911 R supply needs to be limited: TMIW

Guilty as charged, we at PH, along with the rest of the motoring media, are entirely complicit in Porsche's skillfully managed hype programme supporting the launch of the 911 R. They're not daft. Put some stripes on a 911, a howling flat-six in the back and a few lightweight bits to tempt the purists, wheel out blokes' bloke Preuninger for the adoring hacks to discuss lightweight flywheels with then sit back and see the limited production run fly off the shelves.

Job jobbed.

Also compulsory in the cycle of such things is a huge backlash of extremely angry people spurned by their Official Porsche Centre and unable to secure a car. Not having £140K to spend on a 911 I'm not sure how I'd feel about this. But those in a position to do so seem very, very cross about being refused the opportunity to hand over a six-figure sum to a Porsche dealership, as if this were some basic human right.

The gift that keeps on giving!
The gift that keeps on giving!
Flip ya for real
Allegations of dodgy deals between salesmen and the hated 'flippers' or closed-door conspiracies between OPCs and favoured customers are prevalent, likewise a sense of betrayal that ownership of previous limited edition Porsches doesn't necessarily 'entitle' you to buy the next. Basically I think this comes down to a particularly British hatred of queue jumpers, especially if they happen to be foreign (an alleged 'first dibs' offer for American 918 Spyder owners included) and/or 'new money', able to pay their way into their dealer's good books rather than graft away dutifully buying one GT3 after another. Because that'd be such an onerous process to have to go through, right?   

Nice as the 911 R sounds I like to think if I were denied the 'right' to buy one I'd be a little more gracious in defeat and enjoy pondering how or where else I might spend my £140K. As a pal did when he failed to secure a Cayman GT4 from the last round of indignant huffing about limited Porsche availability. His response was to go out and spend the money on a 997 GT3 instead, proving Preuninger right that those disillusioned with the current mainstream Porsche range are spending their money on classics from the back catalogue. If Porsche can be seen to cater to a select number of those people with a new car while underpinning values (financial and dynamic) of those older models it's simply smart brand management.

Collectors or enthusiasts in the 991 customers?
Collectors or enthusiasts in the 991 customers?
Demand less supply
But why (oh why, oh why, etc) doesn't Porsche just build as many 911 Rs as people claim to want to buy? Preuninger told us they're physically limited by the allocation of spots on a production line shared with Carreras, Targas, Turbos and Cabriolets, and there are only so many cars Zuffenhausen can build. But he admitted a car like the R also has to have an air of exclusivity about it. In order for it to work there has to be a sizeable number of people denied the ability to buy one.

In the fascinating thread that followed our Preuninger interview there were many interesting contributions. I don't agree with everything regular poster CMoose puts up but he nailed it in one particular post, basically saying if Porsche had just quietly introduced these features as options for the regular Carrera for the purists out there to spec as desired it wouldn't have sold 91 cars so-equipped, never mind 991. And Porsche will be only too aware of previous examples of manufacturers offering critically acclaimed, driver-focused and purist-friendly models to the market only to find buyers actually didn't give a flying one - reference the sluggish sales of the E46 M3 CSL and Renault failing to find customers for its full UK allocation of R26.Rs as proof. Closer to home the 964 RS languished unloved more or less ignored by the mainstream for close on two decades.

Well we have been here before...
Well we have been here before...
Know your enemy
Prime examples of all these cars are now seen as appreciating assets among collectors and enthusiasts. But only on the basis there aren't many around. Unless demand outstrips supply cars like this remain on the fringes, most OPC customers happily oblivious and speccing up their Carreras with PDK, rear wipers, sunroofs and all manner of baubles purists sneer at a few years down the line when looking for a 'pure' examples to hype as the next sure-fire investment.

For all the romanticised gushing Porsche is, in the end, a business. One whose strength permits the enthusiasts among its ranks like Preuninger licence to build a few cars that help shore up the legend and protect the brand. So long as a few of those cars make it into the hands of like-minded folk and get driven as intended it's mission accomplished. Clearly, being denied the chance to be one of them will annoy a few folk. But in the grand scheme of things worse has happened.

Enjoy pondering how far your £140K will get you in the classifieds if you need any further convincing...



[Cayman GT4/ GT3 RS image: Sim Mainey]


P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (123) Join the discussion on the forum

  • JMF894 17 Mar 2016

    I think Porsche have taken the mickey for a long time now, what with the price of options, limited numbers etc.

    It's a well known fact the profit margins on some models are the biggest in the business.

    I for one would take my (admittedly hypothetical) money elsewhere.

  • shantybeater 17 Mar 2016

    Great article and well summed up. Another point - exclusivity is part of the reason people are queuing up for the 911R. I for one love driving a car you don't see everyday, whether it be my 996T or my little 4 grand Lupo GTi. The experience of ownership would not feel as special in my opinion.

  • cognac1979 17 Mar 2016

    Fair enough if that's Porsches business strategy but why do the motoring press feel obliged to prop up their marketing strategy by continuing to feature such cars for a long period of time after the launch and well after the point that all these cars are sold out?

    I don't think cars such as the Cayman GT4 and 911R should be included in group tests as these cars are not available to buy, it doesn't matter how good they are.

  • Muzzer79 17 Mar 2016

    JMF894 said:
    I think Porsche have taken the mickey for a long time now, what with the price of options, limited numbers etc.

    It's a well known fact the profit margins on some models are the biggest in the business.

    I for one would take my (admittedly hypothetical) money elsewhere.
    It's becoming an increasingly common business model that to make something premium, you build less of it and make it limited supply.

    With limited numbers comes exclusivity and £££ in years to come - look at GT3 4.0's and several other examples.

    Ferrari do the same thing, as do several other manufacturers. As long as there is demand, they won't give a stuff where your (hypothetical) money goes.

    It's not taking the mickey - it's good business sense.

  • Ursicles 17 Mar 2016

    That would be an interesting proposal ... exclude the limited edition cars from group tests as they arent avaliable to actually purchase.

    Would prob kill demand for the cars a bit if we didnt know how good they were.

    FYI, ill be reviewing unicorn steak in my next blog, trust me its amazing .... you would have loved to try it ... but all finished. But trust me, unicorn steak is the best.

    But you will never know.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment