While Porsche 944s are no stranger to these pages, early models rarely appear here. There were many variants of the 944 over its life cycle, and in many ways the improvements over that time make the 1982-early 1985 models the least appealing. Launched in early 1982, the 944 sported essentially most of a 924 with Carrera GT-inspired flares and half of a 928 motor. In mid 1985, Porsche heavily revised the model with a refreshed interior, air condition system, larger fuel tank, relocated windshield antenna, and new cast aluminum control arms among a host of other small changes. 928-esque “Phone Dial” wheels replaced the original “Cookie Cutter” alloys, though Fuchs forged alloys remained an option. Obviously, there were then the multitude of upgraded models that followed; the 944S, the 2.7, the S2, and of course the Turbo. The result is that it has to be a pretty special early 944 to draw much attention, and today’s early 1985 is just such a car:
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It’s easy to become obsessed with low mileage, absolutely pristine museum pieces. Walk up to one at a show and it’s like stepping into the DeLorean with Doc Brown, because apparently wherever that owner’s car is going they don’t need roads. On the other end of the spectrum are cars that have accrued countless miles; an old, torn pair of jeans that has more stories behind it than threads in its behind. Occasionally, though, a car pops up that is a testament to careful enthusiast ownership while still having been used for its original intent and purposes. Wearing mileage as a badge of honor rather than, as many do, acting like it is a death sentence, they are impressive cars without consideration of mileage but moreso when one does. Generally these high mileage heros turn up as Audis or Mercedes-Benz products that have rolled odometers into the stratosphere. More than occasionally we’ll come across an E28 BMW nearing a quarter million. Porsches, however, usually don’t see those types of numbers – especially highly prized turbocharged models. But though today’s 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo is pushing 300,000 miles, it looks like it has only seen a fraction of that number:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay
We’ve often lamented on these pages about when enthusiast cars used to be more affordable. Pick your poison; there were days you could buy a pretty sorted E30 M3 for under $10,000, a clean 911 in the teens, a pristine W113 Pagoda for under $20,000. At least for the foreseeable future, those days have left us, and enthusiasts on a modest budget need to pick and choose between the few remnants of a once vibrant sub-$10,000 market. I’ve spent a fair amount of time predicting and watching the ascension of the 944 turbo – the understated, underrated giant killer from Porsche. It’s been no surprise to see soaring values on clean 944 turbos, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that once again another classic has been priced out of sight. But if you’re willing to prioritize driving over shows, there are still some great deals to be had out there:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo on Omaha Craigslist
Building a track car can be a dirty business. You can start with a branded title car or one with a ton of miles, one in poor shape or maybe just a car that needs a ton of mechanical work. The results aren’t always Roger Penske perfection, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of fun. Indeed, there’s a certain freedom to having a less than perfect, not hugely valuable track-focused weapon. It allows you to head to the circuit without the emotional baggage of what would happen if midway through turn two something let loose. Take today’s 1988 Porsche 944, for example. Thorough upgraded and ready to head to the track, this S2-spec 944 may not be a lot to look at, but the entry price is less than a new set of BBS centerlock wheels for a GT3. No, I’m not joking. I just checked, and it’s $9,800 for a set of BBS FI-R wheels from Tire Rack – without tires, or shipping mind you. See, you could have a whole track car instead and still have $300 left to pay for a track day!