1987 Porsche 924S

Rounding out my trio of affordable VAG 2-doors is, of course, the Porsche 924. Not that one would consider the 924 very affordable by the end of the run, mind you – but, then, it was cheap by Porsche standards. In 1987, the Scirocco had grown 8 more valves and was a competent performer – more than the match for most of the competition. Base price had also grown to almost $14,000, and equip one with power options to match its more luxurious Audi and Porsche cousins and suddenly you were close to $16,000 out the door. But it was still a big leap to the Special Build Coupe GT, which crested $21,000 with a few options. While it offered a bit more luxury than the 16V, there wasn’t any improvement in performance from the 130 horsepower NG 2.3 10V. To get more grunt, you had to turn to Porsche.

Porsche’s “budget” 944 had also grown in price, and by ’87 you were looking at – no surprise – a $5,000 increase over the Audi to get a more prestigious badge. So to bring the 944 back to its sub-$20,000 base price roots, Porsche brought back the 924. The car that was originally suppose to be the Scirocco and was, for some time, the bread and butter of Porsche’s sales was a 924 in body only as it now had 944 underpinnings. The Super 924 was therefore a bit of a sleeper, offering slightly better performance than the base 944 due to better aerodynamics of the pure design and lighter weight. Base price was briefly $19,900, so in dealerships that sold both Audi and Porsche products, this was a heads-up competitor to the late GTs. And though they ostensibly had similar missions, they were remarkably different cars. Today, little has changed but that the two remain in the same price bracket:

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1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

Update 5/25/18: After apparently selling in mid 2016 for $9,500, this rare 1988 924S Special Edition is back on the market with a new seller, 1,400 more miles and a much higher price – now it’s listed for $14,975.

Why the enthusiast world hasn’t thoroughly warmed up to the Porsche 924S is a bit beyond me, and that’s especially true of the 1988 model year. Not only was compression slightly up resulting in 160 horsepower channeled through the rear wheels, but Porsche also signed the model out with a fantastic lightweight special. The 924S Special Edition was also marketed in Europe as the 924S Le Mans; limited to 500 copies in each market, the U.S. models were black only. In classic Porsche “add lightness” style, the 924S SE had manual windows, no air conditioning or sunroof, and they even dropped the passenger mirror off the car. While power didn’t increase, the car did get more suspension in the M030 factory Koni suspension and wider ‘Phone Dials’ in the back with integrated mud flaps. Also lightweight was the interior fabric, which was so thin it doesn’t seem to be able to actually cover the seats even on a low mileage example like this:

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Face Off: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo v. 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

Increasingly as some of our childhood (or, adulthood) heroes get priced out of sensibility for weekend warrior on a budget status, there are still some bastions of hope for the shoestring enthusiast. One of the best must undoubtedly be the underrated Porsche 924. As Sciroccos, GTIs, 944 Turbos, Quattros and the like take off in value, here lies a plethora of well-cared for, well-built and fun-to-drive cars that have good parts accessibility, reasonable repair costs and surprising amounts of practicality. Sure, it’s ‘just’ a 924, and Porschephiles will probably poo-poo your choice. So, too, will most of the rest of the automotive world. Their loss is your gain. Try as they might, outside of some very special 924 Carreras, these models that helped to keep Porsche afloat in the 1970s and 1980s still haven’t caught on with collectors.

So today I have two special 924s to consider once again. The first is a lofty Turbo model; finicky even in period, they’ve developed a reputation for lack of reliability and expensive repairs, but then have you ever seen the bill on a proper flat-6 rebuild? I’m going to compare it to the end-of-the-run 924S, and this one is the lightweight Special Edition model, too. Both are quite affordable and both appear to be in great condition, so which one is the winner?

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1987 Porsche 924S

I’ve looked across the 924 range over the past week, from the well-optioned 1980 Turbo through the interestingly-modified 1978 924 base model. But in the case of either of those, the strong argument if you just want a nice driving, cheap entry level Porsche is the later 924S.

Offered for only two years in the U.S. market, nevertheless a bulk of the 924S production was sold here. Some 16,669 were made in total, with 9,137 making the trip across the Atlantic from Neckarsulm. Of those, the much more prevalent to find would be the first model year, with 6,947 accounting for 1987 production. Yet there were few changes across the run; 1988 received a slight bump in compression for a 5 horsepower gain, and there was the limited run of Special Edition final models that were quite special. But all offer lightweight driving fun with near-perfect balance and poise, reasonable running costs and sprightly performance. Plus, since many 924 owners treasured their foray into Porsche ownership, it’s possible just about any day of the week to find a really nice condition 924S like this impressive 43,500 mile Zermatt Silver Metallic example.

What’s not to like?

