A couple months ago, the auction of the “The White Collection,” a trove of Porsches and related automobilia, was announced. Owned by a secretive caretaker at an undisclosed location in Texas and toured by the Porsche Club of America in 2018, the collection’s mystery and singular theme only added to its mystique. Now, the cars—consisting of 55 primarily white, low-mileage Porsches, plus a pair of tractors and many related collectibles—have sold for a total of $30.5 million, breaking individual price records for the 918 Spyder, 2016 911 R, and 991.2 GT2 RS in the process.
The cars were apparently stored and never driven after they were added to the collection, mostly in the 2010s. The biggest question I had (apart from why white) was: Why collect 55 white Porsches and never drive them? Was it meant as an investment? Possibly—but I'd argue it wasn't a very good one. For the collection’s seller, the auction sale probably wasn’t the windfall you’re imagining, because even as some of the individual cars in the collection increased in value, they had to have been offset by the massive costs of maintaining a gathering on this scale.
The headliner of the collection, a 2015 918 ‘Weissach’ Spyder in white (of course) with just 12 miles sold for $3,937,500, doubling the previous sale record for Porsche’s hybrid hypercar. When the 918 was new, it retailed for nearly a million dollars with the desirable Weissach package. If the seller was lucky enough to buy it new without a markup, that’s a substantial return.
Other highlights included a 1997 ‘993’ Porsche 911 GT2, one of just 194 examples of Porsche’s last, rawest air-cooled turbocharged car, which sold for an astounding $2,397,500, and a 1973 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight, considered by many to be the greatest air-cooled Porsche ever, which brought $1,875,000. Okay‚ also impressive.
But other cars lost money, or barely kept up with inflation. These include a 1977 Porsche 924 Martini Edition which sold for $29,120, a 1990 Porsche 944 S2 Cab at $39,200, and a 1990 911 Targa at $134,400. The list goes on. And that’s before we consider the fixed and variable costs of maintaining this fleet. There are the obvious things like taxes and insurance, and then unknown costs of shipping and maintenance. Even (or especially) when not driven, cars still need fresh fluids, tires, and engine rubber to remain roadworthy.
Finally, in this case, the owner constructed or adapted a building specifically to house the cars, no doubt at a substantial cost. The lot notes also mention that while the cars weren’t driven, they were all started monthly. A collection of this size could easily employ one or more full-time staff just in coordinating maintenance and logistics.
Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire and Doug DeMuro of Cars & Bids opined about the collection on The Smoking Tire Podcast (timestamp 44:26, if you’re curious). “It’s like hoarding, but you’re rich enough to have people to clean,” said Farah. “There’s some sort of mental illness there,” DeMuro agreed, concluding, “so then you start hiring people, then you gotta build a space … he’s going to lose money on these cars no matter how much money they make [at auction,] because the cost to do all that is so significant.”
The two know what they’re talking about—in addition to being automotive journalists, Farah owns and runs Westside Collector Car Storage, a high-end car storage facility with two locations in Los Angeles, and DeMuro built Cars & Bids, a leading enthusiast car auction website. Both are also familiar with what goes into owning multiple cars personally, albeit on a much smaller scale.
It’s easy to see a collection like this and be wowed by its scale and grandeur, but pulling back the curtain reveals a less rosy picture—and likely, an unchecked obsessive-compulsive disorder. The undriven cars, the singular theme, the fact that the owner is selling it in its entirety just over a decade after beginning it—all the clues are there. I hope the owner of The White Collection got some enjoyment out of owning and not driving these cars, because the financial return almost certainly wasn’t worth the headache.
Subjectively speaking, the premise of the collection wasn’t very interesting, either. I mean, white? Arguably the least-interesting greyscale “color,” it’s hard to imagine these cars wouldn’t have looked better in iconic Porsche silver or stealthy black, to say nothing of the myriad of other, more inspired shades out there to paint a Porsche.
If you want to invest your money, buy stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate. If you want to drive something awesome and have the means, pick up a fun car. Each is rarely if ever an analogue for the other, and we’re all better off treating them as separate concepts. And, as comedian and noted Porsche collector Jerry Seinfeld recently said, “Failure to enjoy is one of the greatest sins of life. When you get to heaven, if you've got the lowest-mileage Porsche, YOU LOSE!”