If you tuned in to RM Sotheby's Porsche 70th Anniversary auction, held at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia, you'd know that gold is hot right now. That's because a persistent bidder in the auction room kept his paddle up long enough to outlast the myriad competitors both at the auction and on the telephone to pay a huge $3,415,000 (including buyers' premium) for the much-hyped 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo Classic Series "Project Gold."
So just what is Project Gold? It's a one-off car designed to show the scope of the Porsche Classic operation, Porsche's in-house department that services, restores, and provides parts and support for the brand's heritage vehicles. Project Gold is based on a leftover 993 Turbo body shell that was supposedly laying about Porsche's Zuffenhausen headquarters, collecting dust in a warehouse until recently. The decision was made to build up the shell into what is effectively a brand-new 993-generation 911 Turbo, famously known as the last of the air-cooled models. The one-off project build also showed off contemporary features, pulling its color from today's 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series palate.
It took Porsche one and a half years to build Project Gold, using over 52,000 genuine parts pulled from Porsche's shelves, including rear fender air vents as used on the 993 Turbo S series of cars. The air-cooled 3.6-liter flat-six engine was built from scratch using the Porsche parts catalog and develops 42 horsepower more than a stock 993 Turbo, for 450 hp total. The gains came from the "Werksleistungssteigerung II" power kit, which is a too-long term for larger turbochargers, an extra oil cooler, and a tuned Bosch Motronic ECU. The gearbox was also built using available Porsche Classic parts.
The body was given two coats of Golden Yellow Metallic paint, along with a final clear coat stage, while the interior was treated to black leather with gold stitching and various carbon-fiber trim bits. Turn signals were specially tinted, the wheels feature custom paint involving the use of a laser, and even the Litronic headlights were customized in the process of the build. Following construction, the car was thoroughly shook down at the Porsche Development Center at Weissach, where the car passed all its final quality control tests.
No doubt Project Gold is an impressive feat of engineering, customization, and devotion to the Porsche brand and ethos, but it does fall prey to the same condition as many other "recreation" and "continuation series" classic-inspired vehicles being built around the world today in that it cannot be legally road registered and is sold on only a bill of sale. That means should the new owner want to use this new toy on the road, "unconventional" methods will have to be used. Then again Project Gold will likely be stashed safely inside a climate-controlled storage for most of its days given its value.
The golden lining? All money raised by the sale beyond $174,546 (what Porsche says the car would have MSRP'd for in 1998) will be given to the Ferry Porsche Foundation, a non-profit charity.
Perhaps caught up in the excitement, the high bidder for the very next auction lot, a 1980 Porsche 924 (albeit a pristine, 11,000-mile car in a lovely shade of blue), paid $53,760, or approximately 50 times the asking price of your typical worn-out Craigslist example. At least it can be legally street driven.