need regular use and maintenance and without it gremlins creep in. A fully maintained higher mileage car with regular detailed planned maintenance program is a better proposition than a low mileage stored car that will need to be recommissioned (think disks, pads, pumps, fluids, fuel pipes, other pipes, all belts, ac, heater matrix, battery, alarm, tyres all of which is a couple of thousand at least). Recommissioning is not for the faint hearted but if you are buying a car to rebuild make sure this is taken into account in the purchase price and get the work done by a 928 specialist not a general Porsche specialist or a non-specialist.
Used Porsche 928 Buying Checklist
The following checklist represents in large part all the items that an informed buyer should check on any car they are considering buying. Some of these items will be less important to you than others, but knowing what needs replacing or repairing will put you in a stronger bargaining position if you are interested in the car.
I would strongly recommend that if you have doubts about any of the mechanical aspects of a particular car, that you walk away from the car. Contrary to what many dealers and ebay sellers will tell you, the 928 is not a particularly rare car, with over 800 still on the road in the UK so there is no reason to compromise on condition.
Drive more than one
If you are considering buying a 928, I suggest that you drive as many 928s as you can which will give you an opportunity both to compare the different models, and to find out what a good 928 looks and drives like. One current owner drove five in one day and it quickly became apparent that two were good, one was so-so and two were bad. The two bad ones had been patched up and looked great from both the outside and inside, but driving soon showed their real condition.
Meet other 928 owners and check out their cars
We will be delighted to welcome you to one of our 928 meets during your search for your 928, which will give you the ideal opportunity to see and talk to the owners of a wide range of 928 models in an informal setting. Join the mail list too and someone near you will probably take you for a spin in a similar car to what you are looking for.
Colour and value
In the end your choice should come down to interior and exterior colour, manual or automatic transmission and value for money, not just condition. Remember you will have to look at it on the drive for years so don't get something you cant stand the colour of. That includes the interior. If you can’t afford a GTS, but prefer the later look get a good S4, and change the wheels and mirrors when funds allow. The engineering of the 928 makes them one of the best sports tourers available, but also means that they need regular and timely maintenance to keep them in good condition, both before you buy the car and after. Remember, the 928 cost GBP 20,000 in 1978 and GBP 72,000 in its final year of production, and all the models have servicing costs appropriate to those high prices. (around GBP 1,000 for a full service at a main dealer - find a real specialist near you by asking us.) The Porsche 928 was from its very beginning a precision-engineered car that could more than double the UK legal speed limit at a time when many standard road cars couldn’t reach 100 mph, and that performance depends on the precise functioning of all the components. You wouldn't expect to be able to run a Ferrari on Fiesta money so why would you therefore expect to run a 928, which is just as much of a performance car, any cheaper, simply because it’s relatively cheap to buy? That said, if you buy a good one, you should not have any surprise bills for a long time. See the Running and Servicing sections for more details on costs and maintenance schedules.
When you have found your ideal 928, then we strongly recommend that you take the car to a 928 specialist for a pre-purchase check. If there is no 928 specialist close to where you live, then all of the official Porsche dealers and many of the independent Porsche garages offer pre-purchase inspections, which will give you a further insight into the condition of your prospective purchase. Also, ask the specialist to give you a costing of all the remedial work they find during the inspection, which will give you a good idea of some of the costs involved in restoring and maintaining your purchase in full working condition. It costs about two hundred quid, and then you will have a list of all your projects for the next year. Do not expect any 928 to be perfect. Check with the mailing list whether problems found are common and easy to fix or nasty and expensive. For example do not worry about worn disks and pads. Do worry about broken air conditioning if you care. Remember an OPC inspection will tell you what you need to do to put the car to showroom condition. Do not be put off by this and do remember the cars are not new anymore. If its basically a good car the inspection serves as a great list of projects to do over time. Do not be put off by paint if its been done right unless its unexplainable and extensive. Stone chips are common and parking bumps mean most 928's have had bumper paint and many have had door paint.
The checklist below is intended to provide you with a tool for finding and informing yourself about your target cars, and is not intended to replace a specialist mechanic’s review of the car on a ramp with the proper tools. In addition, this would be a good time to do an HPI check which will cost around £50 to see if the car has outstanding finance on it, has been written off by an insurance company, or is reported stolen. Do not worry about number plate changes on the HPI check. Most 928s have had many different number plates in their lifetimes.
If you buy from an enthusiast, chances are the car will have been well looked after, and you will have the comfort of a stack of service bills to know what has and has not been done to the car. When buying a car privately, it is a good idea to assess the owner. Have an informal friendly chat with the seller (or with the last owner of record if buying from a dealer), to discover what type of person they are. Also take the opportunity to meet them at their house, if possible; if the house looks well maintained, then usually they would look after their cars as well. Never buy from someone who will only meet you in a service station or a lay by, or who can only be contacted on a mobile telephone number. Never sell a 928 online in exchange for part payment in cash/draft and another car/item worth seemingly more than you thought. If it sounds too good to be true it is a scam! If you choose to buy abroad remember you may have to pay import duty and have the 928 inspected for UK road worthiness. Its also not a good idea to buy from someone just leaving the country or their agent or someone selling online for a friend. They could well be genuine but...
Porsche 928 Specification - Things to check during initial phone conversation
Not an exhaustive list, but quite a good list :-)
- Body colour
- Paintwork and panel fit - every panel
- Vin number matches docs - check for signs of tampering
- Engine number matches docs - if its absent walk away
- Interior colour(s) and material - is it original, if not why not
- Seat bolster condition, Leather Dash (if present) has it pulled away from the vents
- Fabric condition, some are really hard to find now so burns, tears matter
- Does it have an MOT and service history
- Service history - all bills or service book stamps only FPSH or independent?
- Number of owners and who
- Length of current ownership
- Reason for sale
- Central locking working
- Boot releaae working
- Air conditioning – working? Really working not just gassed for sale?
- Electric windows – working?
- Electric mirrors – working?
- Electric seats – working?
- Electric lumbar – working?
- Electric heated seats – working?
- Alarm - more than one set of dodgy alarm wiring or properly insurance certified. Bad alarm wiring leads to breakdowns or worse.
- Correct type of wheels. All identical? Right Offset? Check part numbers carefully!
- Original or replacement wheels? Spacers? (Wider rear track)
- Original wheels available if replacements fitted?
- Correct tyres? Really? N' rated? Not just the right brand?
- Toolkit complete, spanners and drivers, towing eye, jack, hazard triangle, compressor, spare, plastic gloves, tyre pressure reader and bag for dirty wheel
- Where is the Luggage cover?
- Sunroof motor working - expensive
- Stereo and original amps?
- Engine bay all correct? Anything obviously missing?
- Cover for charge point in engine bay in place
- Recent steam cleaning? Why?
- Pas reservoir leaks? (Big ZF labelled bottle to the right)
- Engine oil on undertray? (Sump Gasket)
- Coolant in V of engine (leaks)
- Any spares or extras such as service manuals
- Check the list of option codes in the service book or on the sticker in the boot (look them up on this web site)
- Price, warranty, agreement to inspection by a third party
- GTS models are particularly prone to oil issues due to porous cylinder liners affecting some engines. Check the engine has been replaced or it is not an oil burner..
- Automatic engines can be destroyed by incorrect flex plate tension. Ask if its been checked. Always check before buying an Auto. If the owner doesnt know what this is have it checked or walk away.
Join the 928uk mail list at lists.928.org.uk and take your time to choose the right one.