Jackson — For many, buying a Porsche remains the ultimate car fantasy. And Porsche of Jackson is the only dealership in a two-state area that can make owning a new one a reality.
“The market for high-end sports cars in Jackson and Central Mississippi is really good,” said Edwin Vickery, general manager of Higginbotham Mercedes Benz-Porsche in Jackson. “They don’t build that many cars, and we’re the only Porsche dealer in Mississippi and Arkansas. We pull from a pretty wide area, including parts of Louisiana and Tennessee.”
Porsches are pricey. Want a new Boxster for 2005? It starts around $47,000. The all-new Porsche 911 has a base price of $69,500. And how about a Carrera GT? The ultimate, top-of-the-line Porsche, of which only 250 are built per year, costs around $440,000 and requires a $50,000 non-refundable deposit “just to start the process,” said Vickery. “We’ve sold one, and it should be here in November.”
However, a good Porsche value and super-hot model is the Cayenne 6-cylinder, a sports-utility vehicle that starts at $43,665. “It still sounds like a Porsche, acts like a Porsche, but is an SUV,” said Vickery. “It’s unique.”
The sport exhaust is Porsche’s coolest “gee-whiz” accessory, said Vickery, “because it makes the car sound real throaty. Porsche owners love that.”
The “previously-owned” market for Porsches is so strong that “it’s like finding a needle in a haystack when you find a good one,” said Vickery. “You can probably find Boxsters in the mid-20s, and depending on the year, you can probably find 911s in the mid-20s and up.”
Porsche sales aren’t really affected by economic downturns. Because it’s considered a high-line car, the market remains steady, said Vickery.
“The tax laws for buying a Porsche are favorable for business owners,” he explained. “A car over 6,000 pounds GVW (gross vehicle weight) is an expense deduction, and there are other write-offs, depending on various factors. It makes a big difference in affordability.”
So why are Porsches so appealing? “Because they’re Porsches,” Vickery emphasized. “The performance, handling, materials used, braking. It’s the whole package. Even the SUV handles like a sports car.”
The typical “P-car” addict “can be spotted a mile away,” said Vickery.
“It’s the guy who’s thought about owning one forever,” he said. “Maybe he’s had a pre-owned one, and this time he wants to build the kind of car he wants, maybe with a different dash, or seat belt colors or instruments. He knows he can custom tailor it. He’s a pipe smoker. It’s been chewing on him forever and he’s going to scratch that itch.”
BusinessWeek’s Lee Walczak, who bought his first Porsche in 1987, explained: “Mention Porsche to a car nut anywhere, and the imagination is stirred. Unlike Ferraris and other classic sports cars that look gorgeous from every angle, the Porsche 911 has an egg shape that’s an acquired taste. It’s both a VW bug on steroids and Germany’s pragmatic answer to temperamental glamour cars. (Porsche is a subsidiary of Volkswagen.) A 911 is not so much beautiful as purposeful. The stark interior is no symphony in hand-stitched leather. But the thing is fast. And unlike flashier competitors, it works day in and day out, on jaunts to the dry cleaners or at the racetrack.”
The late T.G. Blackwell brought Porsches to Mississippi in 1976 when he added imports to his Jackson dealership, T.G. Blackwell Chevrolet. In March 2001, Dennis Higginbotham from Daytona Beach, Fla., bought the dealership. His daughter, Trudy Higginbotham, runs the Porsche division, and his son, Wallis Higginbotham, is the sales manager. Of the multiple dealerships the Higginbothams have owned, the family has retained only two, including the Jackson dealership.
“We have a dedicated technician, who has been working with Porsches for at least 20 years,” said Vickery, who drives a Mercedes S-Class. “I’ve got too many kids to have a Porsche,” he added, with a laugh.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.