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Porsche 924 and 944 cars Club PORSCHE 944 TURBO It’s no secret that the 944 was developed from the 924, Porsche re...
Porsche 924 and 944 cars Club

PORSCHE 944 TURBO

It’s no secret that the 944 was developed from the 924, Porsche replacing the VW/Audi engine with its own four-cylinder unit – effectively one bank of the 928’s V8 – and adding aggressive wide-arched styling. With the standard 2.5-litre engine the 944 was a brisk car but when Porsche turned its turbocharging expertise to the car in 1985 it gained the pace to challenge the 911. With 220 bhp on tap, it was foo for 0-60 mph in just 5.9 seconds, which made it faster than the non-turbo 911 and not far behind the 911 Turbo.

In purely technical terms, the 944 was the best model produced by Porsche to that date, easier to drive fast than the 911, cheaper than the 928 and faster than the 924. What’s more they’re a practical car to own as a modern classic today.
How much? £1000-£10,000

Classic status: Without a doubt. Unless you’re an air-cooled Porsche snob…

The ‘poor man’s Porsche’ offers driving thrills at affordable prices. Get in quick, though...

If you don’t think the 944, and the truly remarkable price/performance package it delivers for MGB money, is a real Porsche, it begs the question: what is a real Porsche?

Let us not forget that the very first Porsche, the 356, borrowed heavily from the VW Beetle, which was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Then there’s the Porsche 924 - a significant machine, not merely because it saved the company from bankruptcy, but also because it offended Porsche purists.

What became the 924 had in 1976 started as a Porsche design project for VW/Audi. Then, when Volkswagen backed out, it become a Porsche assembled by Volkswagen with bits from the VW/ Audi parts bin, including the Audi 100’s four-cylinder engine. Not only was it water-cooled but, for the first time in a Porsche, it was put at the right end of a car.

The 924 served Porsche well, slotting in comfortably below the 911. In 1982, with the 924 still in production, the 944 was introduced to fill in a growing gap between the 924 and the base 911SC.

The floor pan was 924, as was the profile (although butched up a bit), but the four-cylinder engine was Porsche’s own, essentially half the 928’s V8 canted over. As with the 924, the gearbox was mounted in the rear transaxle to provide near-equal weight distribution. However, despite the common genes there’s a gulf between the first 125bhp 924 and the initial 163bhp 944, with its sub-eight-second 0-60mph time and near-140mph top speed. The sub-supercar/hatchback/coupe had become a GT.

I suppose you should also know that it’s a tight-fit 2+2 coupe and, although production was still contracted out, the 944 retained Porsche’s famed build quality and came with a zinc-galvanised body.

It also evolved rapidly. The 944 Turbo of 1985 punched out 217bhp to hit 60mph in 5.9 seconds and top out at 152mph. In 1987 the 944 S, with 16-valve head, filled in between the 944 and Turbo.

In 1989 the S2 increased capacity to 3.0 litres, and with 211bhp was only a little shy of the Turbo, although the Turbo S launched in 1988 brandished 247bhp. Then, for the last two years, there was a cabriolet, available with normally aspirated and turbocharged motors. That’s only a précis, because along the way virtually every aspect of the 944 was developed and improved.

In its ten-year life the 944 sold 175,000 units and, along with the 924, helped restore financial security to Porsche - until Black Monday and the stock market crash of 1987 kicked the company into turmoil once more. Driving enthusiasts will tell you that the 944 is an extremely sweet performer and handles superbly, without that sphincter-tightening tendency to swap ends that 911 zealots so relish but which real-world motorists are relieved to live without. And as more people become aware of its talents - and more ratty ones head towards the scrapyard, increasing the car’s rarity - so the 944’s values are starting to rise.

Until recently the 944’s problem was one of perception. Your man in the street carped: ‘Yeah, but it’s not a real Porsche.’ But let’s remember that they once asked that about the VW-Porsche 914...

