General impressions of the cars

Despite originating from a design for Volkswagen, the 924 has been recognised as a truly excellent sports car in its own right. They are economical tourers, with adequate acceleration reaching 125 miles per hour. Despite the brakes being solid discs (front) and drums (rear), the braking is quite good. The 50-50-weight distribution provides exceptional handling allowing many 924's to compete favourably with much more powerful 911's at track events.

With rear seats (for under 12's) and practical rear luggage space, the car is ideally suitable as a first Porsche for those with small budgets. Being inexpensive, even quite poor cars will find buyers on the private market, which makes it increasingly difficult for reputable dealers to address all the preparation work for sale and have a competitive price. So most cars are bought privately or are in excellent condition, but are expensive with growing values.

Engines are remarkably reliable and can cover well over 250 thousand miles. Cylinder head gaskets can leak at the rear of the cylinder block, (revealed as a misfire when cold) and are an expensive but long lasting repair. Exhaust studs also fail and often require head removal. The various electrical and temperature devices influencing the fuel injection system - can also play up. Although the parts can be inexpensive to buy, faults can be quite expensive to trace and repair. Air hoses frequently split and cause bad running or starting. All 924's are prone to poor hot starting - but can be improved with our own hot start kit.

The 924 does not have blistering acceleration and by modern standards is quite slow off the mark (see performance comparison chart page 58) although it is great fun and better than many similar cars of the era. Clutches are operated by cable and can be quite heavy particularly for ladies to use. Similarly there are very few available with power steering which can be heavy. Although they are relatively inexpensive to buy - they cost just as much to repair and being older than average, it is easy to spend too much bringing them up to scratch especially since their lower value often results in less care. Despite these few faults they have extremely robust engines with considerable life spans. Most repairs are straightforward and could be carried out by the home mechanic quite successfully. A Haynes manual is available giving step-by-step guidelines to most repairs.

924 Turbo (2 litre, 4 cyl, 8 valve). This car is very much the Jekyll and Hyde of the water-cooled Porsche range, capable of 145mph performance with a huge surge of power evident when the turbo charger cuts in, putting it in the weekend fun machine category rather than a practical all round sports car. The Mark1 version is prone to breather problems and smoking on acceleration. The Mk2

had digital ignition and more torque. Due to corrosion, they can prove very expensive to work on in exhaust manifold, turbo charger or waste gate areas, so engine rebuilds are expensive and time consuming but thankfully then last many years again. It can be difficult and tiring to drive in traffic and the dogleg gearbox is a little clumsy and prone to synchromesh problems on first and second gear. Performance relative to cost is phenomenal. Brakes and suspension were developed into the 944, well up to coping with the performance providing a very fast Porsche inexpensive to buy but potentially expensive to repair. The Carrera GT version, (with wider 944 track, wheel arches and increased performance) is exceptional with limited production making it desirable collectors items.

928. (8 and 16 valve V8). These are very luxurious, quick and dependable, with good handling and exceptional specifications. They incorporate a considerable number of electronic controls with later cars having digital instruments and memory seats etc. They are grand tourers very much in the mould of a big Jaguar sports car and will effortlessly cover huge mileages, ideal for motorway journeys or European travel. Engines are like a V8 made from two 944, 4 cylinder engines, the early ones up to S2's being 2 valve heads (16 in all) and the later S4's being 4 valve heads (32 in all). They are consequently quite heavy and are prone to all the same weaknesses and problems associated with the 944S range except that there are twice as many parts to replace or repair if needed.

Although they are very reliable - as they age - expensive engine repairs may become necessary, which due to the lazy power available, may not be easy to notice until more serious damage has occurred. The big engine and double wishbone suspension renders the front feeling heavy despite power steering. The manual versions seem badly matched to the weight of the car and the inertia of the engine causes lurching when changing gear, with most owners consequently preferring automatics.

The combination of high weight, low fuel economy and the cost of honouring our warranties if a serious fault ever occurred, have made us reluctant to sell older models. Newer, lower mileage S4's could be OK but will eventually suffer the same problems as the other 16 valve engines, (camshafts and chains etc) but there are twice as many components to replace, hence twice the cost.

For all these reasons we are not great lovers of this car as they are expensive to maintain (as they age), heavy and thirsty and seem quite different to any other Porsche model that combines lightweight and performance.

Pre 1986 944 (2.5 litre, 4 cyl, 8 valve). The early 944 overcame most of the disadvantages of both the 924 and the 924 turbo. The lightweight hydraulic clutch, and better torque from the engine at low speed, was such an improvement, that the cars became easier to drive and faster than the normal 924 with more aggressive styling. Although not as fast as a 924 turbo in top speed, nevertheless the 944 could cover ground in most situations more quickly due to smoother power delivery and wider torque. Although the automatic version of the 924 is abysmally slow, the 944 automatic, due to its increased low speed torque, can be quite an acceptable sports car for those restricted to automatic choices (although with only three speeds it is slow overtaking at around 40 mph).

