A cool Porsche does not necessarily have to have the number combination 911. Fans of the 80s in particular have long been into the Porsche 944 – not as tired as the 924 and almost as casual as the 928. Good examples can still be had for fair prices.
Years ago, hardly anyone was interested in a Porsche 928 – the spaceship of the late 1970s. The technology is considered complicated, maintenance is expensive and the 928 was not a 911. At the time it was a best buy, but the picture has changed completely, because even if the Porsche 928, as a real Gran Turismo, can’t scratch the various generations of the 911, it is now a coveted classic and has long since ceased to be cheap. This fate should also befall the Porsche 944 in the most positive sense. It’s the sportier 924, because the people in Zuffenhausen probably understated it a bit. Too much Audi technology from the group shelf, too many thoughts on the VW Porsche 914 and then simply not enough dynamics and sportiness. This is exactly where the bulkier, more powerful and also more contemporary Porsche 944 comes into play. Apart from the larger displacement engine, the technology is largely identical, which leaves one blemish that anyone who is supposedly interested in the folding-eye Porsche has to come to terms with: whatever the configuration and year of manufacture of the desired Porsche 944, it also has to have four narrow cylinders get by This is a no-go for many sports car fans.
Otherwise, the technology of the Porsche 944 can hardly be criticized for anything, because apart from the painful cylinder deficit, the sports car offers the transaxle design that is so popular with many – engine in the front and gearbox in the back. In the early / mid-1970s, Volkswagen wanted to build an affordable people’s sports car, commissioned Porsche with the development work and canceled the project in 1974 in the aftermath of the oil price crisis. In Zuffenhausen, on the other hand, people believed in the project of an athlete for everyone and brought the Porsche 924 onto the market two years later. The entry-level model only cost a little more than 23,000 Deutschmarks, making it around 10,000 Deutschmarks cheaper than the cheapest 911. Despite all prophecies of doom, the unloved transaxle children from Zuffenhausen survived until 1995 and more than 400,000 models found buyers.
No Porsche 944 without its predecessor, the 924. The design was classic, definitely worth seeing and more contemporary than ever with extras such as pop-up headlights and a domed tailgate. Despite the manageable 92 kW / 125 hp, which was elicited from the initially two-liter four-cylinder, the 924 is also an athlete, because after all, just 1.2 tons have to be moved with the power. That doesn’t hide the fact that the 944 introduced in 1982 brought more dynamics, more comfort and more Porsche into the cockpit. Hardly any other car in the history of Porsche has been given such frequent revisions to the engine as the Porsche 944, which was based on the 924 Carrera / GTS. The basic model made a manageable 110 kW / 150 hp from a four-cylinder, which, in contrast to the 924, had a displacement of 2.5 liters. When the Porsche 944 was discontinued after ten years and replaced by the 968, the turbo versions with 250 and 300 hp had doubled the entry-level power over the years. Instead of the formerly 2.5 liter combustion chamber, the top versions later offered the three liters from which the Porsche 968 could also draw. Here too, however, it remained a cylinder quartet.
Even if the engine output was manageable, especially in the first models, the chassis of the 944 is in a class of its own. In addition, there is the almost balanced weight distribution through drive, tank and transmission on the rear axle, neutral steering without drive influences and a very flat seating position. The four-cylinder engine of the Porsche 944 was derived from one of the two V8 cylinder banks of the larger Porsche 928. With the catalytic converter available from 1985, the engine output fell from 120 kW / 163 hp to 110 kW / 150 hp, which is clearly noticeable in the athlete from Neckarsulm. In 1987/88 there was a slight increase in output to 160 or 165 hp, which was achieved, among other things, by increasing the displacement to 2.7 liters. The interior is just as diverse as under the hood. The first 944 models had the cockpit and seats of the 924 – also with a black and white houndstooth pattern. This was also found on the door panels, which at least brought some relaxation into the plastic desert of the dashboard, door panels and center console. There were also three round clocks behind the three-spoke steering wheel and three small round instruments in the center console under the bulky central box and the air vents. The newer cockpits with four round clocks behind the four-spoke steering wheel and lots of black space around them are much more contemporary but not very charismatic. The new center console was no longer home to instruments, just new air vents, a digital clock, radio and toggle switch for mirror operation and rear wiper. Instead of the only houndstooth seats, the newer models are mostly equipped with partial leather seats with pinstripes, leather chairs or sports seats with the Porsche logo – often even electrically adjustable. Unfortunately only rarely found in the 944: Comfort details such as heated seats or air conditioning. Lush than other athletes: the large trunk, which could be enlarged by folding the rear seat.
The technology of the Porsche 944 is generally considered to be very stable. There are only problems with rust if tuning measures have defaced the original model. You should keep your hands off these vehicles anyway. Electrics and electronics are also solid. Toothed belts (every 80,000 km) and the water pump should be changed on older models, otherwise it can become very expensive. The chassis has no notable weaknesses; however, you should keep an eye on the transmission and especially the clutch. As pleasant as the transaxle design is, repairs are more expensive than with a normal design directly on the engine. The sportiest 944 have impressive driving performance thanks to turbo power. However, repairs to the turbocharger itself or replacement are expensive – so you should check the turbo carefully.
The versions of the Porsche 944 S are particularly popular with classic car fans of the 1980s. Thanks to modern four-valve technology, they got an agile 140 kW / 190 hp from 2.5 liters and were up to 230 km/h fast. But after two years of production, the 944 S was replaced by the significantly more expensive and complex 944 II. With the increase in displacement to 3.0 liters, there was a significant increase in performance to 211 hp and a modified front end that was intended to carry the narrow face of the former Porsche 924 into the 1990s. With a corresponding turbocharger, the 944 available from 1986 with the internal designation 951 initially had 220 and then 250 or 300 hp. Then more than 260 km/h were possible. What many do not know: the 944 is available as a coupe, cabriolet and targa version. But the actual Targa model is a sham, because it is simply a model with a large sunroof that can be opened or removed electrically. To this day, the 944 Cabriolet struggles in terms of design because of its oversized tailgate.
The coupé versions are more popular on the vintage car market, with well-equipped cabriolets always having their fans. In terms of price, a well-maintained Porsche 944 with a comprehensible history and 150,000 kilometers starts at 15,000 to 18,000 euros. Well equipped and with 190 or even 211 hp on the road, a Porsche 944 with less than 150,000 kilometers can quickly cost 25,000 euros or more. The US versions are consistently much cheaper, but often also come with the equally powerful and unsightly US bumpers. A turbo version with less than 80,000 kilometers quickly costs more than 40,000 euros.