PRICE POINTS

UK LAUNCH At launch in 1982 the 944 cost £12,999, bridging the gap between the base 924 at £9103 and the 911SC at £16,732. That also pitched the 944 just beneath the pacier £13,998 924 Turbo. For wider-world comparisons, Mazda’s RX-7 came nearly four grand cheaper at £9199, while the Lotus Eclat was in base 911 territory at £16,750. Ferrari’s Mondial was £24,500, just £750 less than the Porsche 928S.

944 EVOLUTION At launch in 1985 the 944 Turbo cost £25,311; the 944 S, appearing two years later, cost £23,977; and in 1989 the final evolution S2 was priced at £31,304.

TODAY After decades in the doldrums, the 944’s descent to the bottom of the values curve has ended and prices are beginning to bounce vigorously upwards for good-quality examples. Unlike air-cooled 911s, later-built models have higher values, on account of youth and model evolution. Most valued are Turbos and the last S2s: the highest online asking price in the UK trade is £24,995 for a low-mileage 1991 Turbo S; a rare 1992 Turbo cabriolet, one of 100 right-hookers, is on offer for £19,995. In Belgium there’s a 68,000km 1991 S2 cabriolet, described as mint, up for £20,000. Amazingly, though, in the UK auction market, only two 944s have ever topped £10,000, and average 944 auction values over the past 24 months stand at just £4625. Away from the trade sales market, double that buys very nice examples of any but very superior Turbos, S2s and cabriolets. This is MGB money, for chrissakes, and it’s buying you a whole load of dynamic excellence.
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  •   Glen Waddington reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Porsche 944 Evo

    The 1980s 944 may have not have been as critically acclaimed as the 911, but this one can certainly eat more than a couple for breakfast.

    RETRO RIDE: PORSCHE 944 TURBO. WORDS: Daniel Bevis. PHOTOGRAPHY: Ben Hoskin.

    TIME LAPS Ill-informed bores have been slagging off the Porsche 944 for far too long. It’s time for someone to redress the balance…

    Old skool 8-valve lump is modified to perfection… although Patrick is building a newer 16-valve unit as we speak.

    In this world nothing can be said to be certain,” said Benjamin Franklin, “except death and taxes”. That’s what’s known as an immutable constant, a perennial given. But his scope isn’t really broad enough, is it? The universe is packed with such generalisations, harnessing received wisdom to propagate the myths of pseudo-truism. Dropped toast always lands butter-side-down, cats always land on their feet, decrepit billionaires always have hot young wives with plastic embellishments… and, as any ill-informed pub bore will tell you, the 911 is the only Porsche worth having.


    These are the sort of dumbwads who’ll gleefully refer to any other model from the marque’s history as a ‘poor man’s Porsche’ – surely one of the most execrable phrases a person can utter. It’s absurd. The new Cayman GT4 could tan many a contemporary 911’s backside all day long, and this behaviour resonates through Stuttgart history. The much-maligned 924, for example, was actually a peach of a thing with a gorgeous chassis. (And if that pub bore berk uses the phrase ‘van engine’, be sure to grab him by the hair and rub his face in the complementary peanuts.) Its successor, the 944, was rather a rum cove too; a luxury-sports poppet with lusty, bigcapacity four-bangers and oodles of puppylike eagerness. It fairly strained at the leash to go horizon-chasing.

    Of course, there will always be naysayers and negative nellies. The 911 fanciers (you know, the ones who’ve never actually driven them but have seen them on Top Gear) will still want to put the boot in to the poor, misunderstood 944. But sod that – life’s too short for that sort of negativity, so we’re cranking this argument up to the next level: behold, the Porsche 944 Evolution.

    OK, sure, this isn’t a production-spec 944 – quite a long way from it, in fact – but you are reading a modified car mag after all, you knew exactly what you were getting into. What we’re looking at, in essence, is the final and definitive answer to the question of the 944’s credibility. What began as a car that was already of little trouble to the weighscales now finds itself liberally adorned with such ounce-shavers as carbon-fibre doors and polycarbonate windows, and its power output has spiraled to an otherworldly 505bhp at the wheels. There is much to trouble the laws of physics here.