Perhaps the only drawback with these earlier models is that very few of them have power steering, and with the wider wheel track and wheel rims, the steering can become even heavier than a 924. They can be bought cheaply now but being quite old they suffer from lack of maintenance and can prove moderately expensive to return to good condition. Prices for a nice one from a reputable dealer who has already carried out all the work necessary are therefore significantly higher than for a private sale.

In late 1984/1985 (the last year of production), most of the cars featured an electric sunroof and power steering, and became probably the best examples available of the pre-curved dash car.

Picture of 944 Early Type Dashboard

Picture of 944 Early Type Dashboard

The early dashboard is prone to cracking due to differential expansion caused by sunlight and heat. It is rarely economical to replace but can be improved by specialists.

Post 1985 curved dashboard 944. (2.5 and 2.7 litre, 4 cyl, 8 valve).

Post 1985 curved dashboard 944. (2.5 and 2.7 litre, 4 cyl, 8 valve).

This model came about by fitting the 944 engine, gearbox and brakes, into the narrower 924 chassis design and shape.

Often referred to as a 924 with a 944 engine, it would more realistically be described as a 944 with the wheels moved in board about one inch (25 mm), and the bulges on the bodywork smoothed out, since everything else about the car is more similar to the square dash board 944 than the original 924.

One difference is that the older 944 can have quite harsh suspension, but the 924S suspension is much softer and forgiving, therefore providing a car every bit as fast as the 944, more comfortable to drive, with softer suspension characteristics and less aggressive styling.

Many were bought by ladies and were well cared for and not abused, so the general condition, for a given age and mileage can often be better than a 944.

When they were first built they proved so fast (compared to the more expensive 944 of the era) that it seems that attempts were made to slow the model down by fitting it with low compression pistons. The changes to unleaded fuel since have now rendered this a happy coincidence as this model will run on any unleaded fuel, while a later 924S has higher compression (and can be faster than a comparative 944). As a result it is no surprise that it has become a successful racing model and possibly the best value for money buy of the whole range.

The slightly narrower wheels make the steering easier (even without optional power steering). Despite being manufactured until 1988, they still only had the instruments, heating and interiors fitted to pre 1986 "square dash board" 944's.

This model has always been in great demand, and all qualify for classic car insurance. They incorporated many refinements over the already successful 944, mainly in the suspension, dashboard layout (see picture on page 16), instrumentation, heating, ventilating, engine management systems, electrical height adjustment on the drivers seat and all models have power steering.

Being in manufacture and available up to 1988, a private number plate can obscure the true age of the car, providing a vehicle with superb performance, modern appearance, and indeterminate age.

Like the 911 range - now that these cars are sought after -the price for a nice one is very much higher than for a similar one of the same age in poorer condition. In fact all the demand is for nice cars and rough ones are not only difficult for owners to sell but can be neither viable to renovate nor attractive to collectors.

This is very much a model to buy the best available and enjoy ownership while popularity remains high, anticipating continued demand for many years -eventually enjoying Classic car status.

The 2.7 litre model (some F and most G Reg.) was the last of the normally aspirated 8 valve cars and featured ABS and several other internal engine changes that render the model the best in the range.

A charming and well behaved Porsche, easily affordable yet with excellent performance and handling - capable of lasting almost for ever and with a dedicated following.

The curved dashboard 944 interior fitted to all 944 range (including the turbo, S2 and the 968)

Overall this model has very few faults but most owners sell when problems are looming and typically they may need a clutch, brakes, a head gasket or a water pump etc, when bought - with small faults to the electrics common but relatively easily repaired.

With appearance likened to the exciting and original 924 Carrera GT, and later taken up by the 944S2, the 944 turbo represents a modern looking car with absolutely fantastic performance - increasingly rare and always in demand. With all the benefits of the curved dash 944, and often ABS as well, they do not suffer the delay in providing power to 3500 rpm of the 924 turbo, pulling well from 2000 rpm and the power delivery is much smoother and higher.

Although anyone buying one of these cars and using its performance to the full, must be a capable driver used to high speed, if they are driven without heavy use of the throttle pedal, they are surprisingly smooth, quiet, safe and quite sedate, more like a quality saloon than a sports car. They can therefore be ideal for two drivers sharing, where one drives modestly and is inexperienced with performance sports cars and another drives more aggressively, for whom little will ever out perform it.

