Used Porsche 928 review: 1977-1994
January 29, 2009
Porsche enthusiasts rejected the 928 because it wasn’t true to Porsche tradition with its water-cooled front-mounted engine affecting resale value on the used car market today.Used Porsche 928 prices tend to hover around the mid-$20,000 range the front-engine Porsche supercar is a super buy.
The 928 first appeared on the scene in 1977, when it was a shock to Porsche traditionalists who refused to accept that a car with a water-cooled engine mounted in the front for heaven’s sake could carry the Stuttgart sports car maker’s badge.
Porsches had always had air-cooled engines mounted in the back, and despite the inadequacies of that layout, like quirky handling as a result of the pendulum effect caused by the mass of the engine hanging way out behind the rear axle, Porsche fans would have it no other way.
So adamant were they that Porsche eventually admitted defeat and returned to its roots with a rear-engine, and in the case of the Boxster, a mid-engined layout.
If you were prepared to ignore the traditionalists you’d find that the 928 was a true supercar, and one that has few peers even today.
With a 4.5-litre single overhead camshaft all-alloy V8 pumping out 176 kW mounted under the alloy bonnet, driving through a three-speed auto or five-speed manual gearbox, the 928 would accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in less than seven seconds, and reach a top speed well in excess of 220 km/h.
Underneath the sleek two-plus-two body was independent suspension front and rear, the rear boasting a unique self-steering feature that made a significant contribution to the 928’s impeccable road manners.
the original 928 gave way to the 928S in 1980, which can be readily identified by its front and rear spoilers, and 16-inch wheels. Other improvements under the skin saw the engine grow to 4.7 litres and output to 221 kW, while slotted front brake rotors and air ducting provided some much needed improvement to the braking which had come in for criticism on the original 928.
A four-speed auto replaced the earlier three-speed in 1984 to make it a more lively car off the line, and in 1985 the manual was updated to a much more user-friendly five-speed unit.
A new dual overhead camshaft 5.0-litre engine was fitted from 1986. Able to run on low-octane unleaded fuel its output dropped to 212 kW. At the same time Porsche further upgraded the 928’s brakes with four-piston callipers all round and ABS for the first time.
The 928S4 arrived in 1987 with a more rounded shape and a separate hinged rear spoiler. The front spoiler had been deleted and if you cared to look underneath you’d discover ground effect panelling.
Power was back to 221 kW, the brakes were again upgraded with larger front callipers and wider, eight-inch, wheels were fitted to the rear.
The 928GT was released in 1989 and power climbed to 242 kW among a raft of changes. Porsche’s acclaimed PSD Porsche Slip Diff was fitted from 1990.
The final fling before Porsche killed off the 928 in 1995 was the GTS, which was launched in 1992. By the time it vanished from Porsche showrooms the power was a mighty 257 kW, it had huge brakes, and just about every feature you could imagine.
In its final guise the 928 would accelerate to 100 km/h in less than six seconds, and reach a top speed of 270 km/h. It was a supercar in all senses of the term.
ON THE LOT
Porsche imported a total of 1319 928s in the 14 years the car was sold here. Because it was a Grand Tourer in nature, most were sold with the automatic transmission.
Early 1970s 928 models can be found for less than $15,000. Spend $25-$35,000 and you’ll find a nice S4 from the mid-1980s, which is probably the pick of the bunch. If you’ve got a bundle of cash burning a hole in your pocket you can step up to a 1994 GTS for $60-$70,000.
IN THE SHOP
The 928 was a techno tour d’force, a true supercar that will deliver exhilarating performance, but while it now comes at a quite reasonable purchase price there is a sting in the tail, and that is the cost of maintenance. Regular servicing is a must, and it’s not cheap.
The engine itself is generally bulletproof, it will last forever without wearing out, but the engine ancillaries require regular attention.
The camshaft belt requires changing every 40,000 km; if you don’t you run the risk of it breaking and when that happens you’re likely to do considerable damage to the engine’s internals.
Oil leaks are a problem and can be expensive to fix. The most common from the engine are from the cam housings, the front and rear camshaft seals, and the crankshaft seal. Oil leaks from the power steering rack are also common.
Brake wear can also be high. Replacement of pads after 10,000 km is not uncommon, and discs need replacing at around 20-30,000 km depending on how hard you work them.
Early cars, which had K-Jetronic fuel injection up to 1983, suffered with the accumulation of deposits on the inlet valves and poor cold running which will require the removal of the intake manifold and the blasting of the valves.
Gearboxes, diffs and the chassis are pretty much trouble free, as is the body which was a combination of alloy panels and galvanised main structure so it doesn’t suffer from rust.
Electrical switches and controls, like air-conditioning controls, tend to be unreliable and can require regular replacement.
Check service records as many owners wouldn’t pay the price of ownership, and be aware that some owners get their cars serviced at reputable service outlets just to get their book stamped, and don’t always have all the repairs done that they should. As a result there are some cars out there that need a lot of money spent on them.
• Awesome road performance
• Impeccable handling and road manners
• There’s nothing like a Porsche badge
• Inadequate brakes for the performance on early cars
• High maintenance costs
BMW 840i 1993-1999 $49,000-$95,000
Mercedes-Benz 500SL 1990-1993 $64,000-$87,000