So obviously the only REAL Porsches are those with an air-cooled flat-6 hanging behind the rear axle, right? Wrong! Anyone who truly believes that, are most likely unbearable, snobbish and self-confessed purists. Surely, a proper Zuffenhausen enthusiast would much rather acknowledge that Porsche are highly accomplished producers of some of the world’s best sportscars, and as such they obviously got it right on so many other occasions than merely with the original 911 concept. To suggest that Porsche only got it right once would be an insult.
Claus’s article last Thursday, about Porsche advertisement from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, had him dreaming about owning one himself. It had the exact same effect on me, so naturally I was straight into trawling internet classifieds. But where to start? With the air-cooled 911’s? Well… don’t get me wrong, I would genuinely love to own one – that’s been a constant for as long as I’ve been a car enthusiast. But for me and tons of other enthusiasts, they are sadly well out of financial reach. But luckily, Porsche have given us several other brilliant sports cars to choose from, and compared to the iconic 911, some of them appear to be a steal in the current classic car market.
Now if we were to ignore Porsche for a second, and instead just talk about sportscars in general, I’m sure most would agree that the front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout is a tried and tested classic concept. It is held in high regard by most and has worked impeccably for the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Jaguar, BMW and many, many other. Add a transaxle into the equation and many enthusiasts will only get further excited as they start rambling about perfect weight distribution and balanced handling characteristics. Guess what, it worked for Porsche as well.
However, their grandest of Grand Tourers, the futuristic 928 with that sledgehammer of a V8 out front has unfortunately already picked up significantly in value during recent years – and rightly so. Besides, if we’re looking for the affordable Porsche, then the maintenance costs of running a 928 would potentially rule it out anyway. So let’s go 4-cylinder; leaving us with the 924, 944 and 968. Personally, I would happily invite either one of that trio into my garage, but for me it’s the 944 which best balances the simple and classic with the muscular and aggressive.
Introduced in 1982, the 944 was a natural evolution of the by then six-year-old 924. In simple terms, it received typically eighties flared wheel arches and not least Porsche’s own and newly-developed 2.5-litre twincam engine to replace the often criticised 2.0-litre Audi-derived engine in the 924. Of course, Porsche being Porsche, there were many other improvements made under the skin all of which resulted in more performance, better handling, more stopping-power and improved comfort.
Again typical of Porsche, and as they had of course previously done with both their 356 and 911 models, the 944 was also continuously developed during its production life. This lead to a new dashboard and suspension improvements in 1985. Then the 944S was introduced in 1987 utilising a new 16-valve head to up power from 163hp to 187hp. Two years later, the base 944 was given a capacity increase from 2.5-litres to 2.7-litres, and while Porsche claimed the power output was unchanged at 163hp, the torque was naturally hugely improved. This 2,7-litre 944 turned out to become a one-year-model-only, as 1990 saw the introduction of the much acclaimed 944S2 with the smoother nose cone and not least an excellent 3.0-litre version of their 4-cylinder M44 engine now pumping out 211 hp. All the while since 1985, there was also a turbo version available for those craving more adrenalin. After ten years of 944 production, the next development of the 944 proved so substantial that Porsche chose to relaunch it as the 968 for 1992. As such the 944 bowed out with a grand total of just over 163,000 produced – not bad for a small 2+2 niche sportscar.
So which incarnation of the 944 caught my fancy as I was trawling the classifieds? While it was neither the fire-breathing Turbo nor the coveted S2, I reckon this might just be the perfect balance when considering both reliability, rarity, looks, performance and cost. Being a stock 1989 car, it’s the very rare, one-year-only 2.7-litre 944. So what’s so great about it? Well, foremost I love the fact that it’s not resale-red! In my humble opinion, they look so much better in almost any other colour – though that is of course quite subjective. While we’re still on colours, the light blue metallic paintwork is complimented by a subtle but very handsome dark blue interior with half leather / half ‘Porsche’ script cloth. I need to confess that I have a thing about blue interiors, and I truly struggle to understand why no one offers a blue interior today. It’s so much more interesting than just another bland grey or black interior. Being a 1989, it’s also the last year to retain the original front design. While I previously preferred the sleeker, more aerodynamic front of the Turbo and S2, now that the 944 has entered the classic car domain, I must confess that the earlier front is starting to appeal more and more. Thankfully, it also retains the stock teledial alloys rather than a silly-sized set of alloys off a later Porsche of some sort. And then there’s the engine – being the 2.7-litre, it retains the simpler 8-valve head which is by most considered to be a bit more reliable and fuss-free than the 16-valve 944S. Yet, with the added torque of the 2.7, it will still offer increased performance over the earlier 2.5-litre version.
Here are a few pictures borrowed from the advert:
As you can see, the Porsche presents beautifully and totally unmolested on the pictures. As it should considering the modest 75,000 miles on the clock – that’s an average of only 2,600 miles per year. There’s a full service history of 17 stamps to back up the mileage, and the 944 also still retains the factory books, all old MOT certificates and invoices for previous servicing and work done. The cambelt was changed only about 2,000 miles ago.
So how much for such a great example of Porsche’s brilliant little transaxle sportscar? Amazingly, you won’t even need ten grand! A mere £ 8,495 – currently equating to Euro 9,500 – and you’ll be smiling from ear to ear from behind the wheel of the next big-and-upcoming classic Porsche. But first you’ll need the link to the advert so you can find it in South Wales: 1989 Porsche 944 Lux 2.7
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to email@example.com