• James May’s 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera Will Be Put At Auction

A car having had a celebrity owner is a pretty dubious way for the value to be inflated. But when that owner is one of the most famous automotive journalists in the world, it might be worth taking another look. This 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera is currently owned by none other than James May, a man who was, until very recently, a presenter on BBC’s Top Gear. As such, it’s a pretty good bet that it has been well taken care of, and any doubts about whether May really owns it can be assuaged by the fact that he has driven the car on TV.

This isn’t just any 911 either; this is the final incarnation of the original 911 before it was replaced in 1989 by the Type 964, the Carrera 3.2. As May points out in the press release, it is a supremely ’80s car, wearing Guards Red paint and the giant “whale tail” spoiler for which ’80s 911s are justly famous. The stereo currently has a CD player installed, but if you want it, May has a cassette player that he’ll throw in so that you can get a more complete ’80s experience.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

The Carrera name was used intermittently by Porsche prior to 1984, usually reserved for versions of cars which were somehow special. But with the introduction of the Carrera 3.2, the name became the default nameplate for naturally aspirated versions of the 911. This was especially helpful when the 964 was introduced a few years later, as the Turbo would no longer have a separate numerical designation (as with the 930), and the nomenclature would help to differentiate them.

Porsche nerdism aside, the Carrera 3.2 is quite a valuable car, being as it is the culmination of every little tweak Porsche made to the car since 1963, before the full-on second generation was introduced. The engine was drastically changed from the one used before, with Porsche saying it was “80 percent new.” It was also bigger (3.2 liters, in case that wasn’t obvious) and made more power: a total of 231 horsepower, up 27 from the previous version of the flat-six engine.

This particular Carrera 3.2 was driven mostly by James May’s father, but we’re guessing that the celebrity ownership will still add a bit to the price when the car goes up for auction.

Jacob Joseph
Jacob Joseph
About the author

Press Release

Porsche revived the Carrera name - previously used for the competition orientated versions of the preceding 356 model - for its luxuriously equipped, top-of-the-range 911 in 1973, applying the evocative title to all 911 variants, co-incidentally with the introduction of the 3.2-litre engine, from the start of the 1984 model year. Although it remained an air-cooled ’flat six’, the ’3.2’ motor was 80% new and incorporated an effective cam chain tensioner and associated lubrication system that at last addressed a perennial 911 shortcoming. This enlarged and extensively revised new engine produced 231bhp, 27 horsepower up on its predecessor, endowing the Carrera with a level of performance approaching that of the original 911 Turbo of 1974, the bald statistics being a 0-60mph time of 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 152mph, with 100mph reachable in a breathtaking 13.6 seconds. Some 30 years on, Carrera 3.2s are now highly sort after and for very good reason, though finding one is not that easy.

James May's 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera Will Be Put At Auction Exterior
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James May bought this Porsche 911 Carrera in 2007 during recording of the Radio 4 documentary ’Speed, Greed and the M25’. He visited Paul Devyea’s workshop and showroom to borrow the car to record its engine sound, it being properly representative of the ’Thatcher’s Britain’ yuppies’ favourite, the Porsche 911. The car was in excellent condition and for sale, so James bought it on the spot. It has appeared on screen too, notably in the ’Airfix’ episode of ’James May’s Toy Stories’ and in the widely acclaimed Top-Gear online film, ’James drives to work’. Paul Devyea’s sales invoice is on file together with detailed service history recording mileage totals.

James tells us that the 911 has only been used as a ’hobby’ car, in good weather. The recorded mileage of 55,000 is almost certainly correct and the history file is comprehensive, to say the least. In 2011, ’A677 KLH’ was displayed at Top Gear Live as part of the Autoglym concours competition. It won a runner-up prize: a pack of car-cleaning products.

’It was donated to my dad to use for the past four years, as he never owned a proper sports car,’ James revealed. ’Recently he decided that he was getting on a bit to be seen in a retro stockbroker’s car, and my mother hated it.

’As a 911, it’s significant for being near the tail-end of the development of the original 1963 car. As a piece of social history, since it’s Guards Red and has the sports pack, it stands as a monument to everything 1980s Britain was about. It’s the 911 that Denis Thatcher would have driven, if he’d had one.’

James May's 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera Will Be Put At Auction Exterior
- image 634044

The car is currently fitted with a CD player but James has a broadly period radio/cassette to go with it, if wanted. ’It has the cassette storage rack fitted, after all,’ says James. ’The ideal environment for listening to Duran Duran, etc.’ Also included in the sale is a Haynes workshop manual; Porsche GB correspondence; service booklet; sundry service invoices; old and current V5 documents (the latter in James May’s name); and quantity of expired tax discs and MoTs dating back to 1984.

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Press release

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