    When you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find two indelible words at its core like ‘Herne Bay’ through a stick of rock: Time Attack. And all suddenly swims into focus. ‘But wait – what exactly is Time Attack?’ we hear you ask. Well, that’s a good question, thanks for joining in. The answer, in short, is this: Time Attack grew from Japanese race cars of the 1960s, that were built to celebrate the art of the aftermarket tuner – the doors were open to everyone from low-budget home-spannerers to big-bucks corporate showcases, with everyone racing on, as it were, a level playing field. This is very much the ethos of the series today.

    You just need to start with a production car as a project base, and then the tuning potential is near-limitless. Throw in a load of horsepower, tinker with the chassis and drivetrain, develop some custom aero, do whatever it takes to make the car as fast as it can physically be.

    Time Attack today exists in numerous series across the globe, with competitors bracketed into various groups; ‘Clubman’, for instance, is a UK class for cars with basic modifications – rollcages are merely ‘recommended’… the ladder climbs through ‘Club Challenge’, ‘Club Pro’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Pro Extreme’, with the cars getting incrementally madder as you go. In essence, then, Time Attack is the dream series for aftermarket tuners – you can do pretty much what you like to the car without having to worry about a governing body disqualifying you for running the wrong thickness of head gasket or a frowned-upon diameter of air intake.

    It follows, then, that cars built for this series tend to be somewhat on the bonkers side. But you’d deduced that from looking at the photos, hadn’t you?

    This project is the work of Paul McKinnon and his team at Evolution Custom Industries (ECi). And it’s pretty obvious for anyone with the power of sight that they’re about as far removed as it’s possible to be from the day-to-day sensible-trousers efficiency of Stuttgart, and that’s quite possibly what allowed their trains of thought to go so very wild with this car. The company’s bread-and-butter comes from hot rods and custom bikes, but their extensive skills in fabrication meant that the creation of this feisty 944 Evo wasn’t too much of a stretch.

    The car belongs to a customer of theirs, Patrick Garvan, who’d been quite happily using the car as a street-and-track dualpurpose machine until one unfortunate day when he spanged it into the wall at Sydney Motorsport Park, and a certain amount of remedial work was required. Employing an admirable ‘Why not?’ mentality, he decided to go all in with the build, eradicating the element of road-biased compromise and making the thing as fast as it could physically be. With sights firmly set on Time Attack, Patrick briefed ECi to just go nuts and see what happened.

    …and what happened was, er, rather a lot. The car still runs its proper turbo four-pot motor (stroked from 2.5- to 3.1-litres not via a stroker crank, but a natty integrated deck plate and Darton sleeves), although it’s now stuffed with bona fi de race-bred kit – forged pistons, knife-edged crank, mind-boggling fueling, the works. It’s dry-sumped and ready to rock. The aforementioned peak power figure speaks for itself, really.

    The most noticeable transformation, of course, concerns the body. Time Attack cars are famously extreme, designed to eke out every iota of downforce, and this 944 is no exception: a full-on widebody kit is joined by copious carbon-fibre, wings, splitters, canards, vents… it’s as subtle as being smacked in the head with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.


    Naturally, with this sort of vastly increased horsepower and downforce, some manner of chassis upgrades were called for, which is why you’ll find the 944’s guts bristling with whacking great Brembos, a 968 transaxle, Eibach springs on Moton shocks, and antiroll bars like a weightlifter’s wrist. The interior is equally businesslike, as you’d expect, with little more than a sturdy cage and a set of buckets and harnesses to spoil the clinical minimalism of the thing. Oh yeah, and there’s air-jacks underneath. Y’know, because race car.

    So what does this all tell us about immutable truths and received wisdom? Well, quite simply, it’s all a load of cobblers. Sure, the 911 is a formidable machine, but it’s not the only option. Just ask Patrick Garvan; his 944 eats 911s for breakfast (quite possibly in a literal sense, it really is mad enough). And the scary thing is, given the relentlessly evolutionary nature of Time Attack, you can guarantee that he’s far from finished tinkering with it.

