This Has Always Bothered Me

What you see above is an excerpt from the January, 1964 issue of Road & Track’s road test of the then brand new Porsche 904. I’m a huge fan of the 904. So was Road & Track. They give the car’s brakes and handling high marks. But mostly they praise the affordability of the car for the amateur racer.

Wait. What?

Which is why I’ve highlighted the pricing information above. $7425 sounds like a very small number indeed. Of course you’re thinking, “but that’s 1964 dollars. Factor in the inflation and you’ll see that it’s the princely sum we’ve come to expect for a world-class competition car”. Thanks to our friends at The Inflation Calculator, I can tell you that $7425 in 1964 is the equivalent of $50,810.87 today.

Now $50 Grand is no small amount of money, but where can I buy a current racing car that can compete at the international level for $50 Grand? Or $100 Grand? Or $200 Grand—What does a Porsche Cup Car cost these days? The 904 wasn’t just a competitive car, either—It was dominant; taking the World Sportcar Championship in the 2-liter class. Where can I buy a class winning contemporary racing car for $50 Grand? I’m struggling to think of a contemporary club racing car that can be bought for $50,000 – spec Miata not withstanding.

Road & Track had this to say about the 904’s costs. “The price is certainly right, $7245 at the factory, as this means the private owner in the U.S. can obtain a first class racing car and basic spares for something under $9000, dirt cheap for a first-class competition car.” I agree, dirt cheap indeed.

2 responses to “This Has Always Bothered Me”

  1. I too am a HUGE fan of the 904, and reading this just makes me sad… It’s too bad we can’t do it these days.

    The best, though, would be if we could still pay 50 grand on a 904 today…

    Pipe dreams…

  2. Chris says:

    I have friends that won the 24 hours of Daytona in a $25,000 used tube-frame car. I worked with a group that won numerous Nurburgring 24hrs in $30,000 cars. Even one of my cars (not even half way to the $50K cap) is undefeated in its handful of international events.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if its possible to run legit FIA races competitively in a $50,000 car…

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