They are comfortable in heavy slow traffic as well as really scintillating on the open road, thus easily fulfilling a dual role. The 220 bhp Turbo is very smooth and fast and a fine grand-tourer being very well balanced. The 250 bhp Turbo is a little quicker and can be deceptively fast. Both can be tuned up without much loss of reliability. Even in standard form they can still outrun a 968 Coupe.

Despite the much - improved performance resulting from the inclusion of a turbo charger, the reliability of the engines is extraordinarily high (apart from minor problems with the waste gate, or cycling valve) and huge mileages with high reliability are commonplace.

We rarely have had to replace a worn out turbocharger and because it pumps basically too much air into the engine (and bleeds the excess away though the waste gate) -turbo's seem to always perform the same even after many years and miles and are probably the most reliable in the whole range

Like all high performance Porsches, they need to be properly maintained, but maintenance costs are only a little higher than with the standard 944, despite the complication of the turbo charging system. The brakes are also different, having aluminium callipers, which seize up and need frequent attention (often expensive). In conclusion this car is not for the faint hearted, and is a lot faster than the impression provided to the unfamiliar driver. Consequently many of them have had front-end crashes, with numerous examples recorded as having had major accident damage. Indeed it's very difficult to buy a 944 turbo that hasn't been bumped at some time in its life but if a straight one is found it is very valuable.

944S (2.5 litre, 4 cyl, 16 valve). The 944 S differed from the 8-valve single overhead camshaft standard 944 by being fitted with a double overhead camshaft and 16 valves resulting in a claimed extra 25 to 30 bhp. Although still only 2.5 litre - properly set up - it is comparable to the standard 8 valve 944 with different power characteristics and is technically more interesting. At about the time that this engine was developed, many other manufacturers also brought out their first multi valve engines. Many had poor bottom end power and it took some years before the industry learned how to produce torque and brake horsepower across a wide range for 4 valve cylinder heads. Porsche's 1st 16-valve engine was no different and many examples, despite being fast when revved high, exhibit disappointing bottom end power (often exacerbated by inaccurate camshaft timing).

Some customers (for whom speed is not important) prefer this engine as the power increases with the revs and provides a smooth and progressive drive. However, this was also one of the first engines that it was expected never to need tuning (other than by what the engine management system could achieve).

Unfortunately, with age, general engine wear and carbon deposits have in some cases moved the control parameters outside of the scope of the tiring engine management system resulting in problems starting and with an erratic tickover (especially from cold) - lowering popularity.

These problems are not exhibited in all examples and now that they are older, we come across - some that perform very well indeed and are well worth buying and others that seem to have lost something that is impossible to get back. This may be caused by a self-learning computer control element going out of range in some examples. These potential problems were largely remedied in the S2 catalyst engine that superseded it by enabling reprogramming to re-set control parameters.

Unlike other models in the range, the cam belt on the 944S (and the S2 and 968) only drives one camshaft. Half way down this camshaft an integral sprocket drives the second camshaft through a chain and hydraulic tensioner. Unfortunately - although most owners realise that they need to change cam belts regularly - it seems that there has been insufficient attention raised about the need to change the camshaft chain & tensioner runners on these models, which can result in serious engine failure at around 85 to 120K miles costing anything up to £5000 to repair.

Although it may be possible to replace the chain before it snaps, the wear on the sprockets (caused by leaving it too late) often requires these to be replaced as well (or the new chain will soon break the worn teeth) and as the sprockets are part of the camshafts, it is expensive. While the cost of this replacement (if needed) is regarded as well worth while with the S2 and 968 (due to the overall outstanding performance and reliability resulting) the comparatively modest performance of the 944 S and occasional temperamental behaviour of some examples has put off some potential owners from what can otherwise be a very interesting classic that can be reasonably priced. As a result they may be available privately at modest prices (enabling the remedial work necessary to be afforded) and can therefore offer value for money.

Typical broken camshaft sprocket teeth shown below.

Typical broken camshaft sprocket teeth shown below.

Valve springs may also fail over 130K miles and as head gaskets may fail after about 10 years it is a sensible precaution on older and higher mileage cars to have all the above checked and replaced as necessary (including S2's and 968's) because despite this worrying weak spot, once the necessary parts are replaced (at a cost typically between £600 and £1500), the engines are then amongst the most reliable and cover enormous mileage's. Properly maintained they are, smooth and economical and include anti knock sensors to protect against low octane fuel and detonation/pre-ignition/pinking - particularly relevant with recent changes to unleaded fuel.

Porsche Classic Models

Porsche Classic Models

The History of Porsche Cars through its generational changes. A must have ebook for any Porsche fanatic, this ebook is a reference book for Porsche enthusiasts. Discover all there is to know about the greatest Porsches ever made. All models are fully described and illustrated providing a definitive production history plus an accurate guide to original specs and equipment.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment