Used Porsche 944 review: 1982-1992
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WHEN you think of Porsche, you can't help but think of the rear-engined cars that have made the German sports carmaker legendary. Rarely do the front-engined cars come to mind, yet they're very competent sports cars, and represent great bang for your buck as used cars.
Powered by an Audi 2.0-litre motor, the 924 was Porsche's first front-engined model and was a lemon, at least in Porsche terms. The later 944 and 928 probably suffered because of the 924's reputation and never quite got off the ground. Pity, because both were great cars. The good thing is that they're both now relatively affordable, and make great classic sports cars.
THE 944 was launched in Europe in 1981 and arrived here the following year. With hindsight, Porsche probably erred with the 944 in that it was an evolution of the 924.
Porsche did address one of the perceived problems of the 924 by powering the 944 with a genuine Porsche-designed engine. Essentially half of a 928 V8, the 944's 2.5-litre water-cooled four-cylinder engine produced a useful 120kW and had a very flat and useable torque curve.
Porsche pumped the power up a whopping 35 per cent to 162kW in 1986 by adding a turbo. The 944S followed in 1987 and sold along side the 944 and Turbo.
Thanks to a new 16-valve head, power climbed to 140kW. Compression was increased to 10.2:1 in 1988 which pushed the regular 944's power up to 121kW.
The Turbo S was also introduced in 1988. Based on the 944 Turbo, the S had a modified turbo and computer that delivered more boost over the entire rev range.
The changes that made the Turbo S so special were adapted to the entire 944 Turbo line-up in 1998 to distance it from the new S2, which featured a 3.0-litre, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine that cranked out 155kW. The S2 featured the front panels from the Turbo, and was available as a coupe or convertible.
IN THE SHOP
A service history is important when buying a 944. Like all Porsches, they are very resilient and can tolerate quite a beating if well serviced.
Check the oil's colour to determine the frequency of changes. If you find sludge, walk away. It's also important the coolant is regularly changed.
Camshaft belts need to be changed at 100,000km intervals. Clutches can be a problem so watch for drive line lash, which can mean a clutch replacement.
The galvanised body means rust isn't a problem with the 944. While some Porsches are used the way the designers intended, some are pampered so look for one of these. They often have low mileage, which adds to their attraction.
Greg Turner reckons the 944 is perfect for anyone wanting a classic, inexpensive sports car that handles and stops brilliantly and can go hard when the adrenaline is high. He says it is extremely rewarding and easy to drive.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Great sports car at an affordable price that can be used daily or just for weekend getaways. Parts and servicing can be expensive, but shop around and you'll find specialists able to take care of your car at more affordable prices.
TRADITIONAL owners don't rate them real Porsches
GREAT handling with perfect weight balance
S2 MUCH improved over earlier model
DURABLE mechanical package if well serviced
PARTS and servicing can be expensive
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|(base)||2.5L, Leaded, 3 SP AUTO||$6,820 – 9,680||1982 Porsche 944 1982 (base) Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data