Porsche 924 Buyers Guide

2015 / 2016 Drive-My

Buying Guide Fancy a Porsche 924? Here are the five steps you need to follow. Five steps to buying the best Porsche 924. You really can get a proper Porsche for less than £5000 – if you choose wisely. Words Paul Hardiman. Photography Tom Wood.

OUR EXPERTS

Phil Watson is marketing co-ordinator for the Porsche 924 Owners’ Club and an expert on the marque, having bought his first example back in 1995. His current pride and joy is a normally aspirated 1985 2.0-litre that’s about to be treated to a new replacement dashboard.

Peter Saysell, publications editor of the 924 Owners’ Club, has intercooled his Turbo and says, ‘I think it’s the most exciting of the 924s and about as fast as a 911 of the same era. There’s not much out there will live with it on twisty roads, but it’s the one that requires the most care.’

Nash Hunter restored his first 924 more than 11 years ago and now owns and runs Retro Restorer, a 944 and 924 specialist based in Banbury. The lovely original Turbo he brought for our studio shoot is just one of the cars he owns.


The 924 marked a radical departure from tradition, being the first Porsche to use a watercooled engine mounted at the ‘wrong’ end. But it is a Porsche design, even if it was commissioned by Volkswagen.

Praised when new for its good looks and engaging handling, today it represents the cheapest way into Porsche ownership now that the 914’s star is in the ascendancy. It’s surprisingly practical for a sports car and the fact that many of its major components are of Volkswagen and Audi origin means that parts can be affordable.

Early cars were never particularly quick, so when supplies of the 924’s 2.0-litre engine block ran out in 1986 (in fact Volkswagen had stopped casting them three years previously) Porsche replaced it with the 924S. Powered by a detuned 150bhp version of the 944’s 2.5-litre fourcylinder engine – though it got the missing 10bhp back for the 1988 model year – the S eliminated its predecessor’s main weakness at a stroke. Some say it is the best of both worlds, though diehards maintain that the smaller, lighter cars have their own unique and more chuckable character.

If you need spares, always check the price of original Porsche parts first. Porsche is particularly enthusiastic about its older cars and as a result many parts aren’t expensive. PhilWatson of the Porsche 924 Owners’ Club advises, ‘Go for a car that’s in regular use, especially if you’re a 924 first-timer. They don’t take kindly to being left standing for long periods of time and often suffer from perished fuel lines.

‘Recommissioning should always start with a complete flush of the cooling system and a thorough drain of the fuel tank and lines. In addition, be prepared to change the fuel filter at least twice after initial fire-up. ‘Having said that, neglected 924s can be brought back from the brink for surprisingly little money – you just need to be methodical.


1. Bodywork

Most 924s have fully hot-zinc-coated bodyshells but pre-1980 cars were treated only on the lower half. Either way any weld repairs will have gone through the zinc layer by now, potentially allowing rust to form. One of the most important areas to check is the battery tray under the left corner of the windscreen – right on left-hand-drive cars. This is prone to corrosion when the rubber flap on the outlet drain gets blocked. If you can, lift out the battery to inspect the metal underneath. If it’s rusted through, water gets into the fusebox underneath, creating electrical chaos. New battery covers are just £9 from Porsche.

Porsche 924

Hatch leaks are common. The seals wear and the spoiler drains in the bottom corners get blocked and rot out the hatch’s bottom lip. Be careful, though – a leaky sunroof produces similar symptoms, so be sure to check both. The drain pipes from the catch housings in the car can fall off allowing water to collect and rot out the rear footwells, so make sure the pipes are still in place – try running water over the sunroof. New hatch locating pins and catches are still available.

Factory rustproofing means severe floor pan and sill rot is unusual, but check anyway. The greatest potential problem area is the inner sills, so be sure to lift the carpets and prod the metal from underneath roughly in line with the rear door shut to make sure it’s sound. If it isn’t, walk away.


2. Engine

924 engines tend to burn a little oil and emit a small puff of blue smoke on start-up, but this should disappear after a few seconds. Oil pressure should be near maximum deflection when cold, dropping to two or three bar at idle. If it’s less and the reading fluctuates when you turn the lights on, it’s likely an earth problem with the gauge. It should show five bar at 3000-4000rpm with a hot engine. If it flicks to five bar when you turn on the ignition but before starting the engine, the sender is faulty.

The cambelt should be changed every 30,000 miles/three years but while the turbo’s interference engine will damage valves and pistons if the belt snaps, the non-turbo engine is non-interference. Changing it is simple and the belt costs less than £20, but a garage will charge £200 for the job.

The 1981-on S2 has higher compression, a crank position sensor and an extra 7bhp. It is identifiable by a lack of vacuum retard on the distributor.