    TECH SPEC: #Porsche-944-Turbo / #Porsche-944-Turbo-Tuned / #Porsche-944 / #Porsche / #Garrett / #Porsche-944-Evo

    TUNING: 3.1-litre four cylinder turbo, integrated #Performance-Developments deck plate, line bored, pinned girdle, #ARP head studs, custom flywheel, #Cometic head gasket, knife-edged and balanced crank, Arrow rods, CP forged pistons, ported alloy race heads, Ferrera valves, titanium springs and retainers, CPE hydraulic camshaft, #Petersons 3-way dry sump, #Garrett-GTX3582r turbo, Turbosmart wastegate and BOV, #Bosch-HEC sequential ignition, #Motec-M400 management, #Bosch in-line fuel pumps, #Evolution-Custom Industries surge tank and 3-inch turbo-back exhaust, Porsche 968 6-Speed H-pattern transmission, CEP 4-1 stainless headers, custom 5-paddle race clutch, #KAAZ-LSD , custom transmission cooling system.

    CHASSIS: 11.5x18-inch #Fiske-Mach-V in anodised black, Yokohama AO050 295/30 tyres, #Eibach springs with Moton Club Sport 2-way shocks, Tarrett anti-roll bar, 330mm discs (front) 298mm (rear), Brembo 4-pot calipers and PFC pads.

    EXTERIOR: #Broadfoot-Racing front bumper, widebody kit by I.F.C., front splitter, D9 GTR headlights, Van Zweden carbon bonnet, custom carbon doors, custom wheel tubs, ducted cooling cores through bonnet, GT Racing rear guards, rear stock diff user, DJ Engineering rear spoiler, gloss black respray by Motographics.

    INTERIOR: Cobra Evo seats, full rollcage, suede dash, Sparco harnesses, Motec SDL gauges and shift lights, Tilton pedal box, air jacks.

    THANKS: Paul McKinnon @ Evolution Custom Industries, Buchanan Automotive, Dave McGrath @ Custom Engineered Performance, Neil Harvey @ Performance Developments, Mike Warner @ I.F.C. USA, Simon McBeath @ Aerodynamicist UK, all my friends and family - especially my longsuffering partner Helen.

    There’s actually light aircraft with smaller wings… and the odd 747!

    Designed to eke out every iota of downforce!

    WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE THAT ENGINE?

    This motor is, in short, a work of art. While it would have been easy to hoik out the stock lump and start afresh with something bigger or more modern, ECi have instead retained the 2.5-litre turbo engine and refined every individual element. It now displaces 3.1-litres, but instead of achieving this with a stroker crank it uses an integrated Performance Developments deck plate and Darton sleeves to increase bore and stroke. The crank has been knife-edged and mated to forged CP pistons and Arrow H-beam rods; at the opposite end we find extensive headwork with oversize Ferrea valves with titanium springs. Throw in the usual spiky cams, serious bolts, custom exhaust and chunky intercooler and you have a recipe for success. Oh yes, and the turbo… it’s a #Garrett-GTX3582R-turbo , which brings the twin guns of improved tractability and massive horsepower potential. The system’s designed to run E85 biofuel (there are three fuel pumps and massive 2000cc injectors), and Motec management keeps it all in check.

    That, folks, is how you squeeze over 500bhp from a 944 engine. And that’s just for starters…

    Huge 11.5x18-inch hoops get plenty of rubber on the tarmac

    DRIVER: PATRICK GARVAN

    So why a 944, Patrick, rather than a 911?

    “Well, I did initially want a 911, but it was way out of budget. But after a chat with a Porsche mechanic, Bruce Buchanan, I learned that the 944 Turbo was an affordable choice with a lot of potential. The upgrade costs were more reasonable, and there was a lot more scope for modi¬fication.”

    What inspired you to build a car for Time Attack?

    “My original brief to ECi was to build a full-on door-to-door race car, but after evaluating the potential damage and repair costs, Time Attack made a lot more sense. I already had a bit of experience with it, and I also really like the format, with its more liberal rules and focus on aerodynamics.”

    Ah yes, that aero - tell us about that.

    “There’s a #DJ-Engineering rear wing, and a #Broadfoot-Racing front bumper with ECi’s own splitter; the pop-up headlights have been swapped out for flush D9 GTR items, and there’s various flics and canards – a piece from here, a piece from there, you know how it is.”
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