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1988 Porsche 924S with 25,000 Miles

Strange though it may seem, the 1988 Porsche 924S is not a model we often write up. We do feature just about every Special Edition 924S I find, as they’re a really neat fly-under-the-radar package. This isn’t one of those cars. It’s a “plain” 1988 924S, which you can immediately identify by it being Guards Red (all the SE models were black). But as I said in my article about limited 924 models back in September, the 1988 S is a subtle upgrade and the one to have if you don’t go with a hard-to-find SE. The compression bump meant 160 horsepower, and coupled with the 944 driveline bits underneath it was a fun, sporty car. However, best of all – and unlike most of their other watercooled brethren of the same ilk, these 924S models are often overlooked by the market.

But there are a few reasons to look at this particular 924. First, the ’88 models are pretty hard to find. They accounted for only 2,190 sales (including the 500 Special Edition models) compared to the near 7,000 1987s sold. But above scarcity, it’s in pristine condition with only a claimed 25,000 miles covered since new. And while it seems most of the really nice late 924s that come to market are automatics, this one is a 5-speed manual:

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1987 Porsche 924S

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Disclaimer: I have a thing for entry level cars. Especially German ones. But labeling the Porsche 924S as entry level is selling this car short. Sure, it could be considered the lesser Porsche for a period of the company’s history, but this car served as the basis for some of the greats, like the 924 Carrera GT, 944 Turbo and the final evolution of the four-cylinder transaxle Porsche, the 968. Given their affordability brings with it a problem, namely owners who neglect these vehicles. This 1987 924S for sale in Florida is not one of those neglected examples, rather a stunning piece finished in Guards Red with the proper 5-speed manual gearbox.

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1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

The last 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition I wrote up in November was an interesting one, as it languished in a second-hand dealer with low miles and recovered seats with a seller who was apparently unaware exactly what it was but was still asking close to top dollar. Well, the secret is out on that particular example, at least to some extent. Just before Christmas, the listing was updated from around $9,000 to just shy of $19,000 in order to account for the new description which listed the car as one of the 500 “Le Mans” edition cars. While the seller’s claim is semantically incorrect, it appears they finally did some research and figured out that this indeed was one of the Special Edition U.S. spec 924S models (as a reminder to those less versed in the 1988 924S model, the “Le Mans” edition was a European equivalent Club Sport model). While that car isn’t really realistically priced anymore, there’s another of these defacto Club Sport models on eBay right now in the same scenario – at least from the listing, the seller is unaware that it’s the Special Edition model:

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1988 Porsche 924SE – REVISIT

As part of a ‘924 Roundup’ back in late September, I included a stealthy 924S Special Edition model with low miles from an unassuming and apparently unaware second-hand dealer. The good news is that the dealer doesn’t follow our page, where they would have learned that their 924S is more than just one of the high compression motors for 1988 but also effectively a lightweight Club Sport model equipped from the factory with the M030 Koni suspension. It seems not many others have caught on, either, as it remains available with a price drop below $9,000. That’s a lot of limited edition performance Porsche for your money! Someone grab this one before anyone gets wiser.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site September 30, 2015:

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Porsche 924 Roundup

The Porsche 924 represents some of the best aspects of automobile enthusiasts, while simultaneously embodying two distinct and very different decades. From the 1970s comes the upright, modernist and simple dashboard, but while it nods to the decade that bore it, the exterior is immediately identifiable as the 1980s signature silhouette with a low-slung, long hood, pronounced bumpers and flip-up headlights. Quite a few cars in the late 1970s and 1980s attempted to mimic the design of the 924, including the notable RX-7 and you could even argue the 280/300ZX. You can even see influence of the groundbreaking 924 design in the Miata of the late 1980s as well as such modern GT cars at the AMG GT-S. For enthusiasts, though, it was the near perfect weight distribution, the torquey inline-4, the manual gearbox and the all-important Porsche badge of engineering and build quality that led to the 924 being a hit. It didn’t hurt that it was the most affordable Porsche, either, and arguably still is so today. I’ve rounded up a group of 3 distinct and neat 924S models from late in the run to see which offers the most bang for your buck:

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1987 Porsche 924S with 3,700 Miles

Earlier this month, I wrote up a 1988 944 Turbo S in Silver Rose with a scant 7,000 miles covered since new. As with all Porsches, the “S” models have enjoyed a long history of being…well, “Super”. But it took a fair amount of discipline, vision and means to buy an example new and project that it was going to be a collector in the future; especially considering that in 1988 the market on collector Porsches was very, very different. It has only been very recently that watercooled examples have started to appreciate, and even then not all examples have trended upwards. Even with that Turbo model, factoring in inflation the seller would actually be losing money having held onto and not driven that example more than 250 miles a year. How about something more strange – a car that isn’t really considered a collector by many? A great example is today’s 924S – long forlorn by the Porsche community, a greater appreciation for them is only now growing. So what would you pay for an example that has only covered a even more outrageous 125 miles each year since new?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 924S on eBay

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