The 924S shares its 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with the 944 and has two balancer shafts. The timing belts for the camshaft and balancer shafts theoretically need a special tensioning tool (£200) to set correctly, but there’s plenty of forum advice on how to do the job without it. Belts should be replaced every three years/30,000 miles. Budget £300-£400 at a specialist for this and a further £180 for the new water pump you should fit at the same time.

New coolant expansion tanks are no longer available for non-turbo cars and some yellowing is normal. If it’s cracked, crazed or warped the car may have overheated at some point, though cylinder head gasket failure is rare. A specialist will charge around £700 for a gasket change and cylinder head skim.

If the main fuel lines running the length of the floorpan are braided/flexible they’ve been replaced; changing the rigid originals entails removal of the rear suspension. Fuel tanks rot in unused cars – a professional refurb will set you back £420.

Finally, check that the alternator’s air duct is connected. If not, the alternator’s life expectancy is significantly reduced.


3. Transmission

Early cars had an Audi four-speed gearbox, with the option of a Porsche G16 dogleg five-speed. Both were superseded in 1979 by an Audi five-speed with a conventional shift pattern. They last well if given regular oil changes. The Turbo’s unique G31 gearbox has some 915 internals and a dogleg first gear. Wear on first and second leads to crunchy changes. Most owners live with it but you’re looking at a rebuild if it jumps out of first gear – about £1100. A recalcitrant gearchange can be the ball and socket joint at the bottom of the stick.

This is easy to fix from inside the car and costs £30 for the stick, £5 for the socket. Or it can be the knuckle on top of the transaxle – only easy once you lower the transaxle for access.

Non-turbo clutch parts are cheap but changing it is involved. Budget £500 at a specialist and £1000 for the Turbos as it shares its clutch with the 944 S2 and parts are more expensive.


4. Suspension and brakes

Fitting a set of inserts to fix bouncy or leaking front struts costs about £225 including fitting. Sachs inserts are £77 per pair and take a couple of hours to fit. The 924S and Turbo use the 944’s fivestud hubs and all-disc brakes. Brakes on all cars are conventional and prices for discs, pads and shoes are on a par with a modern hatchback, though you need a large socket to get the rear drums off a 924. The S is the only 924 with power steering.


5. Interior

Vinyl seat trim tends to split but reproductions of some patterns are available. Dashboard moulding cracks can be arrested with a $120 Pelican Parts bond-on cover or dearer complete refurbishment kits.


IMPROVING

Modern tyres aside, owners tend to like their normally aspirated cars just as they are and buyers certainly value originality. However, the Turbo responds particularly well to intercooling which liberates an extra 20bhp and improves engine longevity by reducing the build-up of under-bonnet heat. Pete Saysell says, ‘You can butcher a standard 924 Turbo with lots of holes in the front to accommodate an air-to-air intercooler, but this runs the very real risk of alienating future buyers. It’s preferable to go down the route of something like Ideola’s Garage in the US, which offers a much less intrusive bolt-on water-to-air kit for about £1000.’

Adding an inline fuse to the heated rear window wiring is good insurance because the design is prone to overheating. Indeed the advice is to not leave it switched on for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

Some owners also swear by EBC GreenStuf brake pads to improve bite and feel.


SPECIFICATIONS

Engine 1984cc/2479cc overhead-cam four-cylinder, Bosch K-Jetronic/L-Jetronic fuel injection. Turbo version available

Power and torque 125bhp @ 5800rpm to 210bhp @ 6000rpm; 121lb ft @ 3500rpm to 207lb ft @ 3500rpm

Transmission Four or five-speed manual, optional three-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion, PAS on 924S

Brakes Front: discs. Rear: drums. Discs all round on Turbo, S, GT and GTS

Suspension Front: MacPherson struts, lower wishbone, anti-roll bar. Rear: semi-trailing arms, torsion bars, telescopic dampers

Length 4.2m (13ft 9in)

Weight 1080-1195kg (2380-2634lb)

Performance Top speed: 126-150mph; / 0-60mph: 9.5-6.9sec.

Fuel consumption 17-30mpg

Cost new £6998 (924, 1977)


NEED TO KNOW

Cylinder head rebuild and gasket change £700-£1000

Turbo rebuild £300-£500

Clutch change £500-£1100

Dashboard fix/refurb €534-€1000

Sachs rear shock absorbers £116 per pair

Who can help?

Clark’s Garage clarks-garage.com

Frazerpart frazerpart.com, 0151 665 0911

Ideola’s Garage garage.ideola.com

Pelican Parts pelicanparts.com,

+1 (0) 888 280 7799

Porsche 924 Owners’ Club porsche924.co.uk

Porschembri porschembri.co.uk,

020 8577 9520

Retro Restorer restorer.co.uk, 01295 477108

Werke924 werk924.com, + 49 (0) 3441 7799489

Woolie’s Workshop wooliesworkshop.com, 07837 664009


CAR FOR SALE

1986 Porsche 924S. 110,000 miles. Five-speed manual gearbox. Metallic blue, grey leather interior. Porsche radio/cassette player with electric aerial. Large history file, recon power steering rack. New alternator, starter motor and battery. £2500.


