Hunting Porsche’s greatest motor legends with Michael Schnabl
A fierce passion for special and rare Porsches, particularly exceptional early and racing-derived 911s, led Michael Schnabl to stand down from the family textiles business he helmed for 20 years and dedicate his professional life to the cars he fell for at the turn of the 2000s. Situated in a large and impressive renovated industrial building in Ammersee, between Munich and Starnberg, Motorlegenden specialises in the sourcing, acquisition, and sale of the rarest and most immaculate Porsches in the world. A glance at Schnabl’s current stock is all you’ll need to understand the calibre of the cars he’s trading: Carrera 2.7 MFI, 964 Speedster, 964 3.6 Turbo, 993 Turbo, Boxster Spyder, the list goes on…
During our visit, we also joined Schnabl for a spirited drive in the current pride of his personal collection: a sensational 964 resplendent in Amethyst and fitted with ultra-rare RS parts. It’s a car that after just a few miles through the Bavarian countryside brings out Schnabl’s innate love for Porsche.
How were you infected with the Porsche bug?
It all started when I bought my first Porsche 911, a 2.0 from 1967, on eBay in the early 2000s. I imported it from the United States unseen and it’s fair to say there was more suffering than joy at the beginning because it was in such disrepair. I had no more money but a friend of mine who worked as a mechanic for Volkswagen comprehensively restored the car, from the body and the engine to the interior, over many months.
So, you fell in love gradually?
During the restoration, I began to understand the simplicity and efficiency of the 911’s design and technology and recognise the weak points to look out for in the future. When the car was finally finished, I took it straight to Munich’s Schwabing district and drove around with the sunroof open and the exhaust roaring. When I began to notice the appreciative glances of onlookers, I knew I was finally infected.
What prompted the decision to establish your own business dedicated to Porsche?
I’d always wanted to work with Porsches and the community that surrounds them. However, due to my father’s ill health, I entered the family business in the fashion industry and continued its legacy for 20 years. During that time, I learned a lot about management, sales, marketing, and the value of quality and great personal relationships. Our company ended up a market leader, but I was not happy. That’s why, in 2017, I decided to pursue my own interests and turn what had previously only been a hobby into my full-time job.
Could you summarise the philosophy behind Motorlegenden by Michael Schnabl?
I founded the business in early 2018 as a collector networking and consultation platform for classic Porsches. Essentially, I oversee the search, consultation, and trade of rare Porsche models between private owners and customers. In addition, I lease automotive storage space to like-minded enthusiasts at ‘Speedloft 5Seen’. My goal is to build a community and a brand. I want people to enjoy our passion together and discuss questions about values, restoration, and sales. I worked hard to build the brand at first, but I followed my idea and vision. The experience of my network and my location between Munich and Starnberg are certainly benefits.
How have the first 12 months been?
Quite quickly I received positive feedback on the concept and attracted my first customers. For collectors and enthusiasts, myself included, there’s definitely a need for a point of contact away from the major portals and dealers where you can discreetly, transparently, and securely offer cars for sale. Meanwhile, I currently have around 15–20 vehicles in stock comprising rare and well-maintained examples including the 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 MFI, 1987 930 Slantnose, two narrow-bodied 911 Speedsters from 1989, 993 4S, and 993 Turbo S. I also stock new models such as the GT3 Touring and RS, Boxster Spyder, and 991 R as I’ve noticed they’re increasingly popular and often complement my customers’ classic Porsches.
How would you assess the current market for collectable Porsches?
From 2015–2017, there was a veritable boom and demand rose quicker than supply. In addition, investors not remotely interested in classic cars entered the segment looking to make a quick profit. A downturn was inevitable as too many cars in questionable condition were sold for very high prices, which unsettled genuinely passionate collectors. This speculative period is definitely over.
Which specific Porsche models do you currently find most interesting?
For between 50,000–80,000 euros, I think the G series 911, preferably the 3.2, and the 996 4S or Turbo are investments that would still be fun, while the same could be said of the 993 2S and 4S at around 100,000 euros. I think the values of 964 RSs, 993 Turbos, and all Speedsters in very good condition are at least stable, while vehicles with period competition history are currently trading for high prices. My insider tip would be for the Carrera 2.7 fitted with the RS engine and the top-tier transaxle models including the 924 GT, 968 CS, and 928 GTS – they’re definitely undervalued, and I believe they’ll rise in 10 years in line with the current interest in air-cooled 911s. Most importantly, history and condition are of equal importance to rarity in today’s market.
And what should prospective buyers of these cars look out for?
Their best bet is to buy the best they can afford – an accident-free car with original paint, good history, and low mileage, as well as special interior options and a sought-after colour. They are the cars that are likely to appreciate in value, though the generation of new Porsche drivers in changing. Singer, Magnus Walker, and the like have placed less emphasis on originality and the models of interest to the next generation will be different and younger. As such, I think we’ll see values for 356s and early Porsche 911s stagnate over the next 10 years. On the other hand, younger models such as the 964, 993, and G Series 911 are likely to increase in demand.
You’ve owned a plethora of Porsches over the years – which are your favourites?
I have a favourite for every decade! The 911 F and S have always formed an integral part of my collection – a 2.4 S Targa was actually my wedding car. I discovered the 964 early on and always loved its classic shape and reliable technology. The current highlight of my collection is my 964 Carrera in Amethyst fitted with numerous Porsche Exclusive options and ultra-rare RS-spec parts by the original dealer prior to delivery in 1992. I currently drive a 996 Turbo WLS as well as a 924 Carrera GT. But I like to change and therefore only keep as many vehicles as I can drive with a clear conscience!
Photos: Mathieu Bonnevie for Classic Driver © 2019