Last week there were rumors that Porsche will introduce a new 928.
These rumours are not really new, as there has been speculations on the subject for several years now. This time around, it seems the basis of the story was a new platform (yes, even legendary Porsche now utilises the platform-sharing principle), and that it might be possible to base a new big coupé on that, and that it might be called 928 again.
Hmm. All very speculative and it’s of course not really an (eventual) new 928 that’s relevant here. We’re on a retro-site, afterall. As a matter of fact, I think it is more interesting that Porsche never did come up with a successor for the 928. Especially since the original 928 was, as it is probably well known, thought to be a successor to the 911, which in the mid seventies was becoming somewhat long in the tooth. With the 928, Porsche went on a technical tour-de-force in the belief that it would make the 911 redundant.
Even more famous is of course the fact that it did not turn out anything like that: Although Porsche pulled out all the stops during the development of their new supercoupé, and it (as the only luxury sports car ever) won the coveted title of the Car of the Year in Europe, and by the way was a magnificent car – we all know that the traditional 911 won in the long run. There is certainly a morale there somewhere.
But back to the 928. The original. For how will it effect the 928 if Porsche choose to revive the name? My first inclination was that the old supercoupé would get a boost – first in recognition and subsequently in price. Which would be well deserved too, as it for far too long has lived in the shadows of the rear-engined Porsches, which – also as a classic car – ran with all the laurels. Such a boost would make the 928 so much more expensive that I’d better start looking around for one while they are still cheap.
It was then I realized that the 928 is already out of the oblivion and apparantly has been for a while. To the extent that it has risen about 60% in price over the last five years. That’s hardly pocket money, and this means that the 928 is no longer the budget supercar it once was. In this context I mean the purchase price. While the 928 might have been cheap to acquire up until recently, it has probably never been cheap to maintain.
On the other hand, it has always been a great car – and (dare I say it?) a better car than the 911. That’s why Porsche thought it would replace the old-fashioned 911 in the first place, isn’t it? However, the 911 had a sharpness that the 928 did not possess – and never was supposed to have either: It was a GT car, and simply another type of car – the future Porsche, in short.
The problem was just that, in spite of all of Porsche’s feasibility studies, it turned out that the customers actually did not want another type of car. Of course, 928’s were sold – just never as many as Porsche believed and hoped for. In its first and second model years, respectively, 3,860 and 5,437 Porsche 928’s were sold – and the latter figure from 1979 was never surpassed in the fairly long life of the big GT model. In the same years, 1978 and 1979, 10,684 and 11,543 911’s were sold, and this 911 variant, the so-called G model, did not set its sales records until very late in its life: In 1986 with 17,074 cars.
Overall Porsche built almost 200,000 911’s (of the G model, to which the 928 should be compared) against only 60,000 928’s. This alone could very well be one of the hard facts which have driven the prices up in recent years. Add to that, that the 928 was strictly speaking a class above the 911 as well as being more modern – and that its design has – we can see this now, forty years after – aged at least as well as that of its more sporting little brother.
Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really matter whether Porsche proceeds to launch a new model with the same name or not: The classic 928 is its own and is already heading for a higher star in the classic hierarchy and can in time rise even further.
Dear reader, what do you think?