WHICH ONE?

924 1976-1985, fully galvanised after 1981. Early fourspeed cars are developing a following thanks to the stainless window trim, lack of a rear spoiler, simple interior and two-spoke steering wheel. Martini edition (M426) ofered in 1977 to capitalise on Porsche’s racing successes.

Rare US-only Sebring edition launched in 1979. 121,000 cars made in total.

Turbo (Type 931 lhd, Type 932 rhd) Made 1978-1982. 11,500 built.

Carrera GT (937) Tweaked version of Turbo with intercooler. 210bhp and flared wings plus bonnet scoop. 406 made in 1980.

Carrera GTS Fixed headlights to make room for bigger intercooler. 245-280bhp. 59 built.

Carrera GTR Ultimate 2.0-litre 924 with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection and 375bhp. 17 made.

924S 1986-1988. Hybrid using an initially detuned version of the 944’s 2.5-litre engine. Five-stud hubs and discs all round. 16,500 made.

924S SE (US)/Le Mans (Rest of world) Run-out limited edition. 980 built. Last 74 UK cars, 37 black and 37 white, have ‘Le Mans’ script on doors.


What to pay

Under £500 buys a parts car, £1000-£1500 gets a running project 2.0. It’s possible to snap up a bargain in this range as 924s are often underpriced. £2000-£2500 is enough for a decent daily driver, but a very good 924 with service history is over £3000. In excess of £4000 should buy an excellent example with the very best priced at £5000-6000.

S and Turbo are around 50% more depending on condition. Parts cars are £3000-£4000, decent runners with MoT £5000-£8000 and the best Turbos £12,000-£15,000. Carreras are £40,000 and above, GTS £200,000.


MEET THE OWNERS

‘It’s fast, but comfortable enough to use regularly’

Ian Pattie, Oxfordshire Ian is the 924 Owners Club membership secretary and owns a rare Le Mans S, one of the very last 924s made. He says, ‘It’s more relaxing to drive than the Volkswagen-engined 2.0-litre. It has more torque and the power-assisted steering makes it much easier to park and drive through towns, yet it’s also marginally faster than a 944.

‘My brother bought a 924 new in 1978. We lived in Scotland at the time and I was hooked straight away after driving it around the lochs and the lanes near our home, though I didn’t buy one for another 12 years.

‘If you like 924s you really need to try them all before you buy – this year I got a Turbo to restore and they’re really quite simple. There’s not much you can’t do to them at home with straightforward tools – changing the cambelt on a non-turbo is a 20-minute job.’


Ricky Caesar, Berkshire Ricky once owned 924 GTs in all three colours – red, silver and black – so he’s uniquely qualified to summarise the quicker 924s. He’s owned his current GT from new and it’s almost completely original. He says, ‘I’ve owned Porsches since 1986 and the idea of a fully galvanised and watercooled car for the winter months appealed, so I bought a GT in March 1987.

‘It’s as fast as a 911 Carrera 2.7 but has a completely different character. With the 2.7 the pace is there all the time but the 924’s turbo comes in at 3000rpm and you feel it even more in the GTS. The top end feels much the same but the GT can still do 30mpg.

‘I bought my GTS in 2007. It had spent most of its early life in Dubai and its time in the desert meant it needed a full respray and a new windscreen when I acquired it.’

Richard Brett, Surrey ‘The last thing I planned to do was buy a Porsche,’ says Richard. ‘I wanted to learn car mechanics so I was looking for a simple, cheap car. The 924 wasn’t even on my radar, but it ticked all my boxes and the funky Pasha interior was the clincher. I paid £1500. ‘I’ve owned it for two years. It’s fast and enjoyable to drive but comfortable enough to use regularly. I’ve done some trim work on it and fixed a failed alternator and split radiator myself. I needed the support of the Owners’ Club when the cylinder head gasket went but managed to get it running again.

‘I don’t plan to ever sell it. I like the fact that many people don’t know what it is – interesting cars tend to attract interesting people, and that’s definitely been my experience with the club. They’re really supportive and we feel like we’re sharing a well kept secret – at least for now.’


924S swapped original VW engine block for a detuned 944 motor. Turbo, identifiable by its extra front cooling vents, is fast but requires the most care. Most interior trim, including this eye-popping ‘Pasha’ material, is still available. ‘Some say the 924S is the best of all worlds, but diehards maintain the lighter, earlier cars are more chuckable’

{module Porsche 924}

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