Sotheby’s Expensive Car Auction: 1964 Porsche 904 GTS Race Car

When the 904 Carrera GTS debuted in 1964, it represented Porsche’s first foray a purpose-built race car with road-going versions built to satisfy the FIA’s homologation requirements. An aerodynamic fiberglass body over a steel ladder chassis and a mid-engine layout gave the car superb handling, and with a weight of just over 1,400 pounds, it’s four-cylinder engine earned it the “giant-killer” reputation Porsche was known for. The 904 up for auction here was delivered in 1964 and campaigned in a hill climb only a month later. Working in tandem with the 904’s lightweight, aerodynamic body, that engine propelled the car to speeds that far exceeded what the marque’s previous sports and racing cars could muster.

This particular luxury car was initially sold to Ernesto Prinoth, an Italian racing driver and entrepreneur who competed in Formula 1 and also owned a Ferrari 250 GTO—two insights into his character that further convey the significance that Porsche’s new sportster had at the time. Series of racing incidents left the race car with frontal damage and was sold in the mid-sixties to its next owner without an engine or a gearbox. It was later restored to its former glory and was given a six-cylinder engine, similar to the late 904 models. The race car has been on display since the 90s and needs mechanical work to be fully restored.

Over the years, other examples of the model have sold both at auction and privately. Most recently, in February, RM Sotheby’s auctioned another from 1964—one that also retained its original engine and gearbox—for about $2.1 million. Gooding & Company previously sold a handful at auctions, as well. The most recent, offered in 2017, had been restored several years earlier and was missing its original engine. In 2013, Gooding & Company sold another 1964 version that did retain its original engine. Those two Porsches sold for $1.54 million and $1.6 million, respectively.

This particular expensive car is priced at $2.45 million. “Generally, we try to base our asking prices off the market,” Brynan explains. “The condition and originality of this car set it apart from those others.”